MLB – Riding The Early Season Struggle Bus

Former MLB pitcher and hall of famer John Smoltz said recently that he believes you can tell after 15 games “pretty much” what an MLB team has, and what they don’t have. Several teams had better hope he’s wrong on that stance, as some preseason favorites to make postseason noise are struggling mightily out of the gate in the 2017 season.

Toronto Blue Jays (3-11) 

Holy man are the Blue Jays having a rough go of it so far. So what’s the problem? Well, for starters, veterans Jose Bautista and Russell Martin are hitting .118 and .103 respectively and ole’ Joey Bats has zero home runs. MLB’s most punchable face had a hard time finding the free agent deal he was looking for in the offseason and was more or less forced to come back to Toronto. Is he pouting? Or is he falling off? The cumulative 4.42 ERA that their pitching staff is sporting isn’t helping matters either.

Texas Rangers (5-10) 

While baseball is the ultimate team sport, the Rangers struggles can be pretty perfectly summed up with one name: Sam Dyson. The Rangers embattled closer has been disastrously awful so far this season, as he currently lugs around a 27.00 (!) ERA. He’s 0 for 3 in save opportunities and has a staggering 4.38 WHIP. Dyson hasn’t been their only issue though, as basically everyone in the every day line up not named Elvis or Nomar aren’t hitting. It stands to reason that their proven offensive players will bounce back though, and young Jose Leclerc’s time to become the Rangers closer could be now.

San Francisco Giants (6-10) 

The Giants are one of the preeminent organizations in all of baseball, but they haven’t exactly come out of the gate with guns blazing. Their .233 team batting average is good for 10th in the NL and their 11 home runs is good for a three way tie for last place in the league. Jeff Samardzija has gotten off to a rough start, going 0-3 with a 6.16 ERA, and newly signed closer Mark Melancon has struggled a bit as well. He’s 3 for 4 on save opportunities, which isn’t terrible, but his .381 batting average against and 1.93 WHIP are. This team was never going to win with the long ball, but outside of Bumgarner and Cueto, they will need the pitching to improve and they need to start getting on base more consistently if they want to compete with the Dodgers.

Pittsburgh Pirates (6-9)

It’s very early in the season to be at all concerned about being just three games under .500, but the Buccos have a MUCH larger issue. Starling Marte, who was handed the reigns in center field this year, was just popped for an 80 game PED suspension, and that hurts big time. First, it forces the Pirates to put Andrew McCutchen back in center, where he isn’t good anymore, and it also costs them Marte’s bat which is currently the best on the club. Not to mention that the loss of Marte is already on the heels of the clubs inability to get Korean infielder Jung Ho Kang back into the country following a drunk driving arrest in his native South Korea. Marte and Kang were the clubs top two offensive performers in 2016 and without them, the offense is anemic. Oh, and starters Gerrit Cole and Tyler Glasnow have been awful, rocking a 5+ and 12+ ERA respectively.

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