The 2015 Major League Baseball season is upon us and it is one that holds great expectations for the two local teams. The Baltimore Orioles are looking to achieve their fourth-straight winning season and to get back to the playoffs for the third time in four years. In D.C., the Nationals are “all in” as they signed free-agent RHP Max Scherzer away from the Tigers with a seven-year, $210M deal. Scherzer bolsters what was already one of the best rotations in all of baseball. Like the Orioles, the Nats have been to the postseason twice in three years. It is World Series or bust in 2015 for the Washington ball club.
Today, yours truly will break out the predictions for the upcoming MLB campaign.
Let’s start with the National League.
1. Nationals: Only team in the division with a winning record in ’14. Won going away. Should win again with relative ease. It’s all about the postseason.
2. Marlins: Gave Giancarlo Stanton $300M. Good, young talent here. Will get RHP Jose Fernandez back around mid-season.
3. Mets: Get RHP Matt Harvey back from Tommy John surgery but lose RHP Zack Wheeler for the season with same ailment. 3B David Wright should be healthier than he was in ’14.
4. Braves: Signed former Oriole RF Nick Markakis, but where is the offense coming from? Should have a good rotation.
5. Phillies: It’s going to be a long year for the Fightin’ Phils.
1. Pirates: Trying for three-straight postseason berths for the first time in over 20 years. CF Andrew McCutchen is one of the game’s top stars. RHP Gerrit Cole could have a big year.
2. Cardinals: Always among the best when it comes to pitching. RF Jason Hayward comes over from the Braves with hopes of bolstering an offense that dropped in production in ’14.
3. Brewers: Faded badly in ’14. Could have a run left in them. Rotation is iffy. Can RF Ryan Braun bounce back?
4. Cubs: New manager in Joe Maddon. A new ace in LHP Jon Lester. A trendy pick to challenge in ’15. Probably a year away.
5. Reds: Should have a solid rotation. They need 1B Joey Votto to stay healthy and 2B Brandon Phillips to regain his form from a couple of seasons ago.
1. Dodgers: Hopes are high in L.A. for the Dodgers to make a deep playoff run. LHP Clayton Kershaw leads a top-heavy starting staff. Veterans Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick will form a new DP duo.
2. Giants: I’ll give the defending World Series Champs the benefit of the doubt. They did lose 3B Pablo Sandoval. After LHP Madison Bumgarner, the rotation has some question marks. Can RHP Matt Cain be what he once was?
3. Padres: Made some big moves in the offseason. A new OF features Justin Upton, Matt Kemp and Will Myers. RHP James Shields was added to the rotation.
4. Rockies: Hoping to keep SS Troy Tulowitzki and OF Carlos Gonzalez healthy. Had a winning record (45-36) at home in ’14. Were a dreadful 21-60 on the road.
5. Diamondbacks: When healthy, 1B Paul Goldschmidt and OF Mark Trumbo can provide some pop. RHP Jeremy Hellickson, the 2011 AL ROY, was acquired from the Rays to help the rotation.
On Friday, I’ll have my AL and postseason predictions.