The MLB Regular Season has begun, and there’s been great fanfare. Well, maybe not that great, but for the few people that still care about baseball, it’s exciting. So, here are five things to take from this past week of games.
Cody Bellinger is still really good
Bellinger has seven home runs to start the year. His swing looks relaxed, his timing looks good and he looks like he’s having fun as the Dodgers offense has gotten off to a torrid start. The Dodgers have won their first three series against the Diamondbacks, Giants and Rockies. They cracked double digits in the run column in four of the 10 games, and Bellinger has been a big part of that by drilling a major-league-leading seven home runs and driving in a (you guessed it) major-league-leading 18 runs. Needless to say, he’s feeling good in Hollywood.
Mike Trout is also still really good
Mike Trout is the best player in MLB and has been for a long time. The record-breaking contract extension he signed before the season began proves that. And he continues to prove it on the baseball field. Trout homered five times in the four-game series against the Texas Rangers this past weekend, which the Anaheim Angels won three out of the four games in. He continues to prove why people didn’t question the massive $426.5 million extension the Angels gave him. He’s a monster, and he somehow continues to blow people’s expectations of what the 27-year-old outfielder can do on a baseball field. Hopefully, he continues this stellar play because it sure is fun to watch.
The Rays are… surprisingly good
The Tampa Bay Rays don’t have any superstars, excluding Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell, and they seem to be just fine with that. They play a very cerebral game, shifting infielders to make a four-man outfield, putting a relief pitcher at first base to help with matchups, and continuing to utilize their quirky (but effective) “opener” strategy. The Rays are young, they’re exciting and they’re winning a lot of games right now. However, the season is still young, so the Rays still have a lot of work to do in one of the tougher divisions in baseball. They may need to win 100 games to win the division as the Red Sox and Yankees both eclipsed that mark last year. But both teams are off to slow starts, so perhaps the Rays will get a little lucky this year. One can only hope.
The Red Sox may have a problem
The Red Sox are 3-8 and are in the cellar. This won’t last- not with the talent they have. However, if they don’t fix their pitching staff, it could get even worse. Their starters have been awful. Chris Sale’s velocity is down. Nathan Eovaldi seems to still be recovering from his painfully long outing in the World Series last year. And, to top it all off, Rick Porcello and Eduardo Rodriguez don’t seem to be getting the job done either. All of this adds up to being one of the worst pitching staffs in the MLB. Their bullpen doesn’t seem to be that bad, but they’re working with some flawed parts. They let go of their two best relievers, Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly, so they are now relying on some… less talented arms coming out of the ‘pen. It remains to be seen if they will regret that decision. For now, they need to be focused on righting the ship with the starting rotation.
The Cubs definitely have a problem
The Chicago Cubs are 2-7. They’re not in the cellar like the Red Sox, but when you’re in the same division as the Cincinnati Reds, you better not be. The Cubs have seemingly been hungover from their 2016 World Series victory for the past two years. They have one of the most talented lineups in the MLB, and their rotation is serviceable, but they haven’t been able to make it back to the World Series yet. Now, they may not even make the playoffs if they keep this up. Their rotation has been a problem for some time, and their bullpen seems to be lost with closer Brandon Morrow on the DL to start the year.
These flaws seem to be rearing their ugly heads this year. Their pitching staff has the worst ERA in baseball, and they lost two games this past weekend to the Milwaukee Brewers despite cracking double digits in the run total offensively. A lot of people are placing blame on manager Joe Maddon. In his defense, it’s hard to manage a team when every other pitcher seems to be serving more meatballs than an Olive Garden. But hey, it’s still early, and hopefully, they can turn things around soon.
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