As the MLB season has now begun, we will examine some teams going in the right direction. And some other teams that didn’t fare so well this Opening Day weekend. So for this piece, we will look at three MLB teams going “Up” and three teams going “down.” Three up and three down will be coming out each Monday of the regular MLB season.
1 Up: Baltimore Orioles
We begin our list of the 2021 Ups & Downs with the Baltimore Orioles. Coming out of the first series of the year, the O’s have had an impressive start. Through the first three games, Baltimore has put up 18 runs while surrendering only 5 runs. Now, Baltimore is unlikely to maintain this pace all season long. But this is a nice start to highlight after Opening Weekend in Major League Baseball.
1 Down: Boston Red Sox
Since we highlighted Baltimore, now we must discuss their Opening Weekend opponents, the Boston Red Sox. Boston would drop the opening series to the Orioles. And as previously stated, they would only score five runs across the three-game set. Boston is a team searching for its identity, and after the opening series, they don’t seem any closer to discovering it. The Red Sox have a good offense. Players like JD Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, and Rafael Devers are better than the 7-30 (.233) they hit during this series. But the pitching staff for the Red Sox must improve for them to compete in 2021.
2 Up: Houston Astros
The Houston Astros would complete a four-game sweep in which they would score no less than eight runs a game for a total of 35 runs. Baseball fans and pundits want to overlook the Astros because of their sign-stealing scandal and discount their natural abilities; this is a mistake. Yes, the egregious nature of their sign-stealing will have counted for some added production. However, players like Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman were already highly touted prospects, and they possess those natural skills. So it should be a surprise to see the Astros dominating. And while averaging 8.75 runs per game for the entire 162 game season is highly unlikely, the Astros are still gonna be a great offensive team without cheating.
2 Down: Oakland Athletics
We must now look at the Astros opponents that dropped the first four games of the season, the Oakland Athletics. Oakland has seemingly always found itself in the position of underdogs. And they are always constantly turning over their roster. With this level of instability, it’s a wonder how the A’s have managed to stay in or near the postseason picture the last several years. Now, it’s far too early to tell, but the A’s seem to be much like the Red Sox, a team without an identity. How Oakland bounces back after this Opening Weekend series loss could determine a lot about this team’s resilience. But don’t fret A’s fan; there’s still a long way to go before the season ends.
3 Up: Philadelphia Phillies
Another team that played an impressive brand of sweeping baseball was the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies played very well, coming up with timely hits and great pitching performances. Two of the three games were decided by one run, potentially signaling that the bullpen aliments of 2020 could be behind them. If that is the case, Philadelphia could find themselves climbing even higher in the National League East division’s depth chart.
3 Down: Atlanta Braves
And we continue the trend by looking at the team that was swept in the Atlanta Braves. Atlanta is a strong ball club; very few would argue against that point. And even after dropping the first three games of the season, Atlanta still will be a strong club. This Opening Weekend loss shows how strong and tightly contested the NL East will be in 2021. Having an entire division genuinely battling for the top spot is great for MLB. And Atlanta will likely bounce back very quickly, so again it’s too early to fret about an Opening Weekend loss.
Be On the Lookout (BOLO): Los Angeles Angels
The hype train has now pulled into Anaheim. The Los Angeles Angels are a team that people are beginning to believe in for the 2021 campaign. And there’s a lot to be excited about with this ball club. The Angels would take three out of four against the Chicago White Sox on Opening Weekend and played well. For the Angels to be successful, it means returning to the postseason for the first time since 2014. Getting the best player in the game, Mke Trout, back to the postseason is the Angels’ goal. And this Opening Weekend series made fans excited about the chances of that very goal happening.