It’s the second go-round for most MLB starters as teams’ cycle back to the top of their starting rotations.
What should we note from the first appearance by these aces in terms of what’s worth watching?
Max Scherzer, Nationals
On the one hand, Scherzer got 13 misses on 17 swings against his slider, which is awesome. The pitch, which comes in a couple different variations resulted in seven outs against one hit and one walk. The problem was that the Yankees were right-on Scherzer’s fastball, going 5-for-11 including Giancarlo Stanton’s mammoth home run against it. Opponents hit .216 against his fastball last season.
Jacob deGrom, Mets
DeGrom’s fastball was impressive in his five innings against the Braves. It averaged 98.4 MPH, the highest average velocity it has ever had in a start.
DeGrom got seven outs with it and didn’t allow a baserunner. He barely broke a sweat in inducing 9 misses on 17 swings.
Kyle Hendricks, Cubs
Hendricks has the A+ version of his changeup in his Opening Day shutout of the Brewers. He got misses on 9-of-21 swings against it (per his 2019 numbers, you would have expected 5 missed swings). The 9 missed swings was only one shy of his 2019 high.
Charlie Morton, Rays
Morton didn’t have his best signature curveball against the Blue Jays, as it netted four outs compared to the 8 he averaged last season. Morton’s curve got only one miss on 12 swings against it. Last season, Morton got misses at a rate of about 4.5 per 12 swings.
Mike Soroka, Braves
Soroka’s results lined up well with his season norms. His fastball produced 11 outs, his slider 7 more and he allowed three harmless singles and one hit by pitch.
Lucas Giolito, White Sox
Opposing batters hit .203 against Lucas Giolito’s fastball last season, but the Twins went 4-for-9 against it on Opening Day. He also allowed two home runs with that pitch, something he did only twice last season. It was one of the least effective pitches for any pitcher thus far.
Matthew Boyd, Tigers
Boyd got misses on 6-of-10 swings against his slider, commensurate with how things go when the pitching working for him. But sliders are usually more turn-enders for him. He netted three outs with it, but walked a Reds batter and hit another with it. Opponents had a .238 OBP in plate appearances against his slider last season.