Yesterday’s FTW was a little bit of a bust. Don’t get me wrong, the games were entertaining enough (mind you, I’m entertained by anything roughly called baseball), but many of the pitchers-to-watch ended up performing well below expectation in their first starts of the season.
Jamie Moyer had the chance to become the oldest pitcher ever to record a win, but didn’t look particularly good surrendering four runs on five hits in five innings to the Houston AAAstros. He did manage to control the zone well allowing only one walk while striking out two, but his fastball sat around 79 MPH topping out at 81; that’s slow even for Moyer. He gave up home runs to both Jordan Schafer and J.D. Martinez and the Rockies were shut down by Lucas Harrell, dropping the game 7-3.
Of course now many people will be jumping off the Moyer bandwagon after just one start and although he didn’t look good, it’s hard to write him off after only one start. All things considered, Moyer didn’t look terrible and there’s no reason to think he can’t get better with a few more starts under his belt.
Madison Bumgarner, another pitcher-to-watch from yesterday had trouble with his command and got rocked by the Diamondbacks surrendering four runs on seven hits while allowing two walks over just four innings. He gave up two home runs to Aaron Hill of all people and just never really looked right. Despite his struggles, his fastball velocity looked every bit as good as normal and he did manage to strike out three. We’ll chalk this up to a bump in the road on the way to a Cy Young Award.
Gio Gonzalez, meanwhile, made his regular season debut with the Nationals and also struggled mightily, leaving the game after just 3.2 innings and 74 pitches. He allowed four runs and walked three, but did strike out six. His bullpen bailed him out, throwing 5.1 scoreless innings allowing just one additional hit as the Nationals went on to storm back with a five-run eighth and beat the Cubs 7-4.
Adam Wainwright looked good against the Brewers, but they caught up with him in the sixth and drove him from the game after 5.2 innings. The promising thing for Wainwright was that he walked just one while striking out six. His counterpart Zack Greinke, meanwhile, dominated in his season debut, shutting down the Cards for seven innings allowing just four hits and striking out seven.
Finally, Luke “Birth Certificate” Scott drove in three as the Rays held off a late charge by the Yankees and won 8-6. David Price was shaky in his 6.1 innings, walking four, but he managed to hold the Yankees to just two runs. Noted rapist Josh Lueke gave up three runs and walked two in an inning-and-a-third as the Yankees mounted a four-run rally in the ninth to hold the Rays’ feet to the fire. Still any time a rapist has something bad happen to them, however small it may be, I am eminently happy.
Now for today’s FTW:
1:05 pm EST
Boston Red Sox (Clay Buchholz) @ Detroit Tigers (Max Scherzer)
The Boston Red Sox have started the year 0-2! Sound the alarm! Fire Cherington and Valentine! Throw all the tea into the ocean!! Burn Josh Beckett with fire!!
Despite what you will no doubt be reading in any mainstream Boston publications today, this shouldn’t too much of a cause for concern for the BoSox. After all, they started last season 2-10 and still should have made the playoffs. Today, they throw third starter Clay Buchholz at the Tigers who lit up the Red Sox pitching yesterday. Prince Fielder swatted his first two home runs with his new team and Miguel Cabrera also had two knocks on the way to a 10-0 win. This game will be watchable for no other reason than to witness the panic of Red Sox Nation if they get swept out of the Motor City. Watching Max Scherzer and his Husky-like features and nasty slider is also fun.
1:10 pm EST
Miami Marlins (Carlos Zambrano) @ Cincinnati Reds (Bronson Arroyo)
Today’s Marlins-Reds game has the potential to be the most highly entertaining game on the docket all weekend. Two very amusing things have a decent chance of happening and I’d be lying if I wasn’t rooting for both. First, Carlos Zambrano will make his regular season Marlins debut against a lineup that includes Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips and Drew Stubbs. In other words, there’s a decent chance that Zambrano shoves a rosin bag down someone’s throat.
The other thing that’s likely to happen is Bronson Arroyo giving up a home run or two. Last season, he gave up an astounding 46 home runs last season; more than two per nine innings. With noted man-child Giancarlo Stanton in the Marlins lineup, there’s a good chance you’ll see something like this:
1:40 pm EST
New York Yankees (Phil Hughes) @ Tampa Bay Rays (Jeremy Hellickson)
As I said yesterday, any game between the Yankees and Rays is probably worth your time. The first two games of this series have both been excellent with the Rays coming out on top, despite their efforts to lose. Today, Phil Hughes goes up against sophomore Jeremy Hellickson in what should be another good game. Hellickson vastly outpitched his rather modest peripherals last season and as both Dustin Parkes and Drew Fairservice have said on multiple occasions, there’s a good chance he pitches much better in 2012 but puts up a worse ERA.
Like the Red Sox, the Yankees have started off the season 0-2, which is probably cause for concern among the New York media, but there shouldn’t be much of a question about their overall talent. Still, it will be fun to watch the irreverent hysteria if the Bombers start off 0-3.
Colorado Rockies (Juan Nicasio) @ Houston Astros (Bud Norris)
Again, there are very few circumstances that should lead you to seek out an Astros game when you’re not directly affected somehow by the results of their games, but last night and today are exceptions. Juan Nicasio, who broke his neck and suffered a concussion after being struck in the head by a line drive off the bat of Washington’s Ian Desmond last August (watch the video here at your own risk), will miraculously make his first start since. There’s literally no other reason to watch this game, but just watching him pitch in a big-league game again will be very worth it.
San Francisco Giants (Matt Cain) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (Josh Collmenter)
Early last week, Giants’ Matt Cain became the richest righthanded pitcher in the game’s history when he inked a six-year, $127.5-million contract extension and today he makes his first start since signing the deal. Just like with Bumgarner yesterday and Lincecum the day before that, any game started by Matt Cain is worth watching. The man on the other side, Josh Collmenter, is also fun to watch mostly because the mirage that he is will one day collapse in spectacular fashion when opposing batters figure out how to read his deceptive delivery.
I imagine you’ll see a lot of Giants-D’Backs games on FTW this season as both teams are incredibly fun to watch. The Giants for their pitching and triumvirate of young studs in Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey and Brandon Belt, and the D’Backs for Justin Upton, Chris Young and Gerardo Parra’s glove (when it manages to get in the lineup). They also could be the best two teams in a very competitive NL West so many of their games will mean something.
I’d also like to propose an Easter Sunday drinking game: Any time you see a person dressed up like a bunny, chug a beer. I feel like this will make any awkward family dinner more entertaining.