MLB ramping up efforts to begin season | The Triangle

MLB ramping up efforts to begin season

(Photograph courtesy of Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

At this time of the year, sports talk is supposed to be about who’s doing well and who’s underperforming. Philly sports fans should be getting the chance to see if Bryce Harper is living up to his massive contract. The MLB season was supposed to open on March 26, but even before Spring Training could be completed, the season was suspended due to the virus.

On May 4, a glimpse of hope was brought to baseball fans by former player Trevor Plouffe, who announced in a tweet saying that “I just heard from multiple sources that on June 10th, Spring Training 2 will start. July 1st will be Opening Day and all teams will be playing at their home ballparks.” Whether the report from Plouffe is true or not remains to be seen, but it appears clear that any games will be without fans in the stands. Baseball insiders such as Keith Law quickly rebuffed the notion that MLB will be returning in June or July.

In the case that the season returns in June, July or at any point, here are some of the teams to keep an eye on when it comes to winning the World Series and raising the Commissioner’s Trophy.

1: The Los Angeles Dodgers

Philly fans are definitely rolling their eyes reading this, but it’s hard to overlook the Dodgers with all the firepower they have on their team. After a heartbreaking loss to the Nationals last year in game five of the National League Division Series, the Dodgers were aggressive this past season, improving what was already a stacked team. The Dodgers were able to trade for the 2018 American League MVP, outfielder Mookie Betts, from the Boston Red Sox. In the Betts trade, the Dodgers also received starting pitcher David Price, giving the Dodgers a solid third pitcher after the one-two punch of Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler. Anytime you have a tandem comparable to Cody Bellinger (47 hours in 2019 season) and Betts (29 hours in 2019 season) on the same team, you’re automatically considered one of the most talented teams in the league.

2. The New York Yankees

The Bronx Bombers are coming off a spectacular 2019 season in which the team had 103 wins. The season ended abruptly when Aroldis Chapman gave up a now-controversial walk-off two-run homer in the 10th to Jose Altuve in game six of the American League Championship Series. Given the subsequent findings of Astro’s cheating, it will never be known if Altuve knew what pitch was coming. While the Yanks had great hopes after their 2019 performance, those hopes surged when the Yankees agreed to a nine-year $324 million deal with former Astros ace Gerrit Cole. Adding Cole to the Yankees’ pitching arsenal that already includes Masahiro Tanaka and Luis Severino. With the addition of Cole, the Yankees now have one of the best rotations in baseball, health permitting. Not only is the Yankees’ pitching impressive, but their offense should also be equally as good, if not better. Offensively, the Yankees lineup features two superstars in outfielder Aaron judge and second baseman Gleyber Torres. In 2019, the Yankees hit 306 home runs, which ranked second overall in Major league Baseball

3. The Washington Nationals

While the Nationals lost Anthony Rendon this offseason after he signed with the Angels, the rest of the roster remains mostly the same from the 2019 championship team. Starting pitching is where the Nationals have an advantage compared to most of the teams in the MLB. A rotation that includes Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin is one that many teams will want to avoid come playoff time. Even though their pitching gets most of the attention, the Nationals have a very solid offense led by 21-year-old Juan Soto. In 2019 Soto hit 34 Home runs in the regular season and was even more impressive in the playoffs batting .277 and hitting five home runs. Plus the experience of winning it all should provide added confidence to a stellar squad.