Thursday, April 5, 2012
Five things to watch: Opening Day
By David Schoenfield
Some quick bullet points on our third Opening Day/night of the season:
1. A day of aces. Justin Verlander, Roy Halladay, Clayton Kershaw, Stephen Strasburg, Ricky Romero, Justin Masterson ... I think we may see some low-scoring games today. Strasburg's start in Chicago will be especially interesting. After his impressive return last September, his spring training numbers were mediocre (not that you can read too much into that).
2. Red Sox closer situation. Bobby Valentine named Alfredo Aceves his closer. The most interesting thing here is to see how Valentine employs him. Much of Aceves' value a year ago was that he wasn't just a one-inning guy. The Red Sox are carrying 13 pitchers, but you wonder if Valentine will try and use Mark Melancon and Aceves to get more than six outs if Boston has a lead and the starter has to come out.
3. Johan Santana making his first start since Sept. 2, 2010. If he gives the Mets 30 ace-level starts, can they become surprise contenders in a tough division? (My Mets friends say: No.)
4. The revamped Citi Field dimensions. We saw all the space in Marlins Park last night. The Mets went the opposite direction, moving the fences in. How much will that affect home runs?
5. Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. How will Cabrera handle third base? Is there any truth to the belief that Fielder will "protect" Cabrera? He did receive 22 intentional walks last year, so in theory that number may decrease.