Bummer start for Giants ace

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The first week of the 2017 season has already produced some exciting moments and unusual occurrences. On Opening Sunday San Francisco ace Madison Bumgarner became the first pitcher in MLB history to slam two home runs on Opening Day. The supposedly fortified Giants bullpen then blew the lead in what was a 6-5 walkoff loss at Arizona.

Over this past weekend Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw allowed back-to-back home runs for the first time in his illustrious, and dominating, career when Mark Reynolds and Gerardo Parra took him deep in the sixth inning of Colorado’s 4-2 home win.

That feat occurred shortly after the Philadelphia Phillies scored 12 runs in the first inning of their 17-3 win over Washington, the biggest first inning in Phillies history.

The 38-year-old Guthrie, who had not started since 2015, was starting in place of Joe Ross and lasted just two-thirds of an inning. He was charged with allowing 10 runs – all earned – while allowing six hits and issuing four walks. That translates to an ERA of 135.00, which is not likely to be lowered (or raised) any time soon as Guthrie was designated for assignment within 24 hours of his outing.

The first week of action was capped by a remarkable comeback, or collapse depending on your point of view. Trailing 9-3 entering the bottom of the ninth inning on Sunday, the L.A. Angels of Anaheim scored 7 runs to complete a 10-9 win over struggling Seattle. It capped a 5-2 start to the season for the Halos while dropping the Mariners to a disappointing 1-6.

Seattle was not the only team off to a surprisingly disappointing start as two other teams expected to contend had poor opening weeks. The Toronto Blue Jays dropped 5 of 6 to start the season 1-5. The San Francisco Giants got off to a 2-5 start. To be fair, all three teams – San Francisco, Seattle and Toronto – played those games on the road. Let’s see how they perform at home this week.

No team went through the first week unscathed although three have lost just once and could be considered surprises as none was realistically considered to be a contender.

In the AL Baltimore is off to a 4-1 start and Minnesota is 5-1. The lone NL team to have suffered just a single loss is Arizona at 6-1. Both Baltimore and Arizona played all of their opening week games at home.

The lone exception to the favorable/ unfavorable scheduling producing those starts has been Minnesota. The Twins opened the season by sweeping their three-game home series against Kansas City, then took two of three on the road in Chicago.

Minnesota will be an interesting team to watch. After winning between 66 and 70 games from 2012 through 2014, Minnesota won 83 games in 2015. That was a 13 game improvement over 2014; then in 2016, winning just 59 games, a decline of 24 wins from a season earlier.

Such dramatic swings from one season to another are rarely sustained the following season so the question can be asked as to whether the Twins are closer to the team that won 83 games in 2015 or the team that won just 59 last season?

The answer is in the middle but the composition of the roster suggests the Twins are closer to being contenders rather than doormats, especially with their lineup. Their projected Wins Total of 73.5 anticipates Minnesota will make up more than half of the decline they showed last season.

Here’s a preview of three weekend series.

Pittsburgh at Chicago Cubs: Back the Buccos in starts by Gerritt Cole or Jameson Taillon if getting at least +150 or lay the run and a half with the Cubs against any other Pittsburgh starter. The Cubs will be solid favorites throughout this three game series. Look to play OVER in starts made by other than Jake Arrieta or Jon Lester for the Cubs and Cole or Taillon for the Pirates.

Detroit at Cleveland: The way to approach this series is to back Kluber and Carrasco not facing Justin Verlander or Michael Fulmer and vice versa. Should two of the four oppose one another the play would be on the UNDER, especially at 8 or higher and even 7.5. If those four starters are not involved, play the Tigers at +125 or more, or Cleveland laying -120 or less. Also look fir OVER 9 or lower.

St. Louis at NY Yankees: With the exception of starts by Masahiro Tanaka or Carlos Martinez, OVER 8.5 or lower should be considered. Either team as an underdog of +125 or more can also be considered except in starts by either ace, in which case the underdog would have to be +140 or more or the ace at -120 or less. The latter scenario is unlikely unless Tanaka and Martinez were to face one another, in which case the play would be UNDER 7.5 or higher.

About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

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