Things Happening in Baseball: Cingrani and Wacha Dominate

Tony Cingrani was sensational in his first start of the season.

With a 162-game schedule, things are always happening in baseball. And because we all live busy lives, we can’t always catch the game action, or even the box scores.

That’s why, throughout the season, I thought it’d be a good idea to start a Things Happening in Baseball series, documenting, well, the things happening in baseball. Creative, huh?

This won’t be a daily occurrence, but expect a couple of these each week to inform you about America’s favorite pastime.

So without further ado, here are some things happening in baseball (come on, did you really want me to name it like, HOT TAKES IN BASEBALL?).

Can the Cards and Reds Buy a Run?

Young pitching studs Michael Wacha and Tony Cingrani put on a show at Great American Ball Park last night, but due to a weather delay, only a handful of Cincinnnatians were able to see it. Wacha went 6.2 scoreless innings, giving up just three hits and striking out seven. Cingrani, meanwhile, pitched seven innings of two-hit ball, allowing zero runs while striking out nine Cardinals.

Aside from Chris Heisey’s walk-off single last night, the story of this series has been the pitching. Johnny Cueto looked like his old self on Opening Day, throwing one pitch he wish he’d have back, a home run to Yadier Molina. Other than that, his three hits allowed in seven innings, along with eight strikeouts, is something Cincinnati fans should be excited about. Adam Wainwright was perfect that day though, and the Reds lost 1-0.

In total, the series has seen two runs, and both teams are batting under .150. The Reds have just eight hits to start the year, people.

Both clubs have solid pitching staffs, so perhaps this is just the result of the two strongest areas of the team battling against one another. It’ll be interesting to see how the lineups perform against other teams.

Seattle is Scoring. And Winning.

The Mariners have put up 26 runs in just three games, and the team is batting to a .309/.389/.591 slash. Clearly luck has played a role, as their BABIP is a league-high .384, but it’s been quite the start for Lloyd McClendon’s squad.

While newcomer Robinson Cano has gone 5 for 11 with an RBI over his first three games, the story of the lineup has been first baseman Justin Smoak. Not even a shoo-in to start at first for the M’s to begin the season, Smoak has now homered twice, driven in seven runs, and scored five times on six hits.

He’s still on the waiver wire in about 14% of fantasy leagues, and is worth an add simply because of this start. Entering the year, Smoak had a career .264 average, and was coming off a poor 2013 season where he hit .238/.334/.412 on 521 plate appearances. He has decent power, but it’s still a huge surprise to see him playing as well as he has.

Bonifacio’s Hot Start

The same could be said for Emilio Bonifacio, who, on April 3rd, already has 11 hits on the season (and his current game isn’t even over yet). Last year, Bonifacio didn’t get his 11th hit until April 27th, per ESPN Stats & Info. He’s also just the fifth player in 100 years to have consecutive four-hit games to start a team’s season, according to

To make his start even stronger, the Cubs’ second baseman has four stolen bases and three runs scored. Keep in mind, I’m writing this as he’s facing the Pirates, so this total may end up being higher.

It’s certainly a surprising start for a guy who’s had five Major League seasons with 200 or more plate appearances, never batting above .300. But he’s a capable-ish player – he batted to a .296/.360/.393 slash for the Marlins in 2011 on 641 plate appearances, albeit with a higher-than-average BABIP.

This wasn’t expected, but because of his strong start, speed and ability to play multiple positions, he’s definitely worth a look in most fantasy leagues as the Cubs may use him more and more during this early portion of the season. And in daily fantasy baseball, it’s not a bad idea to ride him until he hits his inevitable regression.

Where did that come from, Mark Buehrle?

Against Tampa Bay yesterday, Mark Buehrle pitched 8.2 shutout innings, giving up one walk and striking out 11 batters. No, that’s not a typo – Mark Buehrle completely dominated the Rays.

Last season in 33 games started, Buehrle pitched one game where he struck out nine, three where he K’d seven, two with six and the rest with five or fewer. He actually hasn’t reached the total he had during his first start of 2014 since 2005.

And really, while I’m all about taking chances - fantasy-wise - on guys who perform well early on just in case something big happens, I’m not jumping onto this bandwagon. We have a huge sample of Buehrle, and his career K/9 is a measly 5.20, less than half of what he did against the Rays strikeout-wise last night. While he may turn it up a notch this season compared to a 2013 campaign that wasn’t incredibly strong, let’s wait and see how he does against better offenses in the AL.

nERD Update

If you’re new to, you may be unaware of our nERD statistics. For batters in baseball, nERD represents the number of runs contributed over a league-average guy per game. When it comes to pitchers, nERD tells us the number of runs prevented by comparison to a league-average pitcher per game.

Things will clearly look a little less goofy when players begin to regress to their mean, but below are the current top-five batters according to nERD. I'll add pitchers to this article in the future when we see larger samples. You can find the complete list here.

Top Batters According to nERD

#1Emilio Bonifacio (2B/CF, CHC)
#2Justin Smoak (1B, SEA)
#3Jose Bautista (RF, TOR)
#4Juan Lagares (CF, NYM)
#5Dexter Fowler (CF, HOU)