2018 MLB Season Preview

It’s that time again! Baseball is in full swing (no pun intended) and as the days of spring training are winding down, everyone can’t wait for opening day. To pass some time, here’s a preview of the 2018 MLB season and my postseason and award predications.

Before I get into each individual team and their projected rotation, key bullpen pieces, projected lineup and outlook, here’s how I see the standings and postseason shaping out.

*= Wild Card
Teams with homefield advantage in bold

NL East

1. Washington Nationals
2. New York Mets
3. Philadelphia Phillies
4. Atlanta Braves
5. Miami Marlins

AL East

1. New York Yankees
2. Boston Red Sox*
3. Baltimore Orioles
4. Toronto Blue Jays
5. Tampa Bay Rays

NL Central

1. Chicago Cubs
2. St. Louis Cardinals
3. Milwaukee Brewers
4. Pittsburgh Pirates
5. Cincinnati Reds

AL Central

1. Cleveland Indians
2. Minnesota Twins
3. Chicago White Sox
4. Kansas City Royals
5. Detroit Tigers

NL West

1. Los Angeles Dodgers
2. Arizona Diamondbacks
3. Colorado Rockies
4. San Francisco Giants
5. San Diego Padres

AL West

1. Houston Astros
2. Los Angeles Angles*
3. Seattle Mariners
4. Oakland Athletics
5. Texas Rangers

A.L. Wild Card game: Red Sox over Angels
N.L. Wild Card game: Cardinals over Diamondbacks

ALDS: Astros over Indians, Yankees over Red Sox
NLDS: Cubs over Nationals, Dodgers over Cardinals

ALCS: Yankees over Astros
NLCS: Cubs over Dodgers

World Series: Yankees over Cubs


AL East

  Scott Engel/AP

Scott Engel/AP

New York Yankees

Projected rotation: Luis Severino, Sonny Gray, Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Jordan Montgomery
Key bullpen pieces: Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, David Robertson
Projected lineup:OF Brett Gardner, DH Aaron Judge, OF Giancarlo Stanton, C Gary Sanchez, 1B Greg Bird, SS Didi Gregorius, 2B Neil Walker, OF Aaron Hicks, 3B Brandon Drury

Outlook: It’s pretty much a two-headed race in the A.L. East between the Yankees and the Red Sox with one of the teams winning the division and the other securing a wild card berth likely. The Yankees and the Red Sox are pretty even this season. Both have first-year managers, both acquired a big-time bat in the offseason, both have stacked lineups but I give the Yankees the edge just because of their bullpen. The Yankees have three closers in their bullpen in Chapman, Betances and Robertson, it’s not even fair.

Boston Red Sox

 AP

AP

Projected rotation: Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Drew Pomeranz, Steven Wright
Key bullpen pieces: Craig Kimbrel, Joe Kelly, Heath Hembree
Projected lineup: OF Mookie Betts, OF Andrew Benintendi, 1B Hanley Ramirez, DH J.D. Martinez, 3B Rafael Devers, SS Xander Bogaerts, OF Jackie Bradley Jr, C Christian Vazquez, 2B Dustin Pedroia/Eduardo Nunez

Outlook:The Red Sox have the offensive firepower to win them 90+ games but my concern with them is their bullpen. Aside from Kimbrel and Kelly, they don’t have much to show for in their bullpen but if the offense shows up, they really won’t need the bullpen as they would already run the score up on teams. Seven out of nine batters in the lineup are capable of hitting 20+ homers a season.

Baltimore Orioles

Projected rotation: Dylan Bundy, Alex Cobb, Kevin Gausman, Andrew Cashner, Chris Tillman
Key bullpen pieces: Zach Britton, Brad Brach, Mychael Givens
Projected lineup: 3B Tim Beckham, 2B Jonathan Schoop, SS Manny Machado, OF Adam Jones, DH Mark Trumbo, 1B Chris Davis, OF Trey Mancini, C Caleb Joseph, OF Colby Rasmus

Outlook: I love the Orioles going out and bolstering their rotation by plucking Alex Cobb off the free agent market as well as Andrew Cashner. The starting pitching has always been a problem for the Orioles ever since they broke through back in 2012 and that limited them from going anywhere in the playoffs. It will be hard for them to retain Machado in this upcoming offseason and it seems like Machado will walk as he made the position change to SS to appear more versatile in the market.

Toronto Blue Jays

Projected rotation: Marcus Stroman, J.A. Happ, Marco Estrada, Jaime Garcia, Aaron Sanchez
Key bullpen pieces: Roberto Osuna, Seung Hwan Oh, Aaron Loup
Projected lineup: OF Curtis Granderson, 2B Devon Travis, 3B Josh Donaldson, 1B Justin Smoak, DH Kendrys Morales, SS Troy Tulowitzki, C Russell Martin, OF Randal Grichuk, OF Kevin Pillar

Outlook: The Toronto Blue Jays (otherwise known as the St. Louis Cardinals of the north) befriended the redbirds this offseason and made not one, but two deals with them as they acquired OF Randal Grichuk in one trade and SS Aledmys Diaz in another. They also signed relief pitcher Seung Hwan Oh in free agency, previously on the Cardinals and also signed starter Jaime Garcia (who was a longtime Cardinal before he was traded to the Braves last offseason). These are nice moves but I don’t see them putting the Blue Jays over the top and into the playoffs.

Tampa Bay Rays

Projected rotation: Chris Archer, Blake Snell, Nathan Eovaldi, Matt Andriese
Key bullpen pieces: Alex Colome, Dan Jennings, Daniel Hudson
Projected lineup: OF Denard Span, 3B Matt Duffy, OF Kevin Kiermaier, OF Carlos Gomez, C Wilson Ramos, 1B C.J. Cron, 2B Brad Miller, SS Adeiny Hechavarria, OF Mallex Smith

Outlook: It’s no secret that the Rays are in rebuild mode. After trading away, the greatest player ever to grace a Rays uniform, Evan Longoria, the Rays will once again be at the basement of the A.L. East. Starter Chris Archer and closer Alex Colome will be flying around trade rumors as the trade deadline gets closer and it’s a bit of a surprise that they weren’t traded this offseason after a non-busy offseason. Kevin Cash is going to do something interesting this season as he’s going with a four-man rotation. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

AL Central

 (Ross D. Franklin, Associated Press)

(Ross D. Franklin, Associated Press)

Cleveland Indians

Projected rotation: Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Danny Salazar, Mike Clevenger
Key bullpen pieces: Cody Allen, Andrew Miller, Zach McAllister
Projected lineup: SS Francisco Lindor, 2B Jason Kipnis, 3B Jose Ramirez, DH Edwin Encarnacion, 1B Yonder Alonso, OF Michael Brantley, OF Lonnie Chisenhall, C Yan Gomes,OF Tyler Naquin

Outlook: The Indians are once again heavy favorites in a weak A.L. Central. They’ve improved the lineup by adding Yonder Alonso and their rotation is as good as ever. Like the Red Sox, I have some concerns with their bullpen but other than that, their lineup is lethal. Francisco Lindor is an MVP candidate and Corey Kluber is always a threat to win the Cy Young.

Minnesota Twins

Projected rotation: Jose Berrios, Lance Lynn, Ervin Santana, Jake Odorizzi, Kyle Gibson
Key bullpen pieces: Addison Reed, Fernando Rodney, Ryan Pressley
Projected lineup: 2B Brian Dozier, 1B Joe Mauer, 3B Miguel Sano, OF Eddie Rosario, DH Logan Morrison, OF Byron Buxton, OF Max Kepler, SS Eduardo Escobar, C Jason Castro

Outlook: After going from dead last in 2016 to earning a wild card berth in 2017, the Twins showed that they are a wild card of a team and that you don’t know what team you’re going to get. They have a young core and made some nice moves to add to a subpar rotation by getting Lance Lynn and Jake Odorizzi. The bats are still the same but look for Miguel Sano to win a Silver Slugger this year.

Chicago White Sox

Projected rotation: James Shields, Carlos Rodon, Miguel Gonzalez, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Carson Fulmer* (Rodon is projected to be back by June after he had left shoulder surgery in September)
Key bullpen pieces: Joakim Soria, Nate Jones, Hector Santiago
Projected lineup: 2B Yoan Moncada, SS Tim Anderson, 1B Jose Abreu, OF Avisail Garcia, C Wellington Castillo, DH Matt Davidson, OF Ryan Cordell, 3B Yolmer Sanchez, OF Adam Engel

Outlook: I wouldn’t call it a “make or break” year for the White Sox young core of Moncada, Giolito, Lopez and Anderson but they need to show improvements from last season and I think they do that. While the wins might not come this year, the White Sox are totally set for the future and be on the lookout for them to make some noise next season.

Kansas City Royals

Projected rotation: Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, Jason Hammel, Jake Junis, Nate Karns
Key bullpen pieces: Kelvin Herrera, Brandon Maurer, Wily Peralta
Projected lineup: OF Jon Jay, 2B Whit Merrifield, 3B Mike Moustakas, C Salvador Perez, 1B Lucas Duda, OF Alex Gordon, DH Jorge Soler, SS Alcides Escobar, OF Paulo Orlando

Outlook: It’s hard to believe that just three seasons ago, the Royals were World Series champs and now, they’re a shell of their former selves. The rotation is not good, the lineup is okay, decent at best and they’re in serious trouble for the future as they have one of the worst farm systems in the MLB. Get used to seeing the Royals pick in the top 10 of MLB drafts in the near future.

Detroit Tigers

Projected rotation: Jordan Zimmerman, Michael Fulmer, Francisco Liriano, Matt Boyd, Daniel Norris
Key bullpen pieces: Shane Greene, Alex Wilson, Warwick Saupold
Projected lineup: OF Leonys Martin, 3B Jeimer Candelario, 1B Miguel Cabrera, OF Nick Castellanos, DH Victor Martinez, C James McCann, OF Mikie Mahtook, SS Jose Iglesias, 2B Dixon Machado

Outlook: Like the Royals, it’s crazy to see how far the Tigers have fallen off. Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez don’t have much left as they are in the twilight of their hall-of-fame careers. The Tigers farm system is pretty good but expect for the next three or so years for them to be at the bottom of the division.

AL West

 Brent Coomer/Houston Chronicle

Brent Coomer/Houston Chronicle

Houston Astros

Projected rotation: Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, Gerrit Cole, Lance McCullers, Charlie Morton
Key bullpen pieces: Ken Giles, Brad Peacock, Chris Devenski
Projected lineup: OF George Springer, 3B Alex Bregman, 2B Jose Altuve, SS Carlos Correa, OF Josh Reddick, 1B Yuli Gurriel, C Brian McCann, DH Evan Gattis, OF Jake Marisnick

Outlook: The Astros will look to defend their World Series title this season as they bring back virtually the same team as last season’s. There are very few weak links in the rotation or lineup, if any but like most teams, their bullpen can be an issue for them. Altuve, Correa, Springer and Bregman is a dangerous core to mess with and with the addition of Gerrit Cole this offseason, the Astros are without a doubt a favorite to win the World Series once again.

Los Angeles Angels

 AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Projected rotation: Garrett Richards, Shohei Otani, J.C. Ramirez, Matt Shoemaker, Tyler Skaggs
Key bullpen pieces: Cam Bedrosian, Blake Wood, Blake Parker
Projected lineup: 2B Ian Kinsler, OF Mike Trout, OF Justin Upton, DH Albert Pujols, OF Kole Calhoun, SS Andrelton Simmons, 3B Zack Cozart, 1B Luis Valbuena, C Martin Maldonado

Outlook: The Angels weren’t messing around this offseason as they acquired Ian Kinsler from the Tigers, re-signed Justin Upton, signed Zack Cozart and signed versatile Japanesesuperstar Shohei Otani. Finally, Mike Trout has a legit team to play with.

Seattle Mariners

Projected rotation: James Paxton, Felix Hernandez, Mike Leake, Marco Gonzales, Erasmo Ramirez
Key bullpen pieces: Edwin Diaz, Juan Nicasio, Nick Vincent
Projected lineup: OF Dee Gordon, SS Jean Segura, 2B Robinson Cano, DH Nelson Cruz, 3B Kyle Seager, 1B Ryon Healy, OF Mitch Haniger, C Mike Zunino, OF Ben Gamel

Outlook: The Mariners have the bats but they need consistent pitching from both the rotation and the bullpen. Felix Hernandez isn’t what he once was but James Paxton is a stud. I love the move acquiring Juan Nicasio in free agency to add more depth to the bullpen. I’d say Seattle has a top 10 lineup in all of baseball.

Oakland Athletics

Projected rotation: Kendall Graveman, Sean Manaea, A.J. Puk, Trevor Cahill, Daniel Mengden
Key bullpen pieces: Blake Treinen, Yusmeiro Petit, Santiago Castilla
Projected lineup: SS Marcus Semien, DH Matt Joyce, 2B Jed Lowrie, OF Khris Davis, 1B Matt Olson, OF Stephen Piscotty, C Jonathan Lucroy, 3B Matt Chapman, OF Dustin Fowler

Outlook: The Athletics are on the come-up. There is a lot of power in that lineup but the pitching needs work. Losing Jherel Cotton for the season thanks to Tommy John is a tough blow for the Athletics as him and A.J. Puk will be a nice 1-2 punch down the road.

Texas Rangers

Projected rotation: Cole Hamels, Mike Minor, Doug Fister, Matt Moore, Martin Perez, Jesse Chavez
Key bullpen pieces: Alex Claudio, Matt Bush, Tim Lincecum
Projected lineup: OF Delino DeShields, 1B Joey Gallo, OF Nomar Mazara, 3B Adrian Beltre, SS Elvis Andrus, DH Shin-Soo Choo, 2B Rougned Odor, C Robinson Chirinos, OF Drew Robinson

Outlook: The thing that jumps out at me about the Rangers is the first two spots in the lineup. Manager Jeff Bannister said that batting Gallo second is “a real possibility”, which is odd because he is seen as a four-hole hitter. The thing with Gallo is that teams play a shift on him as he is a heavy pull hitter but with him batting second and speedy leadoff man Delino Deshields getting on base and steals second, teams can’t play the shift as Deshields can walk to third base. With him in scoring position and with Gallo at the plate, that can be a very dangerous combination and the Rangers can get runs up early and often. Bannister is also going with a six-man rotation this year so that will be something to look out for as well.

NL East

 (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

(Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

Washington Nationals

Projected rotation:Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Tanner Roark, Gio Gonzalez, A.J. Cole
Key bullpen pieces: Sean Doolittle, Brandon Kintzler, Ryan Madson
Projected lineup: OF Adam Eaton, SS Trea Turner, OF Bryce Harper, 2B Daniel Murphy, 3B Anthony Rendon, 1B Ryan Zimmerman, C Matt Wieters, OF Michael Taylor

Outlook: Will this finally be the year that the Nationals get out of the NLDS? The Nationals have been to the playoffs four times in the last eight years and every time they have lost in the NLDS. Maybe new manager Dave Martinez can do it? The Nationals have solid hitters up and down the lineup and the starting pitching is there as well but even with all this talent on the roster, I still think the Nationals are one piece away, whether that’s in the lineup or in the rotation.

New York Mets

Projected rotation: Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler
Key bullpen pieces: A.J. Ramos, Jeurys Familia, Anthony Swarzak
Projected lineup: OF Michael Conforto, OF Yoenis Cespedes, OF Jay Bruce, 3B Todd Frazier, 1B Adrian Gonzalez, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera, C Travis d’Arnaud, SS Amed Rosario

Outlook: The Mets are in a weird spot. They have one of the best rotations in baseball yet, their lineup is pretty underwhelming. Cespedes and Bruce are probably the best hitters on the team but it will be interesting to see if their pitching will keep them afloat.

Philadelphia Phillies

Projected rotation: Aaron Nola, Jake Arrieta, Vincent Velasquez, Ben Lively, Nick Pivetta* (Pivetta will be filling in for Jerad Eickhoff who will be out until at least May with a lat strain)
Key bullpen pieces: Hector Neris, Pat Neshak, Luis Garcia
Projected lineup: 2B Cesar Hernandez, OF Odubel Herrera, 1B Carlos Santana, OF Rhys Hoskins, 3B Maikel Franco, OF Nick Williams, SS J.P. Crawford, C Jorge Alfaro

Outlook: I’m drinking the Phillies Kool-Aid this season. I love the hiring of their 42-year-old manager that looks like he’s 28, Gabe Kapler. I think his zany nature reminds me a lot of former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly in that he’s all about his culture. Now we all know what happened to Kelly but I see Kapler as a better version of Kelly as he probably can connect with his players more than Kelly did because Kapler is a former major leaguer. Add that with a young core of Hoskins, Crawford, Nola and Williams as well as veteran pitcher Jake Arrieta and I think the Phillies can be a sneaky wild card team.

Atlanta Braves

Projected rotation: Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz, Sean Newcomb, Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir (editors note: Scott Kazmir has since been released by Atlanta)
Key bullpen pieces:
Arodys Vizcaino, Sam Freeman, Peter Moylan
Projected lineup: OF Ender Inciarte, 2B Ozzie Albies, 1B Freddie Freeman, C Tyler Flowers, OF Nick Markakis, OF Preston Tucker, SS Dansby Swanson, 3B Rio Ruiz

Outlook: Stay patient Braves fans. Your time is coming soon, just wait. Top prospect Ronald Acuna should be in the majors this year and the Braves already have a pretty young lineup with Albies and Swanson in the middle infield. Don’t expect the Braves to do much this season in terms of winning as this season will probably be a stepping stone season to get the young guys some time.

Miami Marlins

Projected rotation: Jose Urena, Justin Nicolino, Jacob Turner, Wei-Yin Chen, Dan Straily
Key bullpen pieces: Brad Ziegler, Adam Conley, Kyle Barraclough
Projected lineup: OF Lewis Brinson, OF Derek Dietrich, 2B Starlin Castro, 1B Justin Bour, C J.T. Realmuto, 3B Martin Prado, OF Cameron Maybin, SS Miguel Rojas

Outlook: I feel like the most underrated stat in sports is the playoff drought that the Marlins have been on. The last time they made the postseason was in 2003 when they won the World Series, but that was 15 years ago and it might be another 15 years until the Marlins make the postseason again because what is going on in the 305? Just a few years ago, the Marlins looked like a team on the come up, ready to take over the National League. But after the tragic and untimely death of two-time All-Star and 2013 N.L. Rookie of the Year, Jose Fernandez back in 2016 and after trading away cornerstone players such as 2017 MVP Giancarlo Stanton to the Marlins, Christian Yelich to the Brewers and Marcell Ozuna to the Cardinals, the Marlins are going to be the worst team in baseball not just this year, but potentially years to come.

NL Central

 (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Chicago Cubs

Projected rotation: Jon Lester, Yu Darvish, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana, Tyler Chatwood
Key bullpen pieces: Brandon Morrow, Carl Edwards Jr, Justin Wilson
Projected lineup: OF Ian Happ, 3B Kris Bryant, 1B Anthony Rizzo, C Willson Contreras, OF Kyle Schwarber, SS Addison Russell, OF Jason Heyward, 2B Javier Baez

Outlook: The Cardinal fan in me is going to hate this but I think the Cubs get over their “World Series hangover” this year and get back to their domination of the National League. Darvish is a much better pitcher than Arrieta, you know what you’re going to get with Lester, Hendricks, Quintana and Chatwood are quality pitchers, the Cubs rotation 1-5 is very good and could spell trouble for N.L. Central hitters. Ian Happ is really coming into his own after bursting onto the scene last season and the duo of “Bryzzo” Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo will be lethal.

St. Louis Cardinals

 Twitter

Twitter

Projected rotation: Carlos Martinez, Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Luke Weaver, Miles Mikolas
Key bullpen pieces: Luke Gregerson, Dominic Leone, Tyler Lyons
Projected lineup: 1B Matt Carpenter, OF Dexter Fowler, OF Tommy Pham, OF Marcell Ozuna, C Yadier Molina, SS Paul DeJong, 3B Jedd Gyorko, 2B Kolton Wong

Outlook: Non-biased, I think the Cardinals are a top 10 lineup in baseball. There’s a lot of pop in that lineup with six, maybe seven guys capable of hitting 20+ home runs a year. The addition of Ozuna was much, much needed after the Cardinals went without a true four-hole hitter since Albert Pujols left. I think the bullpen makes strides this season after struggling, and that all depends on Mike Matheny’s bullpen management as well but everything this season comes down to the rotation which is wildly inconsistent aside from Martinez. You never know what you’re going to get from Adam Wainwright or Michael Wacha every start, Luke Weaver is still young and I don’t know anything about Miles Mikolas as the Redbirds signed him from Japan. Alex Reyes will also be a factor this year after missing last year recovering from Tommy John. It will be interesting if the Cardinals want to use him as a starter, his natural position, or a guy in the bullpen, like they did in his first year in the majors.

Milwaukee Brewers

Projected rotation: Chase Anderson, Zach Davies, Jhoulys Chacin, Junior Guerra, Brent Suter/Jimmy Nelson
Key bullpen pieces: Corey Knebel, Jacob Barnes, Jeremy Jeffress
Projected lineup: OF Christian Yelich, OF Lorenzo Cain, 3B Travis Shaw, 1B Ryan Braun, OF Domingo Santana, SS Orlando Arcia, C Manny Pina, 2B Jonathan Villar

Outlook: I’ve said it many time about the Brewers and I’ll say it again, the thing that limited them from making the playoffs last year was starting pitching and it might do them in again this year. They’ve made big moves acquiring Yelich and Cain but they’ve done little to anything to their rotation and they’re hoping for another quality year out of Chase Anderson but that won’t be enough to launch them into the playoffs but they will certainly be a pest for the Cardinals and the Cubs in the division this year.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Projected rotation: Ivan Nova, Chad Khul, Trevor Williams, Jameson Taillon, Joe Musgrove
Key bullpen pieces: Felipe Rivero, George Kontos, Michael Feliz
Projected lineup: 2B Josh Harrison, OF Corey Dickerson, OF Starling Marte, 1B Josh Bell, OF Gregory Polanco, C Francisco Cervelli, 3B Colin Moran, SS Jordy Mercer

Outlook: The Pirates are in rebuild mode after trading away Andrew McCuttchen and Gerrit Cole this past offseason. Don’t expect a ton of wins at PNC Park this year as their rotation lacks dominant pitchers, although it is nice to see Jameson Taillon back after he battled testicular cancer last season. Their lineup is okay as Josh Bell, Josh Harrison and Starling Marte are pretty solid.

Cincinnati Reds

Projected rotation: Homer Bailey, Luis Castillo, Sal Romano, Anthony DeSclafani, Tyler Mahle
Key bullpen pieces: Rasiel Iglesias, David Hernandez, Michael Lorenzen
Projected lineup: OF Billy Hamilton, OF Jesse Winker, 1B Joey Votto, 3B Eugenio Suarez, 2B Scooter Gennett, SS Jose Peraza, OF Scott Schebler, C Tucker Barnhart

Outlook: I’m going to be honest here. I’m a huge baseball fan, I love it, it’s my favorite sport, I love the MLB and I follow it heavily. With that being said, I want to congratulate Homer Bailey and Anthony DeSclafani for doing something good enough for me to remember them because aside from those two, I had no idea who the other three pitchers in the rotation were. Did they pick them up off the street? Who are these guys? After doing some research, Luis Castillo is actually a decent pitcher and I even picked him up for my fantasy team but me not knowing most of the Reds rotation says pretty much everything you need to know about the 2018 Cincinnati Reds.

NL West

 (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Los Angeles Dodgers

Projected rotation: Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Alex Wood, Kenta Maeda, Hyun-Jin Ryu
Key bullpen pieces: Kenley Jansen, Ross Stripling, Pedro Baez
Projected lineup: OF Chris Taylor, SS Corey Seager, 3B Justin Turner* 1B Cody Bellinger, OF Yasiel Puig, OF Matt Kemp, C Yasmani Grandal, 2B/3B Logan Forsythe, 2B Chase Utley* (Forsythe will move to 3B while Justin Turner recovers from a fractured wrist, Utley will start at 2B during that time)

Outlook: The Dodgers took a pretty big hit to their lineup (no pun intended) after star 3B Justin Turner fractured his wrist after getting hit by a pitch in Spring Training. The good thing about the Dodgers though is that they have depth and a lot of versatile players who can play a lot of positions should any player go down with injury. Enrique Hernandez burst onto the scene last postseason as more than just a utility guy and of course, Clayton Kershaw will go back to being his dominant himself this year.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Projected rotation: Robbie Ray, Taijuan Walker, Zack Greinke, Zack Godley, Patrick Corbin
Key bullpen pieces: Archie Bradley, Yoshihisa Hirano, Andrew Chafin
Projected lineup: OF David Peralta, OF A.J. Pollock, 1B Paul Goldschmidt, 3B Jake Lamb, OF Steven Souza, C Alex Avila, 2B Ketel Marte, SS Nick Ahmed

Outlook: After making the postseason last season, I think the Diamondbacks go back to the postseason this year again. The bats are there, the bullpen is there, the rotation is pretty consistent. The thing that makes them a wild card team though is the Dodgers as they are just too good of a team and I don’t think the Diamondbacks are quite ready to compete for that divisional crown. If they kept onto J.D. Martinez, yes, I think they would be a legitimate threat to break the Dodgers streak of five straight division titles.

Colorado Rockies

Projected rotation: Jon Gray, Tyler Anderson, Chad Bettis, Kyle Freeland, German Marquez
Key bullpen pieces: Wade Davis, Bryan Shaw, Jake McGee
Projected lineup: OF Charlie Blackmon, 2B D.J. LeMahieu, OF Carlos Gonzalez, 3B Nolan Arenado, SS Trevor Story, 1B Ian Desmond, OF Gerardo Parra, C Chris Iannetta

Outlook: I cannot remember the Rockies ever having a true “Ace” of a pitcher. Even when they went to the World Series in 2007, their best pitcher was Jeff Francis. Jeff friggin Francis. The Rockies are a weird team honestly. Coors Field giveth and Coors Field taketh away. The hitting numbers at Coors Field are inflated thanks to the altitude which makes their offense so much better than it already is but then their pitching numbers are inflated as well as the mix of a mediocre rotation and Coors Field is not a good mix.

San Francisco Giants

Projected rotation: Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Ty Blach, Derek Holland, Jeff Samardzija
Key bullpen pieces: Mark Melancon, Hunter Strickland, Tony Watson
Projected lineup: 2B Joe Panik, 1B Brandon Belt, OF Andrew McCutchen, C Buster Posey, 3B Evan Longoria, SS Brandon Crawford, OF Hunter Pence, OF Austin Jackson

Outlook: I’m not buying the Giants hype this year, I don’t care that it’s an even year. Their core is getting older, there isn’t that much young talent on this team, sure they might be contending for a Wild Card spot come September but I think they’re going to fizzle out once they have to face teams such as the Rockies twice, the Mets, the Brewers on the road, the Cardinals on the road and the Dodgers.

San Diego Padres

Projected rotation: Clayton Richard, Dinelson Lamet, Luis Perdomo, Bryan Mitchell, Robbie Erlin
Key bullpen pieces: Brad Hand, Craig Stammen, Kirby Yates
Projected lineup: OF Manuel Margot, 3B Chase Headley, OF Wil Myers, 1B Eric Hosmer, OF Jose Pirela, C Austin Hedges, SS Freddy Galvis, 2B Carlos Asuaje

Outlook: Just like the Braves, be patient Padres fans. Your time will come and it will come soon. They have the top farm system in all of baseball, they just secured slugger Eric Hosmer for seven years, they have nice, young pieces such as Manny Margot, Austin Hedges, Hunter Renfroe and Corey Spangenberg, the Padres will be a very good team within the next 3-5 years, this season though, will be a rebuilding year and the main focus will be to develop the younger guys, both in the MLB and in the minors.