The MLB season is finally set to start. Here are predictions for every division.
Elite pitching is going to be more important than elite hitting this year. I don’t know much about how this season is going to play out, but that’s one thing I feel relatively confident about. And there isn’t a team which exemplifies “elite pitching” this year like Tampa Bay. I’m picking them to knock off the Yankees on top of the division, very slightly. The Yankees will be fine; they’ll be a shoo-in for a Wild Card spot.
I just think the Rays are going to come out of the gate on fire behind their elite pitching rotation and bullpen, something the Yankees just frankly don’t have. I am a little bit worried about their lineup, and specifically the lack of power in it, but a 3-2 win is just as good as a 9-8 one.
As for Boston, they are going to be bad. Really bad. Remember what I said about pitching? Well, the Red Sox might very well have the worst pitching rotation in the league. Eduardo Rodriguez isn’t ready to go, and Nathan Eovaldi, who is starting opening day, wasn’t supposed to be a starting pitcher at all. Their lineup is going to will them to not being one of the worst teams in the league, but I don’t have expectations for this roster at all.
Toronto should be fun, but there’s a difference between fun and good. They aren’t going to win a lot of games, but it should be a lot of fun to watch the development of their young core, including hopefully Nate Pearson, right in front of our eyes. It’s also a massive disadvantage to be traveling all season, and it seems like that might happen. As for Baltimore, they are still Baltimore.
Red Sox: 26-34
Blue Jays: 24-36
I really think the Twins are going to run away with this division. Not only do they have the best lineup in the American League, but their starting rotation is really good as well. I do have some questions about their bullpen, specifically the back end of it, but it would require some massive regression for it to become a massive concern.
The Indians have a lot of good players, but I’m expecting massive regression from Shane Bieber, one guy who they really can’t afford regression from. Bieber was legitimately one of the worst pitchers in baseball last year at getting soft contact. If everything goes right for Cleveland, they have a chance, but I don’t see that happening.
As for the White Sox, I think they are one year away. They have a lineup core that is just as good as any in the Major Leagues, but their depth is very bad, their bullpen is a question mark, and their starting rotation, especially without Michael Kopech, might be the most volatile in baseball. Again, they are going to be crazy fun to watch, and will have moments where they look like one of the best teams in baseball. However, when push comes to shove, I don’t think they are quite contenders yet.
The Royals aren’t going to be contenders, but they are worth mentioning. Speed can steal you games in the Major Leagues, and the Royals have plenty of it. They have had a lot of COVID-19 cases though, which certainly complicates things.
White Sox: 33-27
I am so excited for this division. The Astros are still the cream of the crop, boasting not only an elite lineup but also possibly the best 1-2 punch in the American League at the top of their rotation. They should win the division. However, the race for the second Wild Card, which probably comes from this division, is going to be fun to watch.
The Angels have Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon hitting back to back now. Their rotation may be patchwork, but is their lineup going to be able to pry them to enough wins? Texas has probably the deepest starting rotation in baseball, which, as I mentioned earlier, is going to prove massive this year. That being said, their lineup and bullpen are very much subpar, which could prove deadly.
The A’s are the exact opposite, with an elite lineup and subpar pitching. That could prove to be a bit of an issue for Oakland, though their lineup should be able to push them into a Wild Card race. As for Seattle, they are going to be the whipping boy. And they might get the #1 overall pick because of it.
This division would have been the Mets to win. And then Noah Syndergaard got hurt. And then Marcus Stroman got hurt. And then Robert Gsellman got hurt. And then they had to rely on Corey Oswalt pitching meaningful innings. So much for your “deepest rotation in baseball,” Brodie. The lineup is still top tier, but the pitching, specifically the starting pitching, isn’t good enough.
The Phillies are another interesting case. I just don’t see it. They’ve got a couple fantastic players, but some of their best players are going to have to play out of their minds to contend. And that leaves the Braves and Nationals.
The defending champs have the best pitching rotation in baseball, and they are going to compete because of it. However, having replaced Anthony Rendon with Starlin Castro and expecting regression from Howie Kendrick, who was one of the best hitters in baseball last year, the offense leaves something to be desired. And that bullpen is bad.
The Braves have a great lineup, and a great bullpen, but their starting pitching is a very weak spot, which is a big issue. I don’t think any of these teams, in a 162 game season, jump off the page. However, in a 60-game season, this division is going to be incredibly competitive.
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I’m just going to come out and say it, I don’t get what people see in the Cardinals. Yes, pitching and defense are important. However, you need to have some semblance of a lineup, and St. Louis just doesn’t. Paul Goldschmidt is still great, and Paul DeJong is really good, but I don’t know if there’s another hitter in that lineup I would count on even being league average. I love Jack Flaherty, but he can’t pitch them to a division title.
Same with the Brewers. Their bullpen is going to be really good. However, their starting pitching is the equivalent of saran wrap over a windshield, and the lineup is Christian Yelich, Keston Hiura, and seemingly the 2015 all-star team. I don’t see it.
The Cubs might honestly have the best lineup in the National League, but outside of the 1-2 punch of Kyle Hendricks and Yu Darvish, their pitching is an absolute mess, which is why they are going to need to make some additions to be World Series contenders again in 2020.
That brings us to Cincinnati. They don’t a bona fide star. They don’t even have a bona fide ace. However, they are good just about everywhere. Not having a star in a sprint, like this season is going to be, is an issue, which is why I’m not going to give them the division outright. But they should be the favorites going in.
Wow, Mookie Betts is a Dodger for life. I don’t think there is any team better set for both the present and future than this Dodgers team. Hell, I don’t know if there ever has been. This is World Series or bust, not only this year, but for the next couple years to come. Everyone else is playing for second.
That race for second comes down to Arizona and San Diego. Arizona has one of the most underrated lineups in baseball, including probably the most underrated hitter in baseball, Carson Kelly. Madison Bumgarner leads a rotation that, to put it mildly, is painfully adequate. The bullpen isn’t bad either, but not good. Just there. They are a .500 baseball team that gets a boost facing Colorado, Seattle, and San Francisco as much as they do.
San Diego gets those same boosts, however. They are a completely different type of team, one with probably the best bullpen in baseball, but next to no starting pitching to get them to be useful. Their lineup is also very hit or miss. Manny Machado could be an MVP candidate, he could also have one long cold stretch and be an average player this year. I think San Diego is one of the most interesting teams in the league this year, I just don’t know if they are good.
I know Colorado and San Francisco aren’t. At least San Francisco isn’t hiding it. I feel bad for Trevor Story and Nolan Arenado, they are too good to be wasted in the Rocky Mountains for their entire careers.
World Series: Dodgers over Rays
The Rays are perfectly built for a playoff run. They’ll shut teams down. I just have a really hard time picking against the Dodgers at this point. That team is just an absolute juggernaut from top to bottom.