Jumping on the Trampoline

…Jumping very high & with extreme balance are the Tampa Bay Rays. TB won their first 13 games. We shouldn’t be surprised…they’ve been in the Playoffs 4 straight years. Tampa Bay is 28th in the league on the salary scale @ $74m.  Manager Kevin Cash was one of the first managers to use the “bullpen” game. That’s starting the game with a relief hurler & completing the game with 4 or 5 other relief hurlers. Known more for “scratching out runs”, TB is flexing their muscles this year @ the Plate. The Ray’s are 1st in runs (22 more runs than #2 Dodgers); 1st in batting average – .287; 1st in OBP (on base percentage) and shockingly to me—1st in Home Runs. I’m not looking for a 162-0 record but the Rays are jumping higher than anyone else off the trampoline right now. While their pitching corp is a mix & match type team, the hitting has improved with Wander Franco and Randy Arozarena (see last week’s Buzz about Arozarena) developing into  every-day stars.

 …To demonstrate the achievement of the Rays –winning 13 straight games, check out the season opening winning streaks in recent years.  In 2022- the Rays & Mets  won 3 straight; 2021-Phillies/Astroes-4 straight; 2020 2 straight wins for Cards, Astros, Padres & Dodgers; 2019- Philly won 4 straight; 2018 it was The Pirates & Nationals with 4-0 records; 2017 saw Orioles/Twins with 4-0 records; 2016 Orioles won 4 straight; in 2015 KC Royals were 7-0 and in 2014 Detroit Tigers won their 1st 4 games.

….on the rebound on the Sports Trampoline is Stolen Bases. Maybe, it’s the slightly enlarged base size or maybe teams have devoted more time to it. Currently, the early rate of steals per game (0.69) is the highest in baseball since 1999.  If that rate continues it would be touching early 1990’s numbers.

….Stumbling on the trampoline and not gettting much height or balance, the Cards are off to a slow start. It’s VERY, VERY early so there’s plenty of time to regain our balance on the Trampoline. However, a bit disconcerting is the current ace-Miles Mikolas. He’s surrendered 29 hits in only 14+ innings. A .481 batting average on batted balls put into play plays hand & hand with a 45% hard-hit rate against him. Who becomes our ace? With Wainwright injured & fighting Fr Time at the same time, one has to have some skepticism that Waino will be the old Waino. The need to bolster the rotation is jumping higher & higher with each start on the trampoline. After 13 games (about 1/10 of the season), the StL pitching is 21st in the MLB in ERA, has 2 quality starts (LA has 8, TB-7), is 30th (last) in permitting HITS-130; and are tied for 24th in quality starts with 2. That extra OF who sits every night might be jumping on a different team trampoline shortly.

…With a totally fresh,  new high bounce on the trampoline, the MLB changed around the schedule in ’23. Instead of opening with the NL Central as it seems they’ve done frequently in the past, the Cards have already seen Atlanta, SD, & Colorado. I like the different start to the season.

…MLB players who are bouncing HIGH in the early weeks—Leading the AL in batting is Luis Arraez of Miami. He’s batting .471 after 51 AB’s. In the off season, Minnesota gave up on him & sent him to Miami for a new chance. He won’t finish @ .417 but clearly he’s an improved player. Matt Chapman (Toronto) is another blooming star.  Hitting .421, 15 rbi  & OPS of 1.204. Keep your eyes on them.

…One final “down” bounce with the Cardinals.  I’m so tired of hearing about his “great” arm, his “wicked slider”, etc.  The downward bounce has been telling me that Jordan Hicks just can’t consistently get batters out. He’s pitched in 6 games in ’23 and has given up runs in 4 of them. In one of the 6 games, he “breezed through” an outing of 1 out and 2 walks😊 He’s walked 7 while striking out 4 batters. His current ERA is 10.13. This is his 5th year as a Cardinal. In his career he has 8 wins, 12 losses; 20 saves, 10 blown saves; ERA of 4.23; he is averaging 1.6 strikeouts for every 1 walk. He’s 26 years old & we’re still hearing about potential. It’s the MLB man….produce. (in honor of Tim McCarver who was direct & blunt as an analyst)

…Another High Bounce to the MLB for the new regulations to shorten the game. It has REALLY made a difference–the average time of game is down to 2:38 per nine innings this season. It was 3:03 last season and 2:38 is the lowest since 1984. Stolen bases have increased–MLB is currently on pace for 3,107 successful stolen bases. That would be the most since 2012 (3,229) and up from 2,486 last year,” CBS Sports reported. Further, it seems like we have more action…maybe, it’s just happening closer together than previously.

 …Jumping UP daily are 2 former CBC Baseball players—now in the MLB! Matt Vierling attended Notre Dame prior to being signed for a baseball contract. He’s been in the MLB since 2021 with the Detroit Tigers after working his way up through the minor league levels –A, AA, AAA levels from 2018-2021. Jake Burger attended MO State after CBC. While @ MO State, he posted strong numbers–  48 doubles, five triples, 47 homers and 179 RBI in 176 games in 3 seasons at Missouri State… He was named 1st Team All-America by Baseball America and a semifinalist for the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award as a junior in 2017 . He was the 11th player chosen in the 2017 amateur draft. In 2021 he reached the MLB level with the Chicago White Sox. I saw both of them play in HS….I had no clue that they’d make it all the way to the “Big Show!   Congratulations are reaching their dreams.

Thanks for the read!  Don’t forget to respond on Facebook. Have a really enjoyable week! Bob

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