A 3-0 start to the season means, well, nothing. But when it’s two teams that are carrying certain, big expectations into the season, it’s hard to not to get hyped up if you’re a Pittsburgh Pirates or Los Angeles Dodgers fan.
The Dodgers have overtaken the New York Yankees in recent years when it comes to players salary. Losing Zack Greinke was followed with some signings to their starting rotation, still the crown jewel of this team. Their bullpen didn’t make too many strides while their offense remained mostly the same. Their focus on pitching more than showed in their season opening series against the San Diego Padres. They didn’t just beat the Padres three days in a row. They shut them out each time.
They allowed a .120 batting average, 0 runs, with all three starters (Clayton Kershaw, Scott Kazmir, Kenta Maeda) posting quality starts. Kershaw, the highest paid player in baseball, had 7 innings with one hit and nine strikeouts. Kazmir allowed just one hit in six innings while striking out five. Maeda struck out four in six innings while giving up five hits, but his MLB debut included him hitting a home run. Kershaw also got one hit and ran in for a score.
And it wasn’t just the pitching. The Dodgers won three games by 25 runs combined. They posted .306 batting, .363 On Base Percentage and .505 slugging through the three games. Yasiel Puig hit a home run and has 4 RBIs. Joc Pederson, Adrian Gonzalez and A.J. Ellis got 3 RBIs through the first three games. Obviously not everything is going to be this easy, but that’s one impressive and smooth start to the season for the Dodgers, once again dreaming about the World Series in October.
The Pirates are playing in a more difficult division, but they showed how they should stand in it at least through the first three games against the St. Louis Cardinals, winning all three games by a combined eight runs, holding the Cards twice to just one. No home runs used, but the Pirates got on base (.390 OBP, 2nd in the league through the first few days) and had Andrew McCutchen at his best, batting .455 and .571 OBP. Francisco Cervelli and Gregory Polanco each have 3 RBIs.
The pitching was fantastic as well, allowing just a .168 batting average, with two quality starts from Francisco Liriano and Juan Nicasio, coming with a 0.93 WHIP. Liriano especially was on fire in his performance with 10 struck out batters while the two other starters, Nicasio and Jonathon Niese each struck out 7 batters. Like the Dodgers, the Pirates got plenty from their pitching staff in a slightly surprisingly smooth start to the season, although we know things in April have very little to do with what happens in August and September.