Baseball is back, and it’s set to be a fun year in the MLB. Can the Mariners and Padres live up to the hype? Will the Giants continue to struggle in odd years? Will we see Kris Bryant this year? But in the meantime, let’s see what each team will be featuring this year in regards to their lineup, rotation and top three relievers.
NOTE: DH’s are factored in for AL teams even if they start against an NL team. Also credit to Josh Eastern for helping me with the depth charts.
|De La Rosa|
Lineup: The Diamondbacks lineup really isn’t as bad as it seems. Paul Goldschmidt is a star, A.J. Pollock is a good leadoff guy, and there is also the young guys like Nick Ahmed and Jake Lamb along with the dangerous Mark Trumbo. The major surprise for Arizona, was reassigning Yasmany Tomas to AAA after an average spring, likely to work out some kinks and adjust to big league baseball.
Rotation: This is where Arizona is going to have it’s major struggles. Without Patrick Corbin, the Diamondbacks don’t even have a true #2 starter, much less a #1. The rotation really consists of mostly 3-4 starters rather than 1-2’s. The big positive of this group is top prospect Archie Bradley who will get his shot at the show this year.
Bullpen: The Arizona bullpen is fairly unchanged, with Addison Reed still closing, and Brad Ziegler and Oliver Perez in supporting roles at least until David Hernandez is healthy.
Lineup: The Braves made several interesting moves, basically picking apart their lineup in an effort to rebuild. Justin Upton, Jason Heyward and Evan Gattis were all traded, and while they did attempt to replace with Nick Markakis, the rest of the lineup is very pedestrian and doesn’t feature much else apart from Freddie Freeman and Andrelton Simmons. That was until they made an 11th hour blockbuster, significantly bolstering their outfield with Cameron Maybin and Carlos Quentin, though they do intend to flip Quentin soon.
Rotation: The Braves also picked apart their rotation, letting Kris Medlen, Gavin Floyd, Brandon Beachy and Aaron Harang walk. The Braves did bring in Shelby Miller in the Heyward trade, and still have Julio Teheran and Alex Wood, but Cahill and Stults in the 4 and 5 are both below average.
Bullpen: The aforementioned blockbuster did bring the Braves two outfielders, but cost them they’re phenom closer Craig Kimbrel. Luckily for the Braves, they do have ex-closer Jason Grilli to replace, and will likely just slot Josh Outman into where Grilli would’ve been.
Lineup: The Orioles took two big hits in the offseason losing both Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz, and now having to wait for Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy to recover from injuries. One big thing to keep an eye on is whether or not Manny Machado can stay healthy, something he has struggled to do thus far.
Rotation: There’s not really a bona fide superstar in their rotation but they have 4 very consistent starters who generally get the job done when needed too. There really isn’t a major drop off from #1 starter Chris Tillman to #4 starter Miguel Gonzalez. Then there’s Ubaldo Jimenez who for some mysterious reason is in the rotation over Kevin Gausman.
Bullpen: Baltimore has a fairly underrated bullpen, which features two very reliable relievers in Darren O’Day and closer Zach Britton. Like their rotation, there is no household name here, but a bunch of guys who all can get the job done when necessary.
Lineup: After being terrible last year, the Red Sox made two big upgrades to their lineup adding Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, along with prospect Mookie Betts. Couple them in with returning veterans in Napoli, Pedroia and the still dangerous David Ortiz, and the Red Sox may have the best lineup in baseball.
Rotation: The Red Sox have a pretty average rotation headed by Clay Buchholz who is coming off a horrid 2014 campaign. The rest of the staff is decent enough, but no one besides maybe Rick Porcello really incites fear into the heart of hitters.
Bullpen: Boston’s bullpen was brutal last year outside Koji Uehara, and now Uehara won’t be available to start the season. Tazawa, Mujica and Breslow are all serviceable, but none of them will be able to totally fill the Uehara void even if it will be brief.
Lineup: The Cubs boast a dangerous lineup of youngsters even without Kris Bryant, headlined by Jorge Soler and Anthony Rizzo. It’s a fairly complete lineup too, with 8 hitter Chris Coghlan posting a solid .283 average last year and a .352 OBP.
Rotation: The Cubs have a fairly underrated rotation led by star Jon Lester, but also featuring Jake Arrieta who had a great 2014 season posting a 2.53 ERA and 0.99 WHIP.
Bullpen: This could be the downfall of the Cubs. The top three of Rondon, Strop and Motte isn’t bad but after that there is very little in regards to reliable relievers in the Cubs bullpen.
Chicago White Sox:
Lineup: Melky Cabrera and Adam LaRoche may be just what the doctor ordered to boost the White Sox lineup into playoff contention. With the scrappy Adam Eaton leading off, and the menacing Jose Abreu in the 3 spot, Chicago has a well rounded lineup to produce.
Rotation: The White Sox will be temporarily without Chris Sale to start the season, but they just happen to have another #1 caliber starter in Jeff Samardzija along with sufficient depth in Noesi, Quintana and Danks.
Bullpen: The worst bullpen in baseball last year got two much needed upgrades in Zach Duke and David Robertson who along with Zach Putnam will be the top three in the pen. The White Sox also will get Jacob Petricka and Nate Jones back from injury at some point which will add even more arms in the later innings.
Lineup: Only one real new addition in Marlon Byrd, but the Reds could get much more out of their own players bouncing back. Jay Bruce had an abysmal 2014 campaign, while Joey Votto couldn’t stay healthy. If those two can return to form, and Todd Frazier and Devin Mesoraco can continue their success from last season, the Reds will have a fairly formidable lineup.
Rotation: Jonny Cueto is a top notch starter, but after that the staff is mediocre at best especially without Homer Bailey. It’ll be interesting to watch Iglesias and DeSclafani though, to see if they have a chance to be high end starters down the road.
Bullpen: The pure heat of Aroldis Chapman is the one bright spot in what is an otherwise poor bullpen. None of the other relievers are anything special, and will probably require starters to go 7 plus innings to ensure good results.
Lineup: Cleveland had a productive lineup last season, and added a power bat in Brandon Moss this past offseason. Michael Brantley had a breakout season last year, and could be a potential MVP candidate. Outside the current lineup, the Indians have phenom shortstop Francisco Lindor looming in the minors, ready to get his shot and take it.
Rotation: The Indians have an extremely top heavy rotation. Cy Young Winner Corey Kluber was dazzling last year, and Carlos Carrasco led the majors with a 1.72 ERA post All Star Game. Both also just got rewarded with large contract extensions. The issue for the Indians is that after those two, the staff takes a huge drop off. The next three, Trevor Bauer, T.J. House and Zach McAllister are all #5 caliber starters, making it more vital for Kluber and Carrasco to pitch well and ensure wins.
Bullpen: Cody Allen will handle the closing duties, but he doesn’t have a whole lot of help. Veterans Marc Rzepczynski and Scott Atchison will likely be the first two guys up, but outside them and Bryan Shaw, the bullpen is very pedestrian.
|De La Rosa|
Lineup: Same old, same old for Colorado, just without Michael Cuddyer. The Rox boast maybe the best lineup in the league top to bottom as long as they can stay healthy of course which is easier said than done. If you want to watch one guy on this team, watch Corey Dickerson. The 25 year old hit .312 with a .364 OBP and 24 home runs last season.
Rotation: The best lineup in baseball, coupled with the worst rotation in baseball. The Rockies barely even have a #3 starter, much less a #1. The release of Jhoulys Chacin was puzzling, especially now with the Rockies losing several starters to injury.
Bullpen: The aging LaTroy Hawkins will still be the closer here, but it’ll be interesting to see how long that lasts considering he wasn’t particularly good last season. After him, there’s Boone Logan and Rafael Betancourt, but that’s about all they have. They’ll score a lot, but it’s still gonna be a long season in Colorado.
Lineup: The big X-Factor here is J.D. Martinez. If Martinez can replicate his success last year, the Tigers should be able to win the Central handily. If not, it could get a little more interesting. They do have Yoenis Cespedes after trading Rick Porcello for him, but Cespedes isn’t all that great of a pure hitter as he is a big power bat.
Rotation: Detroit will start with a 4 man rotation, until Justin Verlander returns on April 12th. David Price will lead the charge here, but the Tigers have a pretty complete rotation, and will be able to get good outings from the 5th starter which is likely to be Shane Greene.
Bullpen: This is where things get sketchy. Detroit’s bullpen, especially closer Joe Nathan was abysmal last year. They brought in Joakim Soria at the deadline which helped, but there is still no true shutdown reliever in the Tigers pen meaning all Detroit fans will be holding their breath when the games reach the 8th and 9th innings.
Lineup: Could the Astros be a dark horse contender? Probably not this year, but they certainly made some moves to advance that way by trading for Evan Gattis and signing both Jed Lowrie and Colby Rasmus. The leader of this offense though is the diminutive Jose Altuve who hits about any pitch that doesn’t hit him, and generally hits it where fielders aren’t.
Rotation: Dallas Keuchel had a great 2014 campaign, and will head a very unknown. Names like Asher Wojciechowski and Colin McHugh aren’t exactly household, but McHugh had a very productive season, and Wojciechowski is a former first round pick who finally gets his shot.
Bullpen: Pat Neshek and Luke Gregerson were added to solidify a respectable bullpen featuring another veteran in closer Chad Qualls. The rest of the gang is like their rotation, guys who aren’t really name players but get the jobs done.
Lineup: The losses of Billy Butler and Nori Aoki won’t sting as most may think considering Butler’s lack of power, and Aoki’s lack of anything besides singles. They are replaced by Kendrys Morales who provides more power and Alex Rios who provides more entirely than Aoki. After being just 90 feet away from tying Game 7, you can guess the Royals will be seeking redemption.
Rotation: James Shields walked, but KC did a good job replacing him with Edison Volquez and Kris Medlen who is still recovering from Tommy John. Flamethrower Yordano Ventura just got a big contract extension, and the Royals are plenty deep even without Medlen, being able to still produce a complete rotation.
Bullpen: The best top three in baseball without a question. If the Royals hold a lead going into the 7th inning, 9 times out of 10 it’s game over. Davis in the 7th, Herrera in the 8th and Holland in the 9th. Boom, boom, pow.
Los Angeles Angels:
Lineup: The only glaring weakness here is at 2nd base, where the Angels failed to replace Howie Kendrick. Kole Calhoun is one of the most underrated players in baseball and even at 35 years old, Albert Pujols is still one of the most dangerous hitters in baseball. Oh and then there’s that Trout guy. He can play a little baseball.
Rotation: The Angels will start with a 4 man rotation until Garrett Richards is healthy, but that 4 man rotation still features veterans Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson and younger guys in Hector Santiago and the surprising Matt Shoemaker who was trustworthy last year.
Bullpen: How clutch was that trade of Huston Street? The Angels bullpen was barely staying afloat until the Street trade. As soon as Street came in though, it became dynamite, and Street was nearly automatic coming into games in the 9th.
Los Angeles Dodgers:
Lineup: My only real question about the Dodgers lineup is how they can’t find a better 3rd basemen than Juan Uribe. The outfield is terrific, they took made sure to replace Dee Gordon and Hanley Ramirez and Matt Kemp with Jimmy Rollins, Howie Kendrick and Joc Pederson. It’ll be interesting to see how Yasiel Puig performs after a highly scrutinized 2014 campaign.
Rotation: They start short handed without Hyun-jin Ryu, but picked up Brett Anderson and Brandon McCarthy in the offseason to go with Greinke and Kershaw so they won’t be feel the void too much, especially because Ryu won’t be out for long.
Bullpen: It could be interesting for LA without Kenley Jansen and Brandon League. Paco Rodriguez will likely handle closing duties, but he’s unproven and there may be some potential problems in the Dodgers bullpen.
Lineup: This has the potential to be an absolutely dynamic lineup. Stanton is obviously a superstar, but look out for his fellow outfielders in Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna. The Marlins also added another power bat behind Stanton in Mike Morse and the dangerously fast Dee Gordon.
Rotation: Even without Fernandez, the Marlins have a great top to bottom rotation. Henderson Alvarez is the perfect #2 starter, and the Marlins round it out with Latos, Koehler, Cosart and Haren at least until Jose is healthy.
Bullpen: The staff could be a little iffy throughout the season. A.J. Ramos is a solid setup man, and Michael Dunn will be good in the middle innings but they’re a little short outside of that besides closer Steve Cishek.
Lineup: The Brewers lineup is virtually unchanged besides the fact that Scooter Gennett will be the everyday 2nd basemen instead of splitting with Rickie Weeks who signed with the Mariners and the addition of Adam Lind. It’s not a bad lineup by any means, and will likely put up a good amount of runs.
Rotation: No real star here, but also no real albatross. The rotation is pretty complete from 1 to 5, with Lohse not being miles better than 5th starter Jimmy Nelson.
Bullpen: Good decision to re-up K-Rod, and a couple of good middle innings guys in Will Smith and Jonathan Broxton and a bounce back candidate in Tyler Thornburg.
Lineup: The Twins top four of Santana, Dozier, Mauer and Vargas is actually pretty solid. It’s just after that where you start to wince. There is a whole lot of zip from 5-9, and while they’ll get some runs from the top 4 and occasionally from the other 5, there isn’t enough here to make an impact.
Rotation: Ervin Santana was brought in to improve a pathetic rotation, but now he’s suspended so the Twins are back at square one. Phil Hughes was fantastic last season, unfortunately there is absolutely nothing under him.
Bullpen: On the rare occasion Minnesota has a lead, Glen Perkins is a top notch closer. After him and Casey Fien though, their bullpen is just as bad as the rotation. The Twins don’t have any strengths and could very well be the worst team in baseball.
New York Mets:
Lineup: A pretty solid lineup top to bottom starting with speedy Juan Lagares to reliable Ruben Tejada. The big bats fill in the middle with Wright, Granderson, Cuddyer and the highly overlooked Lucas Duda who powered 30 home runs and 92 RBI last season.
Rotation: Even without Wheeler, this is one of the top rotations in baseball. Late bloomer Jacob de Grom will slot in at the #2 behind returning star Matt Harvey and the rest of the rotation will be dependable with Niese, Gee and Colon.
Bullpen: The Mets bullpen is very banged up missing Josh Edgin, Vic Black and Bobby Parnell but they made a smart trade dealing 4th outfield Matt Den Dekker to Washington for veteran reliever Jerry Blevins. After Blevins, they have the satisfactory work of Jeurys Familia, and the inconsistent closer Jenrry Mejia.
New York Yankees:
Lineup: A star-studded lineup on paper will have to prove that they can get it done. Almost all of the big names last year struggled with the exception of Jacoby Ellsbury. Three big things to watch are whether or not Brett Gardner can stay healthy again, how Didi Gregorious can replace Derek Jeter, and how long Stephen Drew stays at 2nd base with Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder waiting in the wings.
Rotation: It’ll be interesting to see how Masahiro Tanaka responds after missing part of last year to due injury and also if Michael Pineda can stay healthy. If both of those two things work out in the Yanks favor, the rotation could be dynamic.
Bullpen: The Yankees strength rests in their bullpen which features veteran lefty Andrew Miller, and the young, but totally filthy Dellin Betances. They also picked up hard throwing David Carpenter to round out a very deadly top three.
Lineup: A wacky offseason for the A’s saw Donaldson, Norris, Jaso, Lowrie and Moss all depart, and Semien, Lawrie, Butler and Zobrist enter. The A’s have the potential to either be really, really good or be painfully awful. They’ll be missing Coco Crisp to start the year along with Josh Reddick, and don’t really have a true starting first basemen.
Rotation: Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin will both miss the first couple months, but the A’s still have their ace Sonny Gray along with young guns Jesse Hahn, Kendall Graveman and Drew Pomeranz and the wily veteran Scott Kazmir. They did lose Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel and Jon Lester, but those trades will be more scrutinized rather than not retaining any of them.
Bullpen: Closer Sean Doolittle will miss the start of the season, but they should have no trouble filling the void. Tyler Clippard was acquired for Yunel Escobar, and Fernando Abad and Ryan Cook were both pretty lights out last season.
Lineup: Top to bottom, the worst lineup in baseball. The fact that their starting centerfielder is a 2nd baseman who’s never played above AA pretty much summarizes the Phils. The 2006 NL MVP Ryan Howard has fallen off to a point where Philadelphia is trying to do anything to trade him. The once superstar Chase Utley is still a productive player, but nowhere near where he used to be.
Rotation: The Phillies actually don’t have a terrible rotation, and they’ll be rolling a 4 man to start the year. Cole Hamels is still a premier pitcher, and Harang, Williams and Buchanan can fill the other three spots until Chad Billingsley is healthy, and Cliff Lee though that is further down the line.
Bullpen: Pitching really isn’t the Phillies issue though Jonathan Papelbon’s performance depends on the day. Ken Giles is a promising young reliever, and Jake Diekman has the potential to be good, but also can look totally lost on the hill.
Lineup: The loss of Russell Martin stings, but this lineup still shouldn’t have too many issues scoring. Superstar Andrew McCutchen still sits in the middle of the lineup, along with the powerful, yet strikeout prone Pedro Alvarez. The top of the lineup features the speedy Starling Marte along with the versatile Josh Harrison, and good bottom of the order hitters like Neil Walker and the young Gregory Polanco.
Rotation: No superstars here, but a pretty solid 1 through 5, though it does get a little sketchy at 4 and 5 with Locke and Worley. Charlie Morton will replace one of them when he’s healthy, but until then, they’ll need good starts from both of them.
Bullpen: Tony Watson is possibly the best non-closer reliever in baseball, and the Bucs also added Antonio Bastardo from Philadelphia. Mark Melancon is a solid closer as well, giving the Pirates a fairly formidable bullpen.
Lineup: I honestly don’t think A.J. Preller is sane. The Padres new GM pulled off trades to bring in Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, Justin Upton, Will Middlebrooks and Derek Norris who will all start. Jedd Gyorko and Yonder Alonso remain solid options at 2nd and 1st. The only real question is why the Padres didn’t upgrade from Alexi Amarista at shortstop.
Rotation: One of the most underrated rotations in baseball boasts a terrific 2-4 with Cashner, Ross and Kennedy along with veterans James Shields and Brandon Morrow. Pitching has been SD’s strength for a while and they managed to further improve it.
Bullpen: This was going to be the one weakness for San Diego, until magic man A.J. Preller pulled one more rabbit out of the hat, acquiring Craig Kimbrel from Atlanta to be the closer. This will move Benoit into the setup man spot, and give Nick Vincent, Dale Thayer and Kevin Quackenbush the main guys for middle innings.
Lineup: The loss of the Panda is going to really sting this lineup, but not as much as the Hunter Pence injury will. Never a team to win off offense, they still could be okay, but there isn’t a whole lot here outside of Buster Posey.
Rotation: Madison Bumgarner has officially established himself as a superstar, which is great for SF considering they have another one in Matt Cain. The issue comes with depth. Peavy and Hudson are aging and some question whether they still can get it done, while consistency has become a major issue for Tim Lincecum.
Bullpen: Sergio Romo has fallen off pretty considerably, but he’ll still get a shot here, just not as closer. That belongs to Santiago Casilla, who very quietly had a stellar 2014 season.
Lineup: The acquisition of Jason Heyward fills the void left by the heartbreaking death Oscar Taveras, and that’s about the only change. The Cardinals will be one of the best teams in baseball, and have a fantastic lineup top to bottom.
Rotation: Another real strength for the Cardinals comes in their deep rotation. Carlos Martinez, their 5th starter could likely be a #2 or 3 on some teams, and the rotation is led by one of the NL’s best in Adam Wainwright.
Bullpen: Closer Trevor Rosenthal may be as hot or cold as it gets. He did make 45 saves last year, but also walked 42 and had an ugly WHIP of 1.41 which would be terrible for a starter, much less a closer.
Lineup: The experts darling features a deadly 3-5 of Cano, Cruz and Seager. The big question mark for the Mariners is whether or not they can receive sufficient production from the rest of the lineup. Logan Morrison had a magnificent 2nd half, and Mike Zunino had a spectacular spring, but can they translate that into a full 162 game season.
Rotation: The Mariners rotation is an interesting one. Young stars Taijuan Walker and James Paxton could be big factors if they can avoid injuries, but if they can’t the M’s may have issues. As good as King Felix is, and as reliable as Iwakuma is, they don’t have a whole lot of starter depth outside of Roenis Elias.
Bullpen: The bullpen in Seattle is like that rag tag group of guys that somehow always get it done. After being awful in 2013, the Mariners had a tremendous pen in 2014, even with the unpredictable closer Fernando Rodney.
Lineup: Not much to see here. Rays don’t really have whole lot of firepower and won’t be scoring too many runs. Tampa Bay a team very clearly in a rebuild, and will likely deal some veterans at the deadline.
Rotation: This would actually be a tough rotation if it was healthy. Unfortunately it’s not with Cobb, Colome, Moore and Smyly hurt and as a result, it’s pretty brutal outside Archer and Odorizzi.
Bullpen: Brad Boxberger was a nice surprise last year, but lackluster Grant Balfour is still handling closer duties, and the Rays will be without top reliever Jake McGee for a few weeks.
Lineup: An injury riddled season derailed the Rangers last year, but their offense has a chance to be explosive. Choo, Fielder, Beltre and Moreland provide some pop and the Rangers should not struggle to knock in runs.
Rotation: As many runs as they may score, the pitching likely can’t bail them out. The rotation is very poor, and will be missing ace Yu Darvish all season. On the brightside, the Rangers should have some very high scoring affairs.
Bullpen: Neftali Feliz, Shawn Tolleson and the misfits defines this pen. Texas has zero after those two, and will likely blow a lot of leads in the middle innings before those two guys get an opportunity.
Lineup: Additions of Josh Donaldson and Russell Martin should make an already potent offense even more explosive. Reyes, Donaldson, Bautista, Encarnacion and Martin is likely the best 1-5 punch in baseball, and keep an eye on young Dalton Pompey in center.
Rotation: A brutal injury to Marcus Stroman will hamper this rotation, but the young combo of Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris should be able to lessen the blow along with veterans R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle.
Bullpen: With Sanchez starting, the Jays pen raises a lot of eyebrows. Brett Cecil will have to close, even though he’s only registered 6 career saves, and had a below average WHIP last season.
Lineup: No Rendon, Werth or Span, but the Nats should be just fine until they’re healthy. They have plenty of depth and still have Desmond, Harper and Zimmerman though he could be hurt soon too. Once the three mentioned are healthy, the Nats should have no trouble hitting the ball around the park.
Rotation: The best rotation in baseball and it’s not debatable. The 5th man Gio Gonzalez could likely be a #1 on most teams. Heck, the #6 Tanner Roark could be too. Scherzer is the top guy, but the Nats could easily throw anyone and get a chance to win almost every game.
Bullpen: The problem is, that the starters may have to go 7 or 8 innings. The Nationals bullpen wasn’t addressed this offseason as Rafael Soriano walked, and both Blevins and Clippard were dealt. Stammen and Storen are both dependable, but Casey Janssen is an inconsistent closer, and he’s not even healthy at the moment.