Baseball’s new year is officially upon us. On Sunday, six teams will begin their regular-season schedule -- a 162-game march that will lead the good and lucky to October.
The Yankees will send Tanaka to the mound for his third consecutive Opening Day start. Last season, he finished seventh in Cy Young Award voting thanks to a 142 ERA+ and 4.58 strikeout-to-walk ratio. There were murmurs about down velocity earlier in the spring. Tanaka has already shown he’s capable of making adjustments, however, so we’ll see if he can do that again in 2017.
Opposing Tanaka will be Archer, who is also making his third consecutive Opening Day start. Unlike Tanaka, Archer is coming off an uncharacteristically poor season -- particularly in the first half. The good news for the Rays is that Archer pitched better than his 9-19 record suggested -- look for him to author a good bounce-back season behind his high-grade fastball-slider combination.