MLB gears up for new season
The American League seems to be headed by two specific teams heading into the season, the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox added ace pitcher Chris Sale to an already lethal pitching staff. Elsewhere in the American League East, the Toronto Blue Jays will be relying on the pitching staff following the departure of Edwin Encarnacion and Kendrys Morales. The Baltimore Orioles seem to be on the opposite side of the Sox and Jays, as they will rely on their bats to attempt a playoff spot. The bottom of the division will be the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays.
The American League Central will be dominated by the Cleveland Indians again this year. The Indians added Encarnacion this offseason and welcomes back youngsters Michael Brantley and Carlos Carrasco who barely played last season due to injuries. The Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins are still rebuilding. Meaning do not expect to see them in playoff contention. The Kansas City Royals are expected to finish in the middle of the division. It will be interesting to see how they cope with the death of ace pitcher Yordano Ventura. Try not to be surprised if you see them start out hot and make a run for the playoffs this season. The final team in the division are the Detroit Tigers. It seems they may be the only ones to challenge the Indians for the division title.
In the American League West, there seems to be a three-way battle unfolding between the Houston Astros, Texas Rangers, and Seattle Mariners. The Mariners led by ace Felix Hernandez and a core of young players around him. The Astros added a plethora of new talent to an already talented squad. So it will be fun to watch the older guys lead the younger ones into a playoff push. The Rangers are returning with a ton of talent from last year’s team, which won the division by 17.5 games. The Los Angeles Angels added a couple new guys to the team, but it does not feel that it will be enough to put them in the division title race. Finally, the Oakland A’s will most likely find themselves at the bottom but they added veteran players, which can be a game changer.
In the National League, the Cubs will most likely rise to the top and head back to defend their title. The Cubs lost Dexter Fowler but have a healthy Brett Anderson and a full season out of Kyle Schwarber. Look for the Cubs to win the division by at least 8 games. The two teams who look to challenge the Cubs are the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals. The Cards definitely were happy to snag Fowler away from the Cubs and will look to take them down. The Pirates were immensely disappointing last year, so let’s hope they figure it out this year and challenge for the division title. Cincinnati traded Brandon Phillips so it shows they are ready to start rebuilding. Finally, the Brewers will struggle just like last season, but they have a good minor league system that will support them.
The National League East will be dominated again by the Washington Nationals and New York Mets. The Nationals look to be the better team as they just recently signed catcher Matt Wieters from the Orioles. The Mets added some bid pieces from last year’s season and seem to be the only challengers for the Nationals. The Philadelphia Phillies went and acquired Clay Bucholz of the Red Sox. This move has people questioning if they are truly rebuilding. The Miami Marlins focused on acquiring a starting pitching. They managed to acquire Edison Volquez, however, the key to their success lies with Giancarlo Stanton and if he will remain healthy leading them to win. The final team in the NL East is the Atlanta Braves, who seemed to obtain small upgrades here and there, and seem to be in more of a rebuilding mode than the Phillies.
The final division is the NL West. After last year’s absolutely disappointing season, the Arizona Diamondbacks are looking to be in the middle of the division. The Colorado Rockies will look to be surprise contenders if the pitching staff can get it together, as the offense side for the Rockies has never been a problem. The two teams who look to be at the top of the division will be the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants. The Giants look to a healthier team to try and challenge the Dodgers as Hunter Pence only played in 106 games last year. The Giants also acquired relief pitcher Mark Melancon, who will look to round out the bullpen. The Dodgers are another team who need lots of healthy players to be one of the best in baseball. At the bottom of the division will be the San Diego Padres, who will probably be one of the worst teams in the MLB this season.
After all is said and done, I believe it will a rematch of last year’s World Series. The Cubs will ultimately prevail over the Indians again in what will be another crazy series.