Major League Baseball 2013: Happenings From Opening Week In The Bigs

Justin Upton is batting .423, with six home runs and an OPS of 1.641 for the Braves

Justin Upton is batting .423, with six home runs and an OPS of 1.641 for the Braves

I know it has only been a week, but how exciting is it to have baseball back? So many things happened opening week it will be hard to put it in one list. Lets give it a try, eh? (the “eh” is for all my Blue Jay fans out there)

  • Clayton Kershaw is every bit the player we think he is: And just like that, we’re talking about Kershaw getting $200 million-plus his next contract. That rough spring training a distant memory as he tossed a four-hit, complete game shutout against division rival (and defending champion) San Francisco Giants. Not only did he pitch a shutout (striking out seven), he also accounted for a quarter of the offense on the day with a home run to dead center (in the renovated Dodger Stadium for good measure!). He followed that performance up with a seven inning, nine strikeout game against the Pirates. (16 shutout innings and 16 strikeouts helped garner him NL Player of the Week honors)
  • The Nationals are for real, but there’s a catch: Imagine the delight in Washington when Stephen Strasburg, 1st-overall pick in 2009) pitched a near perfect 1st inning. Then, as if read straight from the storybook, Bryce Harper (1st-overall pick in 2010) hits a bomb on his first swing of 2013. The rest of the day was all Nationals as Strasburg pitched seven shutout innings. Not to be outdone, in Harper’s next at-bat he hit his second home run of the season; which provided all the offense on the day in a 2-0 Nats win. They’re 4-2 to start 2013, losing a weekend series to the Reds that exposed their pitching depth a bit.
  •  Justin Upton is playing like a man trying to embarrass his former employers: Is it too early to start talking about an MVP candidate? Sure it is, but one thing is clear, Justin Upton is a man out to prove the Diamondbacks made a huge mistake. He’s hit six home runs in the Braves first seven games and has them off to a 6-1 start. There was even a great moment against the Cubs when brother B.J. (who has been struggling) hit the game-tying home run in the ninth, and Justin walked it off for them that very same inning. The Braves look great in the early going, and the script Frank Wren envisioned couldn’t be playing out better.
  • The Yankees don’t know who’s at first…or short…or catcher…or anywhere but second and the mound, really: If the Yankees keep running out the lineup they did on opening day, they very well may have to consider putting names on the back of their Jerseys. If you didn’t get April fooled into thinking it was 2006 or 2007 (Vernon Wells, Kevin Youkilis, Ichiro Suzuki, Travis Hafner, and Lyle Overbay could have been a nice lineup seven or eight years ago), they had a hard time figuring out what incriminating photos Jayson Nix, Eduardo Nunez, and Francisco Cervelli have against the real team that is currently occupying the disabled list. Well, the Red Sox didn’t show any mercy, thumping the Yankees 8-2 in the Bronx. The aftermath hasn’t been too much better, the Yanks have started off 3-4.
  • I think its time for the Phillies to panic:  I know, who uses the word “panic” in April? Well the Phillies might want to start. Check the facts, it would be easier to name the pitchers on the Phillies roster who don’t have an ERA above 8.50, and two of their starters (Halladay and Hamels) have looked downright atrocious and are hovering north of 10 earned per game. In the case of Halladay, he’s pitching like a man who knows he doesn’t have any confidence in his fastball. After getting walloped by the Braves in Atlanta, he was hit hard by the Mets and hasn’t made it to the fifth inning in any of his starts. Again, not one to write an obituary on the guys ability yet, but he isn’t making it easy not to do so.
  • No one needs to remind R.A. Dickey he switched leagues, his numbers do that: R.A. Dickey won the National League Cy Young award in 2012. That is where the good times ended. In his transition to the American League, Dickey has given up 15 hits, 12 runs (10 earned) and has an ERA of 8.44 through his first two starts, To make matters worse, no one seems to be foold anymore as he’s given up six walks and batters are hitting a cool .326 off of him.
  • Oakland and Texas are doing as expected, but the Angels are falling behind (again): The Athletics and Rangers sent a message to those who thought one was a fluke and the other would reel after losing their best player. With identical 5-2 starts it is safe to say they mean business out west. Meanwhile, the Angels have started slow, Trout/Hamilton/Pujols haven’t begun to swing it (yet) and they just lost their ace Jered Weaver for a month to a broken forearm on his non-pitching arm. The staff was already thin, and as I wrote before, they couldn’t afford extended periods without their top starters. It will be interesting to see how the Angels keep pace until Weaver returns.

Other Notables:

  • The Orioles Chris Davis started the season off with 16 rbi’s in four games. 
  • The Houston Astros, in their opening series against the Rangers, struck out a record 43 times in three games. The season record for team strikeouts isn’t safe with this free-swinging bunch.
  • While I’m not ready to join the Red Sox comeback parade yet, they have looked great. But can we stop with the Will Middlebrooks is better than Manny Machado until both sufficiently get their feet wet? Thanks.
  • Scariest pitcher to face right now (non-Kershaw related)? Yu Darvish. He’s pitching about as brilliantly as anyone on the planet right now.
  • The Phillies have given up a stunning 48 earned runs through their first seven games.
  • The Marlins have 13 rbi’s, two home runs, and are hitting (if you wanna call it that) .228/.295/.298 as a team. Season tickets anyone?
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