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Roto Riteup: April 5th, 2017

Day 2 of the season always offer a light slight because the Midwest and Northeastern venues have the built-in off day to account for potential weather problems, as we saw in Chicago with the Tigers-White Sox debut getting pushed from Monday to Tuesday. We still got nine games of action with eight of them seeing the road team emerge victorious.

On the Agenda:

  1. Baseball’s Supercouple In Midseason Form
  2. McCullers, Carrasco, and Arrieta with NSFW stuff
  3. Dull Provides Excitement… for the Angels

BASEBALL’S SUPERCOUPLE IN MIDSEASON FORM

Justin Verlander was in Cy Young form during his 2017 debut, allowing just two runs in 6.3 innings with 10 strikeouts against the White Sox. The high fastball was instrumental in his brilliant 2016 campaign and he wasted no time deploying it on Tuesday. His 239 PA that ended on a high fastball last year were 2nd-most to Jake Odorizzi (244) and his .499 OPS and 41% strikeout rate were 8th and 3rd, respectively, among the 65 pitchers with at least 100 such PA. The Sox went 0-for-7 with a walk and four strikeouts on high heaters Tuesday.

Justin’s lovely fiancée, Kate Upton (ever heard of her?!), brought her A-game to the Windy City as well. She supported Justin in an amazing tiger sweater that she showed on Snapchat (KateUptonSnap):

Baseball’s First Couple (dubbed as such by me, just go with it) probably had a relaxing night of Netflix and No Chill after the dominant performance by Verlander. They are just the best, even when Justin is likely yelling at Kate on the golf course and Kate is failing to whistle. Ok, I’ll stop gushing.

I’m very annoying, I know.

MCCULLERS, CARRASCO, AND ARRIETA WITH NSFW STUFF

Lance McCullers generated a lot of excitement before the season, both in the fantasy and real life communities of baseball analysis. Eno and I discussed him as a potential Top 15 pitcher this year while Dave Cameron tabbed him as the 2017 AL Cy Young winner. The talent is exceedingly evident as he possesses some of the game’s nastiest stuff, but staying on the field has been a challenge to this point, only once exceeding 150 innings as a pro (157.7 in 2015) and being limited to just 81 in the majors last year, battling both shoulder and elbow issues.

His season debut will only serve to fuel the excitement surrounding the 23-year old righty. He went six strong, allowing just one run on five hits and two walks while tallying seven strikeouts and a 13% swinging strike rate in his 88-pitch gem. The biggest takeaways are the two walks and a 63% first pitch strike rate after 13% walk and 57% FPS rates last year. The Pitcher List (an absolute must follow, btw) showed one of his NSFW breakers last night:

Carlos Carrasco didn’t finish six in Texas, but he was still strong in his 5.7-inning debut with a two-run homer moonshot from Joey Gallo being the only blemish as he allowed five baserunners, struck out seven, and had a 15% swinging strike rate, including this filth monster – again courtesy of The Pitcher List:

Pay attention to the situation, too. It was a 3-2 pitcher in the third with runners on first and third against Rougned Odor. Wow.

Jake Arrieta averaged just 91 mph on his fastball which is no doubt worth noting, but make no mistake that his stuff was still absolutely nasty as he fanned six Cardinals in his six innings of work (1 unearned run, 6 base runners).

Click here for video evidence of Arrieta’s filth.

Jeff Zimmerman discussed Arrieta and other velocity changes through the first two days, but he’s not yet worried about the studs who experienced big drops. Of course, if he’s getting the kind of movement we saw on Tuesday, the velocity might not be a concern (the Cards went 0-for-12 with four Ks against the fastball).

OAKLAND’S DULL PROVIDES EXCITEMENT… FOR THE ANGELS

In late-March we learned that the Oakland bullpen would “fluid” via this Susan Slusser tweet:

And just two games into the season, Bob Melvin has stuck to his word, though likely frontrunner Ryan Madson hasn’t gotten either opportunity, instead notching holds in the eighth inning of both games. On Monday, Santiago Casilla closed out the 4-2 win, but on Tuesday, Ryan Dull was anything but. He allowed three hits including the go-ahead three-run homer to Danny Espinosa as the Angels won 7-6.

This was front and center on Tuesday’s Bullpen Report and I recommend you stay tuned to the BR for more as the situation unfolds. I just wanted to offer my two cents that I think Sean Doolittle is still the player to invest in here as I think he’s the most talented arm in the bullpen, though his left-handedness may work against him as Daniel Coulombe is the only other southpaw in the pen. The real answer probably is to look elsewhere instead of dealing with this headache, but those of you who passed on saves at the draft actually have to pay attention to these situations if you’re going to compete in the category. Good luck.

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