One week in, the thrill of Opening Day has worn off and your team has gotten off to a slow start. So, you’re worried it might last all season. Don’t be.
Baseball, with its 162-game schedule, lends itself quite well to the ability to recover from a bad game, a bad week or even a bad month.
So unless you happen to be a fan of the Astros, Mets or a team in the AL East that isn’t the Yankees, Red Sox or Rays, there’s little to worry about.
There’s certainly no need to go all Prince Fielder on your favorite chair, bench or sofa. Instead, you might want to take Fielder’s surprisingly sage advice when it comes to dealing with slow starts.
“Wow. You’re already starting with that, huh?” Fielder asked one reporter in the clubhouse after the Brewers’ loss Saturday to the Cardinals. “Yeah, slow start I guess.”
While the 25-year-old Fielder may have shown Sunday that his struggles at the plate were bothering him more than he let on the day before, he’d be smart not to worry about it, as would fans of nearly any other Major League Baseball team.
No need to rewrite the script
Out west, things are not looking too great in Los Angeles. The Angels have won just two of their first eight games, while the Dodgers are a mere 3-4, tying them with the San Diego Padres for last place. Still, there’s nothing to worry about in L.A.
Despite losing two of three against both the Pirates and Marlins, the Dodgers are far better than their current record would indicate. With just eight games at home in the month of April, it would not be surprising to see Joe Torre’s club hover around .500 through the first four weeks of the season.
But with a lineup that includes Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Manny Ramirez, and an above-average pitching staff, the Dodgers still should be in the playoff picture come September.
Thirty miles southeast in Anaheim, the Angels find themselves in a similar situation.
With their first three series against playoff contenders like Minnesota, Oakland — in the AL West, everyone has a chance — and the New York Yankees, the Angels’ early schedule was not too favorable.
Upcoming matchups with Toronto, Detroit and New York again will not be any easier, so L.A. should expect both its teams to remain around the .500 mark for awhile before things improve as the season progresses.
Hoffman and Davis and Suppan, Oh My!
After going 80-82 a year ago with the worst pitching staff in the National League, the Milwaukee Brewers hoped the additions of Doug Davis, LaTroy Hawkins and Randy Wolf would be the answer.
Through seven games, Wolf and Hawkins have been as good or better than expected. Davis, on the other hand, has gone 0-1 in two starts with a 12.27 earned run average after allowing 10 runs in just 7 and one third innings pitched.
What makes matters worse is the fact that Brewers closer Trevor Hoffman, of his 594 career saves, has blown each of his last two save opportunities.
Hoffman allowed a two-strike, two-out, two-run home run in the ninth Friday to Cardinals pinch hitter Nick Stavinoha. Two days later, the 42-year-old closer surrendered back-to-back blasts in the ninth to Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday.
But like Los Angeles baseball fans, those who cheer for the Brew Crew should not be too worried. Yet.
The difference here is there remains the chance that Davis will struggle like this as long as he’s in the Brewers’ rotation. Plus, Jeff Suppan starts tomorrow.
But the Hoffman part of the equation, though it should worry everyone, is nothing to get too worked up about. It’s a pretty safe bet Hoffman’s next save opportunity will go far smoother than his last.
Also, it’s not like the pitching has to be elite. The Brewers have shown in their last two games that average pitchers who allow four or five runs per game will do. Their offense may have struggled early on, but it’s beginning to click and the lineup looks pretty tough.
Then again… maybe the sky is falling
Here’s the catch: some teams should be worried, and some fans should reconsider buying tickets to that oh so enticing season-ending series. Those fans reside mostly in New York, Houston and Baltimore.
Of all teams, New York may have the worst luck. Early season injuries have plagued the Mets yet again after the injury bug ruined what looked to be a promising season at Citi Field. Even with the addition of Jason Bay and the return of Johan Santana, the Mets do not look to have what it takes to contend in the NL East or for the Wild Card.
That Oct. 1-3 series between New York and Washington looks worse every day.
No team has ever gone 0-162, but with the way the Astros have looked so far, there’s a good chance they will lose at least 100 games in 2010. Roy Oswalt is probably already counting the days until the trade deadline, hoping he’ll be on the first train out of town.
In Baltimore, the Orioles could be fun to watch simply based on two factors: a) they have some great young talent and b) they’ll host several series against the three — or four if the Blue Jays keep it up — best teams in the league.
If you want to cheer for a winner in Baltimore, New York or Houston, better luck next year. Anywhere else, though, you should either enjoy it while it lasts (Toronto) or ride out the tough times early on, which should only make the late-season success more enjoyable.
Jordan is a senior majoring in journalism and political science. Worried about your team’s slow start? Want to know if the Blue Jays can keep it up? E-mail him at [email protected]