Baseball’s back! Finally, after an excruciatingly long Spring Training, the games mean something again. I love Opening Day because we get to see some of the best pitching match-ups of the year. Every team starts their theoretical “ace” (except the Padres, Angels, and Athletics – yuck). As a result, we saw some incredible performances.
Clayton Kershaw was his dominant self, albeit against the AAAA Padres team. Carlos Martinez dazzled against the reigning World Series Champion Chicago Cubs (that’s their full name, FYI), but he didn’t get the win because wins are the absolute dumbest stat in all of professional sports. Madison Bumgarner was perfect through 16 batters, but he also didn’t get the win. He hit two dongs, though, so that was cool. Dallas Keuchel might actually be good again. Chris Archer is fine. Stephen Strasburg looked every bit as good as his talent says he is. Noah Syndergaard threw the hardest first pitch of any game ever, which was cool, but he was later taken out of the game because of a blister. He’ll be fine.
Those aces were fine, but that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about the absolutely horrendous season debuts for some of the game’s greatest arms.
Jon Lester was not good.
The line Lester posted was actually pretty good, and he limited the Cardinals to only one run. 5 IP, 7 H, 2 BB, 7 K, 1 ER. The problem is that he was noticeably out of sync with not-David-Ross behind the plate, and it seemed to hurt him. He labored through 5 innings, throwing 102 pitches. He was missing his spots, and was clearly frustrated throughout the night. Aledmys Diaz stole two bases against him. He stole 6 total last year.
Zack Greinke cannot be trusted.
The results were alright, but he certainly didn’t look like the Zack Greinke of ole. Not much to be optimistic about in this start vs. a pretty weak Giants lineup.
Corey Kluber started off very rough.
Like Syndergaard, Kluber was dealing with a blister. Unlike Syndergaard, Kluber was awful. He gave up 3 home runs, 5 ER, and looked generally not good. He started similarly last season, and we all know what happened after that.
Yu Darvish broke my heart.
Yu…jerk. My prediction for this year’s AL Cy Young was horrendous. 4 ER, 5 BB. Just gross. He didn’t have command of his pitches, and his strikeout stuff was just not there. The Rangers usually solid bullpen also had an uncharacteristically off day.
Gerrit Cole looked great until he didn’t.
Cole is the pitcher I was most excited about watching yesterday. After an injury-marred 2016 that never saw him reclaim ace-type performance, he looked great in spring training. He routinely touched 97-mph, and the command seemed to be back where it needed to be. Cole started off hot, but Boston (an admittedly tough first start to the year) did what Boston does and hit him hard.
Jon Gray looked even better until he wasn’t.
Jon Gray isn’t in the same elite tier of pitchers as the rest of this group, but many people believe he could be. He cruised through 4 IP yesterday before showing the baseball world why he’s not quite ready to be a true ace. 5 consecutive hits knocked him out of the game in the 5th inning, as he looked like he just fell apart.
Masahiro Tanaka was…well.
So should you panic? Absolutely not. It was one game. Damn, people, give these pitchers a break.