You’d better pack a lunch… and dinner… and a snack. This is the biggest slate we’ve maybe ever profiled, as nearly every game has some level of intrigue with all 30 teams in action as we wrap up this first weekend of the 2017 season. Check ’em out!
RHP Julio TeherA?n (ATL) versus RHP Gerrit Cole (PIT) – 1:35 p.m. ET
TeherA?n dueled with Thora��more on that latera��in the opener, and while his team came out on the short end of a 6-0 loss, don’t blame the 26-year-old righty. TeherA?n tossed six shutout innings, fanning six and walking three while scattering four hits in a steady outing. TeherA?n is probably the most slept-on ace in the game, as he doesn’t really possess sexy strikeout rates or much in the way of groundball stuff. But he’s impossibly young, incredibly durable and just flat out awesome. He’s a real treat for Braves fans to watch every fifth day.
After a tough 2016 season, Cole’s redemption tour didn’t get off to the best of starts as he was outdueled by Rick Porcelloa��more on him latera��in a 5-3 loss to get the season underway. Cole allowed five earned runs in as many innings, including a home run and only two strikeouts in a pedestrian outing. On the bright side, Cole did induce 10 grounders from the 22 hitters he faced. But when things aren’t going well for Cole, the strikeouts flatline and he gets beat up a bit. Here’s to hoping this is just a blip on the radar screen. It most likely is.
Aces in Isolation
RHP Jake Arrieta (CHC) versus Milwaukee’s RHP Zach Davies
He looked like the Arrieta of old in his first starta��2-1 win over the Cardinalsa��with six strikeouts, a pair of walks and just one unearned run on April 4. Here’s a possible note of concern, though: he averaged just 91.1 mph on his fastball in his first start. Now, it is certainly hasty to look at early-season ratings and make any sort of conclusions. It’s just something to keep an eye on, though. He averaged 93.7 mph last season.
RHP Lance McCullers Jr. (HOU) versus Kansas City’s RHP Nate Karns
McCullers had a tough season last year, as he posted a 3.22 ERA but also a scary 1.54 WHIP. He also only threw 81 innings as he battled injuries for much of the season. He was phenomenal his first time out to get the season underway, as he fanned seven and walked just two batters over six strong innings against the Mariners. Seattle was only able to scratch across one run in a 2-1 loss, while McCullers induced 16 grounders from 27 hitters. Zero of his outs induced on the day were in the air, which is a positive sign for any pitcher, let alone someone with his strikeout potential.
RHP Carlos Martinez (STL) versus Cincinnati’s RHP Scott Feldman
Martinez celebrated his contract extension by going out and dominating the Cubs to get his season underway. The defending champs barely had a chance against the 25-year-old righty, as he fanned 10 and walked none in 7.1 innings, scattering six hits in a scoreless performance. Martinez has moments every season where he falls out of line for a bita��which has kept him from becoming a superstara��but for now he’s just one of the best young pitchers in the game. I think he’s OK with thata��for now.
LHP Sean Manaea (OAK) versus Texas’s LHP MartA�n PA�rez
Manaea was awesome in the second half last year, but struggled in his first start against the Angels. He fanned four batters in six innings, but allowed four earned runs and walked two as the Halos beat the A’s, 7-6. After the break last year, Manaea cut his ERA virtually in half (5.24 -> 2.67) and bumped his strikeout rate and WHIP to very, very solid rates. He’s a big-time sleeper in fantasy baseball.
RHP Corey Kluber (CLE) versus Arizona’s LHP Patrick Corbin
The Indians still managed an 8-5 win, but Kluber was embattled against the Rangers his first time out. He allowed five earned runsa��on three home runsa��over six innings with six strikeouts and three walks. His trademark groundball stuff was not in action either, as just five of the 26 batters he faced hit the ball on the ground. He also reportedly battled some blister issues, so we aren’t reading too much into a tough first start. This’ll be an interesting matchup, as the Diamondbacks and Indians rarely square off. In that way, interleague play is kind of fun. Right? RIGHT?
RHP Johnny Cueto (SFG) versus San Diego’s LHP Clayton Richard
The Shimmy King got the win to get the season underway but struggled a bit against the Snakes, who popped two home runs and scored four runs against him in just five innings. Still, his offense bailed him out in an 8-4 win in Phoenix on April 4. Pitch count was the issue on that day, as he ran up 94 pitches in just five frames, though he did induce 11 grounders so that part of his game was on point. The San Diego offense should be enough to cure what ails him.
RHP Noah Syndergaard (NYM) versus Miami’s RHP Edinson VA?lquez
Thor was absolutely incredible in his season opener, as he fanned seven batters, walked none and scattered five hits in six shutout innings in a 6-0 win against the Braves. Keep an eye on him, as a blister cropped up that led to him being lifted after 86 pitches in an otherwise dominant outing. This is a guy whose slider is faster than most people’s fastballs. Is he even human? Tune in and find out!
Rick Porcello against Daniel Norris is a good matchup to get the day underway. The former is the defending Cy Young winner who got his season underway with 6.1 strong innings against the Pirates: six hits, three earned runs, five strikeouts and a walk. He also induced 11 grounders from 26 hitters, which is what he does when he’s at his best. Norris has battled some arm issues during camp and is making his first start of the season. He has sleeper potential after posting a 3.04 ERA with an improved WHIP (1.37) in the second half last year.
Stephen Strasburg versus Jeremy Hellickson has potential to be a solid matchup. Everyone knows what you get with Strasburga��strikeouts and dominance with the potential for short outings and the occasional injurya��but don’t ignore Hellickson, who rebuilt his image significantly in Philly last year. Hellickson, who turned 30 on Saturday, was marvelous in his last start against the Reds, allowing just one earned run on six hits with a strikeout and a walk in five innings in a 4-3 win. Hellickson posted a 3.71 ERA last season and tied a career high with 189 innings in his first season with the Phillies last year before accepting their Qualifying Offer.
Don’t sleep on Ervin Santana and JosA� Quintana. They may be the two AL Central aces who are least likely to finish their seasons wearing the same clothes, but in the meantime they’re going to duel on Sunday in the South Side. Santana was brilliant in the opener against the Royals, allowing just four baserunners over seven innings in a 7-1 win. Quintana got beat up pretty good against the Tigers in his first start, allowing three home runs and six earned runs while getting just 16 outs on the day. That’s a 10.13 ERA, which will take a while to dig out of. Quintana didn’t allow his third home run of the year until June 11 last seasona��a game against the Royals where he allowed, strangely enough, three home runs.
Kenta Maeda against Tyler Anderson is one of my favorite matchups of the day. Maeda got roughed up just a bit by the Padres the first time out, but will be looking to find the form from his terrific rookie season where he posted a 3.48 ERA and more strikeouts than innings pitched. Anderson mixes strikeouts and grounders with limited walks, and has somehow managed to pitch better at Coors Field than on the road. The Rockies are starting to amass some pitching depth, and he’s front and center with Jon Gray and others as the team looks to return to respectability.
Matt Shoemaker is primed for a solid season, as his combination of strikeouts and walks is only done in by some untimely luck — both with health and home runs. He’s got Seattle tonight, and looks to build on a decent first start against the A’s: five innings, two earned runs, four strikeouts, three walks and two solo home runs allowed.