10 Important Stories From 04/03/17 Box Scores: Keuchel Deals, Benintendi Slugs & More

by Ray Kuhn

While Sunday was the appetizer, we had the main course on Monday. To some, yesterday was true beginning to the season, and we had 11 games for our enjoyment (after the Tigers and White Sox were rained out). With this being the first full day to evaluate our fantasy teams, naturally there was a greater emphasis on the majority of performances.

As we attempt to minimize the overreaction, in both directions, there is still some valuable to be taken from the day’s action. Let’s take a look at 10 of those performances and story lines:

1) It Was a Crisp Day in Washington…

Opening day for the Nationals was pretty much devoid of drama. After struggling for five months last season, Bryce Harper continued the momentum he generated this spring and went deep. The long ball from Harper was a positive sign for those who invested in the outfielder as it is possible we see a repeat of his 2015 campaign. Stephen Strasburg picked up the win for the Nationals with seven strong innings in which he allowed two runs while scattering six hits. You would like to see the right-hander strike out more than three batters, but he was economical as he needed just 85 pitches (63 strikes). Now only if Strasburg cant stay healthy and maintain that for 30 starts, then we are talking. But perhaps most interesting or noteworthy from a fantasy perspective, was how Dusty Baker managed the bullpen and its performance. It should not have been a surprise, at least after the announcement, that Blake Treinen was the closer for Washington, but with a two run lead, Sammy Solis got the call for the eighth inning; not Shawn Kelley or Koda Glover. Solis did pitch a perfect inning which was followed by a perfect ninth for the same from Treinen. Treinen struck out two and looked at home in his new role; at least for one day.

2) A Blister Couldn’t Derail Thor…

Until he exited the game after six shutout innings, you would have never known that Noah Syndergaard was dealing with a blister. Once the blister popped, Syndergaard was removed from the game, but not after he struck out seven Braves and reached 100 miles per hour with his fastball. The right-hander allowed just five hits, and although there were two innings in which Atlanta had a runner on third base, Syndergaard was never truly in trouble. Regardless of the blister, all of his pitches appeared to be in mid-season form, and aside from his next start being pushed from Saturday to Sunday, there is nothing to worry about here from the Mets’ ace.

3) Andrew Benintendi Makes His Hit Count…

As a rookie, there are few lineups better to be a part of than Boston’s. And then when you take a look at their batting order, things get even better for the outfielder. Benintendi began the season batting second for Boston, right between Dustin Pedroia and Mookie Betts. For the most part Garrit Cole and the Pirates’ pitchers kept the Red Sox offense under control, but for one inning they broke out. The five runs Boston scored in the bottom of the fifth inning were all that Rick Porcello and company needed, and Benintendi played a large part in that with a three run blast. It was his only hit of the day, but there is a lot to like this season for Benintendi, and yesterday illustrated that.

4) The Bottom of the Order Does it For Colorado…

For all of the talk of the studs atop the order for Rockies and the players they are missing, their replacements played a huge part in Monday’s victory. Gerardo Parra, Mark Reynolds, and Tony Wolters (batting 6th-8th) each had two hits with Parra driving in a run and Wolters scoring twice. Reynolds had the best day of the trio as he doubled and hit a two run HR. It is important to note that this did not take place in the friendly confines of Coors Field. Each of these players will provide fantasy owners with value and a positive return on their (minimal) investment.

5) Mark Trumbo Ends Things in Baltimore…

After leading the league in home runs last season, Trumbo returned to the Orioles for three more seasons this winter, and he looks to be picking up right where he left off. The slugger had a 2 for 5 day against Toronto with a double and the game winning, walk off home run. After being on, but just missing a slider from Jason Grilli, Trumbo did not miss the next one (although it did catch a portion of the plate) and it landed well into the left field bleachers. The power isn’t exactly surprising from Trumbo, but perhaps the even better sign, is that he didn’t strikeout.

6) Ervin Santana Looks Like an Ace…

While, he did at least for one day. And Santana is also the best pitcher Minnesota has. All kidding aside though, but there were pitchers far worse than Santana to take the mound on Monday. While he might not be as exciting as other options, Santana is still a solid option who gets results, and he showed that against the Royals. Santana picked up the victory with seven strong innings. The lone blemish was Mike Moustakas’ solo home run and Santana allowed just three other base runners, one hit and two walks, while striking out three.

7) Joc Pederson Has a Career Day, Yasmani Grandal Goes Deep, Twice…

It hasn’t been a long career yet for Pederson, and in time he will likely surpass the the 5 runs he drove in on Monday, but it still deserves some recognition. Pederson helped break the game open with a grand slam and also added a sacrifice fly, but the Padres never had a chance. No one should have been surprised at the 14 runs or the 14 hits the Dodgers picked up, or Clayton Kershaw’s seven innings of domination (two runs, one earned; 2 hits; eight strikeouts). Grandal continued his power display from last season with two home runs, and Corey Seager joined the party with a three run blast. We also shouldn’t forget Justin Turner and his three hits. Granted it was San Diego, but the Dodgers’ offense will bring a lot of fantasy value to the table this season.

8) A Wild One in Texas…

Initially when you see two aces slated to take the mound, a low scoring game is expected. Instead, we saw a wild, 13 run affair with multiple fantasy implications; aside from the five runs Corey Kluber allowed (although he at least made it six innings). Roughned Odor wasted no time proving he deserved his new contract as he went deep twice. Edwin Encarnacion also wasted no time acclimating himself to Cleveland and impacting their lineup. The first baseman went 2 for 5 on the night, with one of those hits being a game tying home run off Matt Bush. Things did not get much better for Texas’ bullpen as Sam Dyson entered a tied game in the ninth inning and promptly allowed three runs for the loss. While it was just one game, the Rangers’ bullpen bears watching; especially with “clubhouse cancer” Keona Kela currently in the minor leagues.

9)  Dallas Keuchel Turns Back the Clock…

So far, at least for one start, Keuchel showed that he once again is healthy and that his 2015 Cy Young campaign was not a fluke. The southpaw barely was in trouble all night, aside from a bases loaded situation in a 26 pitch fourth inning, and he cruised through seven innings. Keuchel needed just 85 pitches as he allowed four base runners (two hits and two walks) while keeping the hard hit balls to a minimum. The southpaw struck out four and he showed chemistry with catcher Brian McCann while hitting his spots and executing his pitches.

10) The Power Was For Real…

Well at least for one day that was the case. If there was any doubt about the validity of Khris Davis’ power display from last season, he put that to rest last night. Davis went deep twice as the A’s started their season off victorious and showed that Oakland’s home ball park will not be an issue for him as he attempts to eclipse 40 home runs for the second straight season.

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