MLB 2020 season simulation: Astros struggle in first week; Red Sox, Cardinals hot out of the gate

Major League Baseball was supposed to launch the 2020 regular season last week, on March 26. The spread of the novel coronavirus, however, forced MLB to delay Opening Day to some unknowable future date that is dependent on the effectiveness of the containment strategies imposed across the country in recent weeks. 

Because we could all use a distraction these days, we've decided to pass time by simulating the season on Out of the Park Baseball 21. Along the way, we'll be providing updates on what's happening in our fictional league, similar to what we did on Opening Day

With that in mind, here are the would-be standings and five developments to be mindful of from the week that was (and wasn't).

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1. Astros floundering early

Before normality was fractured, one of the top storylines heading into the 2020 season was how the Houston Astros would fare after a tumultuous, scandal-ridden winter. It's impossibly early in the simmed season, but the answer so far is "not great." Through seven games, the Astros are 2-5 and in last place in the American League West. What's more is that their -21 run differential is the second worst in baseball, ahead of only the Colorado Rockies. Woof.

2. Red Sox off to hot start

The yin to the Astros' yang has been the Boston Red Sox, who own the majors' best record after their own controversy-filled offseason. The Red Sox won their first seven games, taking advantage of a draw that included the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles. Jose Peraza is hitting .357 and Matt Hall nearly threw a no-hitter. Enjoy these times while they last, Boston fans. 

3. Injuries take down Buehler, Strasburg

Two of the top starters in baseball will miss more than a month due to injury. Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Walker Buehler (strained abdominal muscle) is expected to be out for six weeks. Meanwhile, Washington Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg will miss five weeks after suffering a sprained ankle.

4. Olson off to great start

The Oakland Athletics are in first place in the AL West, and first baseman Matt Olson is one major reason why. Olson leads the majors in home runs (four) and runs batted in (14), and is second in OPS (1.399) behind Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner. The A's hosted the Astros for three games earlier in the week, and Olson notched three hits in each of those contests. 

5. Brewers surprisingly release Anderson

Although there wasn't much movement on the transactions front, one move did stand out as a surprise: the Milwaukee Brewers released left-hander Brett Anderson before he even made an appearance for them. The Brewers rotation now includes Brent Suter and Freddy Peralta, and their bullpen has been oddly dependent on rookie J.P. Feyereisen, who has struck out five and permitted just two baserunners in four innings. 

Hitting performance of the week

That honor goes to Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Andrew McCutchen. He tallied four hits, including his first home run, against the New York Mets. McCutchen recorded seven total bases and drove in six runs in a winning effort. (McCutchen's teammate Jean Segura supplied five hits in that game.)

Pitching performance of the week

Clayton Kershaw is no stranger to stellar outings. The one that landed him here saw him shut out the San Francisco Giants. Kershaw gave up five hits, but struck out 11 and walked none on 104 pitches. His start was good for an 88 Game Score.

CBS Sports Staff

R.J. Anderson joined CBS Sports in 2016. He previously wrote for Baseball Prospectus, where he contributed to five of the New York Times bestselling annuals. His work has also appeared in Newsweek and... Full Bio

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