You all know what today is? It’s Opening Day! And our first MLB pick of the 2017 regular season. It is one of the better days on the calendar, with another one of the better days on the calendar occurring tomorrow. We get an appetizer on Sunday, with three games on the schedule, and then a full slate of action on Monday, all day long.
You had to take time off work for March Madness, now it’s time to get Monday off to watch baseball during the day. Previously, there was usually only one game on this Sunday, but they’ve turned it into a trio of games for action throughout the day.
We’re going to get the season started in Tampa, where the Yankees and Rays look to wash away the disgusting taste in their mouths from last season and start this season out on the right note. The Rays were looked upon as a surprise contender before last season began, a team that could maybe pull a Kansas City Royals and make it work with a limited roster salary. This wasn’t me saying this, but national pundits. The only thing the Rays competed for was avoiding finishing last place in the majors.
Tampa was a major bust, finishing with 68 wins and 94 losses for second last in the American League. The only team that finished worse than the Rays was the Minnesota Twins, nothing to be proud of to say the least. It wasn’t just the Rays who were shaky, but Chris Archer was uncharacteristically bad as well.
He was not elite, something he was becoming accustomed to being like. When the Rays needed an ace, Archer faded, leaving Tampa without much in their rotation to anchor the load. This is supposed to be a redemption tour for Archer, who has to prove last season was a fluke. Meanwhile, the Yankees flirted with the postseason, but ultimately came 5 games short of making it. The talent level on the Yanks has slowly diminished over the years.
Notably, the loss of Derek Jeter, and then A-Rod shortly after. Free agents don’t look at the Yankees as the end all be all their careers. There was a time when every big name free agent ended up a Yankee, but playing for the Yankees is no longer a hot ticket item. Or should I say, the Yanks do not want to shell out the kind of dollars they did a decade or so ago. Let’s get to our first selection of the season, with our Yankees vs. Rays pick on Sunday afternoon.
N.Y. Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays Pick
Masahiro Tanaka vs. Chris Archer
The Yankees will counter Archer with the talented Masahiro Tanaka. He is most certainly one player the Yankees backed the Brinks Truck up for in recent memory. He’s been a great addition, but for the kind of money he’s making, I’m not so sure. Tanaka has fought injuries for a chunk of his career, but he was finally able to stay on the mound last year. He made the most of it with a 3.07 ERA and 1.08 WHIP.
He was not particularly happy about pitching at home, but was quite strong on the road. Tanaka posted an ERA of 2.34 away, yet eclipsed 3.00 at Yankee Stadium. There were a couple of poor starts on the road that skewed his numbers a bit, but other than that, he was strong as a rock on the road. Tossing up 1 or 2 runs allowed was pretty common.
I am not entirely sure how the Rays’ offense is going to handle Tanaka this afternoon. While Archer has his issues, and the pitching could have been better as a whole, the offense did nothing to excite much production, too. It shouldn’t change this season, either. I look for Tanaka to make quick work of this lineup, with the Yankee offense doing enough to help him out. Our first pick of the MLB regular season is on the Yankees to ruin the home opener of the Rays on Sunday afternoon.
PICK: YANKEES (-115)