MLB gears up for new season

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courtesy of ESPN

As we gear up for the 2021 MLB season, the MLB is going for a full 162 game schedule, with the ultimate goal being the same.

Andrew Sousa, Sports Editor

After a shortened 60-game 2020 season, Major League Baseball is heading into 2021 full steam.

Very few changes have been made to how this year’s 162-game season will occur, with teams remaining in their typical divisions and very few travel changes. Some teams hope to have fans in attendance with a return to normalcy in sight.

With that in mind, how will each team fare in a normal season again? Teams are listed in alphabetical order by league.

National League

Arizona Diamondbacks

After many injuries to key players such as Madison Bumgarner derailed last season, the Diamondbacks find themselves in a position no team wants to be in. Not good enough to compete for the NL West title, but not bad enough to challenge for a top draft pick.

How the first half of the season plays out for the D-Backs will decide whether they sell or go for one last push.

Atlanta Braves

After blowing a 3-1 series lead to the Dodgers in the National League Championship Series, the Braves are looking to redeem themselves. A potent offense led by Ronald Acuna Jr. and 2020 NL MVP Freddie Freeman should take the Braves deep in the postseason once again.

Chicago Cubs

An up and down 2020 season ended in a disappointing sweep by the Marlins in the Wild Card round. With an already lackluster offense being hurt by the departure of Kyle Schwarber, the Cubs will desperately need the pitching to carry them this year.

Cincinnati Reds

A team many picked to be a sleeper contender last season, the Reds sort of lived up to the hype, making the postseason for the first time since 2013. But their appearance was short lived, losing in the Wild Card round to the Braves.

The offense was atrocious last year, with pitching being their strength. But with Cy Young candidate Trevor Baeur leaving for the Dodgers in the offseason, this season could prove to be a step back for the Reds.

Colorado Rockies

Fully committing to a rebuild, the Rockies traded franchise star Nolan Arenado to the Cardinals during the offseason, and are likely going to try to trade anyone they can.

With rough days ahead for the team, look for franchise players such as Trevor Story and Charlie Blackmon to be on the move in the coming months.

Los Angeles Dodgers

The rich get richer. After winning the 2020 World Series, the Dodgers secured the prized jewel of the offseason, signing Baeur to a three year, $102 million contract.

With an elite offense backed by three aces in Clayton Kershaw, Walker Beuler, and now Baeur, the Dodgers will likely roll through baseball again for the foreseeable future.

Miami Marlins

A team expected to compete for the top pick heading into 2020, the Marlins surprised many, making the playoffs and winning a playoff series for the first time since 2003.

A promising hitting core led by Jesus Aguilar and Starling Marte looks to back up a surprisingly good bullpen, and don’t be surprised if the Marlins make it to the postseason for the second year in a row.

Milwaukee Brewers

One of two teams to make the 2020 postseason with a losing record, the Brewers certainly looked outmatched, being clobbered in the Wild Card round by the Dodgers.

With a depleted hitting core, and a shaky pitching staff, the window of contention for the Brewers is closing fast.

New York Mets

After trading for star shortstop Francisco Lindor, the Mets look like a formidable team for the first time since 2015.

A strong pitching staff led by Noah Syndeguard should help pick up the team when the hitting is down, and the Mets should be a very entertaining team to watch this season.

Philadelphia Phillies

Another disappointing finish to the season leaves serious doubt on the future of this current Phillies core.

A promising offense with Bryce Harper, J.T. Realimutu, and Didi Gregorious looked good on paper, but produced little on the field. And with a horrid pitching staff, it could be a make or break year for the Phillies.

Pittsburgh Pirates

With little talent in the lineup, the Pirates look to be sludging through another rebuilding season.

San Diego Padres

The future looks bright for the San Diego Padres. After finishing with the second best record in the NL last season, the Padres are looking like a team with a title on its mind.

After signing the face of the franchise, Fernando Tatis Jr., to a massive extension, the Padres went even further by trading for Blake Snell and 2020 Cy Young winner Yu Darvish.

The Padres are loaded on hitting and pitching, and look to make it to the team’s first World Series since 1998.

San Francisco Giants

After a late season stumble saw the Giants just miss out on a tiebreaker, the end could be in sight for the Giants’ championship teams of the 2010s.

This season could very well serve as a goodbye season to many Giants fan favorites like Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt.

If the Giants start off cold, we could be seeing the players of a former dynasty suiting up for different teams.

St. Louis Cardinals

An under the radar Cardinals team made things competitive against the Padres in the Wild Card round, but didn’t have the firepower to hang with them. The team went out and solved that issue, trading for Arenado.

With emerging ace Jack Flaherty leading the pitching, the Cardinals could be a surprise team heading into 2021.

Washington Nationals

The World Series hangover was real for the Nationals, After losing Anthony Rendon to free agency following a 2019 World Series championship, the Nationals fell hard and missed the postseason altogether.

The team still has strong pitching with the likes of Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburgh, but the offense is a bit suspect outside of Juan Soto, who could be the link that takes the Nationals back to the top, or keeps them at the bottom.

American League

Baltimore Orioles

Without many important pickups in the offseason, the Orioles are carrying along with their long and painful rebuild.

Last season saw progress with Baltimore in the hunt for a postseason berth with two weeks left in the season. If the Orioles can compete for a playoff spot this year as well, consider this year a success.

Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox have fallen off after their 2018 World Series championship. After trading Mookie Betts to the Dodgers in 2020, the Boston was one of the worst teams in baseball last year.  If the Red Sox start slow, expect a firesale of their last remaining good players.

Chicago White Sox

The White Sox took a huge step forward last season, making it to the postseason after being one the worst teams in baseball in 2019.

Luis Robert and AL MVP Jose Abreu lead a dominant offense, supported by a solid pitching staff. Expect the White Sox to be a dark horse candidate for the World Series, especially with former A’s and Cardinals’ manager Tony LaRussa at the helm.

Cleveland Indians

The Indians championship window is closing fast. After a disappointing first round-exit in 2020, the Indians traded franchise star Lindor to the Mets.

The pitching staff has been depleted with the loss of Baeur and Mike Clevinger, and now Shane Bieber stands alone on a team that could collapse at any point.

Detroit Tigers

The Tigers tanked their way to the number one pick in the draft, taking revered first baseman Spencer Tolkenson. With their talent still a year away from arriving, look for it to be another hard year for the Tigers.

Houston Astros

After being exposed for cheating during their 2017 championship season, the Astros struggled mightily in 2020, making the playoffs with a 29-31 record. But they did end up making the ALCS, losing to the Rays in seven games.

Kansas City Royals

The rebuild continues for the Royals, with most of their players from the 2015 championship season traded away. Franchise start Salvador Perez will likely be traded as well, the final pillar to fall as the Royals slog through the grind back to relevance,

Los Angeles Angels

The Angels disappointed in 2020, missing the playoffs yet again after signing coveted free agent Anthony Rendon.

A hyped offense needs to start producing at the level we’ve all expected, and the pitching staff needs to stop being a dumpster fire. If not, then it’ll be another wasted season for the game’s best player, Mike Trout.

Minnesota Twins

The Twins won the AL Central for the second season in a row, but once again lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Astros.

Many key players such as Miguel Sano, are back from those teams, so the Twins hope this year is the one they can break through and win a playoff series.

New York Yankees

The World Series favorites heading into 2020, the Yankees were a bit disappointing, losing is the second round of the playoffs to Tampa Bay.

All of their key players are back, so as long as the Yankees can avoid injuries, they should be back in the hunt for a title.

Oakland Athletics

The A’s took a step forward last season, winning a playoff series for the first time since 2013. Although the loss of Marcus Semien will hurt, the team should continue to be competitive and challenge for a trip to the World Series.

Seattle Mariners

Led by AL Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis, the rebuild continues for the Mariners. While progress was seen in 2020 as the team challenged for a playoff spot until the final days of the season, much work has to be done to the pitching for the team to be competitive.

The Mariners have an outside shot at a postseason berth, but this year is likely to extend their playoff drought to 20 years.

Tampa Bay Rays

After making it to the World Series last year, the Rays took some hits in free agency, trading star pitcher Snell to the Padres. But with Charlie Morton now leading the staff, they should still be fine, with the offense hopefully taking a step forward.

Look for the Rays to be one of the best teams in baseball again, and be in the running for another World Series appearance.

Texas Rangers

After starting the year out hopeful, the Rangers fell hard in 2020, and ended nowhere close to a playoff berth. Franchise icons such as Joey Gallo could be on the move as the Rangers will likely begin a hard rebuild.

Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays made moves in the offseason, signing coveted free agents George Springer and Semien. With a strong pitching staff developing a hard hitting offense, it could be shaping up to be a great, or at least entertaining, year for the Blue Jays.