Like the "Spring Training stats" are meaningless post, watching Werth and MAT flail the past three days reminded me of another annual post. The "what do early stats mean" post.
First, they don't mean nothing. As of Monday, these players are playing real games versus other players who are trying their best to get on base / get people out. There's no working on taking the ball the other way or getting a slider over the plate. We can't question the validity of what happens in the same way we can for Spring stats.
Yet, their importance can be easily exaggerated. Michael Taylor has gone 0-11. Jayson Werth has done the same. This happens during a season. Take Yunel Escobar. Perfectly good hitter last season. He went 0-12 over one stretch, and was 0 for his last 23. He had plenty of other stretches almost as bad. 1-15, 1-11, 1-13. And this was a guy who hit .314 last season. Two years ago Werth hit .292. He was the best hitter on the team and picked up some MVP votes. Yet he had stretches where he went 1-13, 1-11, 1-12, 0-11, 1-12, 1-11, and 1-11. Players have slumps. They go hitless for a few games. But because it is the only data we have now we tend to overemphasize what we see.
On the other hand, we can't simply say "It happens" and move on. It is the only data we have, so we do have to take that into account. MAT and Werth are hitting .000. There may be an issue here and it's worth, if not worry, then attention at least. Not deep focus on every pitch, but giving their at bats more than a casual glance. Is there something up here? Are they behind constantly? Fooled easily? Or is it bad luck? As just a fan watching can we pick up on something? Because if so - that's not a great sign.
Early stats must be looked at cautiously. They tend to make players look worse (or better - see Daniel Murphy) than they really are. Every player has bad series and even bad weeks. 99.9% of players will go 1-13 or worse at some point this season. For those with the bad luck of having these runs to start the season, like Werth and MAT, they will probably get more attention than is necessary. But a run to start the season isn't the same as a run mid-season. For the latter we have plenty of other evidence of how the guy is probably going to hit this year. For the former we don't. This is it. MAT and Werth aren't going to hit .000 for the year, but if you are worried they aren't going to do well, this is evidence in favor of that. It's not strong evidence. It's far far from decisive evidence. But it's evidence nonetheless and it's the only evidence we have from 2016.
(On the bright side we also have very weak evidence that Zimmerman is going to be fine, Murphy is going to be very good, and Bryce won't take a step back. If you prefer the positive spin)
I generally ignore the first start of a season for a pitcher. Weird weather, out of normal 5-day rhythm, pitching solely for "allowing for fewest runs in 6-7 inning" goal really for first time in 6+ months. It's not really fair. I go at least 3 before I make a judgment. Still not a great start for Roark, even before the rarely seen "go back in after rain delay" move. His next game will be against punchless Atlanta so we'd hope to see better results.
It's early and unfair but I didn't see anything in Belisle that makes me think Burnett or Gott would have been better choices for that spot.