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The 2018 MLB season may not even be a month old, but it’s never too early to start overanalyzing how teams have looked so far. That’s especially true this season, when many of the clubs slated to be favorites going into the year have stumbled a bit coming out of the gate. Most of these teams will probably be fine in the end — seriously, it is still very early to know anything about how the season will play out — but just the same, it’s worth checking on which aspects of their struggles should disappear in due time and which might be cause for real anxiety.Washington Nationals (10-12)What’s gone wrong: For a team supposedly built around pitching, Washington currently ranks fifth-to-last in the National League in adjusted ERA — though it hasn’t been the fault of the Max Scherzer-led starting rotation. No, the blame rests with a bullpen that collectively boasts a 5.78 ERA and has performed even worse in clutch situations. (Witness the Nats’ epic meltdown against the Mets last Wednesday.) Some bad early-season defense isn’t helping either, and despite Bryce Harper’s raw feats of power, the offense isn’t hitting enough to make up for the 4.6 runs Washington is allowing per game.Cause for concern? Maybe. The Nats’ bullpen and defense were nothing special last season, either — they ranked 19th and 17th, respectively, in wins above replacement.1Averaging together the versions of WAR found at Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs. Closer Sean Doolittle has been fine so far, however, and setup men Ryan Madson and Brandon Kintzler are not as bad as they’ve looked in the early going. This lineup should get on track, too, when Daniel Murphy and Adam Eaton return from injury — or when Michael Taylor and Ryan Zimmerman break out of their April slumps. (We’ve seen Zimmerman hit poorly before, but he rebounded last season and has been hitting the ball hard in 2018, despite his bad results so far.)New York Yankees (11-9)What’s gone wrong: For all their immense hype going into the season, the Yankees have been pretty “meh” starting out, scoring only 13 more runs than they’ve allowed (113 vs. 100). Prized new left fielder Giancarlo Stanton is striking out constantly, particularly in front of the home fans at Yankee Stadium, while the team’s pitching has been average at best. They’re wasting a great start to the season by shortstop Didi Gregorius; he’s looked like an MVP over the past three weeks, but the Yankees barely have a .500 record to show for it.Cause for concern? Probably not. Although Stanton is pressing at the plate like some batters have been known to do in the pressure-packed New York media market, swinging at more pitches overall and whiffing on fastballs over the plate especially, he’s simply too good a hitter to not adjust eventually. (The ball he smoked at home on Friday might be a sign of things to come.) Likewise, scuffling starters Masahiro Tanaka and Sonny Gray should be better than the 7.22 ERA they’ve combined for so far, and a bullpen that ranked second in MLB in WAR last year is due for an improvement. Regression to the mean can work both ways, of course — Gregorius probably hasn’t fully made the leap to MVP level, for instance — but the Yankees should also benefit from better luck going forward: According to BaseRuns, which smooths out differences in the timing of offensive and defensive events, New York has been baseball’s fifth-best team so far, despite its record.Los Angeles Dodgers (10-10)What’s gone wrong: For one thing, Los Angeles’s offense is down this year, dropping from second in the NL last year to sixth in 2018, according to adjusted on-base plus slugging percentage. The Dodgers miss the production of third baseman Justin Turner, who fractured his wrist in spring training and has missed the entire season, and many of their other top hitters (Chris Taylor, Corey Seager, Yasiel Puig, the now-injured Logan Forsythe, etc.) are off to subpar starts. But an even bigger problem has been L.A.’s bullpen, which ranks 22nd in WAR a year after finishing fifth. Closer Kenley Jansen, usually the best reliever on the planet, sports a 6.23 ERA, and he’s already blown twice as many saves this year as he did all of last season.2Granted, Jansen only blew one save last season. But it was in 42 chances! This year, he’s blown two in five tries.Cause for concern? Sort of. The Dodgers’ hitting issues should sort themselves out eventually — they’re still projected by FanGraphs to score the fourth-most runs per game in the NL over the entire season, and they ought to be even better than that once Turner comes back in May. The bullpen question may be longer-lasting, however, given Jansen’s struggles. Although he brushed off early concerns about his performance (and he recorded a pair of scoreless innings over the weekend), there were questions about Jansen’s velocity in the spring, which have only amplified a month into the season. According to BrooksBaseball.com, Jansen’s sinker is averaging only 93.6 mph this April, compared with 95.7 mph last April and 94.9 two Aprils ago. We know that unexplained changes in velocity may indicate the kind of injury or mechanical problem that leads to cold streaks or prolonged absences, and we also know how important Jansen was to the Dodgers’ bullpen last year (he accounted for 48 percent of their relief WAR by himself). If Jansen suffers a down season, it would seriously affect L.A.’s chances of returning to the World Series.Chicago Cubs (10-9)What’s gone wrong: The Cubs are scoring plenty and they’ve already enjoyed a few memorable moments in 2018 so far, including this ridiculous eighth-inning comeback against the Braves the Saturday before last. But their starting pitching and defense — i.e., the twin cornerstones of Chicago’s 2016 World Series run — have been surprisingly mediocre thus far. Although veteran lefty Jon Lester has basically been his usual solid self, none of the other rotation members have lived up to their previous track records, from club mainstay Kyle Hendricks to newcomers Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood and second-year Cub Jose Quintana. And if Cub pitchers used to generate easily fieldable balls in play, that’s no longer the case: The team is below average in defensive efficiency and ordinary in various other fielding metrics. (When even Jason Heyward is showing up as a negative in the field, your defense has problems.)Cause for concern? Defensively, not really. Heyward may have lost a step in the field — which is worth keeping an eye on — but Chicago started slow on defense last season, too. They eventually managed to finish near the top of the advanced-metric leaderboards when all was said and done. But there might be real cause for concern in the subpar performance of the Cubs’ rotation, even after taking defense out of the equation. Chicago’s starters rank seventh-worst in fielding-independent pitching so far this season, continuing a three-year slide from fourth-best in 2016 to 10th-best last year, and now 24th-best in 2018. The optimist’s case is that this group is too talented to keep pitching so poorly — and walking so many batters, specifically — but the Cubs will have a hard time fending off the Cardinals and Brewers in the NL Central (much less reclaiming their superteam status) if they don’t start getting a lot more out of their rotation soon.
Read Google Home Hub review Share your voice 0 Sarah Tew/CNET Chris Monroe/CNET Mentioned Above Apple iPhone XS (64GB, space gray) Read the AirPods review $90 at Daily Steals via Google Express An Echo Dot makes a fine match for any Fire edition TV, because you can use the latter to say things like, “Alexa, turn on the TV.” Right now, the 24-inch Insignia Fire TV Edition starts at just $100, while the 32-inch Toshiba Fire TV Editions is on sale for $130. Just add any Fire TV Edition to your cart, then add a third-gen Echo Dot, and presto: The latter is free. $520 at HP Google,I’m shocked — shocked! — to learn that stores are turning Labor Day into an excuse to sell stuff. Wait — no, I’m not. As much as I respect the original intent of the holiday (which became official back in 1894), to most of us, it’s just a bonus day off — one that’s blissfully tacked onto a weekend. So, yeah, stores; go ahead, run your sales. I’m listening. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Labor Day doesn’t bring out bargains to compete with the likes of Black Friday (which will be here before you know it), but there are definitely some sales worth your time.For example:We’ve rounded up the best Labor Day mattress deals.We’ve also gathered the best Labor Day laptop deals at Best Buy.The 2019 Vizio P Series Quantum is back under $999.Be sure to check out Amazon’s roughly three dozen Labor Day deals on TVs and audio. Google Express is having a big sale as well, one that includes deals on game consoles, AirPods, iPhones, laptops and more.Below I’ve rounded up a handful of individual items I consider to be the cream of the crop, followed by a handy reference guide to other Labor Day sales. Keep in mind, of course, that products may sell out at any time, even if the sale itself is still running. Note that CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page. Other Labor Day sales you should check out Best Buy: In addition to some pretty solid MacBook deals that have been running for about a week already, Best Buy is offering up to 40% off major appliances like washers, dryers and stoves. There are also gift cards available with the purchase of select appliances. See it at Best BuyDell: Through Aug. 28, Dell is offering an extra 12% off various laptops, desktops and electronics. And check back starting Aug. 29 for a big batch of Labor Day doorbusters. See it at DellGlassesUSA: Aug. 29 – Sept. 3 only, you can save 65% on all frames with promo code labor65. See it at GlassesUSALenovo: The tech company is offering a large assortment of deals and doorbusters through Labor Day, with the promise of up to 56% off certain items — including, at this writing, the IdeaPad 730S laptop for $700 (save $300).See it at LenovoLensabl: Want to keep the frames you already love and paid for? Lensabl lets you mail them in for new lenses, based on your prescription. From now through Sept. 2 only, you can save 20% on the blue light-blocking lens option with promo code BLOCKBLUE. See it at LensablSears: Between now and Sept. 7, you can save up to 40% on appliances (plus an additional 10% if you shop online), up to 60% on mattresses, up to 50% on Craftsman products and more. The store is also offering some fairly hefty cashback bonuses. See it at SearsNote: This post was published previously and is continuously updated with new information.CNET’s Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on tech products and much more. For the latest deals and updates, follow the Cheapskate on Facebook and Twitter. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page, and find more great buys on the CNET Deals page. CNET may get a commission from retail offers. Lenovo Smart Clock: $59.99 (save $20) See at Turo Recently updated to include digital-photo-frame capabilities, the Lenovo Smart Clock brings Google Assistant goodness to your nightstand. It’s a little smaller than the Amazon Echo Show 5, but also a full $30 less (and tied with Prime Day pricing) during this Best Buy Labor Day sale. The problem with most entry-level laptops: They come with mechanical hard drives. That makes for a mighty slow Windows experience. This Lenovo model features a 128GB solid-state drive, so it should be pretty quick to boot and load software, even with its basic processor. Plus, it has a DVD-burner! That’s not something you see in many modern laptops, especially at this price. Comments $155 at Google Express Getty Images Google on Tuesday said it’s established an external advisory council to guide its development of artificial intelligence. The Advanced Technology External Advisory Council (ATEAC) will advise the company on topics like facial recognition and fairness in machine learning. Last year in a blog post, Google CEO Sundar Pichai shared Google’s AI Principles, a series of ethical guidelines on the development and use of AI. The ATEAC is designed to “complement the internal governance structure and processes that help us implement the principles,” Kent Walker, Google’s senior vice president of global affairs, said in a post. He also discussed the council’s establishment at MIT Technology Review’s EmTech Digital conference in San Francisco.Members of the inaugural council include Alessandro Acquisti, a behavioral economist and privacy researcher; De Kai, a natural language processing researcher; and Dyan Gibbens, CEO of Trumbull, a startup that works in automation.Those members will serve on the council through 2019, and will hold four meetings beginning next month. Google plans to publish a report summarizing those conversations. “We hope this effort will inform both our own work and the broader technology sector,” Walker wrote. “In addition to consulting with the experts on ATEAC, we’ll continue to exchange ideas and gather feedback from partners and organizations around the world.” Though not technically a Labor Day sale, it’s happening during Labor Day sale season — and it’s too good not to share. Nationwide Distributors, via Google Express, has just about the best AirPods deal we’ve seen (when you apply promo code ZBEDWZ at checkout). This is for the second-gen AirPods with the wireless charging case. Can’t imagine these will last long at this price, so if you’re interested, act fast. Tags Rylo 5.8K 360 Video Camera: $250 (save $250) $261 at Daily Steals via Google Express Read DJI Osmo Action preview Read Lenovo Smart Clock review $210 at Best Buy Amazon JBL Soundgear wearable speaker: $90 (save $160) Post a comment Turo is kind of like Uber meets Airbnb: You borrow someone’s car, but you do all the driving. I’ve used it many times and found it a great alternative to traditional car-rental services — in part because you get to choose exactly the vehicle you want (not just, say, “midsize”) and in part because you can often do pickup and dropoff right outside baggage claim.Between now and Sept. 1, the first 300 people to check out can get $30 off any Turo rental with promo code LDW30. Apple iPhone XS HP Laptop 15t Value: $520 (save $780) $60 at Best Buy Sprint Apple AirPods with Wireless Charging Case: $155 (save $45) DJI Osmo Action camera: $261 (save $89) Angela Lang/CNET Tech Industry Boost Mobile Google Nest Hub: $59 (save $70) Best laptops for college students: We’ve got an affordable laptop for every student. Best live TV streaming services: Ditch your cable company but keep the live channels and DVR. Best Buy Share your voice 7 Lenovo 130-15AST 15.6-inch laptop: $210 (save $90) Sarah Tew/CNET TVs Speakers Mobile Accessories Cameras Laptops Automobiles Smart Speakers & Displays Turo: Save $30 on any car rental Review • iPhone XS review, updated: A few luxury upgrades over the XR Free Echo Dot with an Insignia or Toshiba TV (save $50) $299 at Amazon See at Amazon $59 at eBay The Cheapskate $999 $999 DJI’s answer to GoPro’s action cameras is rugged little model that’s shockproof, dustproof and waterproof down to 11 meters. It normally runs $350, but this deal drops it to $261 when you apply promo code 19LABOR10 at checkout. See It See It $999 See it Rylo Sarah Tew/CNET $6 at Tidal Read the Rylo camera preview What’s cooler: A snapshot of a firework exploding in front of you, or full 360-degree video of all the fireworks and all the reactions to seeing them? Oooh, ahhh, indeed. At $250, the compact Rylo dual-lens camera is selling for its lowest price yet. And for an extra $50, you can get the bundle that includes the waterproof housing.This deal runs through Sept. 3; it usually costs $500. Use promo code 19LABOR10 to get an unusually good deal on JBL’s interesting hybrid product — not quite headphones, and not quite a traditional speaker, but something you wear like neckphones to listen to music on the go. Sarah Tew/CNET Turo Preview • iPhone XS is the new $1,000 iPhone X Formerly known as the Google Home Hub, Google’s Nest Hub packs a wealth of Google Assistant goodness into a 7-inch screen. At $59, this is within a buck of the best price we’ve seen. It lists for $129 and sells elsewhere in the $89-to-$99 range.This is one item of many available as part of eBay’s Labor Day Sale (which, at this writing, doesn’t specifically mention Labor Day, but that’s how it was pitched to us). Tags I thought this might be a mistake, but, no, the weirdly named HP Laptop 15t Value is indeed quite the value at this price. Specs include an Intel Core i7 processor, 12GB of RAM, a 256GB solid-state drive and a 15.6-inch display. However, I strongly recommend paying an extra $50 to upgrade that display to FHD (1,920×1,080), because you’re not likely to be happy with the native 1,366×768 resolution. $999 Tidal 3-month family subscription: $5.99 (save $54) Spotify and most other streaming services rely on compressed audio, which robs the listener of full fidelity. Enter Tidal, the only “major” service that delivers lossless audio — meaning at least on par with CD quality, if not better. Want to see (er, hear) the difference for yourself? Grab this excellent extended trial while you can. It’s just $6 for three months, and it’s good for up to six listeners. See It
NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty ImagesThe State of the Nation March 2019 Wave 2 opinion poll conducted by CVoter for IANS shows the likely vote percentage for the two main poles of national politics, the NDA and UPA in this year’s general elections.A pre-poll alliance scenario for the BJP-led NDA formation would help it garner 42 per cent of the vote nationally, while for the Congress-led UPA alliance the vote percentage for the pre-poll allies would be 30.4 per cent.The CVoter State of the Nation March 2019 Wave 2 opinion poll released on March 24 is based on a sample survey of 10,280 this week and a cumulative base of 70,000 respondents since January 1 covering 543 Lok Sabha constituencies.The NDA is banking on the BJP’s narrative on nationalism to deliver the elections for it. While it has spoken of increasing employment opportunities under its watch, alleviation of farm distress and economic growth, nationalism has been its mainstay.The NDA has a distinct advantage over the rival formation in key states in the vote share projections. In Uttar Pradesh, where the Congress is not part of a mahagathbandhan, the NDA is likely to get 35.4 per cent of the vote.This is even though the NDA is expected to get far fewer seats compared to 2014 as indicated by the CVoter opinion poll. In Bihar, the NDA’s vote share is expected to be 52.6 per cent and in Rajasthan, the NDA is expected to get 50.7 per cent of the vote while in the BJP stronghold of Gujarat, the CVoter opinion poll suggests that the NDA will get 58.2 per cent of the vote share. SOTN March 2019 Wave II : Seat Share Projections. (IANS Infographics)In Maharashtra, the NDA is expected to have a vote share of 48.1 per cent while in BJP-ruled Haryana, the NDA could get 42.6 per cent of the vote according to the vote share projections.However, there are states where the two alliances are not as far apart on vote share and in some the NDA is actually behind, the CVoter opinion poll shows. Tamil Nadu is one of such states, Kerala is another. The two sides are neck and neck in Karnataka.Seat share projections for the NDA, based on pre-poll alliances, shows it will fall short of a House majority with 261 seats — an earlier CVoter opinion poll on March 10 had put this number at 264. The second survey shows that the BJP will get 241 seats on its own.However, the surge from post-poll alliances would push it well above the majority mark of 272.This is how the CVoter opinion poll says the numbers are likely to stack up for the NDA should the post-poll alliances click. The YSR Congress Party led by Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy is expected to win 10 Lok Sabha seats in Andhra Pradesh, the Mizo National Front is likely to get one seat, the Biju Janata Dal 10 seats and the Telangana Rashtra Samiti 16 seats — a total of 37 seats between them. Added to the pre-poll NDA alliance, the BJP-led alliance is expected to have an overall tally of 298 seats according to the CVoter opinion poll.In fact, the pre-poll alliance situation shows how the political parties concerned are adding to the BJP-led alliance’s numbers. The CVoter opinion poll highlights how in Bihar, the NDA is expected to win 36 seats with the help of allies Janata Dal (United) and Lok Janshakti Party who together are expected to win 20 seats to the BJP’s 16. STR/AFP/Getty ImagesThe BJP’s other pre-poll allies are: Maharashtra — Shiv Sena (14 seats); Assam — Bodoland Peoples’ Front (one seat); Punjab — Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), one seat; Tamil Nadu — AIADMK (7 seats): Uttar Pradesh — Apna Dal (Sonelal), one seat.Taken together, these pre-poll allies are expected to give a boost of 47 seats to the ruling alliance in the country.Uttar Pradesh, India’s politically most important state with 80 Lok Sabha seats, presents an interesting scenario. In the pre-poll alliance case, the NDA is expected to get 28 seats to the UPA’s four. It is a drastic markdown from the 73 Lok Sabha seats the NDA got in 2014 but it remains ahead of the rival alliance.However, should the Congress-led alliance forge a last-minute post-poll tie-up and become a part of the mahagathbandhan, this equation would change dramatically, giving the anti-NDA alliance 52 seats in all.What happens in Uttar Pradesh with the mahagathbandhan will also cast a shadow on vote share projections, the CVoter opinion poll shows.