The MLB season is just over a week old, and one thing is for sure, it does not suck to have baseball back in our lives. There have already been quite a few intriguing storylines to develop over the past week. Let’s take a closer look at all the important events to unfold in the baseball world over the past week.
Shohei Ohtani’s Debut
The two-way Japanese sensation finally made his big league debut after a fairly underwhelming spring. So far, so good for Ohtani, who won his first big league start as a pitcher, fanning six over six innings and giving up just three runs. He’s also swung a good bat, as the Angels are preparing to use him as a DH a few times a week. In limited time, Ohtani is 7 for 18 with three home runs, confirming reports that he has big-time power.
The Yankees began the season with a great amount of depth, and that depth is going to be tested. New York’s injured list is piling up fast. Outfielders Clint Frazier, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Aaron Hicks are all on the DL, not to mention first baseman Greg Bird. They were recently joined by third baseman Brandon Drury and pitcher C.C. Sabathia. Even with the kind of talent the Yankees have, that’s a lot of injuries to overcome while playing in the uber-competitive AL East.
Brewers Lose Their Closer
Speaking of injuries, the Brewers had a tough break when they lost closer Corey Knebel to a hamstring injury that figures to keep him sidelined for four-to-six weeks. Knebel was an all-star last year, so his injury is a huge hit to Milwaukee’s bullpen early in the year. The good news for the Brewers is that they have a fairly deep bullpen, so they should have four or five guys who can handle the late innings. But losing Knebel over the next month or so is bound to hurt them.
Rough Start for Gabe Kapler
New Phillies manager Gabe Kapler isn’t the first person to get booed by Philadelphia sports fans. But he may be the first manager to get booed at his team’s home opener. The Phillies started the season 1-4 before their home opener, during which time Kapler badly mismanaged the pitching staff. He even brought in a relief pitcher who hadn’t warmed up in the bullpen prior to entering the game. Kapler handled it well and said all the right things afterward. But he clearly has a long road ahead of him to win over the fans. Of course, beating the Marlins 20-1 on Saturday night should help a little.
Red Hot Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox are the hottest team in baseball right now. After dropping their season opener, they have won their last seven games. The starting pitching has been excellent thus far. Even guys not named David Price and Chris Sale have given the club quality starts, which is surprising with Eduardo Rodriguez, Drew Pomeranz, and Steven Wright on the DL. Offensively, a few key players have started the season slowly, but the rest of the team has more than made up for it. The trio of Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, and Rafael Devers have helped carry the team, with mashers Hanley Ramirez and J.D. Martinez also contributing.
The Dodgers entered the season as favorites to win another NL West title, but they have stumbled out of the gate. Los Angeles begins Sunday 2-6 on the season and losers of four in a row. The team’s starting pitching has been strong, but the bullpen has let a few games get away. Perhaps more surprising is the fact that few players outside of catcher Yasmani Grandal have gotten off to a good start offensively. The Dodgers will no doubt get things turned around, but the NL West is not a division in which you want to fall behind early in the season.
A Pittsburgh Surprise
The Pirates may be the biggest surprise in baseball early in the season. The Bucs traded away Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole during the offseason, so expectations were quite low to start the year. But the Pirates are off to a 6-2 start by virtue of scoring the second most runs in the National League thus far. To be fair, they’ve done much of their damage against the Tigers and Reds, two other teams who aren’t expected to be playoff contenders. Nevertheless, keep an eye on the Pirates to see if they can keep it going when they play the Cubs and Rockies over the next couple of weeks.