It’s been a great start to the MLB season. Let’s take a look at some of the big storylines of the past few weeks. Including a new phenom, Kenta Maeda, making headlines in LA.
The Tale of One City:
Chicago has been one of the hottest baseball cities in the country. The Cubs and White Sox are a combined 30-11 to start the season. Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo are all continuing to build off of their monster seasons last year to help keep the North-Siders ahead in the NL Central. Down south, the White Sox have taken advantage of a relatively soft schedule to jump out to a 15-6 record in 2016. Their strength of schedule, however, should not discount the performances by newcomers Todd Frazier and Mat Latos along with great starts by regulars Chris Sale and Jose Quintana. Both teams will have to fend off strong competition from within their respective divisions, but don’t be surprised to see both of them contending for a playoff spot towards the end of the season.
There have been many stories about Bryce Harper before this one and will be many more to come. Imagine being 23-years-old and knowing that you are one of the greatest players in the game. The defending NL-MVP has already slugged nine home runs and driven in 24. The 6’2 lefty from Las Vegas already has over 100 career home runs and is on pace for his fourth All-Star Game appearance. He is already looking like a legend in the making; one day, children are going to look back at the legacy of Harper the same way we look at Willie Mays or Ted Williams.
There’s a new pitcher in town for the Los Angeles Dodgers who is making Clayton Kershaw look human. Kenta Maeda was not on a Major League team four months ago and is now one of the hottest pitchers in the game. In his first four career starts since leaving Japan, Maeda is 3-0 with a 0.36 ERA and 23 strikeouts. A solo home run by Joe Panik remains the only run he has surrendered in his American career. There were many who questioned Los Angeles giving him eight years and up to $90 million considering that he is already 28, but he is already starting to pay dividends. Only time will tell, but so far the Dodgers seemed to have made the right choice.
Houston we have a problem:
Entering the season, the Houston Astros seemed like the consensus pick to win the American League West. Currently, they sit at the cellar of the division with a 6-15 record. After shattering expectations and making it to the ALDS following three consecutive 100-loss seasons, the Astros seemed to have reverted to their old ways. Fortunately, it is still early and there is still time to turn everything around. The offense has been scoring runs; however, over half of the pitching staff has an ERA over 4.50. When Dallas Keuchel is not on the mound, Houston starters are averaging a 5.78 ERA this season. It is not time to panic, but the Astros need to fix their pitching staff to work their way back into contention.