Baseball season is almost here and that’s great news for both fans and bettors. Over the last few years America’s pastime has presented some incredible moments, including but not limited to Madison Bumgarner single-handily winning the Giants their third World Series title in six years, the Royals breaking a string of three decades without a title, and the Cubs, yes the Cubs, going all the way for the first time in a century. No team has repeated as champion since the Yankees in 1999 and 2000, and that record will likely stick for another year.
The Tribe went all the way to extra innings in game seven of last year’s World Series, but fell short. Now they are significantly better. Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar are back in the rotation after missing critical time down the stretch and in the playoffs due to injury. Outfield Michael Brantley is also back from a injury that took away most of 2016. And the club signed Edwin Encarnacion to hit home runs, and a lot of them. That’ll help them make up for the losses of Mike Napoli and Rajai Davis. With Andrew Miller in the bullpen, Corey Kluber anchoring the rotation, and young stars like Jose Ramirez, and Francisco Lindor at the top of the lineup, all systems are go for the Indians.
Despite dealing with a franchise record of 28 players landing on the disabled list last year, the Dodgers won 91 games and reached the NL Championship Series. They re-signed key free agents Kenley Jansen, Justin Turner, and Rich Hill, and added second baseman Logan Forsythe.
Hill, Kenta Maeda, and arguably the best pitcher in baseball, Clayton Kershaw, lead a rotation that will add one of the top prospects in the game, Julio Urias at some point this summer. L.A. has a lineup that seven or eight players could hit 20 home runs in, including Rookie of the Year Corey Seager. It’s World Series or bust for the Dodgers.
In three of the last five seasons the Nats have won at least 95 games. However, they have yet to win a playoff series since returning to DC. Nobody would argue with continuing to roll out a lineup featuring Bryce Harper, Trea Turner, Daniel Murphy, and Anthony Rendon. However, Washington dealt top pitching prospect Lucas Giolito in the off-season for Adam Eaton, who should make a very strong lineup even better.
Starting pitching is not an issue with Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg leading the way. Adding catcher Matt Wieters will do wonders for the staff, and perhaps calm down a bullpen that was leaky at times last year, and doesn’t have an established closer. Washington is all in this year, and that means if they need to make a deadline trade, they’ll do it. The pieces are in place.
Photo Credit: By Arturo Pardavila III from Hoboken, NJ, USA [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
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