Catrell Simpson: April 1st, 2017

Winter has come and gone, and the MLB season is back.  We are coming off of one of the craziest postseasons that I can remember. We saw a World Series that featured the 2 teams with the longest World Series droughts, the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs. The same World Series also had an improbable comeback by the Cubs, down 3-1 in the series at one point. Some players have new homes and others have hung up the cleats. Let’s take a look at what Opening Day and the entire season should have in store.

Opening Day:

Cleveland Indians vs. Texas Rangers

The Indians have only gotten better since the World Series. In the offseason, they added Edwin Encarnacion, who was second last year in homeruns with 42. Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar, and Michael Brantley are all returning from injury. The Rangers added former Indians slugger Mike Napoli this offseason. This matchup is sure to excite, especially with 2 CY Young hopefuls, Corey Kluber and Yu Darvish, on the mound.

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox opening day lineup will look a little different without David Ortiz as the DH. Even without Ortiz, many people think the Red Sox should be considered a World Series favorite. They added ace Chris Sale from the White Sox. The Pirates did not make any offseason moves, but their roster is still solid so this should be a great matchup. Rick Porcello is coming off of a CY Young season. The Pirates starter, Gerrit Cole, did not have the greatest of seasons in 2016, but he’s looking to bounce back to his 2015 all star form.

San Fransisco Giants vs. Arizona Diamondbacks

We are in for a pitching duel in this matchup. For the Diamondbacks, Zack Greinke is on the mound. He’s coming off of a 13-win season. First year manager Bob Melvin will look to turn things around in Arizona. Madison Bumgarner will be on the mound for the Giants. Last year, the Giants bullpen was very disappointing. They signed Mark Melancon to bolster the bullpen, so we’ll see if that helps to get a opening day win.

My World Series Favorites:

Cleveland Indians- How could I go against the AL Champions that only got better this offseason? I told you about the addition of Encarnacion, and the returns of Salazar, Carrasco, and Brantley, but they also added Boone Logan to an already loaded bullpen. In 2016, the Indians won 94 games. I can see them winning 100+ games. Strong pitching mixed with good hitters and great base runners will lead to another World Series run.

Boston Red Sox- The Red Sox lost their leader Big Papi, David Ortiz, to retirment, but pitching alone makes them a scary team in the AL. With Sale, Porcello, and David Price, the Red Sox could potentially have 3 20-win pitchers this season. With a lineup that features AL MVP runner-up Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez, Jackie Bradley Jr., and leader Dustin Pedroia, the Red Sox are shaped to compete with any team in the league.

St. Louis Cardinals- The Cardinals made a huge move by signing CF Dexter Fowler. He’s a guy that will help at the plate and in the field. They also added pitchers Brett Cecil and John Gart to help in the bullpen. The Cards won 86 games last year while battling the injury bug all season. If the Cards stay healthy and Adam Wainwright can be a consistent ace, they have a legitimate chance to make it out of the NL and fight for a World Series title.

Sleeper:

Arizona Diamondbacks- With a new GM and a new manager, the Diamondbacks are in a position to be a lot better than last year. I think its fair to say that this team underachieved heavily. They haven’t seen the playoffs since 2011. If they want to contend, Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller will have to turn it around. All stars Paul Goldschmidt and AJ Pollock will have to carry the hitting load in that lineup. Arizona winning it all is a longshot but if they make 1 or 2 midseason moves, they could make it really interesting in not only the NL West, but the entire NL.

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