MLB regional season preview

Kyle Flannery

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Opening day was last Monday, so maybe I’m cheating a little bit by previewing the MLB Season now, but here are a few predictions with the caveat that I’ve been able to glimpse a few games. Let’s start with the reigning San Franciscan champions. After winning three out of the last five World Series, the Giants seem to have developed an every-other-year trend, meaning that this could very well be a down year. Throughout the regular season and an October without enough superlatives, ace Madison Bumgarner accrued 270 innings, and although I hate to say it because I like the guy, he may be due for an extended trip to the DL. Even if he doesn’t, the off-season replacements for the Big Panda (Pablo Sandoval) and Michael Morse (3B Casey McGehee and 1B Norichika Aoki respectively) are not all that awe-inspiring. Quality pitching in AT&T Park combined with Buster Posey, who will have a monster year, will allow the Giants to put up a decent record, but I think they will inevitably miss out on the playoffs, especially with an improved Padres roster pilfering a few more wins than they did last year.

The L.A. Dodgers are quickly becoming this generation’s Yankees –– the team everyone loves to see lose. Despite spending a league-record 270 million dollars on payroll this season, all the money in the world will not buy the L.A. Dodgers a championship, at least not until Clayton Kershaw gets the St. Louis Cardinal monkey off his back. Although he is undoubtedly the cream of the crop among pitchers, having led the league in ERA the past four seasons, his inability to deliver in the postseason is becoming a broken record come October. Some might point to Don Mattingly not pulling his ace when he had the chance, but I believe that there is something to be said about a team having a pitcher’s number. The Dodgers will win games, no doubt, and the NL West, but they didn’t do anything in the off-season to get exponentially better. Instead, they simply unloaded Matt Kemp to the Padres. This stagnation is why I envision them falling tantalizingly close to winning the NL Divisional round against those pesky Cardinals yet again, who are a virtual lock to write in as contenders for the pennant every year.

While the A’s were the best team for the first half of the 2014 season, trading Yoenis Cespedes prompted a precipitous landslide into one of the worst in the second half. Backing into the playoffs, they fell to the surprising Royals in the AL Wild Card. After trading away Josh Donaldson to the Blue Jays, Brandon Moss to the Indians, and Jon Lester leaving of his own accord, they feature an entirely revamped roster. Despite losing all the offense that Donaldson, Cespedes and Moss provided, I find it hard to bet against the A’s at least having the potential to exceed expectations and make the playoffs, partly because they will be featuring the next crop in an endless line of young quality pitching from Sonny Gray and crew, and their ability to work the platoons, but a divisional round playoff loss is as far as the 2015 season will take them.

It has been a long time since the Mariners have had any hype, and talk about a World Series berth seems a bit premature. The only way that will happen is if Taijuan Walker and James Paxton can finally make an impact in the show, delivering on potential that has been a long time coming. If they do, dominant pitching will allow them to reach the postseason, either by winning the AL West or snagging a wild-card spot, but their offense still leaves something to be desired. While off-season addition Nelson Cruz hit 40 home runs last year in spacious Camden Yard, I don’t see him reaching even 30 at Safeco. Even if they do make the playoffs, and I’m skeptical, they will most likely bow out to the more experienced AL teams like the resurgent Red Sox or perennial Tigers, who are both my picks to reach the AL Championship.

I think the Red Sox make a mid-season pitching upgrade, take the pennant, eventually win the World Series over the Washington Nationals, and Big Papi retires at the end of the season.

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