Before it began, exactly how the first 60-game season in Major League Baseball's long history would unfold was anybody's guess.
Now that we have more than a week's worth of data, let's dive into it.
It's obviously too early to read too much into anything, but a few trends are emerging. We spotted seven that cover what's happening within the actual games, including how long it's taking to play said games. There are also some trends influencing the injured list.
Let's get into the details.
An Alarming Number of Pitcher Injuries
Even before MLB finally implemented a shortened season July 6, there were concerned whispers that such a thing could result in a sudden onset of injuries.
As Dr. Joshua Dines, an orthopedic surgeon from the Hospital for Special Surgery, told Tom Keegan of the Boston Herald in June, "A big concern for me is that kind of acute vs. chronic workload ratio, where even if you've been doing a little, if you ramp up too quickly over a short period of time, that's where you become at the highest risk for injury."
Time has proved Dines wise, specifically with regard to pitchers. Dozens of hurlers have landed on the injured list just since July 23, including Cy Young Award winners Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander and Corey Kluber.
In a perfect world, this will be as bad as it gets. But in this very much imperfect world, teams may be dancing around injuries to their pitchers all season.
The Healthy Pitchers Are Sloppy
Despite all the injuries, the league's pitchers are actually off to a promising start. Sort of.
On one hand, runs per game and the three triple slash categories (average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage) are all down from 2019. Even though the ball seems like it's juiced again, the home run rate has also dipped.
On the other hand, pitchers sure are giving up a lot of walks.
So far, they've issued free passes to 9.4 percent of the batters they've faced. That's not only up from 8.5 percent in 2019, but it's also on track for one of the 10 highest single-season walk rates in MLB history.
In theory, this could be traced to relatively inexperienced umpires who've replaced the 11 veterans who opted out of working this year. But since the actual data there is inconclusive—balls inside the zone are up slightly, but so are strikes outside the zone—it could be that pitchers are simply rusty from their long layoffs.
All Starting Pitchers Are Openers Now
Mind you, rust isn't the only thing contributing to the league's high walk rate.
Not all pitchers are the same when it comes to hitting the strike zone. Relievers are usually worse at it than starters, to a point where they saw starters' 7.7 percent walk rate in 2019 and raised them a 9.6 percent walk rate.
Though starting pitchers have thus far raised their walk rate to 8.9 percentin 2020, that number has applied to relatively few batters. Starters and relievers have split the league's 1,838.2 innings fairly close to down the middle, with the former pitching 963.2 (or 52.4 percent) and the latter pitching 875.
Even in an era in which relievers are handling greater and greater workloads, this is a departure from the norm. Last year, for instance, the split between starters and relievers was a lot closer to 60-40 than to 50-50.
This trend may only last as long as the starters need to get their arms in shape after the league's rush to Opening Day. But if it proves effective, there may be some teams that lean in to it.