Winners and losers of MLB’s opening weekend: Alex Bregman, Mets off to hot starts; Brewers, D-Backs struggle

The first weekend of Major League Baseball’s 2022 season is in the books. While best practices suggest the smart way to approach the game is with patience and discipline, we here like to lean into the entertainment aspect now and then. 

Consider, for example, this annual piece, in which we name winners and losers from the season’s first weekend. Will anyone remember who started hot (or cold) in a few weeks, let alone in October? Probably not. It’s this or worrying about all the world’s existential threats, though, and we know which way we’d rather pass time.

Now, let’s get toit.

Winner: New-look Mets

Sure, the Mets played the Nationals, but you can only play the schedule you’re given. The important thing is the Mets took care of business against a weaker foe, winning the first three games of a four-game set before the bullpen cost them Sunday’s affair. Offseason additions paved the way: Starling Marte, Mark Canha and Eduardo Escobar combined for 13 hits while Max Scherzer and Chris Bassitt struck out 14 batters versus six hits and two walks in 12 innings of work. The Mets will see the Phillies next in what should be a more competitive and entertaining series between National League East foes.

Milwaukee remains the overwhelming favorite in the NL Central. That doesn’t mean this weekend’s series versus the Cubs was easy to stomach for Brewers fans, who had to watch their club lose a one-run game on Opening Day then get blown out on Saturday. Thankfully, the Brew Crew edged the Cubs for their first win on Sunday. The immediate road will get easier for the Brewers, who will conclude a brief road trip with three games in Baltimore against the Orioles.

The Yankees schedule had them opening with seven consecutive games at home against the Red Sox and Blue Jays, two of the three other AL East teams with playoff aspirations. We’ll see how the rest of the homestand goes, but it’s fair to say that exiting the first weekend with a winning record — thanks to winning their first two games over the rival BoSox — is a welcomed development. 

We have a simple rule of thumb: if it’s notable when you haven’t been no-hit through five innings, then you deserve a spot here as a loser. It’s going to be a long year for the Diamondbacks and their fans if the first weekend was any indication (Arizona was no-hit in the first six innings of both of its first two games vs. San Diego). We just hope the D-Backs can continue to avoid the indignity of being no-hit for the rest of the season. 

Remember how Bregman had a horrible World Series last fall? He’s doing his best to distance himself from those memories. He opened the year with four hits in his first nine trips to the plate, including two that went for home runs. Bregman had homered just 18 times in his previous 580 plate appearances, so it would be a sight for sore Astros eyes if this weekend’s power surge was a sign of things to come.

Mullins is coming off an electric season that saw him hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases. He finished ninth in AL Most Valuable Player Award balloting, a feat considering how many voters still hold team performance against the individual. (The Orioles, if you didn’t know, have been bad for years.) Mullins looked like a star on the rise last season, and we’re hopeful he continues his ascent this year. Alas, he had a rough few games against the Tampa Bay Rays. Mullins entered Sunday with the second-lowest contact rate in the majors, and he added two more strikeouts to his total, giving him seven in 11 at-bats. Ouch. Better days await Mullins (and hopefully us all, for that matter).

Winner: Carlos Rodón

It’s only one start, and his team lost the game, but you have to feel happy for Rodón. Prior to last season, he was down on his luck after being non-tendered by the White Sox. Even so, he refused to consider offers that would have relegated him to the bullpen, according to what sources have told CBS Sports. 

Rodón was betting on his ability to remain a starter; that bet paid off in 2021, and then again when he signed a two-year pact with the Giants worth $44 million. In his debut, he struck out 12 batters and generated a majors-leading 24 swinging strikes across five innings of one-run ball. That’ll work.

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