The 162-game grind of a Major League Baseball season is an arduous, slow and methodical process to eventually lead baseball to their 10 best teams playing and competing for a World Series in October.
Much like a marathon, we can view the mile-by-mile splits to better understand which teams are leading and why, how fast their trajectory is racing and if the pace is sustainable.
Here's a look back at the week that was in MLB action with the four biggest takeaways:
1. You Can't Have Too Much Pitching
Coming into the season, the Los Angeles Dodgers had a problem that any manager/general manager combo would love to be saddled with: too many capable starting pitchers for the five-man rotation.
The Dodgers were reminded you can never have enough pitching, even if they couldn't possibly have started with more sbnation.com/mlb/2013/4/22/…— Marc Normandin (@Marc_Normandin) April 22, 2013
Within just a few weeks of play, injuries and roster maneuvers have destroyed Los Angeles' depth, leaving them with inexperienced Triple-A arms rushing into action, the hope that Ted Lilly's surgically repaired shoulder will hold up and hoping Zack Greinke's collarbone injury will head within the expected time frame.
In Toronto, R.A. Dickey hasn't looked himself to due a stiff back. Even more worrisome is the fact that Josh Johnson, with an injury-plagued arm who hasn't thrown 200 innings in a season since 2009, was scratched from his start on Friday (per AP and The Washington Post). In his place? New York Mets' castoff, recent waiver claim and former Toronto Blue Jay, the immortal Aaron Laffey.
2. Early Deserving All-Stars Feature Surprising Names
While conducting All-Star balloting in late April is a ridiculous exercise, it's interesting to look at the leader boards around baseball while comparing the names with those listed on the ballot.
Simply put: Young players aren't just excelling, they are the choice at many positions right now if you choose to cast your ballot early.
kevin towers' hunch that mariekson "didi' gregorius has some jeter in him looks right so far. thru 3 games, 2 HRs, .545 BA— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) April 22, 2013
At first base, Chris Davis, though not a prospect at the age of 27, would be a first-time All-Star. As of today, his play has more than warranted votes over the more established names on the ballot. The same case can be made for the young first baseman in the NL, Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
At shortstop, the most excitement has come from the Jed Lowrie in the American League and the trio of young NL shortstops named Brandon Crawford, Didi Gregorius and Jean Segura. Don't know their names? You will, maybe as early as this July.
With the All-Star game being featured at Citi Field, home of the New York Mets, it's hard to find a more deserving starter for the National League than Matt Harvey. Considering the buzz in New York, the city would be electric to see him lead the National League onto the field in mid-July.
3. Tampa Develops Arms Better Than Anyone
Watching Alex Cobb and Matt Moore dominate the New York Yankees in Tampa this week gave baseball fans another glimpse of just how well the Tampa Bay Rays organization develops and nurtures young arms.
When James Shields was traded away, some questioned how the organization would replace 200-plus innings of dominance. Thus far, despite uneven early-season returns from the 2012 Cy Young winner David Price, the rotation is leading the way for the offensively challenged Rays.
Matt Moore and Alex Cobb - the Rays 4th and 5th starters out of spring training - are a combined 7-1 with a 1.46 ERA.— Dave Haller (@HallerDave) April 25, 2013
Kudos to Sports Illustrated for profiling general manager Andrew Friedman and the Rays' staff before the season for their patience and belief in a system that doesn't rush arms, graduates them only when they are ready to contribute at a high level in the AL East and maximizes the six years of control they are afforded before free-market prices make arms like Shields' expendable.
If Tampa falters this season, or within the next few years as his free agency approaches, Price will probably be moved.
Don't panic, though.
Tampa will thrive due to their next wave of arms.
4. Jose Valverde's Return to Detroit Raises Red Flags
From a "baseball should be fun" standpoint, Papa Grande's return to the Detroit Tigers' bullpen should be viewed as a great move.
From a "don't be worried about Detroit's relievers' standpoint, Tigers fans should start wondering about the lack of offseason moves to solidify a bullpen that is holding back an excellent group of starters and position players for the defending AL Central champs.
#Tigers report they're actually 1-5 in games decided after 7th. BB-ref had different record. Either way still have to get that bullpen fixed— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) April 26, 2013
After yesterday's loss to the Kansas City Royals, the Tigers are now 1-5 in games decided after the second inning.
If Valverde isn't the man for the job, look for rookie Bruce Rondon to get a chance. After that? The trade deadline could cause Detroit to give up more than they would like for a solution to their biggest problem.
What was your biggest takeaway from the week in MLB action?