Winners & losers of the first weekend of the MLB season
The first series of the MLB regular season has concluded and boy was it a crazy one. Things got started off with the Cubs taking on the Derek Jeter-sabotaged Marlins. Expectations are low for Miami this season but expectations couldn’t have gotten any lower for the Fins after Ian Happ took the Marlins deep on the very first pitch of the season. Giancarlo Stanton made his arrival in Giancarlo Stanton fashion, smacking two home runs in his debut with the Yankees. The White Sox, Nationals, Brewers and Pirates all swept the weekend while the Reds, Tigers, Royals and Padres went empty-handed. Here are my winners and losers of the opening weekend.
New York Mets: The Mets rotation looked like their dominant selves this weekend as Noah Syndergaard and Jacob DeGrom were lights out against a St. Louis Cardinals offense that, heading into the season, had a top 10 lineup. Although he let up four runs, Syndergaard went six strong on Thursday by striking out 10 in a 9-4 victory. DeGrom was just as impressive by only allowing one run in 5.2 innings at striking out seven in their 6-2 win. Although they dropped their series finale on Easter, the Mets have a three game set against the Phillies (I will get to them later).
Los Angeles Dodgers: Although they split their opening series with the Giants, the Dodgers pitching looked impressive, even in their first two losses. The offense was no where to be found in the first two games as they combined to score zero runs. On the other hand, in the first two games, the Dodgers only allowed two total runs, one per game. If you only allow one run per game, most of the time, you’re going to win. The Dodgers bounced back by blanking the Giants in the final two games and combined to score 14 runs in that time span. Up next for the Dodgers is a rematch of last year’s NLDS against the Diamondbacks.
Washington Nationals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Milwaukee Brewers: Although the White Sox went undefeated in the first weekend, they only played two games against the Royals due to a rainout on Sunday. The Nationals, Pirates, and Brewers on the other hand, all swept their three game series against the Reds, Tigers, and Padres, respectively. Yes those three teams all stink but to come away with a sweep to start the season makes you a winner in my book.
I’ve already covered the Giants but aside from them, I only have one loser this week,
Philadelphia Phillies: Oh man where do I even begin? I am not a Phillies fan by any means but living in the Philadelphia area, I have access to their games. With baseball being back, I needed to watch baseball so I wanted to watch the up-and-coming Phillies and boy was I in for a show.
In case you haven’t heard, the Phillies hired former outfielder Gabe Kapler as their manager in the offseason. Aside from managing the Red Sox single-A affiliate, the Greenville Drive, and leading them to a 58-81 record in 2007, the 42-year-old Kapler has very little managerial history. Heading into this season, it would be interesting to see what he’d do.
First game of the year against the Braves and their ace Aaron Nola was lights out. Striking out three, allowing three hits and allowing one earned run, Nola was pulled after 5.1 innings and a total of 68 pitches as the Phillies held onto a five run lead. Somehow, some way, the Phillies managed to blow the lead and blow the game 8-5 on a walk-off. Kapler used up six pitchers that game (keep that in mind).
The second game, the Phillies won in extras 5-4 and used up nine pitchers including five from the previous night. The third game is where the rails came off. The Phillies got smacked 15-2 but the story came in the second inning when starter Vince Velasquez couldn’t even make it through three innings as he let up nine hits, and four runs. Kapler went to the bullpen but here’s the problem: nobody was warming up. Poor Hoby Milner (who was pitching his third straight game in as many days!) had to come out of the bullpen cold but kudos to him, he only let up one hit and no runs in 0.1 innings and was replaced by Jake Thompson the next inning.
Kapler’s mis-management of the bullpen led to reserve infielder Pedro Florimon to throw one inning in a game that was already decided. In case you were wondering, Florimon walked one hitter and let up one hit, a two-run bomb by Braves outfielder Lane Adams. We’ll see if Kapler has learned from his mistakes as they take on the Mets this week.