It feels like we’re already in the middle of Major League Baseball Season, doesn’t it? Most ace pitchers have 2 to 3 starts under their belts. The best hitters are already in a groove. It’s baseball season, baby!
Check out a 2017 MLB Week 2 recap of what happened in MLB this past week. If the patterns from the first two weeks hold, this could make for one of the most interesting MLB Seasons in a long time.
2017 MLB Week 2 Recap
** All records as of April 17
AL East: Baltimore, New York Yankees, and Boston Step It Up
Baltimore has an 8 and 3 record as of April 18. The Orioles are 4-2 on the road on the moneyline. What’s even more beautiful is that Baltimore is 5-1 on the road on the run line. What it means is that MLB handicappers should take the 1.5 runs on Baltimore on the run line when they’re on the road. They should bet on Baltimore on the moneyline when the Orioles play at home.
Of course, the advice I just wrote above doesn’t matter if the Orioles start losing straight up. Will that happen? Maybe. Orioles’ pitchers have a team ERA of 3.82. Their team WHIP is 1.48.
The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox are right on Baltimore’s heels at 8-3 and 9-4 respectively. I just don’t see how Baltimore holds their 1-game lead in the NL East much longer. I expect either the Yankees or the Red Sox to take charge as early as this week.
AL Central: Detroit Takes Charge, Cleveland Still Floundering
The biggest news in the AL Central must do with Cleveland’s pitching staff. One of the best pitching staffs in all of MLB last season is so far one of the worst pitching staffs in MLB this season. The Indians’ pitching staff has a 5.01 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP.
The news isn’t all bad. Corey Kluber has a 6.38 ERA. His WHIP is a terrible 1.42. But, outside of Kluber, the other two pitchers at the top of the rotations have thrown well. Carlos Carrasco has a 2.33 ERA and a .93 WHIP. Danny Salazar’s WHIP is somewhat high at 1.36. But, his ERA is a decent 3.57. If Kluber can turn it around, Cleveland might make a run. The problem is that while Kluber struggles, the Tigers pull further and further away in the AL Central.
Detroit has an 8-4 record. Cleveland’s record is at 6-7. Detroit’s overall team ERA is terrible, but that’s because ace Justin Verlander had a ridiculously bad outing against Cleveland in his third start of the season. Verlander won’t have many bad outings in 2017.
Minnesota, the Chicago White Sox, and Kansas City are all within a couple of games of Detroit in the division after two weeks. We’ll see if any team breaks out in the AL Central.
AL West: Houston Astros Gets Some Breathing Room
Houston, one of the favorites to win the American League Pennant in 2017, got some breathing room in Week 2. The Los Angeles Angels are at 6-8. The Seattle Mariners are at 6-8. Texas is at 5-8 and Oakland is at 5-8.
The Astros are at 9-4. The key for Houston so far this season, which is a great sign that they can keep it going, is their pitching. The Astros have an incredible 3.29 team ERA and a fantastic 1.16 team WHIP. Dallas Keuchel has been the best pitcher in baseball. In 3 starts, he’s pitched 21 total innings. He’s allowed a total of 8 hits and only 2 earned runs. Keuchel’s ERA stands at .86. His WHIP stands at .62.
No other team in the AL West has a starter throwing as well as Keuchel. This includes Seattle, whose ace Felix Hernandez has a fantastic 2.95 ERA and a strong 1.15 WHIP.
** All records as of April 17
NL East: Nationals, Marlins, Mets…Braves?
The Washington Nationals are a favorite to win the World Series this season. The Nationals starting rotation is one of the best in MLB. The Miami Marlins figured to have a decent season after signing pitcher Edinson Volquez who’s consistent. The Mets? The New York Mets sport one of the top starting rotations in all of baseball.
All three of those squads were supposed to play well this season. And, all three have. The Atlanta Braves weren’t supposed to be close to any of those three teams. Yet, after two weeks, the Braves are at 6-6, only a game behind Washington at 7-5 in the NL East Standings.
What’s different between this Braves squad and the one from 2016? On offense, the Braves are manufacturing runs. Although Atlanta is ranked 19th in runs scored per game, they’re ranked 5th in batting average and 5th in OPS. The Braves get base runners on. That allows them to score the needed runs to win games.
Atlanta’s pitchers are ranked 9th in Team ERA and 7th in Quality Starts. The 7th in Quality Starts means that Atlanta’s starters are putting in the work to put the Braves into a winning position before they leave the game.
Look, the Atlanta Braves could end up being a house of cards before it’s all said and done. Then again, maybe, the chemistry in Atlanta only gets better.
NL Central: Cincinnati and Milwaukee Tops in NL Central
Who knows what’s going on in the NL Central? Okay, before getting into how Cincinnati and Milwaukee could possibly be leading the division after two weeks, it should be noted that the defending World Series Champion Chicago Cubs are only 2 games behind the Reds and Brewers.
Heck, at 4-9, St. Louis is only 4 games behind the Reds and Brewers. Cincinnati, at 8-5, and Milwaukee at 8-6, can’t possibly keep this up, can they?
I don’t know. The Reds have a 3.49 team ERA. That ranks 8th in MLB. Cincinnati pitchers throw strikes, which is the first thing you must do to win baseball games. As of April 17, Cincinnati’s pitchers are ranked 8th in MLB in Ks. They’ve struck out 122 batters already this season.
Milwaukee’s pitchers have a 3.47 Team ERA. They’ve struck out 111 batters already this season. Both the Reds and Brewers might just keep it up in 2017.
NL West: San Francisco Giants Tied San Diego Padres After Two Weeks
After two weeks, NL West pre-season contender San Francisco is tied with San Diego at the bottom of the NL West Division. The Giants are supposed to have one of the better pitching staffs in MLB. The rotation is great. The problem is with the Giants’ bullpen and San Francisco’s offense.
The Giants’ bullpen is ranked 13th in MLB with a 3.67 ERA. San Francisco’s bullpen has blown 2 saves this season. The team batting average is .237 while the team OPS is .684. San Francisco has only hit 11 home runs this season.
The Giants’ offense always puts their starting pitchers in a precarious situation. That’s why as of April 17, the Giants have a 5-9 record just like the San Diego Padres.
I don’t believe the Giants can turn it around. Johnny Cueto and Madison Bumgarner are doing their job on the mound. If the Giants can’t get enough run support to Cueto or Bumgarner, how are they possibly going to give enough run support to Matt Moore, Jeff Samardzija, and Matt Cain, the other guys in the rotation?
Then, if the Giants bats do produce runs, there’s always the chance that San Francisco’s bullpen blows the game. My prediction is that unless the Giants make a couple of key moves, trade for a power-hitter who excels at AT&T Park and trade for a viable set-up man like an Andrew Miller, they’re toast this season.