April 10, 2004

Warm Up Pitches: The Top 5 Things About the First Week of Baseball

by CHRIS LYNCH , @ A Large Regular : American Digest Sports Editor

1. The Closers Implode: Blown saves seem to be the big story of the week. Mariano Rivera is Exhibit A but it seems to be a wide spread phenomenon. If you took the top 5 in saves from both leagues last year you would see that so far this year they have 9 saves and 3 blown saves. That's not a good ratio but their combined ERA is even worse. Not counting Eric Gagne who is on the DL or John Smoltz who is now a starter - the top performers from last year have a combined ERA of 5.51. That's not good. This is probably just an example of the hazard of small sample sizes but it is probably something that bears watching because my guess is at least one of these top closers will just completely melt down.

2. Cincinnati was the last team to lose a game and then they promptly lost two in a row. Currently they are in third place in their division and that's probably where they'll end up at the end of the year (if they are lucky). They will be a fun team to watch with plenty of offensive fire works though.

3. The Astros are the last team to hit a home run in MLB: It took till yesterday for the Astros to hit their first home run and they ended up hitting two - one by Jeff Bagwell and one by Jason Lane. The Astros have a pretty solid pitching staff (especially if Andy Pettite can stay healthy) but their offense looks anemic. The Astros lost the bats of Carlos Beltran and Jeff Kent; Bagwell's shoulder isn't getting any better (robbing him of most of his power) and Lance Berkman is still on the DL. With this offense the Astros are probably a .500 team at best. That second HR yesterday vaulted the Astros from last place in HR in MLB to 29th - passing the Pirates who only have one dinger so far (but who expects anything from the Pirates?).

4. David Ortiz is making a push to be the first DH to win the MVP. I know it is really early in the season but Ortizzle has been hot, hot, hot. He's in the top 5 in all the major offensive categories. Can a DH be the MVP?

5. The A's pitching staff. So far the A's starting pitching has had a dazzling 1.59 ERA - oh wait a minute - I forgot to add in the stats for former Cy Young winner and supposed anchor of the staff Barry Zito. Oops! When you add in Zito's numbers the staff ERA balloons to 5.13. What's wrong with Zito? Did Beane trade the wrong guy? Tim Hudson is 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA for the Braves and Mark Mulder is a little better than Zito with a 6.00 ERA. This is definitely something people will be watching all season.

AMERICAN DIGEST SPORTS EDITOR Chris Lynch serves his own brew daily at A Large Regular, and contributes to SportsPages.com. Lynch can be reached at chris.lynch@gmail.com

Posted by Vanderleun at April 10, 2004 8:56 AM
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