A few thoughts at the end of this first week of the 2016 Major League season:
- At the top of every Sox fan’s mind has to be what happens after David Price each week? During a weather shortened first week of play, Red Sox Nation held their breath as, one by one, Red Sox starters exhibited little more than mediocrity. Clay Buchholz tossed up five runs in just 4.0 of work Wednesday, Joe Kelly was even worse, allowing seven runs in 3.0 IP Friday. Rick Porcello managed to keep it together for 6.0 innings, but his penchant for the giving up long balls was on display Saturday, albeit to Jays powerhouse Jose Bautista. It’s just one start for each of these, but increasingly we’re going to want to get Eduardo Rodriguez back and for baseball president Dave Dombrowski to seek the trade that can bring consistency to this lineup.
- For all the problems of starters not named Price, the Red Sox bullpen has been outstanding, even without Carson Smith, who is set to throw a bullpen session Sunday. What’s more, the Sox offense has been impressive, too. On Friday, in his 3rd game of the season, Brock Holt matched his home run production in 129 games of 2015. Holt’s grand slam brought the Sox back from what seemed certain defeat to overcome a 5-run deficit and win the game.
- The Red Sox have scored six or more runs in their first four games of the season for the first time since April 26-30, 1995. Since 1913, Boston has started a season just once with five games of six or more runs, on April 8-14, 1985. On Sunday they can tie that record.
- 82 Major Leaguers from the Dominican Republic accounted for the greatest percentage of players on Opening Day rosters that were born outside the US. DR’s dominance has been unequaled every year since MLB began releasing such data in 1995. Of the 238 players born outside the US, 63 hailed from Venezuela, the country ranked second on the list, followed by Cuba with 23 players. The Mariners have the most foreign-born players, with 13 on the roster from five different countries.
- More roster analysis: 93 rookies made up the 864 players on Opening Day rosters. The Brewers have the most (9), the White Sox and Nationals have none. For the Red Sox, it’s just Noe Ramirez so far this season. Though no longer rookies, the Sox have their fair share of accomplished youngsters. At 24, Blake Swihart became the Sox’ youngest Opening Day catcher this week since Rich Gedman (23 in 1983). Also on Wednesday, Mookie Betts, 23, was the youngest Day One right fielder since Phil Plantier (also 23 in 1993), and Xander Bogaerts became one of just seven Boston players since 1913 to start three Opening Days at age 23 or younger, a list that includes Hall of Famers Bobby Doerr, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, and Carl Yastrzemski.
- David Ortiz tied Rico Petrocelli for 6th on the Red Sox all-time list for Opening Day starts this past week. It was the 14th overall Opening Day start in Big Papi’s long career, and his 13th time opening at Designated Hitter, surpassing the 12-year record of Don Baylor for the all-time record at that position. Dustin Pedroia celebrated his 10th Opening Day at second base this season. The only Boston player with a longer Opening Day streak at a single position was Yastrzemski, who opened at left field for 12 years.
- With two more this past week, the Astros Carlos Correa has collected 25 home runs over his first 101 career games. That’s the quickest route to 25 HRs by a shortstop in MLB history, surpassing the 134 games it took Nomar Garciaparra in 1996-97.
- Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw were the only two pitchers last season with more than 60 three-pitch strikeouts. Rick Porcello had the most on the Red Sox staff (27).
- Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester this week became the first pair of Cubs pitchers to open a season with 7.0+ innings pitched and one or fewer runs allowed since Mike Morgan and Jose Guzman did so to start 1993. For the Red Sox, Lester had four Opening Day appearances: 2011: 5.1 IP, 6 hits, 5 runs; 2012: 7.0 IP, 6 hits, 1 run; 2013: 5.0 IP, 5 hits, 2 runs; and 2014: 7.0 IP, 6 hits, 2 runs.