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10 Important Stories From 04/10/17 Box Scores: Paxton Dominates, Cotton Opens Up Eyes & More

Tuesday, April 11, 2017 5:18
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(Before It's News)

by Ray Kuhn

Monday brought us the home openers for a few more teams, none more important than the Cubs. Although the game was delayed by rain, there likely was not much disappointment as the World Championship banner was raised and the home team walked off as victors. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights from a busy day around the majors.

1) Almost Perfect in the Bronx…

Talent has never been an issue for Michael Pineda. Production, control, and consistency; now that is a different story. Pineda frustrated both the Yankees and fantasy owners in his season debut, but things looked a little better on Monday. The right-hander took a perfect game into the seventh inning and was posed to make history until Evan Longoria doubled with two outs. Logan Morrison took Pineda deep in the eighth inning, and his day ended with 7.2 innings of work in which he allowed just those two hits and one run. Pineda struck out 11, and more importantly, didn’t walk a batter. His efficiency was clear as Pineda needed just 93 pitches to pick up the victory. While we know that this is what he is capable of, tread easy before fully buying into it on a consistent basis.

2) History in Colorado…

It was the visiting San Diego Padres that crashed the party, and it is debatable whether it was truly a historical effort. For the second time in their a history a Padre hit for the cycle, and it was none other than their best player; Wil Myers. Myers was efficient, needing just four at bats to pick up the cycle as he drove in two runs while also scoring twice. The first baseman is up to seven RBI on the season, and it was his third home run to go along with a .382 batting average. If there were any questions about Myers for this season, I certainly had some, he is doing his best to silence any doubters. While his supporting cast does leave some things to be desired, although lead-off hitter Manuel Margot is batting .323 and clean-up hitter Yangervis Solarte is batting .382, Myers is picking up right where he left off last season.

3) A Pitchers Duel in Boston…

And neither pitcher left with anything to show for it. Chris Sale continued his success in Boston with 7.2 strong innings. The southpaw allowed just two runs on five hits and a walk while striking out 10 Detroit batters. However, his counterpart across the diamond was just slightly better. Detroit waited until Justin Verlander left the game to go ahead, but they were in the position to do so because of their ace. Verlander did benefit from facing a Boston lineup at reduced stress, due to the flu, as he allowed just one run (unearned) on three hits and two walks. You also have to like that, this early in the season, Verlander was able to push it to 112 pitches as he appears to be in mid-season form.

4) Redemption in Kansas City…

Entering the season, one of everyone’s favorite sleepers was Jharel Cotton. That talk was put on hold after he allowed five earned runs in his season debut; just two less than he did in five September starts last year. However, a closer look shows a lot of hits that just happened to fall in from the Angels and perhaps Cotton was not hit as hard as originally thought. Regardless, Cotton bounced back in a big way against the Royals and punished any of his doubters. The right-hander silenced Kansas City’s bats in their home opener allowing just two hits and three walks while striking out six batters in seven shutout innings. Cotton should continue to be on your radars.

5) Good Pitching in San Francisco…

With their two additions, dating back to last season, this is exactly how the Giants drew things up. Once again taking advantage of their home park, Matt Moore shut down Arizona’s offense for the first eight innings, and then new closer Mark Melancon took care of the rest. Moore allowed just a Yasmany Tomas home run, along with two other hits, while not walking a batter and striking out five. The southpaw likely won’t be this dominant all season, needing just 93 pitches, but we should expect good things from him all season. Melancon appears to be on his way towards moving past from his season opening blown save; the right-hander allowed a hit and nothing else as he picked up his second save of the season.

6) Dominance in Seattle…

Early in the season, pitching often trumps offense, and that was true on Monday. Before we give some attention to the bats, we can’t ignore James Paxton. Paxton already took care of the Astros once this season, and the southpaw once again dispatched their powerful, right-handed heavy lineup. In seven shutout innings, Houston had minimal chances to get anything done, and whenever they would mount a threat, Paxton shut it down. There were multiple quick innings as Paxton allowed just four hits and two walks while striking out eight batters. Eventually, Paxton will allow an earned run this season, but he will continue to have success.

7) Bruuuuuuuuuce…

No, we are not talking about Bruce Springsteen. Instead, we can’t ignore the Mets’ new slugger. Well, Jay Bruce did spend the last two months of the season in New York, but success was very hard to come by for the outfielder. Moved up to the clean-up spot last night, Bruce did not disappoint. He went deep twice, neither was a cheap home run, and accounted for all four the Mets runs; after a lead-off walk he scored on Neil Walker’s sacrifice fly. That tied the game, and then Bruce hit a two run blast, driving in Asdrubal Cabrera, in the eighth inning to put New York ahead. Eventually Yoenis Cespedes will start hitting, he’s batting .154, but it’s hard to argue with Bruce and his .304 average to go along with four home runs.

8) Billy Hamilton Does His Job…

This is what fantasy owners envision when they draft the speedy outfielder. Hamilton got three hits, all singles, in his five at bats and scored two runs. Perhaps more importantly for fantasy owners, Hamilton also stole two bases which doubled his total for the season. So far this season, he is batting .346, and while it is early, Hamilton appears to be carrying over the success he had to end 2016. His speed was never the issue, he just had to get on base first. It also helps that Adam Duvall is batting .333 and Eugenio Suarez is batting .350 as Hamilton needs someone to drive him in.

9) Harper is Rolling…

There’s no need to come up a pun or something clever here, as Harper’s performance really speaks for itself. To say that he is gunning for the MVP and might be an early favorite would be an understatement. Harper was 4 for 4 on Monday while reaching base all six times he came to the plate; two walks. One of those hits was a bunt base hit, but fantasy owners shouldn’t be concerned about a lack of power from the outfielder based on what we saw this spring (and his two home runs already this season). Harper drove in three runs and scored twice as his average rose to .370.

10) Chicago Walks off Victorious…

As a team, the Cubs are 5-2 so far this season, so you can’t argue with that success. But from a fantasy perspective, there hasn’t been much (other than Saturday night’s offensive explosion) from a fantasy perspective. I would not be concerned about anybody, other than Jason Heyward (who is actually batting .292), as there is still plenty of baseball left to be played. Anthony Rizzo had the hit to drive in the winning run, and he is batting just .172 on the season. Through seven games, there is no reason to overreact.


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