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Apr 07

What We Learned From the First 3 Days of the 2016 MLB Season

It’s ludicrous to think that the first series of a Major League Baseball season can define success or failure for a team, but there are definitely indicators. The 2016 MLB season has concluded its first round of series, and, literally and figuratively, there are winners and losers. Here are four takeaways from the initial set of 162 regular season games:

Matt Harvey is not the ace of the New York Mets

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This, of course, is not to say Harvey is anything less than a very good pitcher, but his young counterparts in a very talented rotation have really raised the bar of excellence.

The two best pitchers on this team are Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. DeGrom has yet to pitch this season, and will get the ball on Friday afternoon against a pitiful Philadelphia team. Despite all the noise surrounding Harvey, deGrom has clearly been New York’s best pitcher over the last two seasons, going 23-14 with 349 strikeouts, 81 walks, and a 2.61 ERA. He also went 3-1 last postseason with a 2.88 ERA.

Syndergaard found the spotlight in the 2015 season, but was shot out of a cannon in his 2016 debut. Throwing an unhittable slider, Thor gave up only three hits, no runs, and struck out nine Royals in six solid innings against the reigning World Series Champions. Harvey allowed three runs and, at times, looked pedestrian. It goes to show how good this Mets staff could really be, this season.

The Seattle Mariners could make the postseason for the first time since 2001

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Any Mariners fan will be the first to say “let’s not get so excited,” but the opening series against the 2015 AL West Champions left a lot of Seattleites feeling pretty sunny.

The only loss of was the one-hit 3-2 collapse of Felix Hernandez. This is not a normal occurrence. Hernandez walked the bases loaded and had a momentary meltdown, allowing three runs. The Seattle bullpen held strong (as they did in all three games), and it was the only blip on the radar.

The offense looked strong, and Robinson Cano’s four home run performance in three games brought a huge smile to manager Scott Servais’ face. The Seattle Mariners have a very good lineup, and just one season ago they were favored by many to find their first World Series. It’s only three games, but starting out 2-1 and playing at that high of a level is a very positive sign.

Pittsburgh Pirates impress, on their way to another playoff run

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During the 2015 regular season, the three best teams in the National League were in the NL Central. The St. Louis Cardinals won the division, the Pittsburgh Pirates were Wild Card #1, and the Chicago Cubs made it all the way to the NLCS. The Cubs are heavily favored to go to the 2016 World Series, but in the meantime, the Pirates just swept the Cardinals.

Sure, Chicago won three on the road, but the Los Angeles Angels are not the team they were a decade ago. St. Louis is good, and the Pirates took three, without ace Gerrit Cole. Pittsburgh is great, from top to bottom, and will be a huge force (again) in the NL Central.

The American League Central will be the division to watch

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In 2015, the Detroit Tigers collapsed, becoming one of the worst teams in baseball. This year, youth will dominate, and the Chicago White Sox, Minnesota Twins, and Cleveland Indians will all have a seat at the table. Detroit is, once again, healthy, and the Kansas City Royals are… well, they are the World Champions.

As I mentioned in my 2016 AL Central Preview, the Minnesota Twins will surprise almost everyone and make the postseason, but these opening series left the AL Central looking pretty good. Even the teams who didn’t come out winners… came out as potential winners.

 

About the author

Chad

Chad has a Bachelor's Degree from Marquette University in Broadcast Journalism & Electronic Communications. Currently living in Seattle, WA, he takes every opportunity he can to go to a game, partake in the nightlife, laugh with friends & family and root for the Nebraska Cornhuskers.