Another week of April baseball is in the books. While it’s still really early in the 2019 MLB season, it’s not too early to take a closer look at what the first 15 or so games have taught us. We’ll be taking a look at the most interesting takeaways every week this MLB season so check back every Sunday for the recap. Now, here’s what we learned from week three in MLB:

Rebuilding Mariners continue to surprise

The Seattle Mariners underwent a major overhaul this offseason after a 2018 season that saw them win 89 games, with general manager Jerry Dipoto wheeling and dealing core players like James Paxton, Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. The 2019 season was expected to be a season of transition after their hectic offseason. But, instead the team surprised everyone and got off to a blazing hot start. 

Let’s review what this team has done in the first three weeks of this season:

  • Had MLB‘s top record at 13-2 after a six-game win streak
  • Took 3 out of 4 games from the World Series champion Boston Red Sox
  • Set the MLB record for most consecutive games with a home run to start a season (17 games and counting heading into Sunday)

Dipoto’s goal for the aggressive rebuild was to put the team in a position for long-term success while also accelerating the typical rebuilding process at the same time. While the squad lost a huge chunk of key players, Mitch Haniger and Dee Gordon were still around. Paired with the newcomers and M’s prospects, the team’s rebuilt roster wasn’t in as bad as a position as most of MLB’s rebuilding teams. Entering Sunday, Seattle leads the league in runs (124), hits (174), home runs (38), RBI (122), batting average (.284, T-1 with Houston) and slugging percentage (.537). The group has certainly proved that they’re better than any other rebuilding team in the league right now, and while it’s still very early, they’re showing signs that they could potentially hang with the Oakland Athletics and Houston Astros in the American League West.

Chris Sale’s struggles should worry the Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox have had a disappointing start to the 2019 season, going 5-10 in their first 15 games. It’s a bit worrisome to see the reigning World Series champions so sluggish. And it certainly doesn’t help that left-hander Chris Sale — the team’s ace — looks nothing like himself so far this season. The season is young, but that doesn’t mean the team shouldn’t be worried by Sale’s bad starts. Sale, 30, just signed a long-term extension with Boston last month too. Sale’s issues vary; his fastball velocity is way down, his command is poor and his secondary pitches are inconsistent and ineffective. Sale has a 0-3 record with a 9.00 ERA and 1.538 WHIP through his three starts this season.

There’s a lot of time left for Sale to get back to himself, but it’s not good when your team’s ace admits that he’s never felt this lost on the mound before. If Sale’s starts stay this bad, his extension could be one of the worst deals Boston has made. The Red Sox manager Alex Cora and the rest of the coaching staff have quieted down the concerns, saying that he’s just a few tweaks away from being back to his usual self and they expect a turnaround soon. But in the meantime, it’s not like the rest of the pitching staff is doing much better. The Red Sox have the 26th-worst team ERA (6.27) and have allowed 28 home runs through 15 games. I’m not saying the Sox should sound the alarms, but it’s rough enough for them to be more concerned than the team’s putting on.

Anthony Rendon is proving he is part of Nationals core

Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon was left out of the extension frenzy that has happened in the last month, but his hot start to this season is showing Washington that he’s worth the money. Rendon, 28, is scheduled to hit free agency this offseason, and the last report of an extension update came about a month ago. He’s represented by Scott Boras, who said the recent long-term extensions are designed to ‘snuff out’ the market. 

Through 13 games, Rendon is slashing .412/.466/.922 with eight doubles, six home runs and 16 RBI. Through Sunday, his 1.387 OPS is the third-best in the league, behind Mike Trout and Cody Bellinger. On Saturday, Rendon broke Ryan Zimmerman’s Nationals record for most consecutive games (10 games) with an extra-base hit, with a double off Pittsburgh PiratesChris Archer in the fourth inning. The streak is also the longest streak in all of baseball since the start of the 2018 season. The MLB record is 14 straight games, achieved by Chipper Jones (June 26-July 16, 2006) and Paul Waner (June 3-19, 1927). Rendon also extended his hitting streak to 12 games, matching a career-high. A hot start during the final year of his contract with Washington should help his case when it comes to securing an extension with the team that drafted him almost a decade ago, in 2011.

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