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4 Things We Learned from Day 2 of Baseball: Blue Jays, Pirates, Marlins, and Tigers

  1. Aaron Sanchez looks good. Sanchez’s fastball was sitting at 96 mph with some serious late life in the first inning tonight. That’s important because last season, 76% of his pitches were fastballs, which was actually down from the 93% clip that he used his fastball as a reliever. Early in his start, he was getting swings and misses against the fastball. Corey Dickerson, a really good hitter, looked over matched swinging through two 97 mph fastballs before watching one at 96 go right by for a three pitch strikeout. If Sanchez can be a consistent and effective starter for Toronto and throw about 160 good innings, that will be huge as the Blue Jays are lacking in talent in their rotation behind Marcus Stroman.
  2. Gregory Polanco is going to have a big year. At times over the past season and a half, he’s looked a little but lost at the plate, stringing together good at bats only after a series of really bad ones. This year, he looks locked in already. In the first game of the season, he laced a double high off the right field wall near the 320 sign; it was a missile that would have been way out in Yankee Stadium and in the second game of the season, he launched a triple off that 21 foot wall in Pittsburgh. David Ortiz made a career in Boston peppering the Green Monster for doubles the other way. I think Polanco can make an All-Star season sitting back and bouncing balls off that wall in right at PNC. The Pirates certainly think so; they just locked him up for 5 seasons.
  3.  Not a great start for Wei-Yin Chen and the Marlins. Just 5 pitches into his Marlins career, Chen had already given up 2 hits and a run. He then gave up a 3 run bomb in the second to Ian Kinsler after taking a line drive off the left elbow. The Tigers have a great lineup with Justin Upton in the two hole and JD Martinez protecting Miguel Cabrera, but I think Don Mattingly might be in for a long one in Miami. First, I don’t think Mattingly is a great manager to begin with, but I don’t have a lot of faith in the this Marlins team. I think Christian Yelich isn’t a lineup anchor and Marcel Ozuna’s 2015 was a big big red flag for his large-term potential. It’s the rotation behind Jose Fernandez that really concerns me. Chen is alright and Jarred Cosart is really talented, but he’s never been able to really put it together. Tom Koehler is a professional Bryce-Harper-home-run-allower and Adam Conley is an unknown with just 67 innings to his name.
  4. I’m a little worried about Justin Verlander. He had a 2.12 ERA over his final 11 starts last season but his velocity was back up near 94/95 mph. In his first start of 2016, he was at 90/91 mph early in the game. He’s been throwing more sliders lately and that’s been a big part of his resurrection but Verlander at 90 is very different than Verlander at 98. It’s easy to forget that this Tigers team finished in last place last season and that’s in large part due to some of their key and expensive players no longer playing at a league leading level. Verlander and Cabrera are exhibits A and B in that respect and even though Cabrera might not have the power he once did, you can rest assured he’ll be a productive bat if healthy. With Verlander, I’m not so certain. (The guy can hit though. His 2nd inning knock was the 3rd of his career.)

-Max Frankel

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