April is when baseball players and teams stumble to find their footing, but it is also an opportunity to get away with early mistakes. So there’s time to remedy all the wrongs that have been committed—of which there are many. The theme of this young season: Down goes Goliath.
In recent years, glory in the MLB has transitioned away from slugging greats and toward pitching phenoms. Especially in the last three years, a commanding rotation and bullpen have been crucial tools necessary to punch a postseason ballot.
This offseason, teams held tightly to their aces or made significant attempts to procure more a la the Los Angeles Dodgers. But when are these Cy Young contenders going to step up to the mound? So far, we haven’t seen very many noteworthy performances, barring Yu Darvish pitching 8.2 innings of perfect baseball for the Texas Rangers.
Here are some pitchers that are giving us pause:
Matt Cain (7.15 ERA), San Francisco Giants: The veteran righty led an impressive round of pitchers through the postseason and suppressed opposing hitters to let the Giants’ anemic offense triumph. Cain blasted through the Cardinals in the 2012 NLCS, but was blasted by the Cards in their first meeting this year. Cain gave up nine runs in a monstrous fourth inning in that game, and surrendered seven runs to the Brewers on Thursday.
Cole Hamels (7.56 ERA), Philadelphia Phillies: The pretty face of the Phillies had some ugly initial outings, giving up five and eight runs in his first two starts. He seems to be settling on his pitches, and when their touted starters can’t get the job done, then the Phillies and the N.L. East’s reputation suffers.
David Price (5.82 ERA), Tampa Bay Rays: The reigning AL Cy Young has been showing some inconsistency, which is natural this early, but eight runs allowed against the Cleveland Indians doesn’t bode well for a pitcher with bona fide accolades.
R.A. Dickey (5.82 ERA), Toronto Blue Jays: Some thought Dickey got slighted when he wasn’t selected to start last year’s All-Star game, but his NL Cy Young award more than compensated for that. After departing the Mets, the new blue hasn’t fit well. Dickey gave up three runs on four walks and five hits to the Indians in his debut, and was rattled for seven earned runs by the Red Sox in his second time out.
As for the Dodgers, this one is on the horizon after they lost Zack Greinke to a broken collarbone after an infamous brawl. Los Angeles entered the season a surplus of pitching, but for now San Diego is having the last laugh. The Padres swept the Dodgers in enemy territory, scoring 22 runs in three games while launching three home runs off Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.
Baseball is a 162-game marathon and these pitchers should rebound. But for now, it seems that MLB bats are getting as hot as the weather.