Week One Roundup – The Good, The Bad, and the Bartolo

The Good…

By now you probably know that the Royals are one of only two unbeaten teams left through the first week of the season. This is due in large part to an offense that has been bested in just about every offensive category only by their division rivals the Tigers. After last postseason’s unexpected run to the Fall Classic and an offseason that saw the losses of Billy Butler and James Shields, baseball writers had reason to write-off the fluky Royals all over again. However, the joke seems on us, as the team designed for pitching depth, impenetrable defense and lock down relief is at it again, playing not above their heads but just as they did with consistency down the stretch. It begs the question if the Royals actually did get any worse over the offseason. The loss of one dimensional and declining DH, Butler, is offset by sneaky smart signings of Kendrys Morales and Alex Rios. James Shields hurts, but at 34, he only has a few years left in the tank, while the march to the 7th inning strategy has been held down nicely by young starting pitching that doesn’t make it look pretty but gets the job down. Morales has been particularly crucial to the Royals’ early success by eating up pitches, getting on base, and contributing some timely hitting. Morales may look like the best pickup of the year if he consistently stays healthy and hands in strong at bats that allow Hosmer and Gordon to see better pitches. At the moment, Morales is hitting .400/.483/.600. Our own Will T picked him as the comeback player of the year, so Morales is also doing the impossible by making him look smart.

The More Good…

The Rockies are in the midst of their typical offensive hot start, while the lineup is healthy and the wheels haven’t fallen off the pitching staff yet. We’ll have to check back in around mid-May before actually believing in Colorado (trust me, I’ve made this mistake enough). But one under the radar bright spot so far is the play of scrappy second baseman, DJ LeMahieu. Going into Monday, he’s sitting at .480/.480/.560 with 12 hits in 25 PAs. It’s fair to assume that an inflated BABIP and the small sample size spell a regression sooner rather than later, but LeMahieu has actually been one of Colorado’s most consistent players for the past three seasons. Thought of mostly as a glove first 2B, he’s shown a fairly constant ability to make contact and put the ball in play. His high K% and low BB% don’t bode well for sustained success, but in a lineup this potent when on the field, a slap happy middle infielder like LeMahieu will get a number of a chances to pitch in at important moments. Assuming the Rockies are finally something to pay attention to, look for LeMahieu to be a key contributor. If not, at least he did have this one really special week.

The bad…

Evan Gattis is 0 for the 2015 season, with a 52.7 K% heading into Monday. That’s 12 strikeouts in his first 20 ABs and that’s actually down from the 72.7% he possessed going into the weekend. This is due to striking out four times in two straight games. To make matters worse, he’s only one measly walk away from carrying a .000 OBP into week two. Gattis has been as bad as a professional baseball player who gets playing time can be because remember he’s supposed to be a “defensive liability.” Gattis was never thought to be Tony Gwynn, but he also never had a K% over 24.2%, which means he’s striking out a lot even for Evan Gattis. Going into this season, I suspected Gattis would be hugely productive in the center of a lineup trending upwards and in a ballpark made for his kind of Thor power (see Chris Carter last year). What I hadn’t suspected is that Gattis may not actually be capable of making contact. Yes, it’s only one week, but Gattis hasn’t even really been making that kind of foul ball contact that gets little league coaches to yell, “You’re right on it, straighten it out.” He’s looked like a fan who won a contest to join the Astros lineup for a week. After a rough first few days, the Astros bounced back to redeem their beginning to the season, however, this was thanks in no part to their DH/catcher-turned-OF. It will only take another bad week for Gattis to be an albatross in a lineup filled with too many players who look just like him, only (for the time being) even better.

…the Bartolo.

Last week we wrote about how Bartolo Colón and the Mets rained on Max Scherzer’s welcoming party in Washington. Yesterday, Bartolo did it again by spoiling the Atlanta Braves’ unlikely unbeaten start. While the Mets’ pitching staff has looked close to as good as advertised, it took a Bartolo to stop the Atlanta squad from sweeping their division rivals. Colón went 7 innings on 77 pitches, doing his usual pitch-to-contact routine, on the way to 5 strikeouts, 0 BBs, and 2 earned runs. Just another day at the office for Bartolo. As a result, he notched his 206th career win and 2114th career strikeout. It’s conceivable that Colón could just spoil everything we are excited about this season as a way to spite all those condescending “March to Three Hits” jokesters. Well, Colón also did this yesterday…

…and with that we are done with out first weekly roundup.

Featured Image: Fox Sports

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