Neither the Mets nor the Marlins are expected to challenge for much more than fourth place this season, a state of affairs that has led to two different reactions about how to approach the year.
The Mets have kept Zack Wheeler in Triple-A to both gain a little polish and stall the clock on his big league service time so that the Mets can pay him as little as possible for as long as possible once he does arrive in the show. The Marlins, on the other hand, started 20-year-old Jose Fernandez at Citi Field on Sunday in his first game ever above Single-A.
It's a strange move for a team that despises spending money to put talent on the floor any longer than it takes to scam a city out of money for a stadium, but Fernandez proved he belonged with eight strikeouts in five innings of one-run ball. There's something to be said for letting your best players play and figuring out the rest down the road, something the Mets surely would have heard had they not come back to win on Sunday.
Aaron Laffey pitched like the journeymen filler that he is and a loss certainly would have led some to wonder how the Mets can sit back and pinch pennies with Wheeler when even the Marlins are willing to let their young guns hit the mound. Marlon Byrd drove home two runs in the ninth, though, and the Mets won 4-3 for a second straight comeback win and a second straight series win to start the season.
That's a pretty good way to start a season that plenty of people thought would be ugly outside of seeing Wheeler make his way to the majors. Here's the rest of the good, bad and ugly from the baseball weekend.
GOOD: CC Sabathia did not pitch well on Opening Day, which just about guarantees a loss in this Yankees season of limited offense. Sabathia's stuff didn't look dominant on Sunday against the Tigers, but it's pretty hard to nitpick seven shutout innings that avoided a sweep.
BAD: It probably goes without saying, but it's a bad idea to have your starting shortstop make an error every single day of the season. Ruben Tejada hasn't quite done that, but four errors in six games is a bad pace when the margin for error figures to be slim in Queens all year long.
UGLY: When discussing Sabathia, we mentioned that the Yankees aren't going to win games when they don't get good starts. That makes the performances of both Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes very problematic since neither pitched well at all in their first appearances of the season.
GOOD: The Tigers were the AL champs last year and they look like a team primed for another run this year. Whether or not the Yankees are one of the foes they'll have to slay come playoff time is a bigger issue in these parts, but the Tigers look as good as advertised.
BAD: Robinson Cano's contract is going to be an issue all season, so it won't be surprising to see some start wondering if the uncertainty about his deal is to blame for his slow start to the season. Six games isn't much, unless you're the best player on a Yankee team that's lost four of them.
UGLY: He's not technically part of our baseball world any longer, but R.A. Dickey still has a place in hearts and minds. Those hearts and minds were likely wounded to learn that he was pounded for eight runs by the Red Sox on Sunday, dropping Dickey to 0-2 and the hyped Blue Jays to 2-4 overall.
GOOD: The Mets bullpen is stitched together with Scotch tape and hopefulness, but they turned in 7.2 innings while allowing just one run on Saturday and Sunday. That opened the door for comeback wins on both days and avoided the psychic damage inflicted by blowing winnable games because you weren't able to assemble a competent relief corps.