By: Noah Wright
This season is like others, as we have seen surprising starts from players, and teams as a whole this season. Whether or not the surprises are good are another thing. We’re just a little over a week into the season, so are these starts to the season a fluke, or the real deal?
1.) Cubs 3-7 Record To Start The Season:
Among slow starts to the season, the Cubs are one of the worst. They’re god-awful start to the season can be attributed to their pitching as a whole. Only one of their pitchers (Jon Lester) has an ERA below 4, and the rest have ERA’s spanning from 4.15 to 10.29. Plus, Jon Lester, Cole Hamels, and Yu Darvish are getting up there in age, so for some of them, this might be the beginning of the end. The bullpen is the same. Carl Edwards Jr. struggled so much, he has already been optioned to Triple-A. Steve Cishek, Brandon Kintzler, and Pedro Strop have all given up a handful of runs.
However, the team’s offense has been very good. They only have 2 regular batters with an OPS below .800. That’s Kris Bryant and Albert Almora. Whether or not Jason Heyward will keep up good production in the long term is another question, but needless to say, this offense has been top notch to start the season.
Verdict: Fluke; if the pitching gets it together somewhat, they’ll improve
2.) Yoan Moncada’s break out:
Moncada was one of those prospects you kept saying “this year’s the year” with. After a so-so 2018 season where he struggled with strikeouts, but showed a good power-speed combo, Moncada was set to enter 2019 with some questions to answer. First, he’d need to answer how well he would make the transition from 2B to 3B. Secondly, he would need to answer if he was going to put everything together this year. So far, it looks like he has put it together. His first 37 plate appearances have yielded 12 hits (6 being XBH, 2 being HRS). While he has struck out 7 times to go with only 3 walks, he has performed well overall. Moncada has already recorded a DRS at the hot corner as well.
Verdict: Real deal
3.) Tampa Bay Rays’ Start To The Season:
The Rays came out of nowhere last season, and finished 2018 with 90 wins. Their gang of misfit line-up pieces and the opener helped the Rays put themselves into Wild Card talks for a while. However, this time they’re looking for the division. They’re off to a 8-3 start, and all their pitching looks great. Charlie Morton and 2018 AL Cy Young winner Blake Snell look to lead this rotation. Tyler Glasnow has look great in his 2 starts, only giving up 1 earned run in 11 innings. Yonny Chirinos also looks like a good addition to the rotation. Hard throwing left handed closer Jose Alvarado has also been lights out at the back of the pen. The men setting it up for Alvarado have also been very good. While the line-up doesn’t have a clear long term standout, Yandy Diaz, Ji-Man Choi, and Kevin Kiermaier are all putting up great numbers. However, this team is in a tough AL East. They will have to get over the Yankees and Red Sox. They have deeper pitching staffs than both, but each have deeper line-ups than the Rays.
Verdict: Real Deal
4.) Seattle Mariners 9-2 Start
The Mariners didn’t really enter the season with too high of expectations. They really looked to be entering rebuild mode after trading off most of their valuable assets. However, they’ve come out of the gates swinging. Now 1B Jay Bruce, Tim Beckham, Domingo Santana, Edwin Encarnacion, and Dan Vogelbach have been putting on a serious display of power. Marco Gonzales is off to a hot start, and Felix Hernandez didn’t look too shabby in his first start of the year. However, not all these things can last all season. I doubt many are predicting Jay Bruce to keep up his .605, or Beckham to keep up his .825 slugging %.
5.) San Diego Padres 6-4 Start:
At the start of the season, I don’t think many thought the Padres would be that great to start the season. Many, including myself, thought that they were just a year away from real contention. However, their 6-4 start might put that into question. Manny Machado, Hunter Renfroe, and Will Myers have gotten off to great starts to the season. Closer Kirby Yates has been great out of the gates as well. LHP starter Joey Lucchesi has yet to give up a run in his 10 and a third innings of work to start the year. Other starters Eric Lauer, Nick Margevicius, and Chris Paddack also look really good. This team only gets younger and better with infielder Fernando Tatis Jr. already up in the majors, and a slew of more young talent waiting in the wings.
Verdict: Real deal