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Game One: Red Sox 1 – Tigers 3
- Look, some days are just going to be like that. Matt Manning is a promising young arm, and he commanded the strike zone very well. The Red Sox were without two of their best hitters and forced to play an afternoon game after a long Sunday night game the day prior. I’m not worried about the offense.
- Michael Wacha got off to a rough start, walking two batters in the first inning and allowing a sacrifice fly to Miguel Cabrera. Yet he settled in after that, retiring ten of the last 12 batters he faced. He barely threw his cutter, which was hammered to the tune of a .375 average and a .586 slugging percentage last season, and instead relied mostly on his fastball and changeup. We’ll see how Wacha does when he is allowed to work deeper into games, but this was a successful debut.
- One pitcher who has impressed in his early outings is Matt Strahm. He’s allowed just one baserunner in his first three appearances and struck out both batters he faced on Monday. Strahm’s fastball and sinker have both gained a mile and a half of velocity since last year, and his slider has induced whiffs at a 50 percent rate. After years of struggling with injuries, Strahm looks healthy so far in 2022.
- Matt Barnes finally made his season debut on Tuesday, and while he threw a scoreless inning of relief, the underlying signs are worrying. His fastball was nearly two miles slower than last year while his curveball’s spin rate fell by around 300 RPMs. This is what we saw all of last year’s second half and spring training, and it’s hard to see him as a late-inning reliever until he recovers his stuff.
- Pitching for the third time in four days, Ryan Brasier looked exhausted. His average fastball was three miles slower than his debut on Friday, and the one that Baez launched over the left-field wall clocked in at just 93 miles per hour. Brasier can’t survive with that kind of mediocre velocity, and it was a good move by Cora to keep him out of the last two games.
- Travis Shaw and Jonathan Arauz went a combined 0-for-6 on the day and remain hitless in the season. It’s hard to see a path for them to turn it around: Shaw’s bat speed looks to have slowed considerably, and Arauz’s career 85.6 MPH average exit velocity would have ranked sixth-worst among all hitters last season. When those hitters are all in the lineup on the same hitter, it’s basically two automatic outs every time through the order
- On a positive note, Rafael Devers made another nice play in the field, ranging to his right and firing off a strong throw to first to get Jonathan Schoop. Many in the Red Sox organization spoke to the work Devers put in on his defense this winter, and it looks to be paying off early.