Sound the alarms for the conspiracy theorists, the baseballs were flying out of the yard all over baseball on Opening Day. Five hitters recorded two home run games, there were 48 total hit and the Dodgers set a record with eight as a team, with two of the double home run players on their roster. Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer provided an old fashioned pitcher’s duel while José Berríos made his curveball dance against the Indians. There’s much to cover in the Round Up along with some teams of interest and intriguing bullpen observations as well.

Aces on display in Washington

In a reversal of fortune from last year, Jacob deGrom won in a shutout against Max Scherzer . deGrom recorded 16 swinging strikes of his 93 pitches along with 17 called strikes en route to six scoreless innings yielding five hits and one walk with 10 strikeouts. Scherzer countered allowing two hits, two earned runs, three walks and striking out 12 with 24 swinging strikes of his 109 pitches.

Trea Turner ran wild on the bases with three steals while batting second. Owners of Victor Robles breathed a collective sigh of relief seeing him hit ninth instead of eighth. Robles doubled in three at-bats but this works out much better for stolen bases going forward. Welcome back to New York, Robinson Canó . He homered in his first at-bat and drove in both Mets runs in his debut. It’s early, but too many slept on him as a third hitter in an improved lineup this preseason.

Berrios Breakout?

Not only did the Twins also win a 2 - 0 game, but José Berríos worked 7.2 dominant innings giving up two hits and a walk with 10 strikeouts. He displayed a chasm in his home and road splits last year but, Berrios notched 18 swinging strikes of his 96 pitches with 16 more called strikes. His curve looked fantastic. Berrios threw 37 curves producing 10 swinging strikes for a robust 27 swinging strike percentage. It’s one game, but Berrios looked very good against a depleted Indians lineup.

Pitchers duel in Toronto

Sometimes baseball provides a surprise, which happened with Jordan Zimmerman and Marcus Stroman trading zeroes on the scoreboard for most of the game. Detroit eventually won in extra innings. Zimmerman will appear on many waiver wire articles but patience should be used. He did induce 12 swinging strikes of his 70 pitches with nine called. As for Stroman, he looked like his old self, which could be terrific for a franchise selling high on players. Stroman produced 16 swinging strikes (11 with his slider) along with 15 called of his 94 pitches.

Other Noteworthy Performances

In an effort to save time in the Round Up, here’s some other strong outings by pitchers in condensed form:

  • Aaron Nola - 99 pitches, 12 swinging strikes, 25 called. Nola recorded the win without his best stuff and walked five batters. He did not walk more than four in any start last year. Nothing to panic about, he will be fine.

  • Kyle Freeland - 93 pitches, six swinging strikes, 13 called. Dating back to July second of last year, Colorado’s won 15 of Freeland’s last 17 starts. He’s 10 - 1 in this sample with a 2.42 ERA.

  • Justin Verlander - 102 pitches, 23 swinging strikes, 15 called. After giving up a leadoff home run and a hit, he settled in to stifle the Rays offense the rest of the way along with providing revenge to his wife defeating Blake Snell .

  • Madison Bumgarner - Ramped up his cutter usage throwing 39 of his 92 pitches for a 42.4 percent usage rate. He also used fewer curves and more change-ups. Perhaps he’s trying to change his arsenal in an effort to adapt to losing speed on his fastball.

  • Chris Sale - Segue, speaking of losing speed on the fastball, Sale imploded in Seattle giving up seven earned runs in three innings. His range of speed with the pitch goes from 89.5 as the slowest to 92.4 as the fastest. Last year, Sale averaged 95.4 MPH with his fastball. Yes, he did not throw much this spring, but this will be monitored going forward.

  • Luis Castillo - 89 pitches, 14 swinging strikes, 16 called. Castillo gets a win on Opening Day and generated 11 swinging strikes with his change-up. Very encouraging start to his year.

Double Dong Delight

Five different hitters, including two teammates, launched two home runs on Opening Day in the United States:

  • Kolton Wong - Home run #1: 106.5 MPH exit velocity with a 27 degree launch angle. Home run #2: 96 MPH exit velocity with a 31 degree launch.

  • Javier Báez - Home run #1: 103.5 MPH exit velocity with a 25 degree launch angle. Home run #2: 110.5 MPH exit velocity with a 20 degree launch.

  • Kiké Hernández - Home run #1: 102.4 MPH exit velocity with a 27 degree launch angle. Home run #2: 105.5 MPH exit velocity with a 25 degree launch.

  • Joc Pederson - Home run #1: 104.1 MPH exit velocity with a 28 degree launch angle. Home run #2: 108.5 MPH exit velocity with a 29 degree launch.

  • Tim Beckham - Home run #1: 106.7 MPH exit velocity with a 31 degree launch angle. Home run #2: 105.5 MPH exit velocity with a 29 degree launch.

This should not overshadow some other strong performances, but home in the consistency of four of the five above in regards to the exit velocity and angles they produced.

Dodgers Explode

Hidden beneath the home runs by Kiké Hernández and Joc Pederson , Austin Barnes went 3-for-4 with a home run, two runs and an RBI. Barnes represents a perfect post-hype player who could produce this year after burning owners last season. It’s only one day, but his contact skills and supporting lineup should allow him to rebound. Max Muncy , Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager also homered while setting the major league record of eight home runs.

Perfect Padres Debut

San Diego rolled out its talented rookie Fernando Tatis Jr. who recorded two hits including a single for his first career hit. His Dad, also singled in his first major league plate appearance back in July of 1997. Feeling old right now. Teammate Wil Myers looked great hitting a home run and driving in the both Padres runs in the opener. Anyone owning an outfielder on San Diego, it’s going to be a white knuckle ride.

Bullpen Observations

One of the hot topics the year will be fluid bullpens. There were some saves from surprising sources along with expected ones. Edwin Díaz , Kirby Yates all turned in clean outings for their first save.

However, Raisel Iglesias did not look sharp during his outing. He only retired four of the seven batters faced, induced one swinging strike of his 34 pitches and David Hernandez held on for the Reds save. Less than optimal start to the season.

Josh Hader racked up 11 swinging strikes of his 21 pitches for a two inning save and benefited from a little help from his friend:

Since Cleveland used a left-handed heavy lineup against Minnesota, so Taylor Rogers notched the first save for the Twins retiring all four he faced in order. If mining for saves, Blake Parker was warming in the bullpen, not Trevor May .

Kansas City created a save situation with Wily Peralta walking one and allowing a hit of the three batters he faced. Jake Diekman retired one batter and walked one, then Kevin McCarthy entered giving up a hit along with walking a batter. This led to Brad Boxberger getting a save on a fly ball to right field. So, for now, plan on Boxberger atop the food chain. But, Ian Kennedy only needed seven pitches to retire the side in the eighth and Kyle Zimmer could emerge later in the year in high leverage. There will be a quiz later.

For those scoring at home, Will Smith will close for the Giants after hinting in spring it would be a shared job.

What To Watch For Friday

A potential pitchers duel in Miami with German Márquez facing Trevor Richards . Gerrit Cole will face former teammate Charlie Morton in Tampa Bay. Two young guns on the mound in Miller Park with Jack Flaherty facing Freddy Peralta . Keep tabs on the emerging bats and bullpen situations, but baseball’s back.


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