Opening Day 2017: Hope abound for all 30 clubsBy Matt Verderame
Every Opening Day beings new hopes across the landscape of Major League Baseball. All 30 teams believe they can make a run to the World Series, whether or not that thought is realistic or a complete pipe dream.
This year is no different. The Chicago Cubs are coming off their first championship since 1908, and are favored to repeat the feat. While the roster and common sense says this is the right choice, the Cubs would be the first team since the 2000 New York Yankees to pull off that trick.
With Chicago facing that kind of task, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Washington Nationals and New York Mets should all be licking their chops. Los Angeles took the Cubs to six games in the National League Champiosnhip Series last year, only to come up short. The Dodgers are the favorite of many to take down Chicago should they meet up again in October, mostly due to a starting rotation consisting of Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda and Rich Hill. In the lineup, Corey Seager and Adrian Gonzalez anchor a group that can mash with anybody.
The Mets and Nationals will be battling all season in the NL East. Both can lay claim to the best rotation in the game. Washington has Stephen Strasberg at the top followed by Max Scherzer, Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark. New York is rolling deep with Noah Syndergaard, Jacob de Grom, Steven Matz and Matt Harvey. Ultimately, it will come down to who stays healthy, and who can hit. The Nationals should have a deep lineup with Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon and Bryce Harper in the middle, while New York counters with Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce and Neil Walker.
The American League has a couple of powerhouses in its own right. The Boston Red Sox are making a real run at winning it all for the first time since 2012. Boston has the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner in Rick Porcello, along with the newly-acquired Chris Sale and holdover David Price. The lineup is absolutely terrifying with the likes of Dustin Pedroia, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Hanley Ramirez.
Still, Boston will have to overcome the reigning AL champions in the Cleveland Indians. Cleveland came from virtually nowhere to get back to the World Series for the first time since 1997, only to fall in an instant classic to the Cubs. The Indians should be better than ever with a nasty rotation featuring Carlos Carrasco, Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Danny Salazar and Josh Tomlin.
The lineup might be the best in the game. Michael Brantley is finally on the mend, while Cleveland added another huge bat in Edwin Encarnacion to replace Mike Napoli. The rest of the group is loaded with Jason Kipnis, Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor, Carlos Santana and Yan Gomes.
Let the races begin.