It was an unpredictable opening week to the 2022 MLB season. Many aces struggled in their first starts (ahem, Gerrit Cole). Steven Kwan has suddenly become a household name. Some teams we expect to dominate are off to slow starts, while others that we expect to struggle are winning games against superior opponents.
It’s baseball at its glorious, frustrating finest, and the unpredictability translated to some big jumps in our power rankings. Our weekly update highlights the teams that have moved the most — up or down — from the previous edition of the Pitcher List power rankings. If you just want the full list, you can skip to the bottom. But you’re missing the good part if you do that.
Teams on the Rise
The Colorado Rockies
Rank Change: +5 (24th to 19th)
Opponents: Dodgers (three games), Rangers (two games), Cubs (one game)
Bryant is hitting .360/.393/.480 with three doubles in the Rockies’ first six games, and the team was able to win two of three from the Dodgers in Coors before winning two more against the Rangers in Arlington. What’s notable is Bryant isn’t having to do it all on his own offensively.
DH/OF Connor Joe is off to a .333/.448/.625 start with two home runs. Catcher Elías Díaz is hitting .333/.333/.571 with a HR and two doubles, and C.J. Cron has contributed two home runs and six RBI already. But they haven’t only been winning games with their bats.
The team’s pitching staff boasts a 3.00 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, good for seventh and 11th in the league, respectively. Those are impressive marks considering the potency of the lineups they faced. Germán Márquez was especially impressive in seven innings of three-hit ball against the Dodgers.
It’s a long season, but if the Rockies maintain this level of play, they’ll be much higher in the rankings before long.
The New York Mets
Rank Change: +3 (8th to 5th)
Opponents: Nationals (four games), Phillies (three games)
If you traveled back in time a few weeks to the moment it was announced that Jacob deGrom would miss the start of the season to injury and told a bunch of Mets fans, “Hey, it’s fine, you’ve got Tylor Megill,” you’d probably get punched in the face.
The reaction now, after his first two starts of 2022, would be very different. Megill was phenomenal against both Washington and Philadelphia, posting a 0.58 WHIP with 11 strikeouts and no earned runs in 10.1 innings across the two games.
In addition to Megill’s rise, the pre-season concerns about Max Scherzer’s health are fading after he contributed two strong starts in wins against both Philadelphia and Washington. As a whole, the Mets pitching staff holds the second-best ERA (2.51) and WHIP (1.14) in the league.
They’ve started the season strong at the plate offensively as well; they’ve scored the fifth-most runs and hold the sixth-highest team OPS. Pete Alonso is raking, Francisco Lindor continues to progress back towards his All-Star form, and newcomers Eduardo Escobar, Mark Canha, and Starling Marte are all contributing. As long as they stay healthy, the Mets will be contenders.
Teams in a Slide
The Atlanta Braves
Rank Change: -9 (4th to 13th)
Opponents: Reds (four games), Nationals (three games), Padres (one game)
If Atlanta is trying to emulate the trajectory it took in 2021 then they’re not doing badly, because they were 4-4 through their first eight games last season (they were 44-45 at the All-Star Break).
Max Fried, Ian Anderson, and Huascar Ynoa all struggled in their first starts. Charlie Morton had one good outing against Cincinnati but was shellacked by San Diego in his second. On the relief side, Kenley Jansen nearly blew a four-run lead in his Atlanta debut on April 8th and Luke Jackson is done for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
As a group, Atlanta’s pitching staff currently bears the third-worst ERA (5.58) and eighth-worst WHIP (1.38) in the league after playing two series against teams that are expected to finish at the bottom of the table in 2022.
Yet, there are bright spots. Kyle Wright was excellent over six innings on April 9th. Newcomer Matt Olson hit the ground running (.407/.543/.630 with a HR and three doubles), and Austin Riley, Marcell Ozuna, and Ozzie Albies are off to strong starts as well.
Despite the concerns, if Atlanta is in fact on the same trajectory as last year, their fans won’t have anything to complain about come October.
Rank Change: -4 (6th to 10th)
Opponents: Cubs (three games), Orioles (three games), Cardinals (one game)
The Brewers have had a hard time putting it all together so far in 2022. Corbin Burnes started the year with a five-inning, four-hit no-decision with three ERs against the Cubs on April 7th (including a home run conceded to Nico Hoerner, the first he’d hit in two years). It was a serviceable performance, but the Crew certainly hoped for better from last year’s NL Cy Young winner. Milwaukee ended up losing that game.
Brandon Woodruff only made it 3.2 innings in his first start on April 9th, giving up seven ERs in a loss. Freddy Peralta made it through four innings on April 10th but gave up a three-run homer to Seiya Suzuki. Adrian Houser, Aaron Ashby, Jandel Gustave, and Hoby Milner combined to limit the O’s to two runs on April 11th, but the Brewers’ lineup failed to produce a run in that contest.
The good news is they finished this week on a strong note. Corbin Burnes turned in a dominant seven-inning, three-hit performance with no runs allowed to finish out the Baltimore series (although the day was marred slightly by a shaky outing from the normally reliable Devin Williams), and Brandon Woodruff pitched through five innings of three-hit ball to earn the win in the team’s home opener.
Milwaukee’s offense will not generate enough runs for the team to be successful in shootouts, which makes the rocky performances from their starting pitchers especially concerning. Hopefully, they can maintain their momentum as they continue their series against St. Louis into the weekend.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)