There may still be snow on the ground, but it is almost time to fire up the grill, cook some hot dogs, and enjoy America’s national pastime. The Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals will clash on April 5, to kickoff what is certain to be a wild an exciting season. The 2014 version of Major League Baseball saw the San Francisco Giants end the Kansas City Royals’ magical run to a World Title. What will we see this year? That we don’t know, but I will give it a shot with five bold predictions for the upcoming MLB season.
1. The San Diego Padres and New York Mets make the Playoffs
These two clubs have been at or near the bottom of their respective divisions for quite some time now. Over the past 10 seasons, the MLB has seen resurgence from some of the franchises used to picking high in June’s annual draft. The Pirates, Royals, Nationals, and even going as far back as the Rays have become stable ball clubs, two of which have gone to the World Series in the past decade. The Padres and Mets are primed to join these young ball clubs and compete for the post season. The Mets will be aided by the return of Matt Harvey, who missed the entire 2014 season with reconstructive elbow surgery, and the Padres made moves in the off season to turn around their club, signing multiple big time free agents, including James Shields.
2. Matt Harvey Will Win N.L. Cy Young and Comeback Player of the Year
Speaking of the Mets, they will be leaning heavily upon the right arm of Harvey, who will not only return to 2013 form, but he will be even better. There is no reason why Harvey’s arm should not be fresh and ready for big innings starting on opening day. With limited run support in 2013, Harvey went 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA. Pitching in front of an improved Mets ball club should do nothing but help Harvey’s statistics in 2015.
3. Justin Masterson Will be the Ace the Red Sox Have Been Looking for
I told you these would be bold. Boston has been looking for Jon Lester’s replacement since he bolted to Chicago, and although he wasn’t brought here to fill that role, Masterson will be that guy. His career numbers would suggest I’m crazy, and maybe I am, but a return to where his career started will serve as a revival for Masterson’s career. The former Cape Leaguer and 2013 MLB all-star will thrive off of the low expectations for him in Boston. For three consecutive seasons he was the opening day starter for Cleveland, a sub-par team, and the expectations hindered his performance. Masterson may not put up Lester like numbers, emerge as the Red Sox ace, at least until help comes on July 31st.
4. The Yankees will Finish Last in the A.L. East
The Yankees could either make one final postseason push with their current core of players, or it could completely blow up in their face. History tells me to lean towards the latter. With an already strong A.L. East, the Yankees will be relying heavily upon aging talent. New York will need huge bounce back years from players like C.C. Sabathia, and need veterans like Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Stephen Drew to turn back the clock. The Philadelphia Phillies were victimized by handing out large contracts and counting on aging players to play key roles in their lineup and rotation, and it’s gotten them nowhere; the Yankees are in danger of following suit.
5. The Royals and Cubs Will Not be Postseason Contenders in September
That feel good run that the Royals went on last year is over. They won’t go back to being the Royals of the early-mid 2000’s, but don’t expect another World Series run in 2015. The Royals had everything go right for them last fall after barely squeaking into the postseason. They failed to replace their top pitcher this offseason and will struggle to match last season’s success. For Cubs fans, wait one more year. Better times are coming but rebuilding take time. I certainly expect Theo Epstein, Joe Madden, and Jon Lester to bring Chicago to the postseason in the future; let’s just relax a little on the Cubs hype for now.
Nothing beats a nice evening at the ball park, eating a Fenway frank and singing some Sweet Caroline. Yes those times are approaching fast. Oh and before I forget, I have the Washington Nationals beating the Boston Red Sox in the World Series. I’m looking forward to seeing how many of my predictions are completely inaccurate. Enjoy the season.