by Jules Gonsoulin
The Major League Baseball season is long: 162 games with a week-long all-star break in the middle of the season. So naturally, after a single week of games to open the season, it’s time to judge various teams’ potential and level of improvement from last season.
You’ll rarely read an MLB article this season that doesn’t concern the Chicago Cubs, and with good reason. The team is, from top to bottom, the most skilled and experienced club this year, and has played like it during opening week. Currently 4-1, the Cubs have defeated the Mets, Dodgers and Diamondbacks so far, only surrendering one loss in their opening series with the Mets. The Cubs added significant depth this offseason, with acquisitions such as Ben Zobrist, who has been stellar in his first week with the club. Zobrist has posted a .400 batting average through five games with three RBI’s. Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Jake Arrieta has also been a key to the team’s success, riding a scoreless streak with six total strikeouts through the first week of play. The Cubs did take a big hit, though, with the injury of catcher and power-hitter Kyle Schwarber, who tore his ACL and MCL and will be on the disabled list for the remainder of the 2016 season.
While the Cubs are proving to be well worth all their off-season hype, other teams are not measuring up to the standards set for them. The Houston Astros, for instance, are sitting at 2-3, and their starting pitchers have struggled early on. Colin McHugh was pulled in the middle of the first inning against the Yankees on Wednesday, after giving up six runs. The reliever, Michael Feliz, was not able to stop the bleeding as he gave up two more runs and was subsequently sent down to the minor league after the game. The Diamondbacks are also looking to improve after one week of play, going 2-4. More importantly, their star ace acquired in the off-season, Zack Greinke, is winless on two starts so far and holds a 9.90 earned run average after 10 innings pitched. The D-Backs’ chances also took a significant hit with the loss of center fielder A.J. Pollock, who broke his elbow late in spring training. Arizona team doctors expect Pollock to be sidelined for up to three months.
While it is still fairly early in the season, this first week of play is a good indication of how teams can expect to compete throughout the season.