Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Three opening day starters announced previously: Liriano, Bumgarner, Darvish

Continuing my series: three opening day starters were announced previously: the Rangers will go with Yu Darvish, the Pirates with Francisco Liriano, and the Giants with Madison Bumgarner.

Darvish is the least surprising of the group. The import from NPB built upon his solid 2012 rookie season, stepping forward as one of the elite pitchers in baseball in 2014. He led the majors in strikeouts and K/9, which bodes well for continued success. While Texas has several other capable starters, the rest all come with significant injury concerns. Darvish's performance this year will go a long way in determining what the Rangers do in 2014. He's a strong Cy Young candidate and arguably the player whose team can least afford a bad season from.

Liriano had a bounceback campaign last year with the Pirates, capped by a pair of strong postseason outings. He is the best pitcher on the Pirates right now, but that comes with a caveat - the 161 innings he threw last season were the second most of his career. He's still only 30, which seems impossible, considering how much he's been up and down during his career. With the Reds and Cardinals still looking strong, the Pirates likely will depend on another strong performance by Liriano to get back to the playoffs. If all goes well in Gerrit Cole's development, he should take over the opening day role for a long time.

Of the five announced opening day starters, Bumgarner is the biggest surprise. Not a surprise because of his on-field contributions - he was the best pitcher on the Giants last year, by a fair amount - but because of his listing of more famous rotation-mates. Tim Lincecum, who pitched better in 2013 than he did in 2012, for whatever that's worth, is a two-time Cy Young Award winner. And it's not like he's some old dude - he won those awards in 2008 and 2009. Matt Cain has been the rock of the staff for years and was a model of consistency before suffering his first poor season in 2013. He is the longest-tenured Giant. Finally, Tim Hudson was brought aboard as a free agent. While he's 38, he was solid last year before a gruesome ankle injury ended his season, and has a career profile of a borderline Hall of Famer. His ERA+ of 97 in 2013 was the second worst of his career.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Jose Fernandez named Miami opening day starter

Marlins manager Mike Redmond has announced that Jose Fernandez will start on opening day. This is not a surprise. Fernandez was outstanding in 2013, winning the rookie of the year award. His entire season line is impressive, but it is even moreso from June 1 forward. During that time Fernandez made 18 starts, pitched 120 1/3 innings, compiled a 1.50 ERA, struck out 135, walked 37 and gave up only 4 home runs. During that stretch, opponenets hit .161/.234/.224. Arbitrary endpoints and all, but you want a rookie to improve throughout the season, and he certainly did that.

Fernandez is about three years away from being traded in a deal that frustrates the rest of baseball in its unfairness.

View The Dunne Deal's 2014 Opening Day Starting Pitcher Tracker

Patrick Corbin named Arizona opening day starter

Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson announced today on the twitter machine that lefty Patrick Corbin will be the team's opening day starting pitcher. Arizona's opener is, amazingly, less than three weeks away - they have a two-game set with the Dodgers in Australia on March 22 and 23.

The 24-year-old Corbin was acquired back in 2010 in the deal for Dan Haren - which I wrote about at the time and entirely missed the boat on Corbin. At the time I called the deal a steal for the Diamondbacks, because I didn't think Corbin and fellow minor-leaguer Rafael Rodriguez would make up the difference between Haren and Joe Saunders. As it was, that didn't look crazy a year ago - Haren was excellent for the rest of 2010 and again 2011 for the Angels before starting to break down in 2012, while Saunders didn't do anything of note for Arizona. But Corbin has shown signs of blossoming into a front-line starting pitcher.

After an uneven 2012 debut in 107 innings, Corbin won his first nine decisions in 2013. While won-loss record can be misleading, it wasn't in this case - the lefty gave up two runs in six innings in his 2013 debut against Milwaukee. After that, his ERA didn't get back above 3.00 until September 17. His last three starts really inflated his season ERA - he gave up 15 runs on 23 hits in 11 1/3 innings. Any fatigue would have been understandable, as Corbin surpassed 200 innings for the first time. His excellent strikeout, walk, and home run rates indicate that it was no fluke - his 3.41 actual ERA was in-line with his 3.48 xFIP.

Even if Corbin doesn't take that step forward to become a true ace, the pride of Clay, NY has made his 2010 acquisition look astute and his doubters (me) look foolish.

View The Dunne Deal's 2014 Opening Day Starting Pitcher Tracker

2014 Opening Day Starting Pitcher Tracker

For whatever reason, the opening day starting pitcher has always seemed really important to me. In reality, starting the first or second game of the season really makes no difference. A cynical jerk like me shouldn't care about such things. Yet, there's a certain gravitas to being named an opening day starter that I can't look past. If you look through any franchise's history, it really marks the passage of time. There are the long-time standouts, the sophomores coming off of the hot-shot rookie performances, the high-priced free agent signings, and, in the lean times, the guy who simply stunk less than everyone else.

Here I will be compiling a listing of all announced 2013 opening day starters. I also plan to make an entry for each individual, but we'll see how that goes...

AL East
New York:
Tampa Bay:

AL Central
Kansas City

AL West
Los Angeles of Anaheim
Texas: Yu Darvish (209 2/3 IP, 2.83 ERA, 277 K, 80 BB)

NL East
Miami: Jose Fernandez (172 2/3 IP, 2.19 ERA, 187 K, 58 BB; 2013 ROY)
New York

NL Central
Pittsburgh: Francisco Liriano (161 IP, 3.02 ERA, 163 K, 61 BB)
St. Louis

NL West
Arizona: Patrick Corbin (208 1/3 IP, 3.41 ERA, 178 K, 54 BB)
Los Angeles
San Diego
San Francisco: Madison Bumgarner (201 1/3 IP, 2.77 ERA, 199 K, 62 BB)

Last Updated 3/4/2014