The month of April is here with us, which means basketball is back. Last Thursday was the opening day for 2018 MLB season and it was full of fanfare as it is the tradition. This season features 26 teams and already the betting odds for this MLB season are out. After a superb inaugural weekend, its time to look at some bold predictions on what to expect in the upcoming season.
1. This could be the best year for the Washington Nationals
Although the Houston Astros are the reigning champions and many still think they’re the best choice, the Nationals have a super talented team to match the defending champs. Their pitching staff is an exceptional one, anchored by Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer. The Nationals has a great offense that is likely to be dynamic this season featuring Adam Eaton and Trea Turner who will set the table for Anthony Rendon, Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy who’s expected to make a come back from injury. In additional, the Nationals are likely to feast on their relatively weak rivals in the National League – East division, which comprises of New York Mets, Miami Marlins, Philadelphia squads and Atlanta Braves.
2. J.D Martinez (Boston Red Sox) is the man to watch Compared to Giancario Stanton (New York Yankees)
In the 2017 season, the Yankees came second in the League and therefore signing Stanton is like a luxury pickup for the team. This season, we are likely to see the Yankees go even further depending on the effort from their pitching staff, especially when they lose at home. Conversely, the 2017 season saw the Red Sox ranked sixth when it comes to AL in the home runs. Martinez will be of great help to the team. He presence will have a great trickle-down effect which might alleviate a lot of pressure from some players like Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts.
3. 2018 National League Central season is not Chicago Cubs
After performing very well in 2016 season, the Cubs are showing the real signs of tougher times ahead. This season is likely to be harder for them, especially when we look at their starting rotation after suffering a major blow of losing Jake Arrieta (starting pitcher). For the team to remain in the group of elite, Jose Quintana will have to work even harder, while Yu Darvish must be able to validate his contract that is worth $126 million. Clearly, this is a big test for the Cubs. The NL Central is also more competitive this season after St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers made significant signings during the offseason. The two teams were able to add players like Marcel Ozuna and Christian Yelich, respectively.
4. For Toronto Blue Jays, we are expecting the team to be the underdog contender
The Blue Jays will depend on their healthy pitching that has many underrated players. On their list we have some healthy talents such as Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman who will prove their ace-like potential. They will also depend on third baseman and most underappreciated slugger Josh Donaldson. He performed very well in the last season. And finally, Randall Grichuk and Aledmys Diaz will have yet another season to re-establish themselves as super-talented players with ability to jumpstart the offense.
5. This season will see Baltimore Orioles drop out of contention and trade Manny Machado
After having a poor run with their superstar player Manny Machado (third baseman), the Orioles are likely to trade Machado as they continue to rebuild their team. For the Cleveland Indians, we might see a surprise acquirer for Machado. That will be a timely acquisition as it will give them time to go all-in since Cody Allen and Andrew Miller are in their final year. Furthermore, Machado will be an upgrade for the Indians offense. The challenge of adding Machado will be on the matchup for opponents.