Emotions can cloud our judgment when it comes to baseball, especially in the early days of a major league season, when you don’t know how real what you’re seeing is.
That’s why we invented the Nerves Scale (EDN), with which we list the level of concern of a fan base regarding a specific topic: 1 is the calmest and 10 represents the green light to uncover the nerves.
Here, six topics about it in these first changes in the year.
Shohei Ohtani has looked…human?
The problem with being such a unique player is that every move you make will be scrutinized. That’s why it’s hard to see this mythological creature posting a 7.56 ERA through two starts and going 5-for-29 at bat before “finally” breaking out with two home runs on Friday.
Should we worry? No not yet. As a pitcher, his fastball control has improved and his hit-swing rate is elite. He should even improve on his ERA+ of 139 from last year. Hitting is more interesting, only because we started to see signs of fatigue in the second half of last year (.229 batting average and .458 slugging percentage). But the gunboat began to answer some questions on Friday.
EDN: 2, for Ohtani’s 0-2 record on the mound
Accumulation of injuries in the White Sox
Chicago entered the season as the overwhelming favorite in the American League Central … if it stays healthy. It’s a real factor for any team, but especially for a White Sox club that has promoted its top prospects already – they have the 30th-most farms in baseball according to MLB Pipeline.
What is on the ground is the final product. That’s why it hurts to have lost reliever Garrett Crochet to Tommy John surgery at the same time as the Craig Kimbrel trade and before losing starters Lance Lynn (torn knee tendon) and Lucas Giolito (abdominal strain), while outfielder AJ Pollock (right hamstring strain) and reliever Joey Kelly (right biceps). Outfielder Eloy Jimenez (left ankle soreness) and second baseman Josh Harrison (stiff back) have had some issues recently. It is not yet at the top of the Nerves Scale, but it is something to monitor.
ECN: 4, or the combined innings total of Giolito (four) and Lynn (zero).
Clayton Kershaw was removed from a Game of Perfect!
You can understand something and at the same time detest it. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts made the decision to remove Kershaw from Wednesday’s game after seven perfect innings (and 13 strikeouts!) against the Twins. Kershaw is 34 years old, coming off a serious injury and a shortened preseason.
But hey, we’ve got a decade without a perfect game. Remember when there were three in 2012? (Phil Humber, Matt Cain and the Venezuelan Félix Hernández). Yes, we have a right to be nervous when we see Roberts become the only manager to remove a player from a game after pitching at least seven perfect innings — and he’s done it twice, including the episode with Rich Hill in 2016.
EDN: 9, as the number of complete seasons without a perfect game.
After raising the pennant and receiving the World Series championship rings, the Braves are 3-4 since their home opener. His offense has been erratic, his defense (-8 defensive runs saved) has been mediocre, the bullpen has been ineffective and Max Fried and Charlie Morton have combined for a 5.91 ERA after two starts apiece.
But breathe, Braves fans. You must remember very well that this was a .500 club until last August 4 and you saw what happened. While we don’t recommend repeating that same strategy, we can’t bury them after nine games either. Ronald Acuña has started playing simulated games and the Venezuelan could be reinforcing the lineup in a matter of days.
EDN: 1, or the same number of days you can carry the weight of the champion ring without injuring a finger
Robbie Ray has gone off the rails!
Ray’s sensational 2021 season, in which he was awarded the American League Cy Young Award, was a total surprise. It’s worth asking whether he can continue that pace or go back to being the pitcher who posted a 4.26 ERA in the first 842 1/3 innings of his career. The Mariners need a mainstay in the rotation, so they spent $115 million over five years on him.
Although Ray pitched seven strong innings in his season debut, it left many question marks due to his declining speed. In his second start, his velocity stayed low and he was penalized six runs on 10 hits.
Although it is still early to draw conclusions, we will allow the nerves to begin.
EDN: 6, or the number of barrels Ray has received in two starts (after giving up just 46 in 32 starts in 2021).
Byron Buxton was injured again!
Buxton has played in a total of 215 games between 2018 and 2021, but has shown flashes of MVP when healthy. Last year, he posted a 1.005 OPS and 4.5 WAR in just 61 games.
The Twins believed in him enough to give him a seven-year, $100 million contract extension. But here we are again, just seven games later.
At the time of this writing, it is not yet known how serious the injury is, but you have to be nervous.
EDN: 9.6, or Buxton’s total WAR from 2019-21.
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