Sunday, January 24, 2016

Opening Day Matchups - National League

Opening day is rapidly approaching (more on that soon) and it's fairly clear who the #1 starters are for each team.  Below is a list of opening day matchups and some brief commentary.  Stats listed are from last season.

National League
Al H @ David K
Clayton Kershaw (19-10, 4.13) vs Juan Marichal (18-12, 3.38)
After what can be described as a league average performance in his rookie year last season, Kershaw dropped a round and was selected 4th.  He hurls against Marichal who arguably had the best year of his ATB career and who is looking to prove he's worthy of a 4th round pick and ace status.

Joe V @ Ivar A
Greg Maddux (15-12, 3.44) vs Justin Verlander (13-16, 2.85)
This is the NL's opening day marquee match up.  Maddux is, on paper at least, the best starter pitcher in the National League.  In his 12 recorded seasons, the righty has exceeded an ERA of over 3.25 just three times and odds are hie comes back strong.  Verlander is a solid ace of a rotation, but has a lot to prove for Ivar who selected him in the 4th round, 2 rounds earlier than last year.

Thomas R @ TJ O
Cy Blaton (14-13, 3.42) vs Al Orth (17-16, 3.59)
Interestingly, each pitcher covered so far was in a 4-man rotation and the trend continues for this East vs West game.  Blanton dropped a round to the 4th this draft but is typically a strong performer year in and out. Orth is an interesting case as he is coming off two consecutive sub-par years when considering the extreme pitchers parks he played in.  Drafted at the end of the second round, Orth must pick up his game or risk dropping rounds in future drafts.

Richard G @ Justin P
Randy Johnson (17-15, 3.80) vs Jimmy Key (10-8, 5.24)
Here is an interesting fact - RJ has matched his 355 resim stats just twice in his ATB career.  Does he still warrant an early 2nd round selection?  Since ATB 12 his park factors have averaged 105 and has had some suspect defenses behind him, so I say yes.  Selected at the end of Round 9, Justin didn't exactly punt pitching in the draft, but his ace expectations are obviously lower than that of Richards.  Still, Key is coming off an alarmingly bad season and Justin no doubt is thinking back to ATB 16 when Key went 14-9 with a 3.06 ERA for his Spanish Harlem squad.

Mike M@ Joel Q
Carl Hubbell (17-7, 3.68) vs Ted Lyons (12-14, 3.96)
Hubbell is one of my favorite ATB stories as it demonstrates how fresh blood is so very necessary to a league.  The de facto ATB season for Hubbell was 1933 and with a career ATB ERA of 5.02, he was selected on average in the 12th round.  In ATB 14, the 2nd year Gold Country Gossamers (who, by the way, turned ATB on it's head the year before with a defense 1st strategy, changing the league forever) jumped 7 spots and took Hubbel in the 7th round and changed the year.  He went 17-6 with a 2.80 ERA moving up draft positions every year since.  He faces Lyons, who has struggled recently, averaging a 10-16 record with a 3.96 ERA over the last three seasons.

Will G @ Brian B
Babe Adams (8-20, 4.50) vs Garland Braxton (11-13, 3.89)
Adams is coming off his historically worst season and hasn't recorded a campaign at least 2 games over .500 since ATB 12,  This is a make or break season for Adams.  Braxton is a rags to riches story, here is a graph of his draft positions since ATB 9.

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