All posts by Griffin Mathiews

3 Teams that will be better in 2018

3. Chicago White Sox

I really like what the White Sox did this offseason as they made a few moves to try and make their team more competitive. Luis Avilan and Joakim Soria will make the White Sox bullpen much better and that should be a strength of the team in 2018. Also, the addition of catcher Welington Castillo will add some more depth and power ability to Chicago’s lineup. I’m not saying that Chicago will be a playoff team in 2018, but at least they will be more respectable of a team than last season. Chicago still will be reliant on young prospects like Yoan Moncada and Lucas Giolito to lead their team. However, the future is bright for the White Sox and also 2018 should be an improved year for the team as well.

2. New York Mets

The Mets have a good roster overall, but the health of their rotation is what really hurt the team last season. New York has a terrific starting rotation, but they were too reliant upon it in 2017 and that ended up costing them as their entire rotation basically dealt with injuries all year. However, the Mets starting pitchers head into 2018 completely healthy and hopefully it will stay that way as that is the key to their success. If the rotation can just stay healthy then that would automatically make them a better team. Also, the additions of veteran hitters Adrian Gonzalez and Todd Frazier should give the Mets some more offensive capability which would make this team even more dangerous. New York has the talent to be a playoff contender, but it all depends on if the injury bug hits them again in 2018.

1. San Francisco Giants

San Francisco had a combination of bad luck and poor offensive production that contributed to their awful 2017 season. Star pitcher Madison Bumgarner was injured for a large portion of the season and that hurt the Giants tremendously. Also, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija had very disappointing seasons in the Giants rotation. The Giants also struggled offensively where they didn’t get much offensive production besides Buster Posey and Brandon Belt. However, the Giants made some major offseason moves this offseason in order to fix those offensive woes. The Giants acquired all-star caliber players Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria in trades this offseason. Both of those players provide very good power and tremendous offensive potential, so it should improve the Giants offense right away. San Francisco’s offense should be much better with the additions of Longoria and McCutchen. Also, if the Giants starting pitching can improve as expected in 2018 then this team could improve tremendously this season.


3 Teams that will be worse in 2018

3. Tampa Bay Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays looked like they wanted to be a competitive team in the AL, but then they traded franchise cornerstone Evan Longoria and everything changed. However, the Rays weren’t done there as they also let go of Corey Dickerson, Jake Odorizzi, Logan Morrison, Steve Cishek, Steven Souza Jr., and Alex Cobb. That is a long list of quality veteran players that they will be missing in 2018. That leaves Chris Archer, Kevin Kiermaier, and Alex Colome as the only really reliable veteran players on their roster. The Tampa Bay Rays team will look a lot different in 2018 especially with the inexperienced players that they will rely upon to be starters like Mallex Smith, Daniel Robertson, and Matt Duffy. Tampa Bay should still have a good starting rotation, although they will struggle mightily to score runs after all of the key players that they decided to get rid of.

2. Miami Marlins

Miami had an elite outfield with Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna, but that was before they traded them all this offseason. However, the Marlins now have a very crappy outfield at least for the 2018 season as they will be relying upon Derek Dietrich, Lewis Brinson, and Braxton Lee as their starters. Brinson is a good prospect, but who knows what he will provide as a starter for the Marlins in 2018. Miami still has J.T. Realmuto, Starlin Castro, and Justin Bour to lead their lineup so all isn’t lost. However, Miami has a bad bullpen and a bad starting rotation, so they no longer have the dynamic lineup to make up for their pitching flaws. Miami has some reasons for optimism with the young prospects that they now have, although 2018 likely isn’t going to be a very fun season for Marlins fans.

1. Kansas City Royals

Kansas City had a very rough offseason with losing Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, and Mike Moustakas among other key players. The Royals are basically now only left with Salvador Perez, Alex Gordon, and Whit Merrifield to anchor their lineup in 2018. Kansas City already kind of struggled to score runs, but now it could be a really big struggle. Also, Kansas City lost many key members of their bullpen including Joakim Soria, Scott Alexander, and Ryan Buchter. The bullpen was a strength for the Royals not too long ago, but now it appears that it will be a major issue. Kansas City also doesn’t have a reliable starting rotation except for Danny Duffy who is the clear ace for the Royals. The Royals don’t have much hope in any aspect of their roster and it could be a tough rebuilding year for Kansas City.

2018 NL West Predictions

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers

Los Angeles wasn’t very active this offseason, but that is because they really don’t have any weaknesses to fill. The Dodgers have a terrific lineup led by Justin Turner, Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, Chris Taylor, and Yasiel Puig. However, the other players in their lineup like Matt Kemp, Logan Forsythe, and Austin Barnes are all solid contributors as well. The Dodgers are also very deep as they have Yasmani Grandal, Joc Pederson, and Chase Utley as proven players that are currently scheduled to be bench players in 2018. Los Angeles also has arguably the best starting rotation in the MLB led by Clayton Kershaw who is probably the best pitcher in the entire MLB. However, the team has 4 above average starting pitchers behind him with Rich Hill, Alex Wood, Kenta Maeda, and Hyun-Jin Ryu. The Dodgers also have a very good bullpen led by elite closer Kenley Jansen. Josh Fields and Pedro Baez also had very good years last season as late-inning options in the Dodgers bullpen. Los Angeles could use some more depth in their bullpen, although they are certainly set in the late innings with Jansen, Fields, and Baez. There really isn’t a weakness on this Dodgers roster and they are not only the favorites to win the NL west, but they also are probably the favorites in the NL to make the world series.

2. Arizona Diamondbacks

Arizona surprisingly was one of the best teams in the national league last season, but they are out to prove that last year wasn’t just a fluke. In fact, the Diamondbacks are a team that should be able to once again compete for a playoff spot in 2018. The Diamondbacks did lose J.D. Martinez this offseason which will hurt Arizona a little bit. However, they did replace him somewhat by trading for right fielder Steven Souza Jr. from the Rays. Paul Goldschmidt, Jake Lamb, and A.J. Pollock are the ones that will likely carry the offense for Arizona and their lineup is good overall. However, the middle infield appears to be the area of weakness for the Diamondbacks as Ketel Marte, Nick Ahmed, and Chris Owings will compete for starting jobs at 2nd base and shortstop. None of those guys provide much offensive capability and the Diamondbacks should have found better replacements at those positions. Meanwhile, the starting pitching appears to be a strength for Arizona heading into the 2018 season. They have Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray as all-star caliber pitchers that will lead the top of the starting rotation. However, they are also really deep with starting pitching as Taijuan Walker and Patrick Corbin are above average pitchers as well. Pitching in Arizona isn’t easy, but those 4 guys are certainly proven MLB pitchers that are up to the task. The bullpen could be decent for Arizona in 2018, but it will be a lot different than it was last season. Archie Bradley had a terrific 2017 season and now he is expected to be the new closer for the Diamondbacks in 2018. Brad Boxberger is a reliable late-inning option for the Diamondbacks and he has closer experience if Bradley struggles in that role. Yoshihisa Hirano was acquired to be another late-inning option for Arizona, but he has never pitched in the MLB and it is unknown what he will provide. Arizona needs more depth in their bullpen and they need someone besides Boxberger and Bradley to step up. The Diamondbacks have a few weaknesses on this roster, so they probably won’t be able to compete with the Dodgers for the division title. However, Arizona still is a very good team that should be able to make the playoffs in 2018.

3. Colorado Rockies

The Rockies were a playoff team in 2017 as they had improved pitching and a lineup that continues to dominate. Colorado still has Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, DJ LeMahieu, Ian Desmond, Trevory Story, and Gerardo Parra. That is quite the lineup especially if Arenado and Blackmon continue to play at an MVP-caliber level. We all know that the Rockies will score a ton of runs as they always seemingly do. However, pitching is the one thing that really continues to hold them back. Jon Gray is the clear ace of the Rockies pitching staff and he performed well last season especially considering that he was pitching at Coors Field most of the time. The rest of the rotation is filled mostly with really young starting pitchers that were very inconsistent last season. Kyle Freeland, German Marquez, and Tyler Anderson all pitched well at times last season, but they all need to improve if the Rockies starting pitching is going to be good. However, it will help that Freeland and Marquez have a year of experience now and hopefully they can continue to try and reach their full potential. Meanwhile, the Rockies bullpen should be better this year especially with the signing of elite closer Wade Davis and quality setup man Bryan Shaw. However, the Rockies have plenty of bullpen depth as they have Mike Dunn, Adam Ottavino, and Jake McGee that are all quality relief pitchers. If the bullpen can be good then it would be a huge step towards being a playoff team once again in 2018. Colorado is playing in a really tough division and they also have a few tough teams in the NL to compete with, but if their pitching can continue to improve then they should be a playoff contender for sure.

4. San Francisco Giants

San Francisco is another team that made offseason upgrades in order to try and make the playoffs in 2018 as they added all-star caliber players Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen. The Giants already had a decent lineup with Buster Posey, Hunter Pence, Brandon Belt, and Brandon Crawford. However, adding Longoria and McCutchen to the mix will only make the Giants a much better offensive team. The Giants starting rotation also has the potential to be decent especially if star pitcher Madison Bumgarner can stay healthy. They also have Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija who are proven MLB pitchers, but they both need to pitch much better than they did last season if the Giants want to have a good rotation. Also, the Giants don’t have much behind those guys in the rotation, so they need to at least find decent 4th and 5th starters. Meanwhile, the Giants have a decent bullpen as they have Sam Dyson, Mark Melancon, Hunter Strickland, and Tony Watson. All of those guys are good late-inning options, but the main question for the Giants is which one of those relievers will be the closer in 2018. It seems the Giants have the lineup to compete in the highly competitive NL West. However, it is the lack of pitching especially with the starting rotation that could really hold this team back.

5. San Diego Padres

The Padres are clearly the worst team in the NL west heading into 2018 as the other 4 teams in the division are playoff contenders. However, the Padres are a team that is heading in the right direction especially with the major signing of Eric Hosmer this offseason. San Diego should have plenty of power in the middle of their lineup with Wil Myers and Hosmer carrying the offense. However, the Padres need support from the other position players if they want to improve. Specifically, the Padres need their young players like Manuel Margot, Austin Hedges, Hunter Renfroe, and Carlos Asuaje to continue to improve. The major concern for San Diego is that they have arguably the worst rotation in the entire MLB. Clayton Richard is the leading pitcher in their rotation, but he didn’t have a good year in 2017. The key for the Padres rotation will be young pitchers Luis Perdomo and Dinelson Lamet. Both of those pitchers weren’t very successful last season, but they will get plenty of opportunities to prove themselves this season. If they can live up to their potential, then the Padres rotation has a chance to at least be decent. Meanwhile, the Padres could be good especially with all-star closer Brad Hand leading the way. Craig Stammen is also a good late-inning option, but the Padres need more out of the rest of the bullpen if they want to be successful. The Padres will probably be a better team in 2018 especially with the addition of Hosmer. However, the Padres still have many holes on their roster and this year will be more about their young players improving rather than trying to be a playoff team.

2018 AL West Predictions

1. Houston Astros

The Astros are the defending world series champions, but they arguably made their team even better this offseason with the addition of star pitcher Gerrit Cole. Either way, it’s very difficult to find a weakness on this roster. The Astros have a terrific lineup led by AL MVP Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer, and Alex Bregman. Houston also has other contibutors in their lineup, but those 4 guys are the core that will carry them for several years to come. Houston also has a terrific starting rotation with Dallas Keuchel, Justin Verlander, and Gerrit Cole leading the rotation. They also have Lance McCullers and Charlie Morton who provide even more depth to the rotation. Houston also has a reliable bullpen with closer Ken Giles and quality setup men Will Harris and Chris Devenski. Houston is definitely the favorite to win the AL West this year and they have all of the pieces to make a deep playoff run once again.

2. Los Angeles Angels

The Angels just missed out on the playoffs last season, but they made some offseason additions that could allow them to be a playoff team in 2018. Los Angeles added Ian Kinsler to be their starting 2nd basemen as that has been a major area of weakness for a few years. The Angels also added Zack Cozart this offseason as he will help to fill a void at the 3rd base position. Those two players will just make the Angels lineup even more dangerous especially with the team already having Mike Trout, Justin Upton, and Albert Pujols in their lineup. However, the key for the Angels will be their starting rotation as their starting pitchers failed to stay healthy last season. Garrett Richards is back in 2018 after missing most of last season due to injury and Andrew Heaney is also returning set to return from injury. The Angels also made a big splash in free agency by signing Shohei Ohtani, but it is a mystery as to how he will adjust to the MLB level since he has only played professionally in Japan. If the starting pitchers for the Angels can stay healthy then they should have a decent starting rotation especially if Ohtani is able to live up to the hype. Meanwhile, the Angels bullpen could be a major issue for the team heading into 2018. Blake Parker figures to be the team’s closer in 2018, but he is rather unproven in that role. The Angels also added Jim Johnson this offseason as a setup man, yet Johnson had an awful 2017 season for Atlanta as he had a 5.56 ERA. Los Angeles also has Cam Bedrosian as a late-inning option, but he struggled for the Angels last season with a 4.43 ERA. Los Angeles needs improvement from Johnson and Bedrosian if this bullpen is going to be successful in 2018. Overall, the Angels should be able to score plenty of runs with their deep lineup, although the starting rotation and bullpen are what is holding them back from competing with the Astros.

3. Seattle Mariners

Seattle is a team that has been on the verge of finally making the playoffs, but they just haven’t been able to do so. The Mariners will probably compete for a playoff spot in 2018, although it is unlikely that they will be able to secure a wild-card spot. Seattle has a very good lineup with Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano, and Kyle Seager providing the power in the middle of the lineup. However, the Mariners also acquired Dee Gordon this offseason who will be their new leadoff hitter with his tremendous speed. Seattle should be able to score runs, but the question will be their pitching staff. Felix Hernandez clearly isn’t the starting pitcher that he once was and he is not the ace of the rotation anymore. James Paxton is the team’s new ace, although the problem for Paxton is that he just can’t seem to stay healthy consistently. Mike Leake and Erasmo Ramirez will provide decent depth in their rotation as the 3rd and 4th starters. However, the Mariners need Paxton to stay healthy and Hernandez to return to form if their starting pitching is to be successful. Meanwhile, the Mariners bullpen should be very good as they have Edwin Diaz as a good closer. However, they also have plenty of depth with Juan Nicasio, Nick Vincent, and David Phelps being good late-inning options. Seattle should be a playoff contender in 2018, but the key to their success will be the starting rotation.

4. Texas Rangers

The Texas Rangers are a team that is definitely trending in the wrong direction as they were a good team a couple of years ago, but now they probably aren’t even a playoff contender. Texas still has a very good lineup and they can hit for some power with Joey Gallo, Rougned Odor, Adrian Beltre, Shin-Soo Choo, and Nomar Mazara leading the way. The team also has Elvis Andrus who can hit for some power as well and he provides tremendous speed as well. The Rangers will hit plenty of home runs this season, but they might still struggle to score some runs as they don’t have many players that hit for a good average. Texas also has a decent bullpen as they have Alex Claudio, Keone Kela, and Jake Diekman as solid late-inning options. However, they need to find which one of those guys will be their closer in 2018, although Claudio seems like the best option out of that group. The one major concern for the Rangers is their starting pitching as they have 5 veteran starters, but those starters all really struggled last season. Cole Hamels is the clear ace for the rotation, yet he needs to be much better than he was last season. Martin Perez, Doug Fister, and Matt Moore have all had success at the MLB level. However, those 3 guys seem to be trending in the wrong direction at this point in their careers. Texas has the lineup to be competitive, but they need more out of their pitching if they want to even be competitive in 2018.

5. Oakland Athletics

Oakland is kind of a mystery team heading into 2018 as they have plenty of young talent, although they aren’t expected to be playoff contenders. Khris Davis is the clear threat in the Athletics lineup as he is one of the best power hitters in the game. However, the Athletics also have young players Matt Olson and Matt Chapman that have proven that they are capable of hitting for power as well. Oakland’s lineup certainly has the potential to hit home runs, but they probably won’t hit for average or score many runs in general. Meanwhile, Oakland’s starting rotation is a complete unknown as it is full of young and uproven starting pitchers. Kendall Graveman and Sean Manaea are probably the team’s best starting pitchers, but neither has proven themselves as the best of the group. Jharel Cotton and Daniel Mengden also have some potential, although they both haven’t been very good early on in their careers. Oakland’s rotation has tremendous potential since they are such a young group and they don’t have much MLB experience. However, somebody needs to step up and pitch well because they don’t really have a leader in their starting rotation. Oakland could have a good starting rotation, but it could also be terrible and we’ll just have to see which young starting pitcher can step up. Oakland’s bullpen has a chance to be good this season as they have Blake Treinen as a decent closer. Also, they have Santiago Casilla and Yusmeiro Petit as experienced late-inning options in their bullpen. However, Oakland’s bullpen has some quality depth overall and it should be the overall strength of the team heading into 2018. The Athletics probably aren’t going to be a playoff contender in 2018. However, don’t count the A’s out since they are an intriguing team with all of their young talent and they could be a sneaky team in 2018.


2018 NL Central Predictions

  1. Chicago Cubs

The Cubs are still a very good team, but the NL central will be much more interesting this season with the Brewers and Cardinals making big improvements this offseason. However, Chicago still has arguably the most dangerous lineup from top to bottom in the entire MLB. The Cubs have terrific power hitters Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Willson Contreras,  and Kyle Schwarber in the middle of their lineup. However, they also have solid complementary players like Addison Russell and Jason Heyward to make their lineup even deeper. They really don’t have any weaknesses in their lineup and their roster is so deep that quality players Ian Happ and Ben Zobrist don’t even have a starting role. Chicago also has an extremely deep starting rotation even though they lost Jake Arrieta this offseason. The Cubs just ended up replacing him with terrific starting pitcher Jake Arrieta and they also added Tyler Chatwood to be their quality 5th starter. Chicago also returns Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, and Jose Quintana which makes their rotation arguably the best in the MLB. The Cubs bullpen looks a little bit different especially with Brandon Morrow as their new closer. However, it is likely even deeper than it was last season as they have Pedro Strop, Carl Edwards Jr., and Steve Cishek as quality late-inning options. It is very difficult to find a weakness on this roster and that is why they are once again the favorites to win the NL central in 2018.

2. St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals are in a better position to compete with the Cubs for the division title in 2018 especially after the acquisitions that they made this offseason. The biggest addition that they made was acquiring Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins as he provides the elite power hitter that the team was missing last season. St. Louis already had a good lineup, but now it is great since they have terrific hitters like Tommy Pham, Yadier Molina, Matt Carpenter, Dexter Fowler, and Paul DeJong all returning for the 2018 season. St. Louis shouldn’t have any problems scoring runs and they certainly have just as good of a lineup as any team in the MLB. The Cardinals also have a very good starting rotation led  by Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, and Adam Wainwright. We all know what those 3 pitchers can do, but it will be young pitchers Luke Weaver and Jack Flaherty that will need to step up. Both Weaver and Flaherty have tremendous potential, but they will need to make an immediate impact if the Cardinals rotation is to become great in 2018. The Cardinals bullpen is the one area that could potential hold them back in 2018. They do have plenty of depth and they have Dominic Leone and Tyler Lyons as terrific late-inning options. However, the closer role is still somewhat of an issue for the Cardinals heading into 2018. Luke Gregerson was signed in order to fill that void, but even he struggled last season and it is unknown if he will improve that role in 2018. Overall, the Cardinals should be a playoff team in 2018, but they still have a few holes that are holding them back from winning this division.

3. Milwaukee Brewers

The Milwaukee Brewers signaled that they are ready to compete for a playoff spot in 2018 after they made some big-time acquisitions this offseason. Milwaukee now has an extremely deep outfield after acquiring Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain this offseason. The team now has Yelich, Cain, Ryan Braun, Domingo Santana, and Keon Broxton all competing for 3 outfield spots in 2018 and it’s safe to say that they might have the best outfield in the entire MLB. However, the Brewers also have a very deep lineup with players like Travis Shaw, Orlando Arcia, and Eric Thames all figuring to be key contributors once again this season. Milwaukee is certainly going to score many runs in 2018, but the main area of concern is with their pitching. Their best pitcher Jimmy Nelson is injured right now and he probably won’t return until June. Zach Davies and Chase Anderson both had terrific years for the Brewers in 2018, but besides them the pitching staff doesn’t have much depth. Milwaukee is hoping that veteran pitchers Jhoulys Chacin and Yovani Gallardo can be the pitchers that they once were and make the Brewers rotation great. Milwaukee has a decent starting rotation right now and it will be better once Nelson returns, but they still need to add some more depth in order to compete with the best teams in the NL. The Brewers bullpen has the potential to be good especially with elite closer Corey Knebel and quality setup man Josh Hader as their 8th-inning option. However, Milwaukee needs somebody to step up and really take control of the other late-inning role. The Brewers have a decent bullpen right now with Knebel and Hader, but the rest of the bullpen needs to prove itself in order for them to be really good. Milwaukee will certainly compete for a playoff spot in 2018 and they are better than last season, although they need to improve their pitching before they can really guarantee themselves a playoff spot.

4. Cincinnati Reds

The Reds are a team that might be able to be a respectable team in 2018, but one thing is for sure and that is they are going to score plenty of runs in 2018. Joey Votto is still arguably the best hitter in the MLB and that probably won’t change much this season. However, the one thing that he does have is plenty of offensive threats alongside him as Adam Duvall, Scott Schebler, Scooter Gennett, and Eugenio Suarez all proved to be very capable power hitters last season. The pitching is the one thing that will likely destroy the Reds season in 2018 just like it did last season.  Veteran starting pitchers Anthony DeSclafani and Homer Bailey are back from injury and that should provide a major boost to the Reds rotation especially if they can pitch like they have before in their careers. However, the rest of the rotation is a complete unknown as they have a few young unproven pitchers that will likely will the rest of the rotation. Luis Castillo was very impressive last season, but we’ll see if he can continue that success with a full season for the Reds. Brandon Finnegan is another young pitcher that has had some success in the past, but we’ll see if he can bounce back from injury in 2018. The Reds starting rotation has tremendous potential in 2018, although it could also be the thorn in the side of the Reds just like the past couple of years. Meanwhile, the Reds bullpen has the opportunity to be decent in 2018. Raisel Iglesias is the clear leader of the bullpen as he has quietly become one of the best closers in the MLB. The Reds also added some much needed depth to their bullpen by signing veteran relief pitchers Jared Hughes and David Hernandez. Both of those guys will compete with Michael Lorenzen and Wandy Peralta for the late-inning roles for Cincinnati. We’ll see which pitchers win that competition, but just based on depth the Reds bullpen should be better this season. Cinncinnati is a team on the rise and don’t be surprised if they are at least a respectable team in 2018.

5. Pittsburgh Pirates

Pittsburgh had a few years of success, but now it is back to the rebuilding mode for the Pirates after trading away star players Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen this offseason. However, all isn’t lost for the Pirates as they still have a good outfield with Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco, and newly-acquired Corey Dickerson. Marte and Polanco didn’t have very good seasons for Pittsburgh in 2018, but they still have tremendous potential and if they improve in 2018 then it could provide the Pirates with a big boost on offense. The team also has above average starters Josh Bell and Josh Harrison in their lineup and they should provide the offense with even more of a boost. Either way, the Pirates offense should still be decent in 2018 even with the loss of McCutchen and it could be really good if Marte and Polanco bounce back in 2018. The problem for the Pirates could be their starting pitching which wans’t even that good prior to Gerrit Cole’s departure. Jameson Taillon, Ivan Nova, and Joe Musgrove are all decent starting pitchers, although they all struggled last season as each of them had at least a 4.14 ERA. However, the Pirates absolutely need them to improve in 2018 because the team has no chance without them especially since there isn’t much depth at the back end of the rotation. Pittsburgh’s rotation could be better than most expect, but those guys need to step it up in order for the pitching staff to be successful. Meanwhile, the bullpen also has a chance to be decent for the Pirates in 2018. Felipe Rivero is a terrific closer and he became one of the elite closers in the MLB last season. However, the depth behind him is somewhat of a concern as they don’t have great late-inning options to set him up. George Kontos and Kyle Crick are decent options, but they will need to improve in order for the Pirates bullpen to be successful since they don’t have much depth. The Pirates are technically in a rebuild mode for the 2018 and don’t expect them to compete for a playoff spot. However, Pittsburgh should still be a decent team considering they still have some quality position players to carry the load.

2018 AL East Predictions

  1. Cleveland Indians

The Cleveland Indians are one of the best teams in the MLB and they are the clear favorites to once again win the AL Central in 2018. Cleveland has arguably the best starting rotation in the MLB as they are led by star pitchers Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco. However, the Indians have a very deep starting rotation with pitchers like Trevor Bauer and Danny Salazar also being decent starting pitchers. Cleveland possibly has an even better bullpen with elite closer Cody Allen to go along with elite setup man Andrew Miller and quality late-inning option Dan Otero. Cleveland’s pitching staff is the strength of the team, but they also have a very good offense. Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor, and Edwin Encarnacion are all all-star caliber hitters. However, the Indians also have some quality depth in their lineup from top to bottom. Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley, Lonnie Chisenhall, and Bradley Zimmer have all proven that they can be quality hitters. However, they will need to improve if the Indians lineup reaches its full potential in 2018. If those 4 guys can improve this season then Cleveland could make the case that they are the best team in the MLB.

2. Minnesota Twins

Minnesota surprisingly sneaked its way into the playoffs last season, but now they have made some improvements this offseason to possibly make their team even better. The Twins already had a very good lineup as they had breakout seasons from players like Eddie Rosario, Jorge Polanco, and Miguel Sano. Minnesota also has proven veterans Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer that can still produce at a high level on offense. The main concern for the Twins is their pitching. The Twins did acquire Jake Odorizzi via trade recently and that will provide some much needed depth for their rotation. Minnesota also has emerging star pitcher Jose Berrios who should continue to get better in 2018. However, the back end of the Twins rotation is a complete mess right now as they need more production from pitchers like Kyle Gibson and Adalberto Mejia. Minnesota will be without ace Ervin Santana due to injury until May, so the rest of the rotation will need to step up. The Twins starting rotation has the potential to be good, but they will need Santana to come back healthy and be the player that he was last season and they will need Berrios and Odorizzi to continue to improve. Minnesota’s bullpen wasn’t very good last season, but they made a few moves to improve in that area for 2018. Fernando Rodney is the team’s new closer, although he has been inconsistent in recent years. Addison Reed was a terrific addition for Minnesota as he will be a very reliable 8th inning option for Minnesota. Also, the addition of Zach Duke should provide some depth to Minnesota’s bullpen in the middle innings. Minnesota’s bullpen is a complete unknown heading into 2018, but it should be better than it was last season. Either way, Minnesota should be a playoff contender in 2018, although they likely don’t have the pitching to be able to compete with the Indians in the AL central.

3. Chicago White Sox

Chicago is a team on the rise despite starting the rebuilding process not too long ago as they have many elite prospects that could make an impact at the MLB level in 2018. Jose Abreu, Avisail Garcia, Matt Davidson, and Tim Anderson are the players that should carry the White Sox offense in 2018. However, they also added catcher Welington Castillo this offseason and that should make the White Sox lineup even better in 2018. However, the White Sox could be have really good lineup if elite 2nd base prospect Yoan Moncada improves in 2018. Chicago has major weaknesses in left field and center field heading into the 2018 season, but the rest of the lineup should be good enough to be an above average offense. The White Sox starting pitching rotation is unproven for the most part, but it does have the potential to be a very good rotation in 2018. The keys will be talented young pitchers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez who will need to prove why they were such highly touted prospects. If those guys can pitch like we know they can then it will automatically make the White Sox rotation good. Carson Fulmer is another young pitcher with tremendous potential and he pitched well in 7 starts for the White Sox last season. James Shields and Miguel Gonzalez are the veteran pitchers of the group and Chicago is hoping that they can return to the players that they were several years ago. We’ll see if the White Sox rotation is good in 2018, but Fulmer, Lopez, and Giolito will need to be good if this rotation reaches its outstanding potential. The White Sox bullpen also could be decent as they have veterans Joakim Soria and Nate Jones at the back end of their bullpen. Soria is a proven closer and he should help to solidify that role and Nate Jones is an outstanding setup man as he proved once again last season. However, the rest of the White Sox bullpen is inexperienced and not very good. They will need somebody to step up in the 7th inning and middle relief roles if the White Sox want to have a good bullpen. Overall, Chicago should be an improved team in 2018 and they do have tremendous potential because of the great prospects that they will have on their team in 2018. However, this team is still rebuilding and they are likely a year or two away from playoff contention unless their pitching can make great improvements in 2018.

4. Kansas City Royals

It was a very rough offseason for the Kansas City Royals as they basically lost their 3 best position players Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, and Mike Moustakas. However, that wasn’t the only players that they lost as they also didn’t retain Melky Cabrera, Jason Vargas, and Joakim Soria. The team still has Salvador Perez, Whit Merrifield, and Alex Gordon to carry the offense in 2018. However, the rest of the lineup is basically filled with unproven or unproductive players. Cheslor Cuthbert, Jorge Soler, and Jorge Bonifacio all need to make improvments if the Royals want to have a good lineup in 2018. Also, young players like Hunter Dozier and Paulo Orlando will need to make contributions in 2018. Perez, Gordon, and Merrifield are enough to make the Royals offense decent, but for their offense to be successful then they will need other position players to step up. The Kansas City Royals starting pitching rotation appears to have major issues as well. Danny Duffy is the clear ace of the Royals pitching staff, but the problem is he is the only reliable starter that they have. Ian Kennedy and Jason Hammel are both proven veteran pitchers in the MLB, but they both were absolutely terrible last season. The Royals need Kennedy and Hammel to improve quite a bit if they even want a decent starting rotation. It is unclear who the 4th or 5th starters will be in the Royals rotation, but Kansas City needs at least somebody else besides Duffy to step up and have a good 2018 season or else the Royals will have a very poor rotation. The Royals bullpen also could be a weakness in 2018 especially after they lost Joakim Soria this offseason. Kelvin Herrera is the team’s closer and he is a decent option in that role, although he struggled for the team last season. Brandon Maurer is the new 8th-inning guy for Kansas City after being acquired this offseason, but he was absolutely terrible last season. The Royals absolutely need Herrera and Maurer to be much better in 2018 or else the Royals bullpen could be very bad. Either way, the Royals need some more depth in their bullpen even if those two guys return to form in 2018. Kansas City is clearly rebuilding their roster once again and they don’t appear to even have a shot at making the playoffs this season.

5. Detroit Tigers

Detroit still has some big bats in the middle of their lineup with Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and Alex Castellanos. However, the problem is that the rest of the lineup isn’t very good and they probably won’t help the other 3 guys out very much. Cabrera and Martinez also are getting older and they didn’t have very good seasons in 2017 especially by their standards. If the Tigers have any hope of scoring runs in 2018 then they will need Cabrera and Martinez to step up and return to the all-star caliber players that they once were. The bullpen also appears to be a weakness as they don’t have much depth besides Shane Greene and Alex Wilson. Greene was a very good late-inning option for the Tigers last season and he figures to provide the team with a good closer. Alex Wilson had a down 2017 season, but he is likely to bounce back in 2018 and he is still a quality setup man. However, Detroit needs another relief pitcher to step up if they even want to have a decent bullpen. The strength of Detroit’s team is clearly their pitching staff. Michael Fulmer is the new ace of their rotation and he should continue to get even better in 2018 as he gains more experience at the MLB level. Jordan Zimmermann once was a terrific pitcher, but since he signed with Detroit he has been absolutely terrible. However, Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris are the keys to the success of the Tigers starting rotation. Both Boyd and Norris are talented starting pitchers, although they both had a very disappointing 2017. If they bounce back and at least become decent pitchers then the Tigers could have a good starting rotation. Detroit still has some good players, but they are in a clea rebuilding mode and it doesn’t appear that they have much hope at all for the 2018 season.

2018 NL East Predictions

  1. Washington Nationals

The Nationals are definitely the team to beat in the NL East and there isn’t really a team that will likely compete with them in 2018. Washington has a terrific lineup led by Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmermann, Daniel Murphy, Anthony Rendon, and Trea Turner. Also, having a healthy Adam Eaton for the 2018 season makes this lineup even better. It is very difficult to find a weakness in their lineup as they have very dangerous hitters from top to bottom. Washington also has a very good starting rotation especially with Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Gio Gonzalez. It will be key that those 3 pitchers stay healthy because they have struggled with injuries in recent seasons. Washington also has a very good bullpen with Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson, and Brandon Kintzler as solid late-inning options. Overall, it is very difficult to find any weakness on this roster and they are not only the favorites to win the NL East, but they are legitimate world series contenders as well.

2. New York Mets

The Mets should certainly be a playoff contender if all goes well in 2018 and they might even provide some competition to the Nationals in the division. New York has arguably the best starting rotation in the MLB with Jacob DeGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, and Jason Vargas. However, the issue for the Mets is that their starting pitchers have really struggled to stay healthy. If the Mets pitchers can stay healthy for the most part in 2018 then they will clearly carry the team. The Mets also have a decent lineup led by very good outfielders Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce, and Michael Conforto. New York also added 3rd baseman Todd Frazier this offseason to provide even more depth to their lineup. It is unknown what they will get from the other starters like Asdrubal Cabrera and Adrian Gonzalez. However, if the Mets lineup can be above average then the Mets could be a very good team. New York’s bullpen also has the potential to be good as Jeurys Familia, Anthony Swarzak, and A.J. Ramos are all good late-inning options. However, the team needs to find a more reliable closer than they had last season and hopefully Familia can improve in that role in 2018. New York still has a few weaknesses that will hold them back, but if their starting rotation can just stay healthy and their lineup can be average then this could be a playoff team.

3. Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia had a very disappointing 2017 season, but they made several key additions that should help them to at least be a respectable team in 2018. Rhys Hoskins and Nick Williams are two solid outfielders that provide some power in the Phillies lineup and they should only get better in 2018. Also, the team signed veteran 1st baseman Carlos Santana this offseason and he will provide a big power bat in the middle of their lineup for sure. However, Philadelphia needs more production from other players in their lineup like Maikel Franco, Odubel Herrera, and Cesar Hernandez. The Phillies have the potential to be a good hitting team, but it is unknown what type of production that their young players can provide. However, Philadelphia clearly needs some starting pitching help. Aaron Nola is the clear ace for the Phillies rotation, but besides him the rotation is very inconsistent. The key for the Phillies pitching staff will be whether Jerad Eickhoff and Vince Velasquez can improve from their poor 2017 seasons. If Eickhoff and Velasquez can return to form in 2018 then the Phillies could have a decent starting rotation. However, Philadelphia still needs to find some better 4th or 5th starters as they are relying on unproven players Nick Pivetta and Ben Lively to fill those roles. Philadelphia did improve their bullpen this offseason though as they signed Tommy Hunter and Pat Neshek to be reliable setup options for quality closer Hector Neris. Philadelphia is a team that has high potential for the 2018 season, but they could also be a very bad team in 2018. The Phillies need their young players to step up and if they do so then the Phillies could possibly be a playoff contender.

4. Atlanta Braves

Atlanta is a similar team to the Phillies because they are still in a rebuild mode, although the Braves still could be a team that surprises some people this season. Freddie Freeman is an elite player that will carry the Braves offense once again in 2018. However, the rest of the lineup isn’t too much of a threat. Nick Markakis and Ender Inciarte should continue to be productive players, although neither provides much power as they only combined for 19 home runs last season. However, if the Braves want to be successful offensively they will need more production out of young infielders Dansby Swanson, Johan Camargo, and Ozzie Albies. Atlanta’s lineup has tons of potential with the young players that they have, although don’t expect much production out of it in 2018 besides Freeman. The Braves starting rotation doesn’t appear to be very good heading into the 2018 season. Julio Teheran is the only good starting pitcher that the team really has and even he didn’t have a very good 2017 season. Atlanta is hoping that Teheran can bounce back and be the ace that he has been for most of his career. The Braves also have Mike Foltynewicz and Sean Newcomb as a couple of inconsistent young starting pitchers. Both of those guys have tremendous potential, although they haven’t proven that they can be consistent starters at the MLB level. Atlanta will likely struggle quite a bit with their starting pitching and that will hold them back from being a competitive team. The Braves bullpen should be good this season as they have talented young closer Arodys Vizcaino leading the way. However, the depth behind him is kind of concerning as Jose Ramirez and A.J. Minter are the next best options and both of them are kind of unproven. Overall, Atlanta is a team that has some talented young players, but unless those players make significant improvements in 2018 then this team probably won’t be very competitive.

5. Miami Marlins

New owner Derek Jeter came in this offseason and basically made the Marlins a Triple-A team for the 2018 season as he traded away basically every quality player that the team had. The Marlins had a great outfield with Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, and Christian Yelich. However, Jeter decided to significantly cut payroll and he traded all three of those players away. The Marlins did get some good prospects back in those deals by acquiring Lewis Brinson, Monte Harrison, and Isan Diaz., yet that won’t help the Marlins be competitive in 2018. Brinson could win a starting job for the Marlins in 2018, but the other two guys will likely be starting in the minor leagues. Miami still has some good players in their lineup with J.T. Realmuto, Justin Bour, and Starlin Castro. However, the rest of the lineup is just filled with very unproven players or players like Cameron Maybin and Derek Dietrich that are just temporary starters. The Marlins won’t score many runs this season especially if they trade away Realmuto which they are highly likely to do. Meanwhile, the Marlins rotation have a couple of good starting pitchers with Dan Straily and Jose Urena. However, the rest of the rotation is not very good and they will be relying on unproven starting pitchers to make their rotation effective. The Marlins bullpen could be decent, but they will need closer Brad Ziegler and setup man Junichi Tazawa to improve tremendously in 2018 because they both weren’t good last season. Overall, Miami is arguably the worst team in the MLB heading into the 2018 season and they basically will be lucky if they are even a respectable team.