Sports

2019 MLB Season Preview

The Major League Baseball season is finally here and the 2019 season is full of storylines for every team. How will the defending 2018 champs look in the new season? Do the offseason acquisitions of Machado and Harper help the Padres and Phillies? And do the Diamondbacks come close to 70 wins? Spencer Cihak and I look into the new season of America’s pastime.  Here’s our preview on the 2019 season:

 

AL EAST – Zach’s Prediction

  1. Boston Red Sox
  2. Tampa Bay Rays
  3. New York Yankees
  4. Toronto Blue Jays
  5. Baltimore Orioles

 

After an incredible championship season for the Red Sox, it will be hard to play at the level they were at for 2019. However, this is a ballclub that has enough talent with the bats in Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez and in their pitching staff, with the ace Chris Sale and David Price. Even though the Yankees have made some offseason moves, beefing up their bullpen and retaining most of their core players from the previous season, this team can be red hot or ice cold with the bats and offense will be key to try for the division title. The Rays have been improving and have a chance to breakthrough again this year if Blake Snell can pitch the way he did in 2018. Toronto and Baltimore are lost causes in this division. Another year of suffering for these franchises.

 

AL EAST – Spencer’s Prediction

  1. Tampa Bay Rays
  2. Boston Red Sox
  3. New York Yankees
  4. Toronto Blue Jays
  5. Baltimore Orioles

 

Here’s a wild stat for you: Since 2000, the Red Sox have never won the division the year after they’ve won the World Series. While I do not seem them dropping 26 games, the difference we saw after the 2013 World Series, I would not be surprised at all if 90 wins becomes a battle for the defending world champs. With a shaky bullpen that only took a step back from last year, I have my concerns that a cold run for the offense could lead to extended losing streaks. The team I believe with the highest ceiling for bullpen excellence is the Bronx Bombers, however, spring has shown me this will be a very strange, injury filled year for the Yanks. To begin the season, CC Sabathia is having knee issues, Luis Severino, with shoulder inflammation, and Dellin Betances, with a shoulder impingement, makes for pitching depth issues that could hurt everyone down the line. I am excited to see what damage Troy Tulowitzki can do at Yankee stadium while Aaron Boone waits for Didi Gregorius to return from Tommy John Surgery. With the issues stated above, along with Baltimore just hoping to get above 99 losses and Toronto not having either an excellent offense or pitching staff – I’m really liking what Tampa has done this offseason from adding veterans in catcher Mike Zunino and starting pitcher Charlie Morton. Returning for the Rays will be Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell, the best July trade deadline pick up in Tommy Pham (.343/.448/.622), and the most underrated manager in the sport, Kevin Cash, I expect Tampa to shock the world and take the AL East.

 

AL CENTRAL – Zach’s Prediction

  1. Cleveland Indians
  2. Minnesota Twins
  3. Detroit Tigers
  4. Chicago White Sox
  5. Kansas City Royals

 

This is the most top heavy division in all of baseball and if you picked anyone but the Indians to win this division, you might want to see a doctor . This team is ready for another AL Central title and the talented group will not waste the opportunity they are given for an easy playoff spot. The bottom four teams are just random. Chicago will continue waiting for their minor league stars to develop and ease their way into the Majors. At least Kansas City has the Chiefs…

 

AL CENTRAL – Spencer’s Prediction

  1. Cleveland Indians
  2. Minnesota Twins
  3. Chicago White Sox
  4. Kansas City Royals
  5. Detroit Tigers

 

While the winner of the AL Central will remain the same, 2019 will be anything but déjà vu all over again for the rest of the central. The Minnesota Twins will take two steps forward this year after taking one back last year as some of their young stars went through some growing pains or off the field issues. GM Thad Levine did a fantastic job of adding some necessary power in C.J Cron, Jonathan Schoop, and Nelson Cruz. Cruz, fun fact, is just a year older than new manager Roco Baldelli! The southside of Chicago improvements where made as well. With the additions of Alex Colomé and Kelvin Herrera the Sox will have two veteran relief pitchers with positive closing history. Also the trade for Ivan Nova from the Pirates was will help keep a young bullpen off the mound. The signing Ervin Santana to a minor league deal, to me, is the true under the radar signing of the off season. Santana is only a season removed from a 16-8 season with a 3.28 ERA along with 5(!) complete games. Just someone to keep an eye on…. The Kansas City Royals, this team is gonna be a throwback to the “golden age” of baseball. Yes this KC team should be small ball central with the fastest player in baseball, Billy Hamilton, joining the team they should be fun to watch too. Even though there bullpen is going to drop a lot of games. The Tigers will continue to rebuild and will end the season with the number 2 pick in the 2020 draft class. Lastly, the Indians will be just more of the same except Bauer will be the staff ace over Corey Kluber. José Ramírez and Francisco Lindor will continue to  lead the offense, once they return from the injured list, and I’m glad to see Carlos Santana, Mr. Consistency, back where he belongs in Cleveland. Just make sure to keep the Fortnite off when he’s in the clubhouse.

 

AL WEST – Zach’s Prediction

  1. Houston Astros
  2. Seattle Mariners
  3. Los Angeles Angels
  4. Oakland Athletics
  5. Texas Rangers

 

With Houston still in its prime after the painful rebuilding years, there should be no sign of slowing down. However, this is a division full of sleeper teams and whoever is in that second place spot will probably be one of the featured teams in the wild card game once we hit October. Seattle, Los Angeles, and Oakland all had chances last season to make the final wild card spot and the A’s were the team to clinch it. This year, the Mariners and Angels will look to take over and make it to the postseason. In fact, Seattle is already on the right path, winning their first two regular season games in Japan. The Athletics will have to stay quiet throughout the season and jump into the postseason mix right at the end of the season if they want a wild card spot. Poor Texas.

 

AL WEST – Spencer’s Prediction

  1. Houston Astros
  2. Seattle Mariners
  3. Oakland Athletics
  4. Los Angeles Angels
  5. Texas Rangers

 

Houston will once again ride on the OG “trust the process” squad right to the number one AL playoff seed. Wade Miley and Michael Brantley where nice offseason pickups. I do see Dallas Keuchel ending up back in astros uniform by the end of April. This will also be the last of Justin Verlander’s true ace status at age 36. Finally don’t let the signing of Robinson Chirinos not go unappreciated as he ranks as one of the best pitch framers of the league. Right with new signee Jeff Mathis of the Texas Rangers. Texas just hasn’t been the same since Rougned Odor knocked out Jose Bautista. Don’t expect anything but there new park to be relevant until the 2023 season. 2023 is when Oakland fans are hoping to get theres. Oakland surprised many last year and manager Bob Melvin did a great job using the bullpen and Billy Beane did well in finding inexpensive veterans. Oakland got within 3 games last year of stealing the West before trailing off to the second wildcard. Talk about a quick rebuild. [Beane had talked of rebuilding the team to be ready for the opening of the new stadium]. Seattle to me is the biggest threat to Oakland’s chance at repeating this success. Jerry Dipoto this offseason said he was “re imaging” the Seattle lineup. What the offseason brought – I believe – are some pretty sweet dreams. Shipping James Paxton for highly regarded LHP prospect Justus Sheffield, now there number 1 overall prospect, along with Erik Swanson, ranked number 11, and OF Dom Thompson-Williams, not rated, gave them the chance to succeed in the future. Dee Gordon moving back to second and Maxelle Smith in center makes Seattle a stronger team defensively. After a breakout year in Tampa expect more of the same for Smith this year. Unfortunately he’ll still only be considered the second best center fielder in the AL West because of almost half a billion dollar man Mike Trout. Alas for Trout and new manager Brad Ausmus, October will once again be spent at home. The addition of the Dark Knight, Matt Harvey, is a nice addition but I still feel less than confident in the rest of the pitching staff. Offensively though they are steller with Trout, Justin Upton, and Shohei Ohtani being a scary three headed snake to face. Smile Anaheim your future is bright!

 

NL EAST – Zach’s Prediction

  1. Philadelphia Phillies
  2. Washington Nationals
  3. Atlanta Braves
  4. New York Mets
  5. Miami Marlins

 

This division is going to come down to the last couple days of the regular season. The Phillies might have Harper later in the season due to the foot injury in Spring Training, but they’ll be able to stay alive in the division with Rhys Hoskins, Jake Arrieta, and newly acquired players in Andrew McCutchen and JT Realmuto. The Nationals have Scherzer, Corbin, and Strasberg, three solid starting pitchers, but the question now is how will the offense be affected by the loss of Harper. Atlanta and New York sit in a competitive division in which it will be hard to take down one of the two teams. The Braves and Mets will have to perform at their highest level for all 162 games if they want a chance to take the division title. Miami will play as bad as their new uniforms look, and the uniforms are pretty awful.

 

NL EAST – Spencer’s Prediction

  1. New York Mets
  2. Washington Nationals
  3. Philadelphia Phillies
  4. Atlanta Braves
  5. Miami Marlins

 

Yes, I know the Mets went 77-85 last season and that the Nationals added Patrick Corbin, and the Phillies added Bryce Harper, Jean Segura, and JT Realmuto, and David Robertson, AND Andrew McCutchen (who proved last year he can still be an incredibly valuable player between the Giants and Yankees). Philadelphia has recreated there starting nine to be a really good mix of both veterans and young bats with there “stupid money”. Unfortunately the starting pitching staff is less than great having only two quality starters in a division where you need three. The now Haperless Nationals, who are better for it, decided to spend there serious money on starting pitching help and stole Patrick Corbin from the Yankees. The outfield is all around better now with Victor Robles set to make his full season debut and young super star, and the should be 2018 Rookie of the Year, Juan Soto returning for what should be a sizzling sophomore campaign. Center Fielder Adam Eaton is already an early candidate for the comeback player of the year award after not playing more than 100 game the last two seasons due to injuries. Anthony Rendon and Sean Doolittle will continue to play their unappreciated high level of ball. A worthy opponent that the Mets will have to face. I really am liking what new super sport agent turned GM Brodie Van Wagenen has done with what was already a pretty good team. If not for some June gloom (5-21), the Mets had an otherwise good, albeit, light hitting season. Wagenen needed offense so he got some in catcher Wilson Ramos, second baseman Robinson Cano, and what will be third baseman Jed Lowrie. Also they have upgraded the back of there bullpen adding right handed closer Edwin Diaz, left hander Justin Wilson, and brought back righty Jeurys Familia. Also coming back will be all-star slugger Yoenis Céspedes, who hasn’t played more than half a season since 2016 should bring some serious heat. Lastly, that rotation, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Steven Matz, and Jason Vargas – I promise you will find them in anyone’s early Cy Young award predictions or underrated lists. Quite honestly, this team really reminds me of the Arizona Diamondbacks championship squad. Expect big things out of them this year. The Marlins will do almost zero damage on the field this year, but it is what is happening off the field that has me excited and interested. I really wish people would understand what a dumpster fire Jeter & Co. bought last season. What they have done – lowering ticket pricing, lowering food and beverage costs, and upgrading much of the stadium seating is saving baseball in Florida. One of my favorite parts of the WBC was seeing the Korean and Japanese fans having bands play during the game and I’m excited to see how that translates in America. Enjoy the party Marlins fans because it will be much more fun than the score.

 

NL CENTRAL – Zach’s Prediction

  1. St. Louis Cardinals
  2. Chicago Cubs
  3. Milwaukee Brewers
  4. Cincinnati Reds
  5. Pittsburgh Pirates

 

Sorry Chicago fans, but the Cub killer is now in the NL Central, thanks to the D-Backs. Paul Goldschmidt is now on a franchise in a city where you will not find many empty seats on a Tuesday night game. He might be the most useful weapon in this Cardinals lineup, but pitching will need to be at its best to be successful. The Cubbies are not far from taking the division, but they’ll need to keep up the pace with their bitter rivals. Milwaukee has not lost talent from their previous season, but my gut feeling has them repeat the same process they went through after losing to St. Louis in the Championship series back in 2011. They’ll win close to 80 games this season. The Reds have found themselves in a solid place, picking up All-Star Outfielders Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig as well as starting pitchers Alex Wood and Tanner Roark, giving a convincing case as a sleeper team in the division. However, the top three teams in this division have more complete rosters and it will be hard to stay in the race all the way until October hits. Pittsburgh is not horrible like the other last place teams in these predictions, they just have an unlucky division to play in.

 

NL CENTRAL – Spencer’s Prediction

  1. Milwaukee Brewers
  2. St. Louis Cardinals
  3. Chicago Cubs
  4. Cincinnati Reds
  5. Pittsburgh Pirates

 

This division is the poster child for equal competitiveness. I expect the difference between first and last to be less than 10 games. The Pirates have a very strong pitching staff but are a little to light hitting to be an all to serious contender. Next is Cincinnati who took a step forward this year by creating a reliable veteran starting rotation that Reds fans have not seen in a long time. Reds staples like Joey Votto, Scooter Gennett (well in 8-12 weeks), Eugenio Suarez, and a healthy Jesse Winker should give the Reds a high octane offense with a good mix of power and contact. New names should be fun to watch too in a revived Matt Kemp and the always entertaining Yasiel Puig. The last guy I am going to mention for Cincinnati is Michael Lorenzen, who, last year, pitched to a 3.11 ERA and slugged for .710 with 4 home runs in 31 ABs. Manager David Bell inteads for him to be a two-way player this year for the Reds. The Chicago Cubs are a good team. That’s the problem, they’re only good in a division where you have to be great. I also do have reservations about Kris Bryant and the type of season he’ll have coming back from a shoulder injury. It’s also less than guaranteed that free swinging Javier Báez will be able to repeat his 2018 success The rotation is the best in the division but the bullpen definitely is not. The team just feels uninspired, good, but uninspired. The St. Louis Cardinals however made a big splash this winter adding super star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt in a trade with the Diamondbacks. Goldschmidt hits over .350 in both Miller Park and Wrigley Field should bring some serious thump for the Cardinals at home too. Also bet on Marcell Ozuna bouncing back from a dismal 2018 season. Jordan Hicks throwing 104 MPH in the back of the bullpen will be another reliable shut down guy with new signee Andrew Miller. Expect St. Louis to have the first Wild Card spot come this October. Milwaukee will once again be on top at the end of this season. MVP Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain will once again lead the Brew Crew to success in the division. The offseason signing of Mike Moustakas will add another left handed power bat and play solid second base. Congrats Milwaukee you have a winner.               

 

NL WEST – Zach’s Prediction

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers
  2. San Francisco Giants
  3. Colorado Rockies
  4. Arizona Diamondbacks
  5. San Diego Padres

 

I sure hope this division looks different in the 2019 season, but I had to go with logic on this one. The Dodgers have their team still in a solid position after their second straight World Series appearance. In fact, they made an upgrade, stealing the former Diamondback Outfielder A.J. Pollock in free agency. They also bring back Corey Seager, returning after his season ending Tommy John surgery back in 2018. All-Star Outfielders Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp were lost during the offseason, but it should not slow the team down. Another NL West title for LA. The Giants have been in a difficult situation for the past couple years. Madison Bumgarner’s health has been the big problem and he’ll need to start close to 30 games if this team is going to compete for the division. Their infield is a solid group of defenders, with Longoria, Crawford, Panik, and Belt from third to first, along with Buster Posey catching behind home plate. Offense will need to be the key for a successful Giants season. The Rockies could jump back in the playoffs for a third consecutive year, but they’ll need to rely on pitching to save them late in the season. The offense lost one key component with D.J. Lemahieu, but Daniel Murphy should be able to fill the void at second base. The rest of the crew is back. Nolan Arenado extended his contract, Trevor Story stays at Shortstop, and Charlie Blackmon, with his beard, remain at Center Field. It will be hard to stop the Rockies from winning if their pitching staff dominates this season, allowing the bats to shine and win games. Arizona sits in fourth place, possibly dropping down to last if the Padres exceed expectations. Losing Goldschmidt, Pollock, and Corbin was the worst thing that could happen this offseason. They’ve signed a few players with experience with Infielder Wilmer Flores, Gold-Glove Center Fielder Adam Jones, and acquired Starting Pitcher Luke Weaver to help with the big losses. While their Starting rotation might be one of the top rotations in the league, it will come down to their offense keeping the bats warm all season long and the bullpen not throwing away every game in the last month of play. I sure hope Greg Holland doesn’t turn out like Rodney or Boxberger in that Closer position. And finally, the San Diego Padres. Don’t look at the Machado move and just assume this team will win 90 games in his first year. The rest of the club is still young and developing into a contender, but it will take another season or two. They’ll show improvement, but they are not jumping up into the top places in the division.

 

NL WEST – Spencer’s Prediction

  1. Colorado Rockies
  2. San Diego Padres
  3. Arizona Diamondbacks
  4. Los Angeles Dodgers
  5. San Francisco Giants

 

The NL West has kind of lost its pizazz from a couple years ago – none of last years contenders have gotten better and the one team that has gotten better still lacks quality starting pitching. The San Francisco Giants are hoping to be a better team this year after two seasons of less than stellar play.  Unfortunately the pitching staff still doesn’t have enough high quality slingers to truly compete to go with an outfield that does not carry a single note worthy name. Coming in 4th for the first time since 2010 will be the Los Angeles Dodgers. I think the Dodgers will be just behind the Diamondbacks in what is a year of change for both teams. The Dodgers while having plenty of good players will lack the consistency of past squads. The Arizona Diamondbacks still carry the best rotation in the league but now lack power in a park that is not hitter friendly anymore. The loss of Steven Souza Jr. was a serious blow to the Dbacks and actually caused them to slip in my rankings. Adam Jones and Wilmore Flores defense will also contain teeth clenching moments but offensively will be strong. I am a big fan of the Greg Holland signing and announcement of him being the closer. Expect the all star closer to be one once again for the Dbacks and at the very least bring in a nice return at the deadline if all else fails for Arizona. The Padres will finally come into form this year and be above .500 ball for the first time since 2010. While they still don’t have consistently good pitching, the offense may be the best in the division by the end of the year. Also Manny Machado at third brings a true legitimate star to San Diego. Fernando Tatis Jr. will also be the best overall shortstop this season and the evental adding of Luis Urais at second will only enhance the Padres lineup. Coming in first however for the first time in franchise history will be the Colorado Rockies.  The Rockies who were only one win against the Dodgers away from winning the West last year will come on top and return to the NLDS this season. There young starting rotation will continue to impress and Nolan Arenado will reward Colorado’s extension with a career year to remember in the mile high city. The addition of Daniel Murphy to replace DJ LeMahieu at second was the perfect combination for both the aging Murphy and the first baseman is always missing Rockies. Arizona please prove me wrong……..

 

Z – NL MVP – Paul Goldschmidt (STL)

S – NL MVP – Nolan Arenado (COL)

Z – AL MVP – Mike Trout (LAA)

S – AL MVP Alex Bregman (HOU)

Z – NL CY YOUNG – Robbie Ray (ARI)

S – NL CY YOUNG – Jacob DeGrom (NYM)

Z – AL CY YOUNG – Trevor Bauer (CLE)

S – AL CY YOUNG – Gerrit Cole (HOU)

 

WORLD SERIES PREDICTIONS:

Z – Cardinals vs Indians (STL 4-2)

S – Mets vs Astros (HOU 4-1)

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