Indians TV ratings surge, Rays ratings plunge and lots of people watch Yankees games

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Sports Business Journal has an analysis of this year’s TV rantings out. The Cardinals are on top in terms of ratings, the Yankees — not surprisingly — lead in total viewers. The Indians have had the biggest rating increase, with an 80 percent jump over viewership last year. The Rays have seen the biggest drop, with a 37 percent falloff.

I get what’s animating the Cardinals, Yankees and Indians’ numbers, but I’m not sure how one can explain the Rays’ drop.  They had healthy TV ratings before so I guess they had more room to drop, but I’m not sure what would inspire the drop. They’re still playing good baseball. Lots of exciting young talent. Were people really just tuning in to look at Carl Crawford’s neck tattoo?

And because you were curious, I’m sure, both the Mets and the Dodgers have suffered precipitous declines in local television rankings. The Mets’ local ratings are down 29 percent from midseason last year; the Dodgers’ ratings are down 27 percent. The Dodgers’ drop makes more sense. The Mets have been pretty solid on the field, so maybe the bad feelings from the business side of thing just linger. I have no idea.

Overall, 16 teams’ ratings have dropped, 13 have increased and one has remained flat. Not sure which one that is, because SBJ doesn’t produce the whole list. I’m going to guess that it was the Seattle Pilots, whose rating have stayed more or less the same since 1969. Remarkable consistency there.

Jon Gray will start Opening Day for the Rockies

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Manager Bud Black has tabbed Jon Gray to start on Opening Day for the Rockies. That will be Monday, April 3 in Milwaukee against the Brewers in an afternoon contest.

Gray, 25, is starting Opening Day for the first time in his career. He’ll be the sixth different Rockies pitcher to start Opening Day in as many years.

The Rockies and Gray had a bit of a scare on Friday as he left his spring training start with discomfort in his left foot, but everything came up clean in an MRI. He pitched again on Wednesday with no issue.

Last season, Gray went 10-10 with a 4.61 ERA and a 185/59 K/BB ratio in 168 innings. A consensus top prospect entering each of the previous three seasons, Gray surprisingly put up better numbers at Coors Field — the most hitter-friendly park in baseball — than away.

Blake Treinen named Nationals closer

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Today Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker named Blake Treinen as his closer. Treinen has saved exactly one big league game.

There wasn’t necessarily an obvious choice, however. Last year Washington had Mark Melancon, but with him gone and GM Mike Rizzo’s failure to land a high-profile closer in the offseason, it became a contest between Treinen Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover.

Treinen posted a 2.28 ERA with 31 walks and 63 Ks in 67 innings in 2016. His big improvement last year came against lefties, who had tattooed him in the past. He pitched well this spring as well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

The Nats are our favorites to win the NL East, but we do have some questions about the pen. Blake Treinen will take the first crack at answering them.