MLB Opening Day: 5 Aces Who Will Get Shelled in Their 1st Starts
It is the happiest time of the year! Baseball season is set to kick into high gear and most fans are harboring some hope that this could be the year for their favorite squad.
Opening Day can often set the tone for a team's season. At the very least, it gives fans some hope or despair to start off the six-month grind.
Fans whose teams are pinning their hopes on the following starters are looking to have a bleak Opening Day experience.
The Chicago Cubs selected veteran Ryan Dempster as their Opening Day ace over super candidate Matt Garza. It will be Dempster's second consecutive Opening Day start and fourth overall. All three of his Opening Day starts have resulted in losses for his squad.
His 2011 opener was particularly egregious as he gave up six runs to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 6.2 innings. The rest of that April was an even bigger nightmare for the right-handed hurler as he put up a 9.58 ERA in six outings. His career stats also show that April is historically a problem for Dempster. He has a career ERA of 4.75 and a career WHIP of 1.35 during the March/April regular season.
Decent spring training or not, the odds are that Dempster is going to get rocked his first time on the mound in 2012.
Everyone is looking forward to seeing a young and exciting Royals squad during the 2012 season. To kick off the year, the Royals have put the ball in the hands of 15-year veteran Bruce Chen. This will be the very first Opening Day start of Chen's career.
Maybe the guess that Chen will get shelled on Friday is just a guess. But a man who possesses a career 4.52 ERA and 1.38 career WHIP can't be expected to be held in the highest regard. He will be facing a revamped Angels team that is now home to Albert Pujols. Pujols has hit more home runs in April than any other month in his career. Even if the rest of the Angels falter, Pujols might cause Chen enough troubles on his own.
At the age of 33, Wandy Rodriguez has finally gotten the nod to take the mound as an Opening Day starter. Unfortunately for him, he just might get shelled.
Is it unfair to assume just because someone is a Houston Astro that they are going to get crushed? Probably, but one look at the Astros' ball club over the last few years will tell you it isn't the worst assumption ever made. He may be Houston's best player (and the lone remainder from their 2005 World Series team), but being the best player on a depleted-of-mega-talent team isn't exactly high praise.
Wandy will take the mound Friday evening coming off his final spring training starts — one where he gave up five runs in the first two innings and another where he gave up eight hits and a home run in five innings. Wandy has struggled mightily all spring. Through five starts he is 2-3 with a 7.29 ERA and a 1.95 WHIP.
He may be 4-3 career against the Rockies, but unless he looks more like the pitcher he was last season and less like the pitcher he has been all 2012, he is going to get wrecked.
John Danks will take to the mound on Opening Day this year for the first time in his career and he will do so in his home state of Texas. Between that and signing an offseason contract of $65 million for the next five years, everything seems to be rosy for Danks. Too bad his first start of 2012 probably won't be.
Danks is coming off a pretty shabby 2011 season where he went 8-12 with a 4.33 ERA. Those kind of stats don't generally earn big contracts, but with the departure of Mark Buehrle, Danks is the heir to the White Sox ace throne. He is set to face a formidable Texas Rangers offense in his first start of 2012.
Danks has had abysmal luck historically against the Rangers, going 1-4 record in five career starts with a 4.68 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP. He has also given up seven career home runs, three of them to Ian Kinsler in 25 at-bats.
If things didn't look stacked against Danks enough, let's remember that the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington is one of the most notoriously hitter-friendly parks in the major leagues. Danks' chances of getting out of this game unscathed don't look too good.
Gallardo has been given the ball for his third Opening Day start with the Brew Crew. He takes the mound for the 3:10 PM home opener against the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals. Everything about that sentence indicates that Yovani is going to get shelled.
If it is true that those who don't know history are destined to repeat it, the Brewers better hope that Yovani Gallardo remembers just how bad he has been historically against the St. Louis Cardinals. Gallardo has accumulated a paltry one career win against the Cards while posting seven losses, a 5.66 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP.
Even with the loss of Albert Pujols, going head-to-head with the reigning champs as they open their season doesn't sit well for Gallardo's chances.
If that wasn't indicative enough of an outing that may go terribly awry, then perhaps Gallardo's 2011 numbers will make things seem even more foreboding. April of 2011 was not kind to the pitcher as he posted a 6.23 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP.
As for that 3:10 PM start time? During 2011, Gallardo's day-game starts saw him post a 4.81 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP.
It looks like Gallardo was the wrong choice for Opening Day ace.