It’s an old cliche that the baseball season is a marathon not a sprint and that games count as much in April as they do in September.
Still, a fast start to a new season tends to breed confidence and raise expectations whereas a slow start will often raise concerns both within the organization and throughout the fan base.
The 2015 season is one week old and there were a few developments that can be described as surprising but which, within the contest of the long six month season, may have little or no predictive value.
Worth taking note of are the surprisingly fast starts by three teams for which expectations were more pessimistic than optimistic this season.
Two teams, both in the same Division, are undefeated following the first two series of the season.
Last season’s American League Champion Kansas City Royals have won all 7 of their games through Monday, including a three game home sweep of the Chicago White Sox and a three game road sweep – on the road – of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Their AL Central Division rivals, the Detroit Tigers, accomplished a similar feat, sweeping the Minnesota Twins at home and the Cleveland Indians on the road to start 6-0.
The third team off to a surprisingly strong start is a team that was expected to challenge for the cellar in its division. The Atlanta Braves, considered only slightly better than the Philadelphia Phillies, nonetheless started the season with a three game road sweep, on the road against Miami and followed that up by taking 2 of 3 at home against another division rival, the New York Mets.
None of the other 27 teams has lost fewer than 2 games.
At the other end of the spectrum are a trio of teams that have gotten off to poor starts, dropping 5 of their first 6 games. Clearly it is too early for these teams to consider dramatic moves but there is a reason for two those teams to at least be concerned.
The “3 M” of Major League Baseball – Miami, Milwaukee and Minnesota – have each started 1-5. It’s no surprise that the Minnesota Twins have started poorly.
To a lesser extent the Milwaukee Brewers were expected to have a poor season. Their season wins total was just 78.5 and the Brewers are expected to contend with Cincinnati to avoid the basement in the NL Central.
Here’s a look at three series this weekend.
Padres at Cubs: Both teams have above average pitching and lineups that are still developing chemistry. Plays: San Diego as underdogs of any price in starts by James Shields or Tyson Ross; SD +125 or more with other starters not facing Jon Lester or Jake Arrieta; Cubs -120 or less in starts by Lester or Arrieta not facing Shields or Ross. Cubs -130 or less with any other starter not opposing Shields or Ross; OVER 8 in any matchup; UNDER 10.5 or higher in starts not involving Lester, Arrieta, Shields or Ross
Orioles at Red Sox: Orioles have an above average bullpen that could be a factor in this series. Both teams should play considerably more OVERS than UNDERS this season. Plays: Either team +120 or more in any matchup; OVER 9 or lower in any matchup.
Braves at Jays: Toronto’s strength is its lineup and its weaknesses are on the mound. Atlanta is the reverse. Plays: Atlanta +120 or more in starts by Alex Wood or Julio Teheran; Atlanta +130 or more behind other starters against any Toronto starter; Toronto -120 or less in any matchup; OVER 7.5 or lower in any matchup; UNDER 8.5 or higher in any matchup.
Andy Iskoe, and his Logical Approach, provides his popular and unique handicapping statistics to Gaming Today readers and online visitors. He has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Contact Andy at [email protected].