As the old baseball saying goes, three or four games is far too few to glean anything in baseball – small sample sizes and all that – still the Orioles are already 0-3 and dead last in the AL East and that feels cause enough for an optimistic tilt at some early conclusions based on a fun-packed and competitive Opening Weekend.
Seiya Suzuki – NL Rookie of the Year Elect
Pre-season, even the most optimistic of prognosticators thought Seiya Suzuki was a project – a cornerstone player for the next great Chicago Cubs franchise, a player who might use 2022 as an adjustment buffer. Opening Weekend suggested the more fiery takes of seasoned NPB watchers were the ones to heed, as the stud outfielder racked up four walks and three hits, including a towering homer off Freddy Peralta, against a Brewers rotation many view as MLB’s best.
Seiya Suzuki has landed.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 10, 2022
Doubts about Suzuki’s ability to see high-fastballs, and his zone command, were immediately allayed and he showed why his outfield glove was so cherished back in his native Japan.
His adjustments should be less surprising. With the exception of Shohei Ohtani, few of the most recent MLB imports from NPB have come from the very elite level of talent where Suzuki resided – for some he was the league’s top player in the absence of its two-way phenom.
Suzuki presented good value to those with an eye to a sneaky RoY bet – it’s no surprise to see his odds already tumbling.
The Red Sox Bullpen – Actually Good?
Hear me out…
Sure, the Manfred Man rule allowed two ‘ghost runners’ to score on Opening Day in the Bronx, climaxing with a Josh Donaldson walkoff that sent the Bombers hordes home with a rapt chorus of Frank Sinatra, but aside from DJ LeMahieu’s rinky-dink porch shot off a listing Garrett Whitlock in that same Game One, the Sox pen combined to post a 13 innings of zero run ball.
That run included a continuation of Whitlock’s run as the right-handed reincarnation of Andrew Miller, solid outings from under-the-radar pick-ups Matt Strahm and Hansel Robles, a Major League ready look from Kutter Crawford, and a ‘lights out’ 3K dismissal of the wrecking crew of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Joey Gallo by Jake Diekman.
Jake Diekman, ladies and gentlemen. pic.twitter.com/F96JCgn5O5
— Red Sox (@RedSox) April 11, 2022
All this came without designated closer Matt Barnes, whose ramp-up to the season has been plagued by mechanical issues, and with Ryan Brasier seemingly in his 2019, rather than 2018 or 2021 vintage. Iron out these two kinks, and this looks less of a dumpster fire than many feared.
The San Diego Padres Have the Best Rotation In Baseball
Not until the first inning of their third game did a Padres starter – Joe Musgrove – concede a single run and even then it was scratched out by the Diamondbacks’ David Peralta.
Before him came absolute dominance in the frames of Yu Darvish (6IP, 3Ks) and new-boy Sean Manaea (7IP, 7Ks). Even with Blake Snell’s late scratch on Sunday his understudy Nabil Crismatt pushed over three scoreless frames, striking out four.
Sean Manaea has gone seven innings without allowing a hit.
But it appears that his night is over due to pitch count. pic.twitter.com/ulsQAbLv18
— B/R Walk-Off (@BRWalkoff) April 9, 2022
The Friars have Team USA’s Olympic ‘ace’ Nick Martinez on the mound tonight after he posted a 1.60 ERA over 21 starts in Japan, and carried his national team to the final in Tokyo.
Oh, and if Snell can’t make his next start, top prospect Mackenzie Gore looks to have cured his yips and is back to the frighteningly high talent profile we saw a few years back. Pretty good.
Bob Melvin said Blake Snell’s adductor injury is not nearly as serious as the one that shut him down in September. However, Snell is probably headed to the IL.
You know who will be available to pitch in his slot Friday?
— Kevin Acee (@sdutKevinAcee) April 10, 2022
MacKenzie Gore’s night is done after 5 strong innings:
His 5th and final inning:
87 MPH Slider for K
87 MPH Slider for K
95 MPH Fastball for K
— El Paso Chihuahuas (@epchihuahuas) April 10, 2022
The Blue Jays Are Going to Score Boatloads Of Runs…And Maybe Give Up As Many
The two teams involved in the most exhilarating and action-packed Opening Series were the Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers, combining for 45 runs across a three-game set. That much was expected of the Jays with their bevy of big bopping babies, Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Bo Bichette, Teoscar Hernandez and Lourdes Gurriel and seasoned home run sluggers like George Springer.
118 MPH exit velo.
A CAREER-LONG 467 feet.
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) April 10, 2022
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) April 10, 2022
What perhaps wasn’t anticipated was a scuffling start, albeit against arguably MLB’s best middle-infield pairing of Corey Seager and Jays’ old boy Marcus Semien. Opening Day starter Jose Berrios lasted only a third of an inning, giving up three hits and two walks, before being hooked with Sunday starter Hyun-Jin Ryu faring little better. Pre-season the Jays pen had been pegged as a significant weakness in an elite squad, and they conspired to cough up 12 runs of their own across three games.
It could be worse – the Jays offense powered them to a 2-1 record, but it’s a ‘watch this space’ as far as the pitching goes.
Bouncy Balls Are Back
What do Nico Hoerner, Jonah Heim, Oscar Mercado, Elias Diaz and Seth Beer all have in common – you guessed it, they’ve all hit massive homers since Opening Day; Beer’s blast an electric walkoff versus the Padres on literal National Beer Day.
Those, plus the absolute lasers from the bats of Giancarlo Stanton and Byron Buxton suggest one thing – the big bad bouncy ball of 2019 is back in MLB. 100 big flies have been slammed in only four days into this MLB season.
Good – homers are the best. Don’t believe us, scroll through these snot rockets.
Nico Hoerner home runs:
2020: Zero home runs for the season
2021: Zero home runs for the season
2022: The first home run of the 2022 MLB season
— javierbaezfan (@javierbaezfan) April 7, 2022
— Bally Sports Southwest (@BallySportsSW) April 10, 2022
Elias Diaz hammers a 2-run, home run giving the #Rockies some insurance! 💜🖤🤍
— AT&T SportsNet™ | RM (@ATTSportsNetRM) April 10, 2022
SETH BEER WALK-OFF BOMB ON NATIONAL BEER DAY? Baseball is so back pic.twitter.com/hwmrBUqGtw
— Diamond Digest (@Diamond_Digest) April 8, 2022
Giancarlo Stanton’s first home run of the season is 116.3 MPH off the bat and we’re tied at 3! pic.twitter.com/NrUYndM4fJ
— Talkin’ Yanks (@TalkinYanks) April 8, 2022
what did i just see
101 MPH top of the zone 🔥
Byron Buxton hits it 436 feet! 💣 pic.twitter.com/hqEQ9se6GI
— Codify (@CodifyBaseball) April 9, 2022