Another week down in the 2020 Major League Baseball season. We’re now less than three weeks away from the final day of the regular season, which means teams are going to be fighting for a spot in the 16-team expanded postseason. 

Here’s a closer look at some of the biggest stories from the last week, with each one receiving a buy/sell decision:

Buy: Kyle Lewis putting together ROY-worthy season

The Seattle Mariners promoted outfielder Kyle Lewis last season for a September call-up. He started 2020 with the club this season, and he’s put up some big numbers.

The 11th overall pick in the 2016 draft, Lewis has raw power and a strong arm. There’s room for improvement for the 25-year-old in the strikeout and contact departments, but the Mariners have given him a true shot to see what he can do. What he can do has put himself in the middle of the AL Rookie of the Year conversation alongside Chicago White Sox outfielder Luis Robert and Minnesota Twins right-hander Randy Dobnak.

Lewis’ consistency at the plate has been what’s most impressive. He’s recorded 12 multi-hit games and managed to get a 10-game hitting streak at the start of the season. But, the reason why I’m buying Lewis as the ROY favorite right now is because he’s showing no signs of slowing down as the 2020 regular season nears its end. He’s a bright spot for the rebuilding Mariners now, and he may just become the player who pushes Seattle to end the longest postseason drought in professional American sports. 

Sell: The Reds have a path to the postseason

The Cincinnati Reds underperformance in 2020 has been one of the more disappointing outcomes this season. After an exciting offseason in which the club signed Nick Castellanos and Mike Moustakas, Cincinnati was expected to come out as a serious contender in 2020. Nearly all of us here at CBS Sports picked them to win the National League Central.

The Reds just simply have not been able to gain any momentum so far this season. Starting pitching has been solid, but the offense is lackluster. Castellanos and Jesse Winker have been the bright spots in a mostly unproductive lineup. Cincy holds a minus-24 run differential, ranks 24th in the league for runs scored and last in batting average (.211).

Entering Tuesday, the Reds are six games under .500 at 18-24. In September, they recently split a four-game series with the rebuilding Pittsburgh Pirates and narrowly avoided a sweep by the St. Louis Cardinals. The offense scored two runs or fewer in eight of their last 17 games.

It helps that they actually committed to competing and made some meaningful moves at this year’s Aug. 31 trade deadline, acquiring reliever Archie Bradley and outfielder Brian Goodwin in separate trades. But the Reds’ first trip to the postseason since 2013 seems less and less likely with every game. However, like the majority of MLB teams this year, they’re still within range of a final spot in the expanded postseason. Entering Tuesday, Sportsline is giving the Reds a 22.3 percent chance of making the playoffs. Fangraphs is a little more hopeful with a 27.7 percent chance.

Let’s take a look at the Reds’ remaining opponents for 2020:

  • vs. Chicago Cubs (Sept. 8, 9, 10)
  • vs. St. Louis Cardinals (Sept. 11, 12, 13)
  • vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (Sept. 14 doubleheader, 15, 16)
  • vs. Chicago White Sox (Sept. 18, 19, 20)
  • vs. Milwaukee Brewers (Sept. 21, 22, 23)
  • vs. Minnesota Twins (Sept. 25, 26, 27)

So, four out of the six teams the Reds face in the final three weeks of the season currently hold a spot in the postseason. Plus, the Brewers are still in the running for the final NL Wild Card spot. If I’m to make my buy/sell decision, I’m going to sell the Reds turning things around in time to move up in the standings. I don’t think Cincy is playing with enough urgency right now, and playing with urgency is the only choice struggling teams have in this abbreviated 60-game season.

Buy: Max Fried is a true ace

If the Braves are hoping to make a deeper run in this year’s postseason, they are going to need a starting pitcher to step up. The 26-year-old Max Fried has done just that. Yes, he was placed on the 10-day injured list on Tuesday, but Fried has proven to be Atlanta’s new ace. And I’m buying his success as he puts up impressive numbers in the fourth season of his MLB career. 

Mike Soroka, the Braves’ No. 1 starter entering 2020, saw his season end when he torn his right Achilles in just the second week of the season. Mike Foltynewicz was designated for assignment after giving up six runs in his start. Cole Hamels has yet to make his season debut after dealing with injuries. Felix Hernandez decided to opt-out of the season, citing coronavirus concerns. So, considering the rest of the Braves’ rotation, the pressure was on Fried to single-handedly carry the rotation. And he’s done just that.

He’s 6-0 on the season and carries the third-best ERA in the National League. He currently holds a MLB-best homer-less streak of 63 1/3 innings. He’s the only qualified starter to not allow a home run in 2020. It’s the longest home run-less stretch for an Atlanta Braves pitcher since Mike Minor in 2011.

I’m buying Fried as a true ace. Now the Braves just need him to get healthy before October.


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