We had to wait longer than usual to see some of MLB’s biggest stars debut with their new teams this season. Here’s how the biggest names faired on Opening Day.
Unfortunately, Los Angeles Angels third baseman Anthony Rendon is dealing with an oblique issue that prevented him from playing after signing the second-richest free-agent deal this past offseason.
1. Gerrit Cole, Yankees
Cole was brilliant in his abbreviated start. The right-hander allowed just one hit – a solo home run from Adam Eaton – over five innings while striking out five. Cole ended up being credited with a complete game after the contest was called following five innings due to rain.
2. Marcell Ozuna, Braves
It’s hard to credit one player – particularly a hitter – with a victory this early in the season. However, there’s a legitimate case to be made that the 2-1 Braves would’ve left Citi Field 1-2 if not for Ozuna. Down to their final strike in the second game of the set, Ozuna hit the tying homer off Edwin Diaz. He kept rolling during the finale, hitting a go-ahead, two-run double before tacking on another homer in the onslaught of the Mets.
3. Zack Wheeler, Phillies
Wheeler was hardly overpowering but he got the job done. Granted, it came against the Marlins, so take it with a grain of salt. But he was Philly’s best pitcher over the weekend, as Aaron Nola couldn’t escape the sixth inning and Vince Velasquez allowed four runs in three innings of work in Sunday’s loss.
4. Mike Moustakas, Reds
Moustakas led the Reds’ offense through the Tigers with an outstanding opening salvo. He capped off his first game with a two-run home run in the seventh to help secure the 7-1 victory. He added another hit Saturday but then landed on the IL prior to Sunday’s finale, putting a damper on what was an otherwise encouraging weekend.
5. C.J. Cron, Tigers
Maybe the player with the lowest profile on the list, Cron was essentially cast aside by the Twins and forced to take a deal with the bottom-feeding Tigers. He made the most of it this past weekend by smacking a pair of dingers against a Reds staff that punched out 46 Tigers over the three-game set.
6. Didi Gregorius, Phillies
Gregorius is the feel-good story of the weekend after losing so much time to injury and becoming the odd man out in the Bronx. With the shortened season, his opportunities to rebuild his value on a one-year deal are going to be limited. Well, he’s made the most of it so far with a couple of solo round-trippers.
7. Dylan Bundy, Angels
Bundy was arguably the highest-touted college pitching prospect ever coming through the Orioles’ system, but he seemingly couldn’t piece everything together at the major-league level. Could Bundy follow in Jake Arrieta’s footsteps as pitchers who put it all together after leaving Baltimore?
8. Tommy Pham, Padres
Pham didn’t showcase a lot of thump in his bat, but he made up for it with excellent plate discipline and by being a pest on the bases. Pham leads the majors with four stolen bases through the first weekend. No other player has more than one.
9. Madison Bumgarner, Diamondbacks
Bumgarner looked like he was en route to a special beginning with five shutout frames against the Padres before the wheels came off in a three-run sixth. His start was encouraging overall, but the implosion prevents him from ranking higher.
10. Hyun-Jin Ryu, Blue Jays
Ryu was mostly cruising, keeping Rays hitters off-balance until the fifth when he got in trouble and issued a two-run homer to Yoshi Tsutsugo. Although Toronto played it safe with his pitch count and took him out of the game, he offered a glimpse of why he’s an exciting addition to the team’s roster.
11. Josh Donaldson, Twins
Donaldson hasn’t found a groove with the stick just yet, but he demonstrated elite plate discipline by recording four walks. Still, the Twins signed him to mash and he didn’t showcase his slugging ability in baseball’s first weekend.
12. Yasmani Grandal, White Sox
Not much to write home about, but also no real demerits to speak of, either. Grandal gets on base even when he’s not getting hits. He also only got two starts with James McCann getting the call for Saturday’s game against the Twins.
13. Starling Marte, Diamondbacks
With four hits and a couple of runs, Marte had a decent first few games with the D-Backs. The speedster also got caught stealing on his lone attempt. Ho-hum.
14. Edwin Encarnacion, White Sox
Other than a truly monstrous two-run blast, Encarnacion didn’t make much of an impression with the Sox over the weekend. He also struck out six times while failing to draw a walk.
15. Nick Castellanos, Reds
Castellanos scattered a few hits over the weekend, but his three-strikeout day in Sunday’s loss left more of an initial imprint, especially after the Reds lost Moustakas to the IL.
16. Mookie Betts, Dodgers
Betts managed a mere three hits in the Dodgers’ first series, but he did score the winning run in Thursday’s opener when he dashed home on a grounder during the seventh inning. He also posted a rare two-strikeout game, something he did only 20 times in 150 contests last season.