8 Scorching MLB Starts That Won't Last
A strong start to the season means absolutely nothing.
It doesn’t matter if a batter hits a home run in his first handful of games or a pitcher strikes out half the guys he faces in his first start. The Major League Baseball season is 162 games long, and we're only a week in.
For the players with somewhat uncharacteristic hot starts, it’s tough to say that their success will continue at this point in the year. There are plenty of players who have had fantastic starts to the season, but will fade sometime between now and the dog days of summer.
Dan Straily, Oakland Athletics
In Dan Straily’s first start of the season against the Houston Astros, the young right-hander allowed a pair of earned runs on five hits across 6.2 innings while striking out 11 batters. It was a great beginning for the young right-hander, though it did come against one of the least competitive teams in baseball.
Moreover, Straily no longer has a spot in Oakland's starting rotation, getting the nod only because Bartolo Colon was serving the final days of his 50-game suspension. Now that Colon has been reinstated, Straily has been optioned to Triple-A Sacramento.
It appears that no matter how well he pitches, he will be the odd man out barring an injury. For all we know, he may end 2013 with just the one start.
Todd Frazier, Cincinnati Reds
Todd Frazier is one of MLB's up-and-coming third basemen, but despite the way he’s played so far, he’s not the next Mike Schmidt—at least not yet.
Through the Cincinnati Reds’ first six games of the young season, he is 12-for-25 with three home runs and nine runs batted in. Perhaps most impressive is the damage he's done against very high-caliber pitching, facing the loaded rotations of the Los Angeles Angels and Washington Nationals.
But while there's reason to believe Frazier will make an impact for the Reds this season, there’s just no way he keeps this pace up. Frazier could be one of Cincinatti's best hitters this year, but his MVP-worthy production will gradually trend downward to his rookie-year totals: .273/.331/.498 line with 19 home runs and 67 RBI.
Alexi Ogando, Texas Rangers
The Rangers have really experimented with Alexi Ogando over the years, and he’s been pretty good in every role he’s been asked to fill. In his first season in Texas, he appeared in 44 games, all in relief. The next year, he started all but two games he pitched in. Last season, he pitched out of the bullpen all but once. This year, he’s a starter again.
In his first start of the season, Ogando took full advantage of the inexperienced Houston Astros, tossing 6.1 scoreless innings while striking out 10 batters and walking just one. Strong start aside, this will be the year the Rangers wish they had kept him in the bullpen.
Eventually, his arm isn’t going to be able to take it. Stretching out a pitcher just one time can break down an elbow, and the Rangers are now stretching Ogando out for the second time in just four years. You can’t go from throwing around five or six innings in a night to one or two and then back to five or six.
J.P. Arencibia, Toronto Blue Jays
Despite their poor start to the year, the Toronto Blue Jays have a stacked offensive lineup. On paper, one of their weaker links is catcher J.P. Arencibia.
However, Arencibia has hit very well thus far. Through the first six games of the season, he’s 8-for-23 with a trio of home runs, four RBI and three runs. He’s currently hitting at a .348/.375/.870 clip.
These types of numbers are extremely uncharacteristic of Arencibia compared to years past. In 2011, he played in 129 games and hit .219/.282/.438 with 23 home runs. Last season, he played in 102 games, hitting .233/.275/.435 with 18 home runs.
So, while it appears that he has good power, he’s definitely not one to hit with much consistency.
This is Arencibia’s third full season in the big leagues, so he could be finding his stroke at the plate. More likely, though, Week 1 was something of a fluke.
Rafael Betancourt, Colorado Rockies
Through the first week of the regular season, not many could predict the Colorado Rockies would be tied for the best record in the MLB and that Rafael Betancourt would be one of the game's top closers.
The Rockies are 5-1 through the first six games of the year, and Betancourt has been perfect. In three appearances, he’s 3-for-3 in save opportunities, tossing 3.1 shutout innings while allowing just a pair of hits.
Unfortunately, Betancourt likely won't be able to sustain this success, as Colorado will need to keep up its winning ways to give him regular save chances. In addition, the right-handed flamethrower pitches in Coors Field, which could be the top hitters' ballpark in the league.
Last season, Betancourt saved 31 games in 60 appearances, finishing the year with a 2.81 ERA across 57.2 innings. Those are the types of numbers that we should expect to see again in 2013.
Don’t expect to see a 2013 rendition of Fernando Rodney's 2012 campaign.
Gerardo Parra, Arizona Diamondbacks
The only reason Gerardo Parra has been playing regularly for the Arizona Diamondbacks this season is because Adam Eaton and Cody Ross are both on the disabled list.
After trading Justin Upton over the winter, the intended Opening Day lineup featured Ross, Eaton and Jason Kubel. However, things worked out in Parra’s favor and he’s making the most of the opportunity to play on a consistent basis, strengthening his case to continue starting once the pair of outfielders get healthy.
Through six games, Parra is hitting .400/.438/.700 with six extra-base hits, including a home run. Those are great numbers compared to his career averages, which aren’t too shabby in their own right. Through four-plus big league seasons, Parra has hit at a .283/.334/.406 clip with 24 home runs and 174 RBI.
Parra has played in at least 120 games in each of the last four years, but it’s tough to imagine that the team wouldn’t play Ross (one of its biggest signings over the offseason) or Eaton (a top prospect) once it is able to.
Parra’s numbers will decline once his playing time diminishes in the coming weeks.
Jeremy Guthrie, Kansas City Royals
The Kansas City Royals may have been praised for signing Jeremy Guthrie to a three-year deal worth $25 million over the winter, but they will soon be regretting that decision.
Guthrie hasn’t been a front-end starter in a very long time. He hasn’t had a winning season since 2007 despite the fact that he’s started at least 29 games every season. Last year, between the Royals and the Colorado Rockies, he went 8-12 with a 4.76 ERA in 181.2 innings of work.
Guthrie, however, manhandled the Chicago White Sox in his first outing of 2013. He allowed just one earned run on five hits in six innings, striking out nine. The White Sox really had a tough time hitting off of the right-hander, but this shouldn’t be seen as a trend that will continue.
Kansas City's relatively high-profile signing is bound for another disappointing year.
Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles
Chris Davis is having one heck of a start to the 2013 season. He’s really turned his still-young career around since going to the Baltimore Orioles in 2011.
Since that red-hot four-game streak, though, Davis has cooled off significantly, going 1-for-9 at the plate with just one RBI. He's also struck out one time in each of those games after whiffing just once in his first four contests.
Over the course of his six-year career, Davis has struck about in almost one-third of his at-bats. He may have broken a record already this year, but swinging for the fences is going to come back to haunt him as the season wears on.
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