Nationals Arm Race

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

Opening Day Starter Trivia 2019


Verlander makes his 11th career opening day start, tying him for the active lead. Photo via sporting News.

Verlander makes his 11th career opening day start, tying him for the active lead. Photo via sporting News.

Every year I update this long-running XLS for this increasingly anachronistic relic of tracking Opening Day Starter honors for teams.  But it does make for some good trivia questions.

After this year’s opening day (including the two-day series in Japan), here’s some interesting stats related to Opening Day Starts from around the league:

  • Most Opening Day Starts, Active Leaders:
    • Justin Verlander makes his 11th and he seems well suited to increase that total given current form and new contract.
    • 11 ties him with both CC Sabathia and Felix Hernandez for the most active, neither of whom seem like they’ll get another shot to extend their totals.
    • Next closest are three tied with 8 each: Jon LesterClayton Kershaw and James Shields.  Lester’s is active, Kershaw’s should continue, while Shields remains unsigned for 2019 and seems unlikely to get another shot.
  • Current Leading Consecutive streak:
    • Julio Teheran with 6, which is pretty amazing because there was talk of him not even making the team with all the pitching depth Atlanta has.
    • Next closest is Corey Kluber with 5.
    • Nobody else really is close.  Lester has 3 straight for the Cubs, to add to his total of 8 between Boston and Chicago.
  • Consecutive streaks ended in 2019:
    • Felix Hernandez has his streak of 10 starts broken, and he wasn’t happy about it.
    • Kershaw had his streak of 8 broken thanks to the spring training injury.
    • Chris Archer has his streak of 4 broken thanks to a mid-season 2018 trade.
  • Number of first-time Opening Day Starters in 2019: 14.
    • deGrom, Castillo, Taillon, Mikolas, Freeland, Ryu, Lauer, Snell, Rodon, Keller, Berrios, Fiers, Gonzales, Minor
    • I’d say half of these are rewards for excellent 2018 seasons (deGrom, Taillon, Mikolas, Freelan, Snell for sure, perhaps also Berrios), some are covering for obvious candidates who are injured (Ryu), while the rest mostly play for tanking teams who have little better choice than to name a starter for opening day (Castillo, Lauer, Rodon, Keller, Fiers, Gonzales and Minor).
    • This is the highest number of first-time opening day starters in my decade of tracking this.

Historically, here’s the all-time record holders:

  • Most Ever Opening day Starts: Tom Seaver with 16.  Tied for 2nd place with 14 is Jack Morris, Randy Johnson and Steve Carlton
  • Most Consecutive Opening Day Starts: Jack Morris, all of whom’s 14 opening day starts were in a row.

Hope you enjoy this useless trivia!



22 Responses to 'Opening Day Starter Trivia 2019'

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  1. Those who don’t believe that the Braves have serious pitching problems need look no further than their Opening Day starter. Teheran should be a #4-5 in most rotations.


    29 Mar 19 at 11:35 am

  2. Teheran is now the active leader in consecutive Opening Day Starts.

    Todd Boss

    29 Mar 19 at 6:24 pm

  3. Saturday bullpen meltdown: yikes. Luckily, I was busy and didn’t see it. Not off to a great start, to say the least.


    30 Mar 19 at 10:29 pm

  4. Three games into the season and all 7 members of the Nats pen have already had at least one bad outing, highlighted by Trevor “To Infinity and Beyond” Rosenthal. My guess is they give it one more series, and if the pen melts down like this again against the Philthadelphia Harpers, they’ll have to sign Kimbrel.

    Karl Kolchak

    1 Apr 19 at 1:00 am

  5. Kimbrel would be a massive commitment, but yeah, I don’t think I can go through another year of so many bullpen implosions. All of us noticed it, although I doubted anyone thought Rosey would be this bad. They need 1-2 high leverage arms, and since they didn’t sign enough, i’d Say Garcia is going to be the price. It’s just a matter of when

    I’m prepared to live with the Robles. His talent is undeniable and this is the only way he’s going to learn


    1 Apr 19 at 7:49 am

  6. Don’t think they are in position to consider Garcia trade with Rendon extension very much in doubt. He’s probably demanding way more than they’re comfortable with.

    How did Williams not make the roster? Thought the best 25 were going North…

    Justin Miller looks pretty good though.


    1 Apr 19 at 2:08 pm

  7. They may not have a choice. Plus, Kieboom can slide to 3rd, and they fill 2B on the market. A bunch of those guys went pretty cheaply this offseason.

    If they could get Will Smith and Tony Watson for a package built around Garcia plus some others? They’d have to think hard about that.


    1 Apr 19 at 3:27 pm

  8. Agree that they’re not trading Garcia. They have a recent history of clinging tightly to the top prospects, at least among the everyday players.

    Boz says that multiple people within the organization, including players, have been pushing the Lerners about Kimbrel for at least three weeks. On the other side of that equation, though, he isn’t sure whether Kimbrel’s price has come down to his actual market value in the current market, which he sees as similar to the Melancon deal with the Giants.

    Not panicking. Our starting pitching is our bread and butter, and it’s fine. The team with the real pitching worries is the Braves. I’m still not convinced by the Phillie pitching, either, particularly the starters, although they had to be encouraged by what Arrieta did yesterday.

    As for the Nat bullpen, on both Thursday and Sunday, the “bad” innings basically turned on nubbers. You can live with that. That’s a lot better than giving up those runs on balls hit 450 feet. (Speaking of which — Trea goes 440 feet into a stiff breeze? Wow. Maybe the Kevin Long teaching is starting to sink in with him.)


    1 Apr 19 at 4:01 pm

  9. Yes, we can be thankful the Braves are owned by a faceless corporation that didn’t want to spend money this off-season.
    The Phillies have a great #1 starter and a bunch of #4 and #5’s. Not impressed.

    You have to think that Rosenthal will remember how to pitch at some point. Waiting on Austen Williams.

    Mark L

    1 Apr 19 at 5:03 pm

  10. The madness is upon us. Honestly, I’m not even sure I want to watch. MASN apparently isn’t sure we want to watch, either, as they’ve got the game on MASN2!!! Yes, possibly the highest-rated MASN telecast ever, certain to be in the all-time top 10, and they’ve put it on the backup station. Amazing. Of course the O’s do have the better record . . .

    These are the games you really need to win, with Max facing Eflin. If you bet big on starting pitching, you can’t waste favorable starter matchups.


    2 Apr 19 at 8:50 am

  11. Amazing detail from Harper’s interview with Svrluga today. The Nats 2nd offer was for LESS money than the first, with deferrals going out 50 frigging years and taking the NPV down to a shade over $100M. And they handed him their initial offer in the middle of a frigging game! I’m sorry, but any narrative about how Harper has any culpability in this negotiation is BS in my mind.

    Any Nats fan who has the audacity to Boo Harper for leaving town should look no further than booing the owners box for their opportunistic handling of the contract offer.

    Todd Boss

    2 Apr 19 at 1:51 pm

  12. I won’t be there so won’t be booing, but Nat fans can still very much be upset by Bryce’s ungrateful remarks since signing with, um, the Nats’ most disliked enemy. Is he doing that because he’s pissed at how things played out? Or is it just Bryce being Bryce?

    I always thought Harper was going to leave. I think many/most in the Nat front office thought the same. Why did they go through the motions of making an offer they knew wouldn’t be good enough, particularly the second one? Were they trying to save face with the fan base? Of course the flipside is that Bryce/Boras never countered on the initial offer. If the Nats would have been willing to go 11/330 with nothing deferred, they would have had their “record.” I sort of understand the Nat position by the time of the second offer, because they had already added considerable payroll by that time . . . but if you’re not going to make a serious offer, you’re going to look bad putting something like this on the table.

    Let’s just move on. No need to keep he-said/he-said going. He was all drama while he was here, and the drama seems to have continued after he’s gone.


    2 Apr 19 at 3:43 pm

  13. Well–the game is over and Harper showed yet again what a classless piece of garbage he is. Bat flip was bad enough–doing it to a former teammate just makes it worse. The only thing I fault the Nats for was making him an offer in the first place. It was actually a typical Harper big game–strike out against the starter and get your home run against the mop up guy after the game is no longer in doubt. Sooner or later, the Philthies are going to rue that contract.

    As for the rest of the team–how much more of the Lerners’ money can Rizzo flush down the toilet before he finally gets his overdue heave ho? I read recently that Scherzer and Strasburg are the two highest paid players in MLB for 2019. Collectively, the rotation is earning around $100 million this year. That’s why they are hanging on to their position player prospects like they are gold and spending peanuts on the pen. But it should be obvious to anyone who’s a fan, let alone a GM, that you won’t win anything in this league if your team has no depth.

    Karl Kolchak

    3 Apr 19 at 12:49 am

  14. I sure hope Carter Kieboom and Austen Williams (for Suero’s spot) are already on a red-eye flight. This is no time to mess around with worrying about the service time clock, or with any idiotic ideas of starting Difo for an extended period.

    Max has given up three earned runs in two starts, yet the Nats have managed to lose both games.


    3 Apr 19 at 5:37 am

  15. Nats bringing up Sanchez instead of C. Kieboom. DUMB, DUMB, DUMB. Rizzo said they want to make sure Kieboom gets regular PT. Um, there’s regular PT available on Half Street. Kieboom is far better offensively right now than Difo and Sanchez. Starting Difo for two months just doubles down on the Turner disaster.

    Dozier actually played some SS when he came up. I wonder whether he could slide over to SS when Kendrick is ready for 2B. Rendon is also competent at SS. The original Davey used to play him there on occasion when he gave Desi a day off.

    Difo should never be starting for an MLB contender. He posted a wRC+ of 71 last season, OBP of .298, across a staggering 456 plate appearances. Sanchez’s numbers were 67 wRC+ and .288 OBP. You can’t play these guys.


    3 Apr 19 at 10:57 am

  16. Agree 100% with KW’s last post. This year’s NL Easr is very tough. It could be won by a single game. Having Wilmer Difo in the lineup every day instead of a competent major league hitter could literally be the difference between winning the division and not. If Trea was going to miss a week or two, then maybe you roll with Difo and Sanchez. But for an extended period, which a broken finger is likely to be, you simply have to go with the player that can hit, even if he makes a few errors at SS. I’m not sure I can identify another Rizzo decision that’s as clearly wrong as this one.


    3 Apr 19 at 1:10 pm

  17. Seeing the guy at the top of this post reminded me that Carter Kieboom went yard against this future Hall of Famer twice in the same game this spring . . . into the wind. In the immortal words of F.P., “He’s ready. Call him up.” And even if he’s not (quite) ready, he’s a heck of a lot better than Difo and Sanchez.

    Speculation seems to be that Trea may be out six to eight weeks. It’s incomprehensible to me that they’re going to start Difo for that long.


    3 Apr 19 at 1:27 pm

  18. I refuse to believe the team would seriously consider having Difo play everyday for 6-8 weeks when there is an obviously better alternative readily available. I hope this is some sort of misdirection and not abject stupidity


    3 Apr 19 at 1:44 pm

  19. Now Anibal Sanchez is hurt. And another baserunning blunder by Robles. At least they knocked around Nola.

    Dave Jaggler just said that Kendrick may be activated tomorrow. Not sure what that does for the SS situation unless they’d seriously consider playing Dozier at SS. He logged 83 games at SS when he came up in 2012 but hasn’t appeared as a SS since that time. Rendon had 27.2 innings at SS in 2013. Kendrick has never played SS in the majors or the minors, which is kinda weird for someone who has been a middle infielder in pro ball for 18 years.


    3 Apr 19 at 3:34 pm

  20. Whew. A win’s a win. The Phillie ace and closer melted down. Soto woke up. Doolittle leads the majors in wins. Rosey is still close to touching 100 . . . with his ERA as soon as he actually records an out. Sigh.


    3 Apr 19 at 8:10 pm

  21. OK, I’m feeling a little better after two straight wins and dominant turns by Stras and the bullpen. If we’ve got that Stras for the whole season, we’ll be OK. Soto is bouncing back, and Robles doesn’t seem intimidated by anyone.

    Team possibly is legit trouble: the Cubs, at 1-5. Darvish has gotten clobbered twice, and their bullpen has been even worse than ours.


    5 Apr 19 at 10:47 am

  22. I am going to give it 40 games, before drawing any conclusions. It’s just too early. I mean, there were multiple articles about how “Soto has to adjust or he’s in trouble” and two games later he’s hitting >.300 and >.900 OPS.

    As for early ‘let’s watch this’: the bullpen is a real worry, but we knew that already and this start just confirms that.

    Dozier was bad last year, in ST and now, so that’s a concern too.

    Robles is what we knew: highly talented, inexperienced and erratic. Buckle up.

    But yeah, I don’t love the Cubbies and haven’t for a while since it was clear Schwarber wasn’t an elite hitter, and Bryant fell off his first two years.


    5 Apr 19 at 12:25 pm

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