Emmanuel Pepis, Staff Writer
1-New York 90-72
2-Washington 88-74 (X)
2-St. Louis 85-77
1-Los Angeles 95-67
2-San Francisco 86-76 (X)
5-San Diego 62-100
3-New York 84-78
5-Tampa Bay 75-87
3-Kansas City 76-86
2-Texas 92-70 (X)
3-Seattle 88-74 (X)
4-Los Angeles 73-89
NL Wild Card: Giants over Nationals
NLDS: Cubs over Giants
NLDS: Mets over Dodgers
NLCS: Cubs over Mets
AL Wild Card: Rangers over Mariners
ALDS: Indians over Rangers
ALDS: Red Sox over Astros
ALCS: Red Sox over Indians
World Series: Red Sox over Cubs
We’ve made it, everyone! The 2017 season is officially here. And the last order of business: predictions for the year. The whole Rising Apple staff has established how they feel about the Mets this season. In case you missed it, I called a 90-72 season.
I have the Mets winning the division and getting to the NLCS as you can see above. For Washington, losing Mark Melancon is going to hurt. There are a lot of things to like about their lineup, but an underlying part of their offense was the year Wilson Ramos had (.307/.354/.496 with 22 homers). Matt Wieters comes in as a career .256 hitter and is moving out of a park that’s more conducive to home runs. Also, last year was the first in which Wieters played over 100 games since 2013.
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The back end of the rotation still needs to be figured out, but the biggest thing for the Nationals is keeping Stephen Strasburg healthy and productive. Even so, a fully healthy Mets rotation would seem to have a leg up on their biggest competition.
For the rest of the division, Atlanta will take a sizable step forward in the win column and could be the team to watch a couple of years down the road if or when their top prospects develop into everyday major leaguers. Miami has a strong lineup, but questions throughout their pitching staff. Philadelphia has some individuals who can stand out, but they don’t have near enough to contend yet.
As far as the National League goes, I don’t see any change in playoff teams from last year. Chicago is obviously the favorite and they brought in Wade Davis to close games. If he can stay healthy, Davis is a lights out stopper. You add to that their lineup filled with current and future stars, an excellent manager, and a strong rotation and the Cubs have the tools to repeat.
Then there are the Los Angeles Dodgers. Headlined by Clayton Kershaw, the rotation could turn out to be deep. That all depends on guys like Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Ryu has only pitched 4.2 major league innings since 2014, but he’s looked solid in spring and he earned a rotation spot.
San Francisco can contend and isn’t to be taken lightly. They snagged Melancon in the off-season to bolster the back end of the bullpen. My questions with San Francisco stem from beyond their top two pitchers. Can they get consistent production from Matt Moore, Jeff Samardzija, and Matt Cain? They have enough to make it back to the playoffs, but not much further than their ’16 campaign.
In the American League, there are several contenders. Boston went for it, acquiring Chris Sale in the off-season. Cleveland is the defending AL champion and they added Edwin Encarnacion. Houston is hoping for a rebound year for Dallas Keuchel to supplement a strong lineup. Texas won 95 games last year and could be in line for another big year in the win column.
Also, there are teams like Toronto, Seattle, and Detroit who are all going to be in the mix for playoff spots. Perhaps a team like New York could hang around as well. Baltimore can crush home runs, but they have a rotation that was 17th in team ERA and allowed the seventh most walks in the league last year.
Ultimately, I like the Red Sox to get out of the American League. Adding Andrew Benintendi to an already potent lineup is massive. Rick Porcello comes in off a Cy Young year and I think they have enough pitching to make it past Cleveland in the ALCS.