The first day of the 2020 MLB season has concluded, and if you’re like me, you watched as much baseball as you possibly could yesterday. 14 games across the board led to a lot of action, so let’s break down what we learned:
The Reds are going to be pretty damn good.
After signing Nick Castellanos, Mike Moustakas, Wade Miley, and Pedro Strop in the offseason, we knew that the Reds were better on paper, but man, they really showed out in Game #1. Granted, they played the Tigers, but nonetheless, I was very impressed with this Reds team. Sonny Gray was untouchable, they made some sparkling defensive plays, and Mike Moustakas had a very impressive debut. Reds fans are going to love this guy. Moustakas went 3 for 4 with 4 RBI and a two-run bomb into the right field seats. This team is going to be a problem all season long.
Jacob deGrom shouldn’t expect to get any run support anytime soon. Or ever.
Every year, good pitchers will get unlucky and suffer from a lack of run support. Because of this, they may have a less than stellar win/loss record, while still being dominant and having low ERA’s and WHIP’s. Nobody knows this better than Jacob deGrom. Coming off two straight NL Cy Young Award winning seasons, deGrom was on the hill to open up the Mets season against the Braves. He overpowered nearly every hitter. His average fastball velocity was 98.2 mph, and his sharp-breaking slider was coming in at 93. Yikes. Glad I wasn’t in the box:
He was held to a pitch limit because of a nagging back issue, but he went 5 scoreless innings with 8 strikeouts and only gave up one hit and one walk. And in typical fashion, he received zero run support. This is a common theme that has been seen over the past two seasons. Since the start of 2018, deGrom has tossed 426 innings with an ERA of 2.03 (insane). The Mets are 28-36 in his 64 starts, and deGrom was credited with the win just 21 times. This trend can’t possibly keep going for a third straight season, could it? Props to deGrom though. He never complains about it. He just goes out there and puts up zeros and keeps his team in ball games. Gotta respect it.
The Twins still love hitting homers.
The Twins hit a lot of home runs last year. A lot. 307 to be exact. An MLB record. It took them exactly one pitch to keep that trend going this year. Max Kepler took the first pitch of the Twins 2020 season and blasted it over the right field fence. He went yard again the 2nd inning. Good luck opposing pitchers.
Globe Life Field is gorgeous.
This may have been known already, but it was great to see baseball finally being played in this brand new ballpark. Originally scheduled to open on March 23, the new Rangers home was built at a cost of $1.1 billion, and is the seventh stadium in Major League Baseball to feature a retractable roof. The Rangers chose to have a retractable roof due to the sweltering heat and intense thunderstorms of Dallas. Probably a good idea:
The new extra-inning rule is weird.
For the first time in MLB history, extra innings have a different look to them. They will now start with a runner on second base. In the A’s vs. Angels game last night, the game was tied 3-3 after 9 and headed to extras. Shohei Ohtani became the first player in history to begin extra innings as the runner on second base. It just looked weird, and to be honest, I am not a fan. Maybe it will grow on me as the season goes on, but it was just odd to see. Ohtani didn’t score, and the A’s went on to win it on a walk-off grand slam by Matt Olson in the bottom of the 10th. Walk-offs are also different in 2020, as with no fans, there is no eruption of the crowd like there normally is. However, it is entertaining to hear the players yelling and screaming in celebration. I am here for that.
Notable Opening Day Stats:
The 18 strikeouts by Indians pitchers are the most by a pitching staff in a 9-inning game in Opening Day history. Shane Bieber had 14 K’s, which tied him with Randy Johnson (’93, ’96), and Don Drysdale (’60), for the second-most strikeouts by any pitcher on Opening Day. The record belongs to Camilo Pascual of the Washington Senators, when he struck out 15 Red Sox on Opening Day in 1960.
The Red Sox had eight doubles yesterday, which are the most doubles by a single team on Opening Day since the Pirates in 1936.
White Sox rookie Luis Robert recorded his first major league hit on a single in the bottom of the 2nd inning against the Twins. The hit had an exit velocity of 115.8 mph, which is the highest of a players first career hit since the Statcast era began tracking such stats in 2015. This dude is going to be good.
It was the 16th straight Opening Day behind the plate for Yadier Molina of the Cardinals, a new record for a catcher with a single team. His old teammate, Albert Pujols, became only the 5th player all-time to start the first 20 Opening Day games of his career.
Yoenis Cespedes played in his first MLB game in over two years, and bombed a home run deep into the left field seats at Citi Field. Because of the universal DH this year, Cespedes became the first DH to hit a home run for a National League team in a National League ballpark.
Opening Day has come and gone, and man does it feel good to have baseball back.