Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Opening Day Starter Useless Trivia for 2018


Felix Hernandez made his leading 11th opening day start. Photo Keith Allison via flickr/CCL

Felix Hernandez made his leading 11th opening day start.
Photo Keith Allison via flickr/CCL

Every year I capture the Opening Day Starters into an XLS and then capture some useless trivia on it.  This is that post.

Google Doc XLS link: (the data is too big to make an HTML table):

Max Scherzer made his 3rd  career opening day start, all in a Nat’s uniform (he never  got an Opening day start while pitching behind Justin Verlander in Detroit).   Stephen Strasburg has himself made four opening day starts, with these two guys covering every Nats opening day start dating to 2011.

The Nats have one other player with Opening day starts on their resume: Jeremy Hellickson made the 2016 and 2017 opening day starts for Philadelphia.  He currently sits in XST building up arm strength so he can take over for A.J. Cole as our fifth starter after he blows up a couple more times.  And its worth noting that former Nat Jordan Zimmermann earned his first ever such start for Detroit this year, shortly before getting hit in the head with a come-backer.

Here’s some useless trivia related to Opening Day Starts:

  • Active Leader: Tie at the top: Seattle’s Felix Hernandez with 11.  CC Sabathia also has 11, but hasn’t made the Yankee’s start since 2014.
  • Active Consecutive Leader: Also Hernandez, who has made 10 straight, missing one in 2008 when Erik Bedard took the mound in Game 1 as the new shiny FA signing that spring.  The next closest is Clayton Kershaw, who has made 8 straight for LA.
  • Other longish conseutive starts streak: Atlanta’s Julio Teheran with 5, Corey Kluber with 4, and Chris Archer with 4.
  • Madison BumgarnerMasahiro Tanaka and Dallas Keuchel all had 3-4 start streaks broken thanks to injury or being passed over for a different guy.
  • 13 of the 30 games were started by first time Opening Day starters this year, continuing a trend of new,  younger guys getting these starts.  In fact, I’d say that a couple of the opening day starters you’d be hard pressed to pull out of a lineup: Miami’s Jose Urena, Milwaukee’s Chase Anderson, and SF’s Ty Blach in particular.

All-time records:

  • Most Ever: Tom Seaver (16).  Tied for 2nd place with 14 is Jack Morris, Randy Johnson and Steve Carlton
  • Most Consecutive: Jack Morris (14)

Can Felix get 5 more starts to break Morris’ record?   He’s only signed through 2019 with an option for 2020, so he’d need to get an extension … something that’s more and more rare in today’s Baseball climate.

Thanks to that same trend against aging pitchers, a slew of former leaders of Opening Day starts may be permanently retired out of the game.  Guys like Jered WeaverTim Lincecum, Edison Volquez, Yovanni Gallardo (who was just DFA’d), Ricky NolascoJake Peavy and perhaps a few others, all of whom have at least 4-5 opening day starts to their name are struggling to find work right now or may be done.   Its turning into a young man’s game.

11 Responses to 'Opening Day Starter Useless Trivia for 2018'

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  1. Nats suck. They really suck right now. They started 4-0 but then have gone only 2-7 since, and those two wins took gems by Max and Stras. Good thing they’ve got a veteran manager to keep a steady hand over these choppy seas. Oh, wait, . . .

    I’m not predicting doom and gloom. But I do point to Boz’s comments from a few weeks ago where he said Davey ran the most laid-back spring camp he had ever seen. Well, the season has started, there are bone-headed mistakes every night, and the vet who got the free pass for the spring is hitting a sparkling .103/.186/.231. Even worse, Davey’s insistence on keeping Zim in clean-up is already starting to screw up Bryce. Admittedly, Zim has had awful BABIP luck (.111), but then so has Harper (.214). MAT and Turner look like worst-case-scenarios of themselves thus far. We feel like Rendon has been hitting decently, but his wRC+ is only at 100 (compared to 142 for 2017).

    So . . . not panicking yet, but they’ve got three more with the ROX, then a brutal road trip to NYM, LAD, and SF, then back home with AZ. If they play .333 ball on that stretch, they really could be in a messy spot by the end of April.

    Not panicked, moving a little toward concerned, but mostly just pissed at how lethargic they look.


    13 Apr 18 at 4:59 pm

  2. And yes, they’ll look somewhat different when they get Eaton and Murphy back . . . and have Adams and Mark Reynolds platooning at 1B.


    13 Apr 18 at 5:00 pm

  3. Although it’s hard to argue that Murphy would be doing that much more at the plate than Kendrick is. If he keeps this going, he’s going to be playing, somewhere.


    13 Apr 18 at 5:02 pm

  4. There has definitely been an adjustment to preseason expectations. Nats are playing poorly and Mets are en fuego, and those games already played are part of the permanent record, can’t undo it.

    That being said, screw it. Let’s see what happens. The Nats have cakewalked to three titles and the season has actually been a little boring, and we know how they ended. Let’s see if they can scratch and claw their way back into it, and where that might lead.

    Of all the guys who are struggling, turner is the most concerning. He still doesn’t have enough of a track record to feel confident what kind of offensive player he is. I’m encouraged by the increased walks but maybe that’s kind of messing up his mindset about when to be aggressive. I think he’s a smart, talented kid and will figure it out, but it isn’t certain.


    13 Apr 18 at 8:28 pm

  5. The Nat offense wasted another good pitching performance on Friday, pushing the bad run to 2-8. The winning run got on base because of an error. Rendon now dinged as well. Even Harper is into trying-to-do-too-much mode and not looking good. Time to bring up Robles and shake things up! Oh wait . . .

    The Nats are already six out after April 13. At least the teams ahead of them aren’t as good as the teams ahead of the Dodgers, who are already -5.5.

    Max wins on Saturday. Stras gets rained out on Sunday so he’s available to face the Mets. Time for some luck to fall our way.


    14 Apr 18 at 8:54 am

  6. The other thing that appears obvious to me during this stretch: Nats really miss Murphy. His bat in the middle of everything just gives everyone a lift. He’s the opposite of Zim’s streakiness. He’s just consistently putting Good bat-to-ball swings out there, and it helps them capitalize on opportunities, which takes the pressure off everyone else.

    I say they resign him. Muddle through one more year at 2b, then slide him over to 1B when Zim is gone.


    14 Apr 18 at 4:42 pm

  7. I’ve had similar thoughts about Murph and 1B. He’s much more affordable offensive production to keep than Harper will be, and it would be devastating to lose both. Also, since Murph was QO’d by the Mets, the Nats won’t be able to QO him and would get nothing for losing him.

    It’s not just the bat, though. Murph was on the top step during the big rally on Saturday, front and center. He’s clearly one of the leaders now. So is Max, who is just amazing, retiring 20 in a row.

    It will be interesting to see if the rally and the squeeze become a turning point for the season. For now, I’m hoping for a rain-out on Sunday to get Stras to face the Mets and also eliminate the need to use Cole/Hellickson against them.


    14 Apr 18 at 10:49 pm

  8. Yeah, Max is incredible. And I think his presence has made Stras better too, just by providing that big brother protection.

    I’d really like to see Turner put it together and get hot. That could be a huge benefit for them while they deal with all these injuries.


    15 Apr 18 at 8:23 am

  9. What another ugly, infuriating loss on Sunday. It’s getting embarrassing. Let’s hope Davey has some better ideas than just turning up the tunes.

    It’s early . . . it’s early . . . it’s early. (Just trying to convince myself.) The Nats could lose all three in NY, be nine back in mid-April, and still have a reasonable chance to win the division. But I wouldn’t recommend it.

    Now we get the Hellickson experiment . . . I actually like the low-rick nature of it. Much better than giving Cobb a big contract and watching him get bombed.


    15 Apr 18 at 11:46 pm

  10. There have been a lot of injuries to the lineup. And two of the healthy guys (Zim and MAT) have been bad, and another one (Trea) has been below expectations. Would be a great time to play 9 games against the Marlins and Padres.

    But the sloppy play bothers me, and is potentially something the manager has to control. No excuse for so many base running mistakes on a veteran team.


    16 Apr 18 at 8:53 am

  11. Its early … but its also 10% of the season now passed. And they got swept at home by their biggest divisional rival and lost 3 of 4, again at home, to an inferior Colorado team.

    That being said … the whole NL is upside-down right now. Pittsburgh is outright tanking and they’re 11-4 while the Cubs are 7-7. The Dodgers are 5-9 and in last place. So it isn’t just us.

    Todd Boss

    16 Apr 18 at 9:51 am

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