Forget about the pace of play, forget about the length of the season, and forget any other negative thought about baseball that you may have— Opening Day is here!!
2018 could be one of the most exciting seasons in recent memory.
You may not know it, but the MLB is absolutely loaded with superstars, most of which play for big market teams. Some of these stars will be free agents at seasons end, which should only increase performances.
Speaking of big market teams, the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, Nationals, and Dodgers are all coming off playoff seasons, and are poised for another run in 2018.
From a Philadelphia perspective, the Phillies are relevant for the first time since 2011. It's been a long time coming for a city that loves their baseball.
Over/under win total: 75.5
Odds to win the NL East: 6/1
Odds to win the pennant: 40/1
Odds to win the world series: 80/1
3 reasons why they could succeed:
1. Their everyday lineup
If nothing else, the 2018 Phillies will score runs. From top to bottom this lineup is significantly better than a season ago. The sky could be the limit.
2. The Bullpen
The Phillies blew 24 saves last season, a number that they should DRAMATICALLY improve on.
Hector Neris has seemingly solidified the 9th inning role after a terrific second half where posted a 2.48 ERA with 19 saves.
But even if Neris isn't the guy, unlike last season, they have options.
Pat Neshek, Edubray Ramos, and Tommy Hunter (starting season on the DL) are all viable options should Neris struggle.
3. Gabe Kapler
I could fake it, but honestly, I can't even begin to predict how Gabe Kapler will manage this team. However, I am very excited and very optimistic. Kapler could be the breath of fresh air that this franchise needed.
3 reasons why they could fail:
1. The 3-5 spots in the rotation.
It doesn't take a baseball expert to know that the Phillies have question marks in their rotation. Behind Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta (Arrieta will make his first start April 8th) it's currently Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez and Ben Lively. Jared Eickhoff will be back in 5-6 weeks, but he wasn't exactly a sure thing last season either. They need at least one of these guys to step up, or it could be a long year.
This is a young ball club and baseball is a long, tough sport. As much as I am excited about the young core, it could very well take them a season to get acclimated to the everyday grind of a 162 game season.
3. Gabe Kapler
Again, I have no idea how things will play out with Kapler. Could he be too over the top? As much as I am optimistic, I also have my reservations.
As we all know by now, the Phillies mantra for 2018 is #BeBold.. so let's be bold!!
5 Bold predictions:
Carlos Santana will hit 30 (or more) home runs.
Aaron Nola will win 15 games.
Scott Kingery will be a 20/20 player.
The Phillies will add a significant starting pitcher at the trade deadline.
Either Odubel Herrera or Maikel Franco (or both) will not be an every day player by seasons end.
How will they finish?
85-77, second place in the NL East, and the second national league Wild Card.
Honestly, I don't think I am being optimistic enough.
I've said this before and I'll say it again— this Phillies team reminds me of the 2015 Chicago Cubs. In 2014 the Cubs finished the season 73-89. With the help of a new manager and an infusion of young talent, the 2015 Cubs finished 97-65, and made it all the way to the NLCS.
I don't think the Phillies will be quite that good, but I do see a lot of similarities.
I’m not being a “homer” either. Because of their offense, bulllpen, and the addition of Arrieta, I truly believe that this club will be in playoff contention come September.
If their rotation can hold up, they will be one of the most dangerous teams in the national league.
AL East Champ: New York Yankees
AL Central Champ: Minnesota Twins
AL West Champ: Houston Astros
Red Sox over Indians
Astros over Red Sox
Yankees over Twins
Astros over Yankees
AL MVP: Giancarlo Stanton
(Would be the first time in MLB history that a player wins MVP in back-to-back years after switching leagues.)
AL Cy Young: Dallas Keuchel
NL East Champ: Washington Nationals
NL Central Champ: Chicago Cubs
NL West Champ: LA Dodgers
Brewers over Phillies
Dodgers over Brewers
Cubs over Nationals
Cubs over Dodgers
NL MVP: Bryce Harper
NL Cy young: Clayton Kershaw (really going out on a limb)
Cubs over Astros
Tweet us your predictions (@MPSportstalk), and enjoy what should be an amazing 2018 season!!!