MLB Game Day Recap: Day 1

April 2, 2021

Well, it took all of 0 games until we had Major League Baseball announce our first game postponement due to COVID-19. While we are going to get far closer to 162 in 2021 than we did in 2020 the virus is still here and operational, ready to any team or person at any time. I don’t want to start off the first of these daily recaps with such a bummer topic, but I didn’t get to watch Jacob deGrom pitch against Max Scherzer because someone did something that didn’t put their own health and the health of those around them, their teammates, first. Not only did we not get this matchup today, we’re not going to get it any time soon as contact tracing has already brought back multiple confirmed cases among players on the Nationals. It’s going to get uglier as we as a nation insist this pandemic is over when it simply isn’t. On to the good stuff.

CLE @ DET (Bieber @ Boyd) – Out of all the Opening Day games, this one was supposed to be the most predictable. We got Shane Bieber looking like he was making his first start after Spring Training. He struck out a dozen but also gave up an opposite field dinger to Miguel Cabrera as he pitched through snowy conditions and took the loss. Matthew Boyd looked good and got the win, but his K/BB of 0.50 suggests he’s still the same Matthew Boyd under the hood, he just got to face one of the lamest duck offenses to start the season. Gregory Soto got the save, but he gave up a 2 run shot to Roberto Perez that was a no doubter and while his velocity is up, this outing did nothing to make me more confident in him as the primary 9th inning option. Keep Bryan Garcia on your radar, and if you have bench spots he’s a stash I’d be making. Cesar Hernandez had the only other XBH for Cleveland and only he and Jose Ramirez reached base multiple times for Cleveland. Robbie Grossman had 3 walks and did exactly what he should do as a leadoff hitter, if you’re in an OBP league you might want to get Grossman on your roster sooner rather than later.

TOR @ NYY (Ryu @ Cole) – Each team scored early before the starters could become their settled in selves, as Lourdes Gurriel Jr. drove in Teoscar Hernandez in the top of the 2nd while Gary Sanchez hit a 2-run dong in the bottom of the inning. Sanchez reached base 3 times and if you are going to make any gigantic leaps due to Opening Day results, Gary Sanchez making contact going forward is one leap I’d want to come true. Clint Frazier reached base 3 times too and Mike Tauchman pinch ran for Sanchez and stole two bases in the 9th. The deployment of Tauchman might have been matchup based as Jordan Romano isn’t a guy who is known to hold baserunners well. Teoscar Hernandez hit a solo shot in the 6th after scoring on the Gurriel single in the 2nd and anyone who was worried a slow start might lead to reduced at bats (me) can breath a sight of relief. The Yankees bullpen usage was surprising, as Nick Nelson took the loss after allowing a Randall Grichuk RBI double in the 10th when Aroldis Chapman never appeared and Nelson was only the 4th Yankees pitcher of the game. Romano picked up the win after Rafael Dolis pitched the 8th and Julian Merryweather struck out the side in order in the 10th. Cole and Ryu both with 5.1 giving up 2 runs with Cole getting 8 K’s and Ryu 5.

PIT @ CHC (Kuhl @ Hendricks) – Ke’Bryan Hayes picked up where he left off last year with a first inning 2 run bomb of Kyle Hendricks, and the Pirates chased him after the 3rd. Surprisingly enough, Chad Kuhl also got chased after 3 as both starters did not look particularly good. It makes sense with Kuhl, but seeing Hendricks not be able to handle this Pirates lineup early is as big of a cause for concern as a poor Opening Day performance can be from a weak contact starter on a team that is not expected to be good. The Pirates somehow managed a 2 hitter behind Duane Underwood Jr., Clay Holmes, Sam Howard, David Bednar, Chris Stratton and Richard Rodriguez. Wilson Contreras stole a base and drove in a run, while Adam Frazier drove in 2 for the Buccos while stealing a base. Given how 15 pitchers were used across both teams, it will be interesting to see how bullpen usage flows if the starting pitching gives up runs early on Saturday, although both teams should be able to weather the storm pretty easily.

MIN @ MIL (Maeda @ Woodruff) – Another game where both Opening Day starters couldn’t make it 5.0 innings. Woodruff got hit all over the place allowing 3 runs on 6 hits over 4.0 innings while walking 2. Woodruff didn’t allow an extra base hit, but he allowed plenty of baserunners and did not look sharp at all. Maeda didn’t fare much better as he also allowed 6 hits and 2 walks, but only allowed 2 runs and got one out in the 4th before being pulled. Alex Colome blew the game immediately in the 9th, with his own throwing error leading to 3 unearned runs. Perhaps surprising, but Hansel Robles pitched the 8th and Taylor Rogers was nowhere to be found as Randy Dobnak to the loss in the 10th. Freddy Peralta pitched the 5th and the 6th and confused his fantasy owners as he was slated to be the 5th starter to open this season, but when you realize there is a day off tomorrow there are still 6 days until Peralta’s next start and he was simply used as the long man because he was the best arm available, no cause for concern in my eyes. Travis Shaw and Omar Narvaez both looked good combining for 4 hits and 4 RBIs while on the Twins side not only did Byron Buxton steal a base and hit a homer, but he walked, twice. If there is a pipe dream, it’s the walking Byron Buxton, maybe it will happen this year? Luis Arraez reached base 3 times out of the leadoff spot and quietly is one going to hit for average and score a ton of runs this year while being 2B, 3B, and OF eligible and he’s owned in around 20% of leagues which is far too few.

ATL @ PHI (Fried @ Nola) – This game actually felt right. Fried put up a near clone of Gerrit Cole’s start allowing 6 hits, 2 walks and 2 earned while striking out 8 over 5.0 innings missing a pure clone by one out in the 6th. Aaron Nola looked like the Cy Young contender he always is going 6 scoreless innings only to give up a single to Christian Pache and 2 run shot to Pablo Sandoval when he couldn’t finish the 7th. Acuna Jr. was the only Brave to reach base more than once which the ultimate downfall as Nate Jones allowed a 2 out RBI single to Jean Segura in the 9th, after Chris Martin pitched the 8th and Will Smith pitched the 9th in a tied game. On the Phillies side, Archie Bradley was deployed to get the final out in the 7th which does not bode well for his save chances as Jose Alvarado pitched the 8th and Hector Neris the 9th before Connor Brogdon picked up the win after a scoreless top of the 10th.

TEX @ KC (Gibson @ Keller) – Oh god, this game did not have any pitching. Kyle Gibson gave up 5 runs in 0.1 innings yet left with the lead as his counterpart Brad Keller gave up 6 runs in 1.1 innings. If you starter Kyle Gibson, well, you knew this was possible but this type of disaster is not supposed to happen in a Brad Keller start. I was buying him all off season but I am immediately regretting that as when you allow over twice as many hits as you get outs and you’re the starter, things are not good. Everyone on these offenses scored a bunch and drove in a bunch as no pitchers could pitch, but I don’t need to tell you it’s not time to buy anyone on these teams until they play a team with a real pitching staff. Of notes with the bullpen, Wade Davis picked up the save as Greg Holland was looking like 2018 Greg Holland.

TB @ MIA (Glasnow @ Alcantara) – This game was exactly what it should have been, as Glasnow and Alcantara were unhittable and the only reason this game didn’t go to extras was Austin Meadows got into one off Yimi Garcia. Only Jesus Aguilar and Brandon Lowe reached based more than once as Lowe got the only other XBH of the game with a double off Alcantara. The Rays bullpen performed as expected with Pete Fairbanks pitching the 8th and Diego Castillo shutting down the side in the 9th.

STL @ CIN (Flaherty @ Castillo) – This game was supposed to go exactly as the Tampa Bay/Miami game, but it did not. Flaherty gave up 2 bombs Nick Castellanos and Eugenio Suarez while Castillo gave up 10 runs in 3.1 innings. I’m not really sure why Cincinnati didn’t pull Castillo earlier with an entirely fresh bullpen, but I’m just a writer I guess. Alex Reyes pitched the 9th and while it was not a save situation, he was declared closer by Mike Shildt earlier in the day. Goldschmidt got 4 hits and scored 3 runs, Arenado scored once on two hits, and Dylan Carlson picked up a walk to go with his 3 run shot. I quick note that while this was an offensive explosion game, Jonathan India going 2 for 4 in his debut is definitely something to monitor, as is Nick Senzel leaving the game early with an injury which seems like it’s as much of an April tradition as Opening Day itself.

LAD @ COL (Kershaw @ Marquez) – Man, the Dodgers looked as bad as the Dodgers could possibly look, as Kershaw got dinked and dunked for 10 hits and 5 earned over 5.2. German Marquez was effectively wild allowing 6 hits and 6 walks over 4.0 IP yet only allowed a single run. Chi Chi Gonzalez was an ineffective bridge who got the win despite allowing 3 runs on 5 hits over 2.0 innings with Daniel Bard striking out 2, and allowing 2 base runners while picking up the save. Chris Owings won the Opening Day Emilio Bonifacio award for the most effective fantasy game by a multi-positional utility player going 3 for 3 with 2 steals, 3 run, 1 RBI and 1 BB. Every starting Rockie outside of Marquez reached base at least once while every Dodgers (including Kershaw!) reached base twice except Justin Turner (once) and Austin Barnes (none). Barnes also left the game in the due to a cut on his throwing hand so it will be interesting to see if he makes his way onto the IL and we get our first big time prospect call with a short run for Keibert Ruiz.

ARZ @ SDP (Bumgarner @ Darvish) – Like many of these Opening Day aces, both Bumgarner and Darvish got knocked around and didn’t see the end of the 5th. Stefon Crichton gave up a run out of the pen in the 6th which is excellent news for Joakim Soria owners as he was nowhere near the 9th. Pagan-Pomeranz-Melancon allowed 1 base runner while striking out 4 in the 7th-8th-9th. Tatis Jr. and Machado struggled despite the offense lighting up Madbum as they went a combined 1 for 10 with 4 strikeouts. Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers both went deep while Victor Caratini drove in 3. If Caratini is available in your league, get him on your roster as soon as possible, he’s going to take the starting job and never look back. Ketel Marte went 4 for 5 with a homer and 2 runs scored while Asdrubal Cabrera hit 5th and drove in 3 with a dinger. Tim Locastro got a surprise dinger off the bench is should be someone to keep on your radar with his speed and on base skill. Carson Kelly had a pinch hit single after Stephen Vogt started, which is an excellent sign for a top 10 dynasty catching asset who didn’t get an Opening Day start.

HOU @ OAK (Greinke @ Bassitt) – Greinke looked like the future Hall of Famer that he is, allowing only 3 base runners over 6 innings. Chris Bassitt looked to match him through the first time through the order, but Bregman grounded in a run in the 4th and Yordan Alvarez drove in two on a double in the 6th to chase Bassitt before the 6th. Brantley & Bregman took Adam Kolarek deep in the 7th to seal the game for the Astros. They knocked in another 3 in the 8th to put the game away 8-1. 2021 could be the season where the Astros feel the boos at the ballpark as opposed to 2020, but they most certainly did not on Opening Day.

CHW @ LAA (Giolito @ Bundy) – Giolito was absolutely terrific except for a dinger to dead center by Max Stassi. Dylan Bundy far more mediocre allowing a two run shot to Adam Eaton over 6.0 innings. The White Sox bullpen, which looked on paper like it was one of the best in the league, was a huge Bummer and gave up the lead in the 8th on an infield single, throwing error on Nick Madrigal, Mike Trout single, Anthony Rendon K, Justin Upton walk, and then an RBI groundout by Albert Pujols. Raisel Iglesias pitched a clean 9th and the White Sox completely blew a gem from Lucas Giolito. Moncada and Trout both reached base 3 times, and while Trout doing this is typical and nothing out of the ordinary, Moncada doing this gives hopes to those who saw his 2020 as a product of his COVID-19 diagnosis with 2021 being a return to his 2019 self.

SF @ SEA (Gausman @ Gonzales) – If there was a start today that made someone look like the star they just might be, it was Kevin Gausman. 6 K’s, 2 hits, 2 walks and 1 earned over 6.2 made Kevin look like the ace he’s supposed to be. His counterpart Marco Gonzales looked far more mortal, pretending it was 2014 again letting both Evan Longoria and Buster Posey connect on dingers in addition to Austin Slater. Matt Wisler and Jarlin Garcia combined to walk 3 in the 7th and then submariner Tyler Rogers gave up a two run double and then just like in the Angels game, an infield error by Brandon Belt on a sure fire double play ball causes his team to blow a lead and the game. Another gem wasted here for Gausman. The one good thing for Giants fans is that Jake McGee and Reyes Moronta weren’t the ones to blow this game, but at the same time one has to wonder why one of them weren’t called upon in the 7th to save the game when there was still a lead to save. Every Mariner reached base despite Gausman allowing 4 baserunners of 6.2 innings. The Giants simply can’t blow these kind of games if they want to compete, which they seemingly are telling their fan base they are trying to do. All that complaining said, Rafael Montero immediately blew the game to a pinch hit home run from Alex Dickerson. The game went to extras after the actually good reliever Jake McGee pitched the 9th for the Giants, but in the 10th they avoided pitching their other actually good reliever Reyes Moronta so naturally Jose Alvarez walked his fellow lefty Taylor Trammell and then Dylan Moore to load the bases Jake Fraley to lose the game. This was the ugliest game of the night and our first gigantic bullpen meltdown of the year.

Today was definitely interesting in terms of extra inning usage, as every team had fresh a fresh bullpen yet we saw the likes of Nick Nelson, Nate Jones, Randy Dobnak take 10th inning losses instead of seeing Aroldis Chapman, Amir Garrett and Taylor Rogers get extra inning usage. Since I started this article on a negative tone, I’ll end it on a positive one. I love baseball. I am thrilled baseball is back. I cannot wait for more tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after. And the day after that. This is the greatest game on earth. I’m so happy we’ve got a realistic shot at 162. Goodnight.

  • Follow James on Twitter @whatmoney3000 for his deep league dynasty rankings and all his live takes before you skim this nice long article.