THE GOOD, THE BAD AND SOME UGLY

When is it time to panic?  If I’m the manager of a baseball team, when do I begin to worry?  If I have a team or teams in fantasy baseball leagues, when do I start to worry?  I get that question a great deal.  When should I be worried?

We are still in the month of April.  We’ve had teams play seven games at the most.  Can we tell anything this early?  Are there trends that we should be able to spot?  Well, yes and no.

It really is far, far too soon to panic. It’s far too soon to jump to conclusions.  There are good things and not so good things happening so far in this early glimpse of the 2018 baseball season. Lets take a look at a few. But we should stay calm and not panic.  Much of it is ugly-like all the pitching injuries.

PITCHING MATTERS

David Price has started two games, thrown 14 innings and hasn’t yielded an earned run. He has a WHIP of 0.71 while striking out 10 and walking three.  I’d say that’s pretty special for guy who we thought may be suffering from a career-threatening arm injury just a year ago.

The Twins Jose Berrios threw nine innings of shutout baseball while yielding only three hits in his first start.  He only walked one while striking out six.

The Royals Jake Junis and the Brewers Jacob Barnes haven’t yielded a run in seven and six innings respectively.

The Angels Kenyan Middleton has emerged as a potential closer for the Angels, showing high velocity and good command of his repertoire.  He has yielded only three hits in six innings.

In his 9.2 innings of work so far, the Rockies German Marquez has yielded nine walks while striking out six.  Add in the 11 hits he has given up and we’re looking at a 2.17 WHIP in his two starts. Not pretty.  His ERA is a hefty 6.52 to add salt to the wound. Not good. Bad. Pretty ugly, too.

In two starts, the Tigers Jordan Zimmerman has yielded 15 hits and two walks, resulting in a 1.65 WHIP.  The 10 earned runs he has given up have left him with an 8.71 ERA. Not good.

Kendall Graveman is neck and neck with Zimmerman. He has yielded the same number of hits, 15, in 10 innings of work.  His ERA is 8.10 and his WHIP: is 1.60.  There are no Mulligan’s in baseball. Both those pitchers have those numbers baked in their season-long statistical cake. Also not good.

In his first start for the Twins, Lance Lynn walked six in four innings of work. He didn’t look anywhere as sharp as the Lynn I saw in Spring Training.

As of this writing, Wade Davis has already saved four games for the Rockies. Very good.

The Dodgers Clayton Kershaw has yielded three home runs in his two starts. All were to left-handed hitters. That is certainly a surprise.  He has 13 strikeouts in 12 innings pitched. Two were against left-handed batters.

Felix Hernandez looked sharp in his opening start against the Indians.  He went 5.1 sharp innings against the Tribe before yielding five walks and eight runs when facing the Giants in his second start of the season.  The King has lots and lots of pitches on that right arm.

There have already been an incredible number of pitcher injuries resulting in DL time. These are but a few.  And remember, this does not include longer-term absences due to lingering injuries or Tommy John recoveries that are not listed below.  Very bad.

The Yankees C. C. Sabathia left his start against the Orioles into the 4th inning after only 58 pitches with a sore hip. He has been placed on the 10-day disabled list.

But Sabathia isn’t the only pitcher with early injury woes.  Here are some others:

The Angels Andrew Heaney went on the 10-day DL with elbow soreness.

The Angels Matt Shoemaker is on the 10-day DL with a right forearm strain.

On March 21 the Athletic Jharel Cotton went on the 60-day DL with Tommy John surgery performed earlier in the month.

The Braves Luiz Gohara suffered an ankle injury and went on the 10-day DL in late March.

On April 6, Brewers closer Corey Knebel went on the 10-day DL with a left hamstring injury.

The Cardinals Luke Gregerson went on the DL with a left hamstring injury

Diamondbacks Randall Delgado went on the DL with a left oblique strain on April 4.

The Giants Madison Bumgarner was hit on his pinky finger of his throwing hand and went on the DL March 29.

Mark Melancon, seemingly never healthy since the Giants signed him was placed on the DL on March 29 for a right forearm strain.

Jeff Samardzija hopped aboard the DL April 3 for a right pectoral strain.

Out of options Indians pitcher Ryan Merritt went on the DL with a left knee sprain April 4.

Indians pitcher Danny Salazar went on the DL April 4 with right shoulder inflammation.

The Mariners probably lost David Phelps for the season with a torn UCL in his right elbow.

Mariners starter Erasmo Ramirez went on the DL April 3 with a strained lat muscle.

On April 6 Marlins pitcher Wei-Yin Chen went on the DL with a left elbow strain.

On April 6 Brett Graves was placed on the 60-day DL by the Marlins for a left oblique strain.

Marlins pitcher Elieser Hernandez went on the DL April 6 while recovering from dental surgery.

Dan Straily of the Marlins is on the DL with mild right forearm inflammation.

The Mets placed Anthony Swarzak on the DL with left oblique soreness

The Mets Rafael Montero went on the DL March 27 with a torn UCL.

The Mets Jason Vargas remains on the DL after having right hand surgery.

The Nationals Joaquin Benoit is on the DL with a right forearm strain.

The Orioles Gabriel Ynoa is recovering from a stress reaction from shin splints.

The Padres Dinelson Lamet is on the DL with a flexor strain in his right elbow.

The Phillies have lost Jerad Eichoff to the DL with a right lat strain.

The Phillies Tommy Hunter jumped aboard the DL with a right hamstring strain.

The Phillies have lost Mark Leiter to the DL with a right shoulder strain.

Phillies pitcher Pat Neshek is on the DL with a right shoulder strain.

The Pirates Joe Musgrove has a right shoulder strain.

The Pirates A. J. Schugal has right should discomfort.

On April 5 the Rangers placed Tony Barnette on the DL with lower back tightness

The Rangers Tim Lincecum is waiting for a blister to clear on his right middle finger

Rays pitcher Nathan Eovaldi in on the DL with loose bodies in his right elbow.

The Red Sox Austin Maddox has a right shoulder strain.

The Red Sox Drew Pomeranz is on the DL with a mild flexor tendon strain in his left elbow.

The Reds Brandon Finnegan has a left biceps strain.

The Reds David Hernandez has right shoulder inflammation

The Reds Michael Lorenzen is out with a Grade 1 teres major muscle strain in his right shoulder.

Red pitcher Kevin Shackelford is out with a right forearm strain.

Rockies pitcher Carlos Estevez is out with a left oblique strain.

Rockies Jeff Hoffman has right shoulder soreness

Rockies pitcher Zac Rosscup has a blister on his left middle finger.

The Royals Nate Karns has right elbow inflammation

The Tigers Mike Fiers has back stiffness

The Twins Phil Hughes has a left oblique strain

I repeat-that list does not include lingering issues from pitchers that have had surgery and are still recovering, etc.  Most of those listed are fairly recent additions to the DL.

Pitching injuries are becoming a more and more serious issue in baseball.  Where in the world can a team find pitchers to replace two or sometimes even three pitchers on the DL?

LOOKING AT OFFENSE

The Rockies Charlie Blackmon, the Twins Brian Dozier, the White Sox Matt Davidson and the Nationals Bryce Harper each have four home runs already.

The Pirates Gregory Polanco has driven in 11 runs.

The Yankees Didi Gregorius has shown he can sustain his hitting tool by belting three homers, driving in 10 runs and hitting .393 so far in the young season.

The Athletics’ Jed Lowrie has been to the plate 37 times and is hitting .351.  His teammate Matt Chapman is hitting .412 in 34 trips to the plate.

Newly acquired Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain is hitting .294 but he’s having a very positive impact on the lineup.

The Red Sox Xander Bogaerts has six doubles in seven games.

The Yankees Giancarlo Stanton has struck out 15 times in 33 at-bats.  Tim Beckham of the Orioles has also struck out 15 times in 33 at-bats.

The Rangers Elvis Andrus has stuck out only once in 35 at-bats, while the Angels Andrelton Simmons has struck out only once in 34 at-bats.

The Braves Freddie Freeman has already walked 12 times in seven games.

The White Sox Tim Anderson leads all of baseball with four stolen bases.  He hasn’t been caught stealing.

The Braves Freddy Galvis has been caught stealing three times.  He hasn’t been successful trying to steal yet.

The Athletics’ Matt Chapman and the Angels Andrelton Simmons each lead all of baseball with 14 hits.

For those who may have missed it, Angels Shoehei Ohtani has three home runs and is hitting .389 in 19 plate appearances.

HOT FLASHES

The Diamondbacks have gotten off to a great start. Included in their six wins to date is a three-game sweep of the Dodgers at Chase Field.  They are playing well despite having to put third baseman Jake Lamb on the DL.

Pittsburgh has gotten off to a surprising start with a 6-1 record. Jorge Polanco has been on fire.

Gerrit Cole pitched a gem in his first Astros outing. He could be a legitimate Cy Young candidate in his new home.

If things continue as they started in Philadelphia, manager Gabe Kapler may need an armed guard to leave his home park.

Houston has not shown any signs of giving up their Championship. They look just as strong and balanced so far as they did last year.

Cleveland has a popgun offense without Carlos Santana and Jay Bruce. The team has had a woeful offensive start.

I don’t see how Tampa Bay will win many games. So far…they haven’t.

The Yankees Brandon Drury has migraine headaches and blurry vision. Not good. The team does not know how long he will be out. With Greg Bird already on the DL with ankle surgery, the team will turn to younger infielders like rookie Miguel Andujar to take some of Drury’s at-bats.

I believe the injury to Aaron Hicks really hurt the Yankees. He’s due back soon, and his bat and defensive play will help.

Keep an eye on the Cubs Anthony Rizzo. His sore back has given him problems in the past and it has flared up again.

If only Kyle Schwarber could play solid defense in left field. But he can’t.  I just don’t see the Cubs pulling the plug on their defensively challenged outfielder. But one of their pitchers may kill him one day.

As of this writing, the Royals have hit one home run. The White Sox have hit 14.

Atlanta has scored 56 runs in this short season so far and is hitting .298 as a club.  The Royals have scored 14 runs so far as a team and is hitting .203 as a club.

The Cleveland Indians are last in baseball with a .157 batting average. Not too many clubs have won the World Series with that meager hitting.

The Philadelphia Phillies have stolen 9 bases so far. They’ve only been caught stealing twice.  The Rangers have been caught stealing five times in seven attempts.

The Baltimore Orioles have struck out 91 times.  In contrast, the Royals have struck out only 23 times.

The Washington Nationals have accepted 39 bases on balls. The Royals have walked only 13 times.

The Royals are at the extremes in several categories, but they have played only five games so far.  Oakland and Texas have each played nine.

Does this make sense?  The Brewers, who have a domed stadium with Miller Park in Milwaukee, opened the season in sunny Southern California against the Padres.

The warm weather Angels opened against the warm weather Athletics.

The domed Diamondbacks opened at home against Colorado while the Pirates opened against the Tigers in cold spring climate Detroit.

The warm climate Giants opened against their warm climate rival Dodgers.

I don’t know-maybe it’s just me. I would think it wouldn’t hurt to have known warm climate teams playing cold climate teams at home for a couple opening series.

Follow me on Twitter @BerniePleskoff

 

 

About The Author

Bernie Pleskoff is a former professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Bernie's work has been featured on MLB Pipeline, MLB.com and FanRag Sports, among others. You can follow Bernie Pleskoff on Twitter @BerniePleskoff