The early going is a tough time in baseball, at least when it comes to attempting to analyze what we've seen compared to what we might see moving forward. Last week, I used the the 11-1 start by the Mets and 16-26 start by the Dodgers from last season as examples and it still applies. It's difficult to let a season breathe, but we have to remember what history tells us to settle down.
And, boy, do we need that reminder right now. What a funky start to the season. The Astros came home after a 2-5 road trip. The Red Sox are 3-8 and . The Cubs are 2-7. The Mariners are 9-2. The Tigers are 7-3. The Yankees appear to have righted the ship while restoring order in the world of the Orioles who started the season 4-2.
Let's focus in on two of the best teams in baseball right now, however, in the Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies.
Both were expected to be contenders, though they came from contrasting recent histories, as the Dodgers haven't missed the playoffs since 2012 while the Phillies haven't made it since 2011.
Everything about the Phillies so far seems real when looking at the 6-2 record. The offense is very strong and has shown as much even without J.T. Realmuto really hitting yet. And he will. It's way early, but it looks like we might be seeing the MVP version of Bryce Harper while the starts of Odubel Herrera and Maikel Franco are very encouraging. The rotation hasn't even gotten the best versions of Aaron Nola or Nick Pivetta yet while Zach Eflin looks like he might be having a breakout season. David Robertson has taken his lumps in the bullpen, but I fully expect him to put those in the rearview rather quickly.
Here's how deep the Dodgers are: Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill are hurt and they still have a full rotation with Walker Buehler, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Kenta Maeda, Ross Stripling and Julio Urias. Many teams would love to have that rotation and it runs to their seventh guy. Meanwhile, A.J. Pollock has proven a great pickup to this point and Cody Bellinger looks the part of making the leap into an MVP-caliber player. Corey Seager hasn't really gotten it going yet in his return from Tommy John surgery, but I expect that to change at this point.
Heading into the season, I thought the Dodgers would be one of the best teams in the NL and that remains the case. I had the Phillies as a playoff team and that remains the case, though I'm thinking I'd change my NL East prediction to make them the division champs now instead of just a wild card.
Wait, what I'm I doing? Changing something based upon a week and a half of action?
Like I said, it's really difficult to avoid knee-jerk reactions from other sports like football that seeps into baseball fandom where every single game seems like it has great significance. For most, it's unavoidable to totally let the season breathe. That's where I am. I won't go crazy and rank the Tigers higher than the Red Sox, for example, just yet, but I really do now think the Phillies will take the East. I'm a big "do as I say, not as I do," guy.
|Fun one coming up later this week: The Brewers visit Dodger Stadium Friday through Sunday.||1||93-58|
|Even if there's some regression and even if the Cubs rebound, the Brewers have already put 5 1/2 games of distance between them. That's a huge early season series victory in Miller Park.||1||86-66|
|In 12 innings so far this season, Zach Eflin has allowed just one run (0.75 ERA), nine hits and one walk (0.83 WHIP) while having struck out 14.||2||83-69|
|The Rays, as a team, have a ridiculous 1.88 ERA. You might say they faced the Rockies (not in Coors) and Giants, but they also had four games against the Astros.||--||93-60|
|They have their mojo back now after returning home with a sweep of the A's.||--||85-68|
|El Gary's out here picking up the slack for all the injured players, coming through with a three home run game on Sunday.||1||76-76|
|Pete Alonso update: .382/.432/.824, six doubles, three home runs, 11 RBI and a dozen fire emojis.||1||71-81|
|After two games against the Mets, the Twins have a real shot to get fat on the Tigers, Blue Jays and Orioles for 10 games ... or do the Tigers really keep this up?||5||81-72|
|The offense is still overall pretty terrible, but they've pitched and played defense to get to 6-3, so I guess that's the formula to win the Central. They will get Francisco Lindor's bat back soon enough, too.||6||72-81|
|An incredible 9-2 start and now the Mariners really have a chance to assert themselves. They have a four-game series against a bad Royals team before getting the Astros for three in Seattle. This has the potential for a very fun week in the Pacific Northwest.||7||84-68|
|I feel like all the die-hards know about him, but if you haven't seen Ramon Laureano's arm in action, treat yourself and look up some of his highlights. Amazing.||1||46-106|
|Things have evened out, with the Nats winning three of four since starting 1-3. Let it breathe, people. (Of course, the bullpen is definitely a concern).||1||68-85|
|Chris Paddack has great stuff, but he needs to learn to trust it more. Running pitch counts high enough that prevent him from seeing the fifth inning ultimately doesn't help his team a ton. I do think he'll get there, though.||1||75-78|
|What a huge week for the Braves. They bounce back from an 0-3 start by going 5-1 on a homestand and also lock up Ronald Acuna on what's going to be a criminally-team-friendly deal.||4||97-55|
|An awful lot has gone wrong here -- including some self-sabotage -- so 4-5 isn't really so bad.||5||67-85|
|Maybe a return home will help? Even the Red Sox haters out there have to admit starting the champions with an 11-game road trip across the country seems a bit harsh.||8||75-78|
|I'm actually concerned here. They aren't 2-7 bad, but there are so many reasons to be concerned about so much of both the rotation and bullpen that I could have badly missed on these guys. Damn, sorry, I'm still not letting the season breathe.||8||79-73|
|Shane Greene is the first pitcher in major-league history with seven saves through his team's first 10 games. (Psst: Don't be the guy who trades for him in fantasy baseball).||9||71-81|
|Really hard to get a read on the Pirates. They are 5-1 against the Reds and 0-2 against the Cardinals, with both of those losses coming by one in extra innings.||2||71-81|
|With his raw power and ability to get on base, Joey Gallo only has to hit .250 (maybe even .235) to be a star. He's at .250 right now.||1||84-68|
|After losing their top two position players in the offseason, the Diamondbacks have navigated admirably through a tough early season schedule.||2||81-72|
|After winning their first two games against the lowly Marlins, the Rockies have now lost seven of eight.||6||56-96|
|Mike Trout is getting better. Good lord.||3||69-83|
|I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I'm afraid the Orioles have already seen the high point of their season.||1||95-57|
|Could this be the Tim Anderson breakout? It really could be. It's his age-26 season and will be his third full season. Sometimes it takes guys that long to figure it out.||5||58-95|
|They've already been held hitless four times through six innings. What a pitiful offense.||2||85-67|
|Madison Bumgarner and several other tradeable pitchers in the bullpen look good, so that's something positive.||2||76-76|
|Eye-popping small-sample slash line: Martin Prado's authoring a .476/.522/.619.||--||79-74|
|I thought Adalberto Mondesi would lead the league in steals this season, but he's got more extra base hits than singles and walks combined, putting a damper on things a bit in the steals category (he's 1 for 1).||3||51-102|
|So much for that possible breakout season, huh? The Reds have lost eight straight after their Opening Day win.||8||79-75|