By: Robert Bishop
Back again, and before getting into an action-packed opening weekend in the MLB, a blockbuster trade went down in the NFL. Weeks after making his preference for a trade known, superstar safety Jamal Adams got his wish. The New York Jets dealt Adams to the Seattle Seahawks, receiving a bounty of draft riches and cornerback Bradley McDougald in return. Adams is a game-changing talent, shining as a traditional safety while also offering a unique skill-set that allows him to produce as a pass rusher. Now, Seattle is likely going to work to lock up Adams to a long-term deal that will reset the market for star safeties going forward.
Despite Seattle being a winner in the deal by adding Adams to a defense in desperate need of a play-maker, the Jets fared well in the transaction, too. New York added a pair of first-round picks and a 2021 third-rounder. The first-round picks are likely to be mid-to-late selections, which dampens the overall impact, but it is still a solid haul. Of course, for the picks to have massive value, the Jets will have to utilize them effectively, which has been an issue for the franchise in the past. Either way, landing two firsts and a third, along with a solid contributor in McDougald, for an unhappy Adams has to be viewed as a win for the rebuilding Jets.
One of the finest performances of the weekend came from Reds right-hander Luis Castillo. He followed up his breakout 2019 season with a dazzling 2020 debut, striking out 11 across six innings. Castillo complemented the double-digit punchouts with a generous number of ground-ball outs. As long as Castillo can limit his walks, he has legitimate ace upside. The Reds boast a trio of starting pitchers capable of front-lining a rotation, and Castillo, Trevor Bauer, and Sonny Gray are big reasons Cincinnati is a stealth threat to win the NL Central.
Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg was scratched from his scheduled start on Saturday due to a nerve issue in his throwing hand. Obviously, this is far from an ideal development, but the Nationals seem to be exercising extreme caution with its superstar. At present, Strasburg is listed as day-to-day with no mention of a stint on the IL being a possibility. Even with an expanded playoff field for 2020, the margin for contention is slim for the defending World Series champions. Washington needs Strasburg to take the mound every fifth day.
On Sunday afternoon, breaking news revealed that reigning American League Cy Young winner Justin Verlander would miss the remainder of the season with an elbow injury. That was quickly corrected—or at least revised—to indicate he would be shut down for a couple of weeks and re-evaluated. While the initial report may have been pessimistic, given the abbreviated nature of the 2020 season and Verlander’s age (37), it isn’t far-fetched to think Houston will be without the veteran right-hander for the duration of the 2020 season. Without Verlander, the starting rotation for the Astros suddenly has question marks behind Zack Greinke.
While Washington and Houston lost their aces to injury over the weekend, the Angels welcomed theirs back to the mound. Unfortunately, though Shohei Ohtani’s return from elbow surgery didn’t result in the star two-way player being injured, that is the only positive from the outing. Ohtani, who was taking the mound for the first time since 2018, allowed five runs while failing to record an out. Of his 30 pitches, only 15 were strikes. He failed to induce a swinging strike, and his velocity was well below pre-established levels. The Angels have Ohtani penciled in as the every-week starter on Sunday, giving L.A. fans a week to hope the assumed ace of the staff figures things out.