The 2016 season already has tons of storylines that are creating buzz around the MLB. Haven’t heard of Trevor Story by now? Remember the name. Big injuries in the first week of baseball? Yep. A rookie pulled from his MLB debut, despite throwing a no-hitter up to that point? We’ve got that too. A wide-open AL West division with no clear favorite? It is time for our writers will break down some of baseball’s hot topics.
What are your thoughts on Trevor Story’s remarkable start to the MLB season?
Kyle May: Any player that hits seven homeruns in their first six games is a very special player. I think that it awesome to see a player like Story emerge in this kind of way. While I do not think that he will continue this for too much longer, he looks as if he can maintain All-Star form. Once his situation is cleared up, the Rockies now have the option to trade Jose Reyes to improve upon their starting pitching, which is a glaring weakness for them. Story has proven that he is capable of playing at a high level, and for now forms a solid left side of the infield with Nolan Arenado.
Jim Tsapelas: The story is Story! Only twenty players have hit home runs in six consecutive games in MLB history. Trevor Story is the only player to have accomplished this in his first five games!
Joe Botana: Every so often, a young player comes along who shows right from the start that he is going to be something very special. Trevor Story is probably one of these. He had a great spring training and it has carried on into the regular season. Pitchers will adjust to him, plus there will be reversion to mean, but I expect we are seeing the start of an All-Star season and career. Good news for the Rockies.
Adam Tenenbaum: It’s a remarkable start and incredible to watch. I hope he has a solid season and I fully expect him to be in the NL Rookie of the Year race.
Joey Segur: I love seeing a backup player start off like this. This kid is making history and was given the opportunity due to the Jose Reyes situation and he never turned back! Hopefully he keeps it up and gets Rookie Of The Year.
To what extent will AJ Pollock’s injury affect the Diamondbacks this season?
Kyle May: AJ Pollock’s injury is a big blow to the Diamondbacks. Pollock was one of the top offensive players on the team and now figures to be out for the entire regular season, although a potential postseason return has not been ruled out. Pollock’s absence from the lineup will slightly affect Paul Goldschmidt’s RBI numbers.
Jim Tsapelas: Pollock’s injury is a major blow to the D-Backs. He was a team leader and offensive powerhouse, therefore Pollock’s presence will be missed. I personally hate seeing any player suffer a sustained injury. I agree with Kyle May in that Paul Goldschmidt’s RBI production may be affected.
Joe Botana: Even a team with a loaded offense like the D-Backs cannot afford to lose a player of his caliber. They are all in to win this season, so I suspect they will try to do something about it. I don’t follow them enough to know what they have in the MiLB pipeline, but they may either try to move someone up or engineer a trade which helps them now even if it hurts them in the long run. Otherwise, it will hurt Goldschmidt’s numbers along with those of all their other offensive stars.
Adam Tenenbaum: It’s a huge loss to not only their offense but also their defense. The Diamondbacks have their work cut out for them staying in the NL West race without him.
Joey Segur: Obviously his injury is a loss to the D-Backs offensively and defensively, but I didn’t see the D-Backs making the playoffs with or without him.
Will the Cubs even skip a beat without Schwarber this season?
Kyle May: For most teams, a season-ending injury to a player of Schwarber’s caliber would be a huge loss. However, the Cubs have Jorge Soler ready to fill in. The Cubs still have gobs of talent and will most likely keep on winning without Schwarber in the lineup. In the long-term consideration, it is uncertain how Schwarber will return from his torn ACL, although he vows to return bigger, faster, and stronger.
Jim Tsapelas: This isn’t your father’s Cubs’ team. This is a well constructed and well managed team who shall contend for the NL Central crown. Manager Joe Maddon subscribes to the “Next Man Up” philosophy of managing. Jorge Soler is more than an adequate replacement. Being a former catcher, I personally believe Schwarber’s days as a catcher are over; regardless of the successful outcome of a complete and full recovery.
Joe Botana: You can never have too many great bats in the lineup, and losing one of this caliber definitely hurts the Cubs. Fortunately for them, they had plenty of margin to work with. I wonder if the main damage this does near-term might not be psychological. “Oh no… there’s that damn curse again!”
Adam Tenenbaum: Schwarber is a key loss, but the Cubs have the most depth in the league and should be able to move along nicely without with a combination of Jorge Soler and Tommy La Stella.
Joey Segur: With how powerful the Cubs offense is I don’t think they will. With that said, there will come a time where there will be runners in scoring position and Schwarber’s replacement will not provide the same impact that he would have.
Should the Dodgers have let Ross Stripling continue his no-hitter?
Kyle May: The baseball fan inside of me says let Ross Stripling keep going in that game, but the Dodgers’ front office inside of me says that it was the right move to pull him. Stripling was in the midst of a no-hitter through 7 1/3 innings in his MLB debut. However, he had thrown 100 pitches, mostly because of four walks. The Dodgers see a bright future with Stripling, and it would have been unwise to let his pitch count sail too far past 100 pitches in his MLB debut.
Jim Tsapelas: I am categorically opposed to any type of mandatory pitch count. There is nothing mystical nor magical about throwing one hundred pitches, even for a rookie. I have yet to see or read a study where one hundred pitches is an automatically arbitrary limit. Ross Stripling was on the verge of making MLB history; the stuff legends are made of and for. Despite his one hundred pitch count, despite the fact he was two and two-thirds of an inning away from a complete game, and despite his mild wildness as evidenced in his four walks, I would have kept him in until he served up his first hit. Who knows if Stripling will ever have another chance to complete this most prised pitching milestone?
Joe Botana: Much as I am into the “making history and traditions” aspect of the game, I think it was the right decision. He was running out of gas and was probably not going to get the no-no anyway, and you ultimately have to try to win the game. Besides, would a season ending injury have been graciously accepted by fans and pundits alike because “we were trying to let him make history?”
Adam Tenenbaum: The Dodgers should have let him finish his inning. I do not agree taking him out mid inning after just a walk.
Joey Segur: Yes! I don’t think the pitch count was that big of a factor to pull Stripling. He could have been apart of history and the Dodgers ruined his chance. You never know if that same player will ever get close to throwing a no-hitter.
Who is your pick to win the wide open AL West division?
Kyle May: Any team can win this division. The Angels have Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, enough said. The Astros have the best middle infield in the game in Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa, and a proven ace in Dallas Keuchel. The Mariners have big bats such as Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano, and always have a solid pitching staff led by Felix Hernandez. The Rangers have Cole Hamels and will have Yu Darvish by summer. The A’s have Sonny Gray and a bunch of scrappy players. My pick is the Angels because Mike Trout is the best player in baseball and will find a way to win.
Jim Tsapelas: My sentimental pick, the Angels. Sentimental in the reality I witnessed first hand the eleven best seasons of the best right-handed hitter in the history of Cardinals’ baseball, Albert Pujols. I always root for Albert, regardless of the opponent. Good ballplayer, better human being.
Joe Botana: I am too much of a geek to go against my prediction model when it so resoundingly picks the Astros to win the division. I am sticking with my prediction that Houston will capture the AL West in 2016.
Adam Tenenbaum: Houston Astros.
Joey Segur: This may come as a surprise to you but I feel that the Seattle Mariners can and will win the AL West. The main thing they need to work on his base hits! Base hits win ball games, no doubt about it. They also need to feel as a group that they can do it. Team chemistry doesn’t seem to be the strong suit as of now, and that needs to change.