MLB's 50 Most Shocking Hot/Cold Starts: Will They Last?

Doug Mead@@Sports_A_HolicCorrespondent IApril 15, 2013

MLB's 50 Most Shocking Hot/Cold Starts: Will They Last?

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    We're only two weeks into the 2013 MLB season, yet, already, there have been some shocking results in terms of hot and cold starts for many players.

    In many cases, the numbers are so skewed either way that it's highly improbable the stats can be sustained over the long haul. Is it possible a player could continue with an .050 average? Or a pitcher with a 0.00 ERA?

    Unless you're an eternal optimist, that answer would be no.

    However, it's reasonable to assume that a player can ride a start all the way through, but with more sensible numbers that would more accurately reflect his hot or cold beginning.

    With that in mind, we'll take at 50 players who have started the season on a winning or losing note and whether or not their current stats reflect how they'll perform for the rest of the season.

    Not all of the players listed might be totally shocking, but their efforts thus far have either greatly aided their team or have helped lead to their team's early demise.

    Note: All statistics courtesy of and are current as of Sunday evening, Apr. 14, unless otherwise noted.

Brandon McCarthy, Arizona Diamondbacks: Cold

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    Current Stats: 0-1, 7.71 ERA, 1.80 WHIP, 14.7 H/9, 3.9 K/9

    Signing a two-year deal during the offseason to pitch for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Brandon McCarthy was taking a bit of a chance in leaving Oakland. He enjoyed great success with the A's, posting a 3.29 ERA over his two seasons there.

    Now, hurling in a park that's not nearly as friendly to pitchers, McCarthy's first two starts at home were not exactly what Arizona was hoping for.

    Will it Last?

    In a word, no. McCarthy likely won't enjoy an ERA close to his average during his years in Oakland. Chase Field hasn't been kind to former and current teammate Trevor Cahill, either. But McCarthy could finish with an ERA somewhere around 3.75, despite the not-so-friendly confines of home.

Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves: Hot

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    Current Stats: 0.00 ERA, 6 SV, 0 R, 1 H, 0.50 WHIP, .056 BAA, 9.0 K/9 rate

    About the only surprise in Craig Kimbrel's numbers is the relatively low K/9 rate thus far, considering he struck out over half the batters he faced last year.

    Kimbrel has picked up a save in each of his six appearances so far, and that's a number that almost certainly can't be sustained.

    Will it Last?

    Given his track record, there's no reason whatsoever to think that Kimbrel can't continue to dominate. A 50-save season with an ERA around 1.25 is absolutely not out of the question.

Justin Upton: Atlanta Braves

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    Current Stats: .348 BA, 7 HR, 11 RBI, .891 SLG, 1.306 OPS

    Justin Upton is showing his Atlanta teammates that he's very comfortable in his new surroundings.

    Upton's seven homers in the team's first 12 games certainly won't be sustained, but it has many fans wondering if Upton can continue leading the way offensively for the Braves.

    Will it Last?

    Obviously there's no way Upton can sustain an average of more than one home run every two games. But he could easily break his personal best of 31 long balls in 2011 and maintain an average close to .290-.300.

Jason Heyward, Atlanta Braves: Cold

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    Current Stats: .103 BA, 1 HR, 4 RBI, .491 OPS

    Jason Heyward put together a bounce-back year last season after experiencing the dreaded sophomore slump in 2011.

    But for some reason, he's slumping badly to start the 2013 season. Is it that he's pressing in order to impress his new outfield mates. Or could it be that he's going into a reverse Bret Saberhagen syndrome? You know, good in even-numbered years, bad in odd.

    Will it Last?

    If you believe in the Saberhagen syndrome, then it could absolutely last. I'm more of the belief that Heyward will break out at some point and end up with a 25-30 home run season and about a .260 average. A magical season it won't be, but Saberhagen likely won't have to worry about someone following in his footsteps.

Paul Maholm, Atlanta Braves: Hot

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    Current Stats: 3-0, 0.00 ERA, 20.1 IP, 0 R, 11 H, 5 BB, 20 K, 0.79 WHIP

    As the No. 2 pitcher in the Braves rotation, Paul Maholm has more than lived up to the task. In not allowing a single run all season, Maholm has held opposing batters to a .153 BAA.

    Will it last?

    Of course not. But that doesn't mean Maholm can't continue to be effective all year. I'm thinking 17 wins with a 2.90 ERA. He shut down both the Phillies and Nationals in two of his first three starts—certainly not teams that are impotent at the plate.

Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles: Hot

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    Current Stats: .426 BA, 1 HR, 11 RBI, .596 SLG, 1.033 OPS

    Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones is once again carrying his team offensively, and no one should be surprised.

    Along with first baseman Chris Davis, the two have combined for 30 of the team's overall 53 RBI.

    Will it Last?

    Jones is a stud who continues improving year after year. There's no reason not to expect that him to put up a 30 HR/100 RBI season and continue being the leader on the field for the Orioles.

    Note: Jones' stats do not include Sunday night's game against the New York Yankees.

Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles: Hot

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    Current Stats: .405 BA, 6 HR, 19 RBI, 1.000 SLG, 1.500 OPS

    Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis hit a home run in each of his first four games, adding another two in the last seven. While the start is no doubt sizzling, absolutely no one can keep up that pace.

    Will it Last?

    Well, no. But Davis does appear to have turned a corner offensively. 25 homers and 90 RBI is well within reach, as is a .300 batting average.

    Note: Davis' stats do not include Sunday night's game against the New York Yankees.

Boston Red Sox Starting Rotation: Hot

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    Current Stats: 5-2, 2.07 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, .221 BAA

    Last year, the Boston Red Sox finished 27th out of 30 teams with a 5.19 ERA from their starting rotation. Now, they're on top in the American League.

    Largely due to the efforts of Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, the rotation is giving the team a chance to win—something that was clearly missing throughout the 2012 season.

    The numbers have been impressive thus far for sure:

    Lester 2-0 19 3 3 18 1.42 0.95
    Buchholz 3-0 22 1 10 23 0.41 0.95
    Aceves 0-0 5 2 3 4 3.60 1.80
    Dempster 0-1 10 4 6 15 3.60 1.40
    Lackey 0-1 4.1 2 1 8 4.15 1.38
    Doubront 0-0 5 3 0 6 5.40 1.80

    Will it Last?

    Not likely, but the team won't finish near the bottom of the American League, either.

    John Lackey is on the disabled list and Ryan Dempster has seen mixed results thus far. If Lester and Buchholz can continuing leading at the top of the rotation, a 3.75 ERA from the rotation is a reasonable expectation.

Carlos Villanueva, Chicago Cubs: Hot

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    Current Stats: 0-0, 0.64 ERA, 14 IP, 1 R, 9 H, 0.86 WHIP, .188 BAA

    Carlos Villanueva has been a swing man most of his career, sometimes picking up spot starts, most of the time relieving. This year, he'll likely be in the rotation for much of the year for the Chicago Cubs.

    Considering his hot start, they won't want him anywhere else.

    Villanueva has yet to pick up a victory despite two stellar outings, courtesy of a porous bullpen. But the effort in getting into the later innings and giving his team a chance has been outstanding.

    Will it Last?

    It's entirely possibly Villanueva has found his comfort zone now that he knows his role. However, I'm thinking a 3.75-4.00 ERA is more likely the expectation for the full season, along with 10-12 wins.

Conor Gillaspie, Chicago White Sox: Hot

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    Current Stats: .444 BA, 1.037 OPS, two doubles, one triple

    Stop right here if you honestly thought infielder Conor Gillaspie would be a spark plug for the Chicago White Sox.

    In fact, Gillaspie has only been a member of the White Sox for about seven weeks, picked up in a deal with the San Francisco Giants shortly after the start of spring training.

    Considering the injury to Gordon Beckham, Gillaspie is certainly coming in handy right about now.

    Will it Last?

    It will last for about as long as Beckham is on the disabled list. Gillaspie will return to a utility role at that point, but he absolutely could provide an important role off the bench for the rest of the season.

Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati Reds: Hot

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    Current Stats: 0.00 ERA, 2 SV, 0.80 WHIP, .167 BAA, 16.9 K/9

    Despite the waffling that occurred during spring regarding Aroldis Chapman's status as a starter or closer, he hasn't allowed the indecision to affect his early-season performance.

    Chapman is once again doing what he did for most of last season—befuddling hitters and throwing heat.

    Will it Last?

    There's no reason to think it can't at this point. A 1.90 ERA with at least 40 saves and a double-digit K/9 rate wouldn't be out of the question at all.

Justin Masterson, Cleveland Indians: Hot

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    Current Stats: 3-0, 0.41 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, .141 BAA, 8.2 K/9

    Justin Masterson should be named Justin Masterful right now, because that's exactly what he's been to start the 2013 season.

    Maybe it's being reunited with former manager Terry Francona, but whatever it is, the Indians are loving what they're seeing from their No. 1 starter.

    Will it Last?

    No. Masterson went through a rough 2012 campaign, but it's unlikely he'll repeat those numbers. Given how he's looked thus far, 15-17 wins with a 3.00 ERA is not an unlikely scenario.

Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians: Hot

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    Current Stats: .500 BA, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 1.465 OPS

    Cleveland Indians catcher Carlos Santana has been sidelined by a sore left thumb since last Monday, and the Indians would dearly love his hot bat back in the lineup again. He made a pinch-hit appearance on Sunday, drawing a walk.

    Santana was red hot through the first seven games before his injury, and the Tribe certainly hope his absence from the lineup doesn't slow him down upon his return.

    Will it Last?

    No, but Santana has looked much more comfortable and locked in at the plate. He could easily break his personal marks of 27 homers and 79 RBI reached in 2011.

    The key for Santana is staying healthy and fresh. The demands of his position make that difficult, but manager Terry Francona can use Santana at first and as a DH on occasion to preserve his slugging backstop.

Wilton Lopez, Colorado Rockies: Cold

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    Current Stats: 10.13 ERA, 5.1 IP, 6 R, 13 H, 2.44 WHIP, .464 BAA

    Thus far in the young season, Colorado Rockies setup man Wilton Lopez isn't fooling anyone.

    His early struggles have led manager Walt Weiss to defend him, saying that he'll continue to use Lopez in the late innings.

    It's never good when a manager has to defend his use of a struggling pitcher this early.

    Will it Last?

    It very well could. Lopez went from his closer's role in Houston back to a setup role behind Rafael Betancourt. That's a move that can play with one's psyche—Heath Bell of the Arizona Diamondbacks is another example of that right now.

Wilin Rosario, Colorado Rockies: Hot

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    Current Stats: .361 BA, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 1.089 OPS

    Colorado Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario showed the baseball world last season that he is a rising offensive star behind the plate with 28 HR, 71 RBI and a .270 batting average.

    Rosario will likely get a day off on Sunday with Jorge De La Rosa on the bump against the San Diego Padres. But he's clearly picked up where he left off last season.

    Will it Last?

    The batting average won't stay that high, but a 30 HR/100 RBI is within reach for sure. Rosario obviously gains a huge advantage in playing half his games at Coors Field but the offense on the road hasn't exactly been terrible. He'll continue getting better as well at just the age of 24.

Prince Fielder, Detroit Tigers: Hot

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    Current Stats: .429 BA, 4 HR, 19 RBI, 1.361 OPS

    It's probably safe to say that Detroit Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder has now completely adjusted to life in the American League.

    The numbers put up last year gave solid evidence to support that fact, but the start to this season adds even more proof.

    Will it Last?

    No. Well, not the batting average. But can Fielder top 35 home runs with 110-120 RBI and an average close to .300 with an OPS of .950 or above? Yes, absolutely.

Victor Martinez, Detroit Tigers: Cold

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    Current Stats: .146 BA, 0 HR, 4 RBI, .412 OPS

    It had to have been difficult for designated hitter Victor Martinez last year as he sat idly by and watched his Detroit Tigers capture the American League pennant.

    Now recovered from his torn ACL that robbed him of an entire season, Martinez is hoping to help his Tigers get back to the World Series in back-to-back seasons. Thus far, however, he's yet to recapture his stroke.

    Will it Last?

    Martinez is a career .302 hitter, so you'd like to think that the slump is just temporary. But he's also coming off a significant injury, and it could take some time to get back in the groove offensively.

    It will be of great benefit to the Tigers that Martinez does recapture his offensive mojo, providing more protection for both Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder ahead of him in the lineup.

Brett Wallace, Houston Astros: Cold

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    Current Stats: .042 BA, 0 HR, 0 RBI, .157 OPS, 65.4% K rate

    Yes, you read that correctly—Houston Astros first baseman Brett Wallace has struck out almost two-thirds of the time he's been to the plate.

    The Astros could be at the end of their rope with Wallace, who's now been given several chances to seize the everyday job at first base over the past several seasons.

    Wallace's struggles were clearly evident last week in the Astros' 16-9 blowout win over the Seattle Mariners. He was the only regular starter without a hit and struck out each of his four times up. He's played just once since.

    Will it Last?

    Yes. Simply put, Wallace doesn't have a clue at the plate right now. Manager Bo Porter and GM Jeff Luhnow will run out of patience sooner rather than later, and Wallace could be back in the minors, or even released, by the end of April at this point.

Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals: Hot

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    Current Stats: .373 BA, 0 HR, 8 RBI, .906 OPS

    Kansas City Royals left fielder Alex Gordon has steadily developed into one of the better-hitting outfielders in the American League. His 51 doubles last season led the majors, and he's hovered around the .300 mark for the past two seasons.

    Gordon has continued showing off his offensive skills early on this season as well. He's displayed an ability to use the entire field to his advantage and take whatever pitchers give him to use to his advantage.

    Will it Last?

    The .370 average will likely come back down a bit, but Gordon is absolutely capable of a .310-.320 season with close to 70 extra-base hits combined—the exact number he reached last season.

Mike Moustakas, Kansas City Royals: Cold

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    Current Stats: .158 BA, 0 HR, 1 RBI, .211 SLG, .449 OPS

    Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas reached the 20-home run mark last year, but with a .242 average and .708 OPS, more was expected from the slugging corner infielder.

    Moustakas and Eric Hosmer were largely expected to provide better results this year as the Royals seek to contend in the AL Central Division. Thus far, Moustakas has struggled out of the gate.

    Will it Last?

    It's certainly early, and the Royals will give Moustakas time to shrug off his early-season woes. I'm more inclined to think that he'll deliver something close to last season as he continues adapting to major league pitching.

Joe Blanton, Los Angeles Angels: Cold

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    Current Stats: 0-2, 9.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP, .370 BAA, 4 HR

    The Los Angeles Angels entered the season having to answer concerns about their starting pitching, specifically the back end of the rotation with Tommy Hanson, Jason Vargas and Joe Blanton.

    Blanton hasn't helped to ease those concerns at all with his performance thus far.

    Will it Last?

    Unfortunately for Angels fans, it very well could. Blanton is prone to the gopher ball, and that's already been evidenced thus far.

    Giving $15 million to a starter with a 4.79 ERA over the past three seasons was a bit suspect to begin with, and so far, Blanton is showing that he isn't even close to deserving of that contract.

Los Angeles Angels Offense with RISP: Cold

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    Current Stats: .136 BA, 1 HR, 28 RBI, .205 SLG

    One telling stat that would aptly describe why the Los Angeles Angels are in last place in the American League West is their complete inability to hit in the clutch.

    The Angels are just 12-for-88 with runners in scoring position—good for last place in the majors. Only four of those hits went for extra bases.

    Will it Last?

    No team hits that poorly with RISP, so no, it won't continue. But the Angels need to get close to last year's numbers, when they were 11th in the majors with a .262 batting average with runners in scoring position.

Luis Cruz, Los Angeles Dodgers: Cold

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    Current Stats: .091 BA, 0 HR, 1 RBI, .205 OPS

    Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Luis Cruz was handed the everyday job at third base this season after an impressive performance last year in which he hit .297 with six homers and 40 RBI in 78 games.

    With the injury to Hanley Ramirez, it was of particular importance that Cruz continued to pitch in offensively to start the 2013 season.

    The Dodgers are still waiting.

    Will it Last?

    No. Cruz is simply too good of a hitter to continue on his current path.

    He started the season in an 0-for-17 slump before finally breaking through. He'll continue to make adjustments and slowly get back on track.

Adrian Gonzalez, Los Angeles Dodgers: Hot

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    Current Stats: .409 BA, 2 HR, 10 RBI, .614 SLG, 1.104 OPS

    With Matt Kemp not quite back up to par offensively and the absence of Hanley Ramirez, the Dodgers needed someone to step up and help power the offense.

    Thus far, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez has answered the call.

    Gonzalez collected another three hits on Sunday, half of the Dodgers' production in an eventual 1-0 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks. He is certainly doing his part.

    Will it Last?

    Gonzalez looks much more like the hitter that finished with a .338 batting average and .957 OPS in 2011. A .300-plus season, 25-30 home runs and 110 RBI is a reachable goal.

Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlins: Hot

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    Current Stats: 0-0, 0.82 ERA, 1 R, 5 H, 0.73 WHIP, 10.6 K/9

    The Miami Marlins' No. 1 prospect has arrived.

    Jose Fernandez hadn't pitched above the Advanced Single-A level before this season, but thus far he's showing that he belongs right where he is.

    Fernandez doesn't have a win to show for his two stellar outings, but he's left batters feeling completely helpless.

    Will it Last?

    Teams will eventually start to figure Fernandez out, but it's not a stretch to think he can win at least 10-12 games with an ERA hovering around 2.50-2.75 ERA.

    The key will be what adjustments Fernandez can make as he starts facing teams the second time around. All indications are that he's not afraid of anything on the mound, and that attitude will serve him well going forward.

Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins: Cold

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    Current Stats: .167 BA, 0 HR, 0 RBI, .233 SLG, 12 K

    The most glaring stat for Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton is that he has yet to drive in a run through his team's first 12 games.

    For an offense starving for production, that alone is bad enough.

    Will it Last?

    Without an abundance of power—or any offense, for that matter—to protect Stanton in the lineup, he's going to have much fewer opportunities to provide run production. He'll be hard-pressed to match his numbers from last year, especially if pitchers can continue to work around him.

Alex Gonzalez, Milwaukee Brewers: Cold

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    Current Stats: .138 BA, 1 HR, 4 RBI, .477 OPS

    The Milwaukee Brewers found themselves in a major jam at first base. Corey Hart underwent offseason surgery and is likely out until mid-May. Mat Gamel tore his ACL for the second time in less than a year—he's done for the season.

    The Brewers decided to use veteran shortstop Alex Gonzalez at first to fill the void. But when Aramis Ramirez was forced to the disabled list with a sprained knee, Gonzalez moved over to the other corner.

    It hasn't mattered where he's played on the field—Gonzalez's bat has been icy cold to start the season.

    Will it Last?

    Gonzalez is at best a .230-.240 with occasional pop, so he's not going to be the answer offensively, anyway. Once Ramirez and Hart are both healthy, Gonzalez will be back on the bench in a utility role. He simply won't be much of a factor offensively.

John Axford, Milwaukee Brewers: Cold

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    Current Stats: 18.69 ERA, 9 R, 9 H, 4.1 IP, 2.54 WHIP, .429 BAA

    Milwaukee Brewers closer John Axford went through some struggles last year, posting a 4.67 ERA with 35 saves.

    Last season was nothing compared to his early-season performance thus far.

    Axford was temporarily demoted, with Jim Henderson taking over as the closer.

    Will it Last?

    It will if Axford can't fix what ails him. He's nowhere near the dominant pitcher that posted 46 saves with a 1.95 ERA in 2011. Axford clearly needs to go back to the video room and study his mechanics. What he's doing right now certainly isn't working.

Jean Segura, Milwaukee Brewers: Hot

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    Current Stats: .417, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1.073 OPS

    When the Milwaukee Brewers traded starter Zack Greinke to the Los Angeles Angels at the trade deadline last season, they wanted prospect shortstop Jean Segura in return. Considering the Angels had Erick Aybar in place, the Angels relented.

    Segura is thus far making Brewers GM Doug Melvin look very smart.

    Will it Last?

    No, Segura is not going to be the first hitter since Ted Williams to break the .400 mark. But it's reasonable to assume a .300 season is attainable, and Segura would appear to be the long-term answer at short for Milwaukee.

Aaron Hicks, Minnesota Twins: Cold

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    Current Stats: .047 BA, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 20 K, .047 SLG

    The Minnesota Twins decided to use Aaron Hicks in center field to start the season after an impressive spring training in which be beat out Darin Mastroianni for the job.

    Hicks had never played above Double-A ball before, and thus far, it shows.

    Will it Last?

    The Twins will have to make a decision soon; they can't keep an automatic out at the top of the order for much longer. Hicks could be demoted by the end of April if he can't find a way to figure out major league pitching soon.

Vance Worley, Minnesota Twins: Cold

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    Current Stats: 0-2, 10.50 ERA, 14 ER, 25 H, 12.0 IP, 2.42 WHIP, .410 BAA

    In the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word "ace" is defined as the best pitcher on a staff. For the Minnesota Twins, that distinction would have applied to Vance Worley at the beginning of the season.

    But he can hardly be described as an ace, especially after his early-season effort.

    So far, the band-aid effort put forth by general manager Terry Ryan in attempting to upgrade his starting rotation has failed miserably.

    Will it Last?

    Worley regressed last year after a promising rookie campaign. There was an obvious reason the Phillies dealt Worley after just two seasons. They apparently found a sucker in Minnesota.

    I'm not convinced that Worley can improve on last season's numbers, so while he won't sustain a 10.50 ERA, an ERA above 5.00 for the season is not out of the question at all.

Matt Harvey, New York Mets: Hot

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    Current Stats: 3-0, 0.82 ERA, 2 R, 6 H, 22 IP, 25 K, 0.55 WHIP, .088 BAA

    Complete dominance is the phrase to describe New York Mets starting pitcher Matt Harvey right now.

    Harvey gave up just one hit in seven innings to open his season against the San Diego Padres, striking out 10. He then shut down a terrific Phillies offense on just one run and three hits in seven innings, whiffing another nine batters.

    He followed up in his third outing on Saturday by no-hitting the Minnesota Twins for 6.2 innings before Justin Morneau got to him with a solo shot into the right field seats. He ended up allowing just the one run on two hits in eight fabulous innings.

    Will it Last?

    Based on what's been seen thus far, this could be the best performance by a Mets pitcher since Dwight Gooden in 1985. Harvey absolutely has a shot at a 20-win season with an ERA under 2.00. He will be a Cy Young Award candidate.

John Buck, New York Mets: Hot

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    Current Stats: .317 BA, 6 HR, 19 RBI, 1.099 OPS

    Before this season, New York Mets catcher John Buck had a .235 lifetime batting average with a .713 OPS. After just 11 games, he's produced nearly half of what he produced in 106 games last season for the Miami Marlins.

    Will it Last?

    No, but at this rate, Buck would absolutely break his career marks of 20 home runs and 66 RBI set during his lone All-Star year with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2010.

    He could keep prospect catcher Travis d'Arnaud toiling in the minors for much of the season at the rate he's producing right now for sure.

Andy Pettitte, New York Yankees: Hot

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    Current Stats: 2-0, 1.20 ERA, 2 R, 13 H, 1.13 WHIP, .241 BAA

    It's probably not a shock to see Andy Pettitte off to a good start, but the ease in which he's gotten through his first two outings is exactly what the New York Yankees needed considering the injuries to their offense.

    At 40 years of age, Pettitte is playing the role of crafty southpaw, and he's played it nearly to perfection thus far.

    Will it Last?

    If Pettitte can avoid injury, 15-17 wins with an ERA near 3.00 is a distinct possibility. He'll need the support of his offense to help out at times—he's simply not going to be lights-out with every start.

Oakland Athletics Offense: Hot

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    Current Stats: 74 R, 32 doubles, 12 SB, 52 BB, .464 SLG, .808 OPS

    Through the first 13 games, the Oakland A's offense has been simply outstanding. It hit a bit of bump in the road, collecting just three hits on Sunday against the Detroit Tigers, but it's been impressive as a unit thus far.

    In all of the above-listed stats, the A's are in the top five in the majors.

    It hasn't been just one major contributor that's largely skewing their totals, either. They're getting major contributions from Seth Smith, Jed Lowrie, Coco Crisp, Brandon Moss and Josh Donaldson.

    Will it Last?

    It very well could. This is a team that's constructed quite well offensively, with high-OBP guys and a solid balance of power.

Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies: Hot

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    Current Stats: 2-0, 1.08 ERA, 2 R, 10 H, 16.2 IP, 0.60 WHIP, .167 BAA

    It's not necessarily shocking to see Cliff Lee off to a hot start, but considering he didn't pick up his first win until July 4 last season, it's absolutely a nice change of pace.

    Lee was pretty dominant last year—he suffered from a lack of run support for much of the season. It's nice to see his team has his back to start this season.

    Will it Last?

    It absolutely can. Lee looks every bit the dominating pitcher that can be absolutely unhittable at times. An 18-20 win season with a 2.50 ERA isn't out of line for the season at all.

Jason Grilli, Pittsburgh Pirates: Hot

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    Current Stats: 0.00 ERA, 5 SV, 1.06 WHIP, .150 BAA, 11.1 K/9

    After a slow start, the Pittsburgh Pirates have climbed back to .500 with a 6-6 record. New closer Jason Grilli has saved five of those six wins.

    In fact, Grilli has yet to allow a run, giving up just three hits in his six appearances. All of a sudden, the decision to trade Joel Hanrahan looks pretty good.

    Will it Last?

    Grilli looks very comfortable in the role thus far. The question is whether the Pirates can sustain enough offense to give Grill ample save opportunities.

Russell Martin, Pittsburgh Pirates: Cold

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    Current Stats: .065 BA, 0 HR, 1 RBI, .097 SLG, .268 OPS

    The Pittsburgh Pirates broke through with a 10-run effort in their win against the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday, but new offensive weapon Russell Martin was nowhere to be found.

    Martin sat while backup catcher Michael McKenry fueled the Pirates' late-inning comeback with home runs in consecutive innings.

    Martin's ice-cold start could very well lead to additional starts for McKenry.

    Will it Last?

    Martin was horrible at the plate last year for the New York Yankees, hitting just .211 on the season. He won't hit .065 for the rest of the season, but hitting below the Mendoza line could be what's in store for Martin.

Edinson Volquez, San Diego Padres: Cold

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    Current Stats: 0-3, 11.68 ERA, 16 R, 21 H, 12.1 IP, 2.27 WHIP, .356 BAA

    Thus far, the San Diego Padres have the worst ERA in the majors, and their starting rotation is by far the worst in the National League at 5.90.

    Leading the way—in this case to the bottom—is Edinson Volquez.

    Volquez has completely struggled out of the gates thus far, and it's been evident that his command is the biggest reason why. In his first home start at Petco Park on Saturday, Volquez threw 96 pitches in just 3.1 innings, only 51 of them for strikes.

    Will it Last?

    At best, Volquez is a serviceable option, but nothing better than that. An ERA north of 4.50 with possibly 8-10 wins is about the best the Padres can expect. It wouldn't be surprising at all to see him on the trade block by midseason.

Barry Zito, San Francisco Giants: Hot

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    Current Stats: 2-0, 0.00 ERA, 10, 14 IP, 1.00 WHIP, .204 BAA

    Barry Zito was a hero in last year's postseason for the San Francisco Giants, and he's carried that success into this season as well.

    Zito has looked sharp in his first two outings, even adding to the offense with three hits in his four at-bats.

    Will it Last?

    It very well could. Zito is clearly feeding off his efforts last season. In working with pitching coach Dave Righetti, he's gotten back to what works for him, and the results have been stellar. A 15-17-win season with an ERA south of 3.50 is attainable for sure.

Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants: Hot

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    Current Stats: 3-0, 1.77 ERA, 4 R, 13 H, 20.1 IP, 0.98 WHIP, .188 BA, 7.5 K/9

    The lefties are ruling the day for the San Francisco Giants.

    While Barry Zito is off to a hot start, fellow southpaw Madison Bumgarner hasn't been too shabby himself.

    Bumgarner is now 3-0 courtesy of another solid effort on Saturday against the Chicago Cubs. He has emerged as one of the bright young pitching stars in the National League.

    Will it Last?

    With Bumgarner's stuff, there's no reason it can't last. He's clearly capable of a 20-win season with an ERA hovering around 3.00.

Brandon Belt, San Francisco Giants: Cold

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    Current Stats: .140 BA, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .405 OPS

    The San Francisco Giants were hoping to see further progression from first baseman Brandon Belt after an encouraging 2012 campaign in which he hit .275 with seven home runs and 56 RBI.

    They've only seen regression thus far in 2013.

    Belt is hitting .140 after an 0-for-3 effort on Sunday against the Chicago Cubs.

    Will it Last?

    Hard to say at this point, but Belt is clearly struggling at the plate. Last year was a step in the right direction, and the Giants believe in Belt's ability to hit. This will be a good test to see how he handles the adversity.

Mitchell Boggs, St. Louis Cardinals: Cold

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    Current Stats: 0-1, 11.37 ERA, 2 SV, 2 BS, 8 R, 7 H, 6.1 IP, 2.05 WHIP

    With Jason Motte possibly done for the season, the Cardinals are currently relying on Mitchell Boggs as their closer.

    That may not last much longer.

    Boggs blew another save opportunity on Sunday against the Milwaukee Brewers, allowing the tying run on a double to Yuniesky Betancourt. He left the game with runners on first and third and just one out. Fortunately for Boggs, the Cardinals rebounded to win it in the 10th inning, but they certainly didn't need the added drama.

    Will it Last?

    Boggs has electric stuff, but the command right now is the big issue. Putting the ball over the fat part of the plate or issuing six walks in 6.1 innings simply isn't getting the job done. It could be closer-by-committee in the near future.

Matt Adams, St. Louis Cardinals: Hot

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    Current Stats: .611 BA, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 1.222 SLG, 1.854 OPS

    He's only gotten 18 at-bats thus far, but first baseman Matt Adams has made the most of every opportunity afforded him thus far.

    With 11 hits in those 18 at-bats, manager Mike Matheny will look to continue finding ways to get Adams' bat in the lineup. He's already used incumbent first baseman Allen Craig in both corner outfield positions to get Adams' bat in there.

    Will it Last?

    It's plain silly to think Adams can keep up this pace. But it's also plain that Adams deserves regular time in the lineup—the problem is where. It's going to take an injury at this point for Adams to see regular time. In the meantime, the Cardinals will continue to be thrilled with what they continue to see.

Yunel Escobar, Tampa Bay Rays: Cold

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    Current Stats: .105 BA, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .158 SLG, .348 OPS

    Is there something about Tampa Bay that turns shortstops into automatic outs?

    Yunesl Escobar was a career .280 hitter before stepping foot in Tampa Bay with the Rays. He's now hitting just .105 after an 0-for-4 performance against the Boston Red Sox on Sunday.

    Will it Last?

    Honestly, Rays fans—Escobar really is a better hitter than what you've seen thus far. No, it won't last, but considering how prior shortstops have performed in the past for Tampa Bay, it might not be a career year for Escobar.

Fernando Rodney, Tampa Bay Rays: Cold

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    Current Stats: 10.12 ERA, 1 SV, 1 BS, 2.25 WHIP, .417 BAA

    After the performance that Fernando Rodney delivered last year, it would have been natural to assume he couldn't match the lofty numbers he put forth.

    But his start to this season hasn't been anything close to what was expected.

    Rodney has been far from the dominant pitcher that held batters to just a .167 average last year.

    Will it Last?

    The good news is that it's still early—it could just be a blip on the radar. But it would be a stretch to think that Rodney can come close to matching last year's numbers for sure.

Alexi Ogando, Texas Rangers: Hot

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    Current Stats: 2-0, 1.08 ERA, 2 R, 12 H, 16.2 IP, 0.79 WHIP, .182 BAA, 9.2 K/9

    The Texas Rangers have pitched extremely well out of the gates, posting the fifth-best ERA (3.14) in the majors.

    Leading the way for the Rangers is starter Alexi Ogando. He's yet to work deep into games as he continues building his arm strength early, but he's been stingy nonetheless.

    Will it Last?

    Ogando's second-half efforts are more of a concern. He's always been solid in the early going, with a 2.36 career ERA before the All-Star break. Whether he can find the stamina to produce similar results in the second half remains to be seen.

    If he finds that second wind this year, it would obviously be a huge boost to a Rangers rotation that lacks depth.

Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays: Cold

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    Current Stats: .133 BA, 2 HR, 6 RBI, .561 OPS

    After a career year last season in which he hit 42 home runs with 110 RBI, Edwin Encarnacion has faltered in the early going in the 2013 season.

    With Jose Reyes possibly out until the All-Star break, the Jays will need all hands on deck to help fill the void. Encarnacion will need to do whatever he can to fix what ails him if the Blue Jays are to have any shot of staying afloat during Reyes' absence.

    Will it Last?

    It's certainly not out of the realm of possibility that Encarnacion could suffer through a prolonged slump. Can he produce what he attained last season? He'll absolutely need to break out of his current funk for sure.

Adam Lind, Toronto Blue Jays: Cold

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    Current Stats: .138 BA, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .207 SLG, .419 OPS

    First baseman Adam Lind was sent to the minors last year to rework a swing that had produced horrible results in the first half. He seemed to turn a corner in the second half, bouncing back with a .304 average.

    Between then and now, Lind got back out of that corner.

    Will it Last?

    Lind hasn't produced anywhere close to what he put forth in 2009, when he established career highs with 35 home runs, 114 RBI with a .305 average. I'm more inclined to think that he will be trade bait by midseason at this point.

Adam LaRoche, Washington Nationals: Cold

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    Current Stats: .147 BA, 2 HR, 4 RBI, .324 SLG, 10K

    Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche signed a two-year, $24 million contract to return to the nation's capital in early January.

    However, LaRoche's bat has yet to make in appearance in Washington this season.

    Will it Last?

    No. LaRoche will figure things out. He's had a bit of bad luck as well, with several balls smoked directly into gloves. A 25-30-home run season with 90 RBI is more likely where he will land before all is said and done.

    Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.