Another MLB season kicks off in the USA tonight with ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball featuring the Dodgers and Padres. If that match up sounds boring to you, well then I am sure you are not the only one. However there will still be countless others to watch the rest of the season which is about 5-6 months long and there will surely be great match ups, surely Red Sox vs Yankees, Braves vs Nationals, Cardinals vs Reds battles come to mind in terms of good rivalry games to mark on the calender.
This season also marks the last season for the New York Yankees Hall of Fame shortstop Derek Jeter who is retiring at the end of the season, so you can expect a farewell tour similar to Mariano Rivera’s for DJ when the season hits cities that will see him for the final time, which will probably start early in the season with inter league play starting as soon as the season starts since there is always at least one inter league series going at one time.
But here is how I see the seeing breaking down.
RED INDICATES WILD CARD TEAMS
Chicago White Sox
New York Yankees
I think the Yankees will come back strong, they went out and spent money on some good talent. The biggest concern for the Yankees could be injury with McCann and Ellsbury having injuries in the past, it could be an interesting season for them. If their big name signings stay healthy the Yankees could be a strong contender to win a World Series. The rest of the AL East did not do enough to compete with the Yankess, and that is in part due to the fact that the Yankess and Red Sox are two power house teams on paper and on the budget sheets.
In the Central it is easy to say that the Tigers will be the best team, but the rest is complicated because for some reason I still believe Kansas City is good enough to be second in the AL Central if there young players lived up to their potential, but I had to put the Indians number two because they are so well coached and possibly a bit better than Kansas City right now.
Out West it seems to be Oakland lately and I don’t see any reason as to why that would change. As long as Oakland has good pitching (when don’t they?) they will be in contention. Another thing that the A’s have going for them is Pujols and Hamilton (more so Pujols) have yet to make that big of an impact on the end results. It isn’t fair to point out two high priced signings and not mention Seattle and Robinson Cano, that will be an interesting team to watch. Can Robby Cano be good enough to lift the Mariners to a playoff spot? I don’t believe so.
New York Mets
Out West the Dodgers look to be the cream of the crop, and it is about time because they’ve spent half of a billion, yes with a B, over the last couple of years on their roster so it is easy to see how they could be the expected leaders of the NL West. Arizona and San Francisco will most likely end up fighting for a playoff spot come late in the season, and with the addition of Mark Trumbo the D-Backs line up got even scarier. The biggest question for Arizona could be the pitching, in particular the bullpen.
In the Central the Cardinals look to be the clear division winners, however teams like Pittsburgh and Cincinnati will compete for second and third in the division. I think the Brewers and Cubs will be far out of the race by seasons end. Though the young players for the Cubs will be fun to watch I think.
Out East is another story because I think this race will go down to the wire between the Nats and Braves, I have the Braves winning the division but I can see the Nationals making a strong push for a division crown, mainly because of heart even though the Braves have the skill down pat.
MVP: Mike Trout
It will be hard to imagine the Angels having any success if Mike Trout fails to deliver another great year this season. If the Angels win the division or even make the playoffs it will most likely be because of Mike Trout’s outstanding talent. Probably the best player to play center field since a young Ken Griffey Jr back in his Seattle days.
Cy Young; Felix Hernandez
Felix is an amazing arm out there for the Mariners and while I see the Mariners struggling, I think they have a world class starting pitcher who doesn’t get enough help from the rest of the team. I have a hard time seeing the Mariners being that great even with the addition of Robinson Cano
MVP: Jason Heyward
At the end of the season the Braves will need Heyward to be a leader, and I think he will be what the Braves want. Heyward is a very talented player who I still think has a high ceiling to reach which is saying a lot considering his current skill set.
Cy Young: Jose Fernandez
I was going to go with Clayton Kershaw but with him stating the season on the DL, it will be hard for him to bounce back I think. Plus I really like this Fernandez kid, he appears to have excellent stuff, he could put up some sick numbers this season.
The Wild Card’s are set, the Pirates and Rays clinched their respective Wild Card seeds and will travel to St. Louis and Boston respectively. And it is actually fitting both teams made it, because both teams have heated rivalries with the division winners.
The full list of series’ below:
(WC) Tampa Bay Rays vs (#1) Boston Red Sox
Games 1 and 2: Friday October 4th; Saturday October 5th in Boston
Games 3 and 4: Monday October 7th; Tuesday October 8th in Tampa
Game 5: Thursday October 10th in Boston
Prediction: Red Sox in 5. It should be a great series since both teams play each other well typically. Add in a hate factor and it will be fun to watch.
What to look for: Tampa can easily win the series if their pitching does well against the Boston bats, but it won’t be easy since the Red Sox lead the league in scoring, and they outscored their opponents by 197 this year.
(#3) Detroit Tigers at (#2) Oakland Athletics
Games 1 and 2: Friday October 4th; Saturday October 5th in Oakland
Games 3 and 4: Monday October 7th; Tuesday October 8th in Detroit
Game 5: Thursday October 10th in Oakland
Prediction: Detroit in four, I don’t think Oakland has enough talent to hang with the Tigers over a best of five series.
What to look for: Like Tampa the key to the series is pitching, and taking advantage of Miguel Carbera’s late season injury. For the Tigers they also need to rely on pitching despite being the second best offense in baseball. Miguel Carbera’s injury could be affected in cold weather in Detroit.
Pittsburgh Pirates @ St. Louis Cardinals
Games 1 and 2: Thursday October 3rd and Friday October 4th in St. Louis
Games 3 and 4: Sunday October 6th and Monday October 7th in Pittsburgh
Game 5: Wednesday October 9th in St. Louis
Prediction: Cardinals in five, I think this will be a great series and I think it can go the Pirates’ way if they take one of the first two games in St. Louis.
What to look for: The key to the Pirates will be pitching. If the Pirates can get the pitching I think they have a good shot of winning the series, but if they struggle pitching in the series the Cardinals will sweep them.
(#3) Los Angeles Dodgers @ (#2) Atlanta Braves
Games 1 and 2: Thursday October 3rd and Friday October 4th in Atlanta
Games 3 and 4: Sunday October 6th and Monday October 7th in LA
Game 5: Wednesday October 9th in Atlanta
Prediction: Dodgers in four, I think they have a good run in them left despite a streak during the season that reached to a record of I believe it was 42-8 in a 50 game span.
What to look for: Can Puig be a difference maker. He is single-handedly the reason I took LA in the series, I think he will have a huge impact on the series, like what he did the lift the struggling Dodgers to a huge turn around in the second half of the season.
There will be 3 wild card games, starting tonight when the Tampa Bay Rays go to Texas to face the Rangers in a game to decide the second Wild Card team. The Winner of tonight’s game will go to Cleveland to play the Indians on Wednesday in a winner take all Wild Card game. Tonight’s starting pitchers will be David Price and Martin Perez both left handed pitchers.
The NL game will be Tuesday and it features the Cincinnati Reds going to Pittsburgh to face the Pirates. The starting pitchers are currently listed as Johnny Cueto and Francisco Liriano. The Pirates finished as the top wild card team in the NL and Cincinnati was the second wild card team which was actually determined by a series this weekend in Cincinnati.
The winners of these games will face the top teams in each league which were the Boston Red Sox in the AL and St. Louis Cardinals in the NL.
9/30: Tampa Bay @ Texas 8:07
10/1: Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh 8:07
10/2: TB/TEX @ Cleveland 8:07
Results will be posted as they happen.