Ray's Ramblings - What we Learned on Opening Day
MOSTLY GOOD FOR STARTERS
Here are the results on the hill for the six men who started Opening Day.
Chris Archer was Dr. Jekyll Sunday allowing two runs over seven innings against the Yankees. He struck out five while walking only one. Getting ahead in the count is key, an if he does that he can drop that slider in and create swings and misses or weak contact. The game is pretty simply if you have this level of stuff and simply throw strikes.
Madison Bumgarner hit two homers to set a Giants record for pitchers with 16 career big flies. By the way, MadBum has more homers than Mike Trout and Kris Bryant their last 255 plate appearances. MadBum was also dynamic through six innings before slowing in the seventh. All told he allowed three runs, didn’t walk a batter and struck out 11 over seven frames. #HesAHorse
Zack Greinke has all those concerns about his velocity and his down effort last season. Some people were even panicking this spring. As I’ve previously written, Greinke had a 2.92 ERA over 22 outings last season if you remove the four starts he was bombed. That’s still pretty good, no? In his first start this season he was boring but he held the Giants to two runs over five innings. He struck out four, walked two and likely did little to quell the concerns, though again, he didn’t pitch poorly.
Jon Lester wasn’t overly sharp, but he was effective against the Cardinals holding them to one run over five innings. He allowed nine base runners, seven hits and two walks, while striking out seven. Stable is as stable does.
Carlos Martinez dominated the Cubs over 7.1 scoreless innings. He was throwing high 90’s darts as he walked none and struck out 10 batters to become the first Cardinals starter with 10 strikeouts on Opening Day since Bob Gibson. He can be an SP1 if he stays healthy and he keeps the walks in check.
Masahiro Tanaka proved, yet again, that spring training matters little ones the bright lights are on. Tanaka allowed one earned run over 23.2 innings this spring. It took about 23 minutes for him to allow three runs on Opening Day. Tanaka was obliterated for eight runs, seven earned, over 2.2 innings against the Rays. He simply couldn’t locate his pitches on his way to tying his career worst of seven earned runs allowed. Tanaka blamed his location woes on being “too hype up.” I know it’s Opening Day, but the man is 28 years old and that excuse seems weak to me. Good news is that his arm appears to be fine. He just couldn’t locate his pitches in his first official start.
CLOSING AIN’T EASY
It’s just one game. Please keep reminding yourself of that. Don’t take too much away from one outing, unless someone is hurt. The closers discussed here ain’t, so move on, feel bad about it for day, and get ready to see a good return on you investment as things should be fine with these mound mavens.
Seung Hwan Oh was dynamic last season. In 79.2 innings he struck out an impressive 103 batters with an inspiring 5.72 K/BB ratio leading to a 1.92 ERA and 0.92 WHIP. Dominant. Alas, he was horrible Sunday night as he allowed three runs while recording just five outs. He gave up a couple of base hits, but he also hit two batters. He just wasn’t right. One day...
Mark Melancon was supposed to fix the Giants main issue from last season – the ninth inning. In his first opportunity he brought back all the nightmares Giants fans dealt with all of last season as he... blew Game One for the Giants. Known offensive power houses Jeff Mathis, Daniel Descalso and Chris Owings paid a big part in the rally that allowed the D’backs to score two runs to saddle Melancon with a loss and a blown save. Couldn’t have gone much worse for Melancon really. Dude has 98 saves the last two seasons and his career ratios are a 2.63 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. He will be just fine.
For this last guy, well, there’s always concern, and though you should be thinking the sky is falling with Fernando Rodney, you should also understand that the guy is always a week away from total anonymity. Rodney was throwing the ball all over the place Sunday, though he was pumping the heater in there at 98 mph. Didn’t stop him from allowing two hits while walking two batters. He also threw two wild pitches, though to be clear supposed defensive stalwart Jeff Mathis showed hideous form trying to block the two pitches that went for WPs. It’s one outing. It’s also Fernando Rodney. Still, he has a couple of things going in his favor. (1) The D’backs would love to trade him this season, and sending a 9th inning arm out brings you back more than dealing a 7th inning reliever. (2) Rodney has saved at least 16 games each of the last five seasons and at least 25 in four of those efforts (including last season). He has a history of 9th inning success including 177 saves the past five years, 5th most in baseball. (3) The Diamondbacks really don’t have a better option to work the 9th inning. Jake Barret might be when healthy, but he’s on the shelf with shoulder woes. Are they going to trust the final outs of the game to Enrique Burgos or Randall Delgado in a 9thinning role? The dark horse here might be Archie Bradley. There has long been some concern that Bradley might end up in the pen instead of the rotation as he’s struggled to find a third pitch. Just smoldering embers here, there’s no fire, but it’s possible that Bradley ascends to the 9thinning at some point. Possible.
Ray Flowers can be heard Monday/Tuesday and Thursday/Friday, 7 PM EDT, Wednesday 8 PM EDT on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87). You can also hear Ray Sunday nights at 8 PM EDT on the channel talking fantasy sports. Follow Ray’s work on Twitter (@baseballguys).