Yankeemetrics: It’s getting late early [Sept. 12-14]

(AP)
(AP)

Growing pains
On Monday night, the Yankees hit another speed bump in their surprising three-week sprint to the playoffs, getting hammered by the Dodgers, 8-2. It was an all-around sloppy game, where — for the most part — their fielders didn’t field well, their pitchers didn’t pitch well and their hitters didn’t hit well. The Yankees hit the trifecta, I guess.

Bryan Mitchell was not nearly as effective as he was in his debut last week against the Rays when he tossed five scoreless innings, getting hit hard early before being pulled in the third inning after giving up six runs on eight hits. He did get burned by two costly errors from a couple of his fellow Baby Bombers (Judge and Sanchez), so only two of those six runs were earned.

It had been more than five years since a Yankee pitcher gave up at least four unearned runs in fewer than three innings pitched. The last guy to do it was Bartolo Colon on July 14, 2011 against the Blue Jays. Colon didn’t make it out of the first inning thanks to a two-out error by Eduardo Nunez (NunEEEEEEE!) that loaded the bases and ultimately resulted in an ugly eight-run frame.

Richard Bleier saved the bullpen and held the Dodgers scoreless through the seventh with four hitless innings. You have to go back more than 15 years to find the last Yankee reliever to pitch at least four innings without allowing a hit at Yankee Stadium, when Todd Erdos did so against the Mets on June 6, 1999. The starting pitchers in that game? Al Leiter and Roger Clemens.

Aaron Judge did his best to try to make up for his untimely error by crushing a monster 436-foot shot into the left-center bleachers in the fifth inning, a ball that left his bat at 115.2 mph. Judge the only Yankee over the last two seasons — since Statcast tracking began — to hit a fair ball that far (436 feet) and that hard (115.2 mph).

(NY Post)
(NY Post)

Bench mob leads the way
The $200 million Little Engine That Could kept its postseason dreams alive — for one day, at least — and snapped out of its mini two-game funk with a resounding 3-0 win over the Dodgers on Tuesday night.

CC Sabathia held LA’s lineup in check with a truly turn-back-the-clock effort. He threw 6 1/3 shutout innings and gave up just three hits while striking out seven. It was a stellar outing that might be surprising given Sabathia’s late-season fade, but less improbable when you consider the pre-game matchup numbers. The Dodgers are the worst-hitting team against left-handed pitchers in the majors this season, ranking last among all teams in batting average, slugging percentage and OPS versus southpaws.

The hero on the offensive side was Jacoby Ellsbury, who replaced an injured Aaron Judge in the fifth inning and then delivered the Yankees’ latest clutch hit two frames later. Ellsbury won a nine-pitch battle with Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling, pummeling a full-count breaking ball into the right field seats to break a scoreless tie in the seventh.

He is just the third Yankee over the last two decades to hit a go-ahead homer in the seventh inning or later in an at-bat of nine-or-more pitches; Curtis Granderson (Sept. 17, 2011 vs. Blue Jays) and Derek Jeter (June 9, 2004 vs. Rockies) are the others.

Didi Gregorius (pinch-hitting for Ronald Torreyes) followed up Ellsbury with his own solo homer on the very next pitch, completing a historic sequence of longballs in the Bronx. Gregorius and Ellsbury became the first set of Yankees in 60 years to come off the bench and hit back-to-back homers in a game.

Moose Skowron and Tommy Byrne (who also got the win with 4 1/3 scoreless innings in relief) were the last pair to do it on July 14, 1957 against the White Sox. Byrne was one of the best power-hitting pitchers in franchise history, slugging .393 with 11 homers in 425 at-bats as a Yankee in the 1940s and ‘50s. Among Yankee pitchers with at least 60 at-bats for the team, he ranks second in slugging percentage behind Bullet Joe Bush (.449).

Looking just at position players going deep in consecutive at-bats after not starting the game, the last Yankees to do that were Bob Serv and Elston Howard on July 23, 1955 in a 8-7 loss against the Kansas City A’s.

(USA Today Sports)
(USA Today Sports)

Yankees get Kershaw’d
The Yankees stumbled again in their desperate push to make the playoffs, losing another mistake-filled game to the Dodgers on Wednesday.

Two errors in the ninth led to the only two runs of the game, both of them unearned, as the team from the west coast left the Bronx with a 2-0 victory. This was just the third time in the last 20 years that the Yankees lost a game in which they didn’t allow an earned run. The other two similarly ugly losses occurred in a three-day span in 2014, against the Royals on September 5 and 7.

Playing their final non-division game of the season, the Yankees wrapped up their Interleague schedule at 8-12, clinching their second-worst Interleague record in franchise history. The only year they had a worse mark against NL teams was 1997 when they went 5-10.

Led by an efficient and utterly dominant performance from Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers completely shut down the Yankee bats. The Best Pitcher on the Planet struck out five, walked none and allowed one hit, needing just 64 pitches to get through five scoreless innings.

In the 94-year history of Yankee Stadium, just two other starting pitchers have finished with a line of zero walks, at least five strikeouts and no more than one hit allowed in a game against the Yankees. The first was Hank Aguirre for the Tigers on August 3, 1960 and the second was Pedro Martinez in his epic 17-strikeout, 1-hitter on Sept. 10, 1999.

9/12 to 9/14 Series Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

For the last time this season, the Yankees will play a series against a non-division rival this week. The NL West leading Dodgers are in the Bronx for a three-game set starting tonight. This is only the second time the Dodgers have visited Yankee Stadium during interleague play, you know. They were here back in 2013 for a quick little two-game series. There’s an awful lot of history between these two franchises, though none of it is recent.

What Have They Done Lately?

The Dodgers dropped two of three to the Marlins in Miami over the weekend — the one win was Rich Hill‘s near perfect game — and they come to the Bronx with an 80-62 record and a +74 run differential. That’s the third best record in the NL and tied for the sixth best record in all of baseball. The Yankees are looking to continue their playoff push while the Dodgers are trying to extend their NL West lead.

Offense & Defense

Los Angeles has a pretty good offense by NL standards, though it’s only middle of the pack among the 30 clubs. They’re averaging 4.47 runs per game with a team 99 wRC+ (106 wRC+ for non-pitchers). The Dodgers have already set a Major League record by placing 28 players on the DL this season, though most are pitchers. Platoon players OF Scott Van Slyke (wrist) and OF Trayce Thompson (back) are their only injured position players. Van Slyke is done for the year. Thompson might be.

Seager. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty)
Seager. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty)

Rookie manager Dave Roberts platoons 2B Chase Utley (93 wRC+) and UTIL Howie Kendrick (98 wRC+) in the leadoff spot, with SS Corey Seager (147 wRC+), 3B Justin Turner (125 wRC+), 1B Adrian Gonzalez (116 wRC+), and C Yasmani Grandal (123 wRC+) his regular 2-3-4-5 hitters. Seager is really special. He’s got the Rookie of the Year locked up and could very well finish in the top three of the MVP voting too. RF Josh Reddick (100 wRC+) is the regular right fielder, and since being called up from Triple-A, OF Yasiel Puig (101 wRC+) has spent more time on the bench than in the lineup.

CF Joc Pederson (129 wRC+) platoons in center with UTIL Enrique Hernandez (73 wRC+), and OF Andrew Toles (170 wRC+) gets spot start duty. C Carlos Ruiz (98 wRC+) is the backup and OF Andre Ethier (0-for-4) just came off the DL. He broke his leg with a foul ball Mark Teixeira style in Spring Training and returned a few days ago. C Austin Barnes, OF Charlie Culberson, and former Yankees farmhand UTIL Rob Segedin are the extra players. I’m not sure what Roberts has planned for the DH spot this series. Ethier and Puig will probably factor in there.

The Dodgers are a good team defensively, especially when Reddick is in right and someone other than Kendrick is in left. (Yes, Kendrick plays left field now.) Puig’s a good defender with a great arm too, he just has a knack for boneheaded plays. Turner, Seager, and Gonzalez are all above-average and Utley is closer to average these days. Generally speaking, Los Angeles has a good defensive team. There’s not many butchers on their roster.

Pitching Matchups

Monday (7:05pm ET): RHP Bryan Mitchell (No vs. LAD) vs. RHP Jose De Leon (No vs. NYY)
The Yankees are going to see some fun pitchers this week. De Leon, 24, was a top 100 prospect coming into the season and this will be his second career start. He allowed four runs (three earned) in six innings in his first start against the Padres last week. Struck out nine, walked none. De Leon had a 2.61 ERA (3.24 FIP) with a 32.5% strikeout rate and a 5.9% walk rate in 86.1 Triple-A innings around a shoulder problem earlier this year. His fastball sits 91-94 mph and he can hump it up to 97 mph on occasion. A mid-80s changeup in his top secondary pitch, and these days his breaking ball is a mid-70s curveball. De Leon’s low-80s slider hasn’t been much of a factor this year for whatever reason. He didn’t throw it at all during his start last week. As John Flaherty would say, De Leon is proud of his fastball. He throws hard and he throws the heater a lot.

Tuesday (7:05pm ET): LHP CC Sabathia (vs. LAD) vs. LHP Julio Urias (No vs. NYY)
The 20-year-old Urias came into the season as arguably the top pitching prospect in baseball — it was either him or Nationals RHP Lucas Giolito — and he’s done nothing but justify the hype. The southpaw has a 3.69 ERA (3.15 FIP) in 68.1 innings spread across 13 starts and two relief appearances. He’s 20, remember. Three months younger than Justus Sheffield and nine months older than Blake Rutherford. Yeah. Urias has a very good strikeout rate (25.5%), though he walks a few too many (8.7%) and doesn’t get many grounders (41.6%). His homer rate (0.66 HR/9) figures to climb a bit unless the ground ball rate gets better. His platoon split is small. Urias works in the low-to-mid-90s with his four-seamer and he throws three secondary pitches regularly: mid-80s slider, low-80s changeup, and mid-70s curveball. Two things worth noting: one, Urias is well over his previous career high in innings and he’s had trouble holding his velocity the last few times out. And two, he throws a lot of pitches. Urias averages 4.18 pitches per plate appearance and 18.2 pitches per inning. He’d lead all pitchers in pitches per inning if he had enough innings to quality for the ERA title.

Kershaw. (Marc Serota/Getty)
Kershaw. (Marc Serota/Getty)

Wednesday (4:05pm ET): RHP Michael Pineda (vs. LAD) vs. LHP Clayton Kershaw (vs. NYY)
The Yankees will indeed see the best pitcher in the world this series, though they won’t see him at full strength. Kershaw missed more than two months with a back injury, and in his first start off the DL last week, he was limited to three innings and 66 pitches. The expectation is Kershaw will throw five innings and about 80 pitches on Wednesday. They’re slowly building him up. I’m a bit surprised the Dodgers didn’t give him more time in the minors on his rehab assignment, but whatever.

Kershaw, 28, has a 1.89 ERA (1.73 FIP) in 17 starts and 124 innings, and his underlying stats are absurd: 33.0% strikeouts, 2.0% walks, 49.7% grounders, and 0.51 HR/9. In his last start he became the first pitcher in history to strike out 150 batters before walking ten. Ridiculous. Inner-circle Hall of Famer, no doubt. Righties have more success against Kershaw than lefties, but that’s relatively speaking. Righties are hitting .200/.233/.313 (.230 wOBA) against him. Kershaw sits 92-95 mph with his four-seamer and has two lethal breaking balls in his upper-80s slider and mid-70s curveball. He doesn’t have a changeup. Everything plays up because of the deception in his delivery and his 80 command. Best pitcher on the planet. Spare me the Madison Bumgarner in the postseason argument.

Bullpen Status

Like the Yankees, the Dodgers are carrying 13 relievers in their bullpen. They have 35 players on their active roster at the moment. Rosters expanded and the Dodgers are taking advantage. I don’t blame ’em. Here’s the bullpen they’re carrying:

Closer: RHP Kenley Jansen (1.75 ERA/1.36 FIP)
Setup: RHP Joe Blanton (2.44/3.47), LHP Grant Dayton (1.77/3.34)
Middle: RHP Pedro Baez (3.50/4.19), RHP Luis Coleman (3.50/3.28), LHP J.P. Howell (4.34/3.63), LHP Adam Liberatore (3.20/2.99)
Long: RHP Jesse Chavez (4.16/4.28)
Extra: LHP Luis Avilan, RHP Josh Fields, RHP Bud Norris, RHP Josh Ravin, RHP Ross Stripling

The Dodgers have so many extra relievers that I’m not even sure their recent workload matters. Avilan (eight pitches) and Chavez (26 pitches) were the only relievers they used yesterday, so all the key end-game arms had the day off. Baez will see some high-leverage work along with Blanton and Dayton. I’m not sure why, but he does. Roberts loves him.

Our Bullpen Workload page can keep you updated on the Yankees’ relievers. Everyone is in good shape except Luis Severino, who had an extended outing yesterday and will be down for a few days.

2016 Trade Deadline Rumors Open Thread: Tuesday

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

Yesterday afternoon the Yankees made their biggest trade in quite some time, sending Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs for Adam Warren and three prospects. One of those prospects, shortstop Gleyber Torres, ranks among the top 25-ish prospects in baseball. It’s a significant haul for a rental reliever, even one as good as Chapman, and it very well might be the team’s biggest move at this year’s trade deadline.

“This one move doesn’t necessarily create a domino effect of selling, and it doesn’t prevent a domino effect of buying,” said Brian Cashman to reporters on yesterday’s trade conference call. “This is an easy call, and this was the right call. Easy because we traded from an area of strength, and we are excited about the players that we received for someone that obviously was only under control for two more months.”

With Chapman gone, the focus figures to shift to the team’s other rental players, namely Carlos Beltran and Ivan Nova. Andrew Miller‘s name has been out there as well, ditto basically everyone in the rotation other than Masahiro Tanaka. Here are Monday’s trade deadline rumors. We’ll again keep track of today’s rumors right here, in this one post, so check back often. All time stamps are ET.

  • 9:30am: Trading Nova is the next priority, and the Marlins are among the interested teams. “They’re shooting high, but it’s early. They know what the pitching market looks like right now and they’re trying to capitalize on that,” said a source to Mark Feinsand. I guess there’s a chance Nova has already thrown his last pitch as a Yankee.
  • 9:30am: Brett Gardner is a consideration for the Dodgers, though he is not atop their list of targets. Los Angeles is without Andre Ethier (leg) and Trayce Thompson (back), plus Yasiel Puig isn’t hitting, so they need outfield help. Howie Kendrick in left isn’t going too well. [Joel Sherman]
  • 9:30am: The Nationals were “deep in conversations” with the Yankees about Chapman before he was traded to the Cubs. They didn’t put enough on the table though, so to the Cubs he went. The Nats could change gears and focus on Miller now. [Buster Olney]
  • 10:21am: The Nats declared Joe Ross, Lucas Giolito, Trea Turner, Victor Robles, and Reynaldo Lopez off-limits in Chapman trade talks. That’s a lot of untouchables. The Indians were “seemingly” unwilling to part with top outfield prospects Bradley Zimmer and Clint Frazier. [Ken Rosenthal]
  • 10:51am: Rival clubs say the Yankees are buying and selling, and are looking for controllable pitching in particular. “We’re not playing in a narrow-minded world. We want to be open to any and all ideas. Buy, sell, long, short. It’s in our best interests to be creative and open-minded, not just now,” said Cashman. [Ken Rosenthal]

Reminder before you comment: Your trade proposal sucks.

Update: Yanks moving closer to trading Aroldis Chapman

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Sunday, 7:52pm: The Yankees and Cubs are working on a deal that would send Chapman to Chicago for top prospect Gleyber Torres plus a second piece (!), report Jon Heyman and Buster Olney. Apparently the Cubbies want Chapman to agree to an extension before consummating a trade. Sounds like the deal could be completed as soon as tomorrow.

Sunday, 1:58pm: Jack Curry, who will inevitably break the Chapman trade news, says nothing is imminent and the Yankees are still mulling offers. For what it’s worth, John Harper says Hal Steinbrenner gave the okay to deal Chapman before the Giants series. Here’s the latest:

  • The Cubs are “strong” in the mix for Chapman, says Ken Rosenthal. The Giants, Dodgers, Nationals, and Indians are all involved too. That sounds like a last minute leak from the Yankees to get someone to raise their offer. He’s currently on the DL with a minor shoulder injury and is due back soon.
  • The Yankees have interest in Nats righty Joe Ross, reports Jon Heyman. One source told him there is “no chance” they’ll trade Ross for a rental though. Here’s my offseason Scouting the Market post on Ross.
  • Keith Law hears the Yankees would get righty Erick Fedde, righty Koda Glover, and a third piece if the deal with the Nationals goes through. That is a lot. Here is MLB.com’s Nationals top 30 prospects list so you can familiarize yourself with those guys.
  • The Yankees “love” Cubs shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres, according to Buster Olney. I wrote about Torres in our Scouting the Market: Cubs post a few days ago.

Sunday, 12:41am ET: Rosenthal says a trade is not necessarily imminent. The Yankees are preparing to wrap-up the process though. I guess that means they’re sorting through final offers and things like that.

Saturday, 10:38pm ET: The Yankees are telling teams they are close to trading Aroldis Chapman and will hold on to Andrew Miller, reports Ken Rosenthal. There’s no word on where Chapman may be heading or when a deal may be completed. For what it’s worth, the Nationals have been connected to him most frequently.

Following Saturday’s loss, the Yankees are now 49-48 on the season and 7.5 games back in the AL East. They’re 4.5 games back of a wildcard spot with four teams ahead of them. FanGraphs puts their postseason odds at 8.3% as of this writing, which should have the team firmly in sell mode. I’m not sure what else ownership needs to see.

Now, that said, trading Chapman would make sense even if the Yankees were in the race. They were able to get him at a very discounted rate due to his pending domestic violence suspension, and now that the suspension has been served, they can market him as a full price rental elite reliever. That’s pretty darn valuable and should fetch a lot.

In addition to the Nationals, the Rangers, Cubs, and Giants have all been connected to Chapman to some degree. Washington tried to acquire Aroldis in the offseason following his domestic dispute incident, but the Yankees beat them to the punch. Nationals manager Dusty Baker had Chapman with the Reds and has reportedly been pushing to acquire him.

As for keeping Miller, it’s certainly a sound strategy considering his general awesomeness and the two years left on his affordable contract. It’s been reported that the Yankees will have to be blown away to move him. That could still happen before the deadline, it’s not like there’s a shortage of teams in on Miller. We’ll see. The trade deadline is one week from Monday.

DotF: Green dominates; Scranton wins Teixeira’s second rehab game

Got some notes to pass along:

  • The Dodgers have claimed RHP Layne Somsen off waivers from the Yankees, both teams announced. The Yankees designated Somsen for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Ike Davis last week. The 27-year-old threw six scoreless innings with Triple-A Scranton after being claimed off waivers from the Reds a few weeks back.
  • The Yankees have apparently signed Marshall C Aaron Bossi as an undrafted free agent, according to his Twitter feed. He was an infielder at Marshall but the tweet seems to indicate he’ll catch going forward. Bossi hit .333/.380/.484 with six homers in 55 games this spring.
  • OF Aaron Judge earned a place in Baseball America’s daily Prospect Report after hitting two home runs last night, so make sure you check that out. It’s not behind the paywall.

Triple-A Scranton (1-0 win over Toledo in seven innings)

  • CF Ben Gamel & LF Aaron Judge: both 0-4 — Gamel struck out once, Judge twice
  • DH Mark Teixeira: 1-2, 1 BB — second rehab game … he’s scheduled to play nine innings at first base tomorrow
  • C Gary Sanchez & RF Nick Swisher: 0-3 — Swisher struck out once … Sanchez is 8-for-39 (.205) since coming back from the thumb injury
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 1-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI
  • RHP Chad Green: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 9/1 GB/FB — 62 of 94 pitches were strikes (66%) … 76/18 K/BB in 75.2 Triple-A innings … I’d like to see him get Ivan Nova‘s next start, but I doubt it’ll happen
  • RHP Conor Mullee: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 0/1 GB/FB — nine of 12 pitches were strikes

[Read more…]

Rosenthal: Five clubs already lining up for Andrew Miller

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The trade deadline is now only six weeks away, and unless the Yankees get hot and go on an extended run between now and then, they’re going to have to seriously consider selling. The Yankees are four games back of the second wildcard spot with four teams ahead of them. FanGraphs pegs their postseason odds at 13.8%.

According to Ken Rosenthal (video link), five contending teams are already showing interest in ace lefty reliever Andrew Miller: Cubs, Giants, Nationals, Dodgers, and Rangers. We’ve already heard that the Giants and Nationals want Miller, and that the Cubbies have been scouting New York’s bullpen. The Dodgers and Rangers are obvious fits too. I have some thoughts on this.

1. Push Chapman on the Nationals. Because Aroldis Chapman will be a free agent after the season, there should be a greater sense of urgency to trade him than Miller, who has two years left on his deal. The Nationals don’t have a history with Chapman but they kinda do. Dusty Baker was his first manager with the Reds and Washington reportedly tried to trade for him this offseason, even after the domestic violence incident. The Yankees just beat them to it. Hopefully the Yankees can exploit that interest, send Chapman to the Nats for a big package, then look to move Miller elsewhere.

2. The Rangers have more to offer than anyone. To me, no team has as much to offer for Miller (or Chapman) as the Rangers. They have both high-end young big leaguers (Jurickson Profar, Nomar Mazara) and high-profile prospects (Joey Gallo, Chi Lewis Brinson, Luis Ortiz) to trade, though obviously some are more available than others. I’d be stunned if Texas traded Mazara, and I think it would take a lot to pry Profar loose. Certainly more than a reliever, even a great one like Miller.

That said, Rangers GM Jon Daniels has a history of being aggressive and paying big at the trade deadline. He gave up a lot to get Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza a few years back, most notably. Texas has the best record in the AL (45-25), a huge lead in the AL West (8.5 games), and an awful bullpen (4.76 ERA). I can’t imagine Daniels will not address his relief crew at the deadline. The Yankees have great relievers to offer and the Rangers can offer a lot in return. It’s a really great match.

3. A bidding war between the Giants and Dodgers would be sweet. The Giants have won eight straight games to open a 6.5-game lead in the NL West, and while that is hardly insurmountable in mid-June, it sure is better than being neck-and-neck. You know the Dodgers don’t want to fall behind any further. Both teams have some bullpen issues and, of course, they’re big time historic and intradivision rivals.

Creating a bidding way between the Giants and Dodgers could be awfully beneficial to the Yankees. The Dodgers have more to offer if you look at prospect lists and whatnot, but I wouldn’t rule out the Giants cobbling together enough to beat them out for Miller (or Chapman). Either way, the best possible thing for the Yankees would be the Dodgers closing the NL West gap a bit in the next few weeks. If the San Francisco bullpen could blow a few games during that time, that would help too.

4. More teams will get involved. The Cubs, Giants, Nationals, Dodgers, and Rangers are the most notable contenders looking for bullpen help, but they’re far from the only teams in need of relievers. The Orioles, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Indians, and Mets all figure to be in the market for bullpen arms at the deadline. Would the Yankees trade with another AL East team? I doubt it but they shouldn’t rule it out. If that’s the team that offers the best return, why not take it? In theory, an intra-division trade means you’d be improving your organization and making a rival’s worse, right? Just go into the deadline with an open mind. There will be plenty of suitors. Listen to them all.

The Rest of MLB [2016 Season Preview]

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The new season is upon us. Opening Day is Monday, which means it’s time to wrap up our annual Season Preview series. As always, we’ll end the series with a quick look around the league. Some of this is serious, most of it isn’t. Enjoy.

Arizona Diamondbacks
Why They’ll Suck: The middle infield is a mess and their corner outfield defense is going to be pretty bad if Yasmany Tomas plays left everyday. Also, they’ll probably trade some good players to unload a bad contract again.
Bold Prediction: Shelby Miller actually pitches well. I have no idea why so many analysts think he’s bad.

Atlanta Braves
Why They’ll Suck: Because they are trying to suck. Rebuilding is just a nice way of saying tanking.
Bold Prediction: Nick Markakis beats his ZiPS projection and slugs .370.

Chicago Cubs
Why They’ll Suck: They’re going to strike out way too much. It’s also only a matter of time until someone gets bit by some wild animal Joe Maddon brings into the clubhouse.
Bold Prediction: Adam Warren is their best starter. Boom!

Chicago White Sox
Why They’ll Suck: They lost their leader, Drake LaRoche.
Bold Prediction: We find out Adam LaRoche was the one who complained about Drake LaRoche being in the clubhouse all the time.

Cincinnati Reds
Why They’ll Suck: Their rotation is Homer Bailey, Anthony DeSclafani, Michael Lorenzen, Jon Moscot, and John Lamb. No, wait, that’s the list of their injured starters. Now they have to turn to the B-team.
Bold Prediction: Joey Votto finally loses his mind, but in a polite, Canadian way. He’s already doing this between pitches:

Joey Votto

Cleveland Indians
Why They’ll Suck: In all seriousness, their entire starting outfield is either hurt (Michael Brantley, Lonnie Chisenhall) or suspended (Abe Almonte). They’re a Corey Kluber or Carlos Carrasco injury away from 85 losses. Beware.
Bold Prediction: Francisco Lindor leads all shortstops in WAR.

Colorado Rockies
Why They’ll Suck: The Rockies exist in a perpetual state of suck. Fun Fact: They have never once won a division title. They’ve finished as high as second place only three times in their 23 years of existence.
Bold Prediction: They finally trade Carlos Gonzalez. I’m thinking … Orioles.

Detroit Tigers
Why They’ll Suck: They’ve punted defense at the four corner positions and, inevitably, the relievers they acquired this winter will stink.
Bold Prediction: Justin Verlander bounces back and finished in the top five of the Cy Young voting.

Houston Astros
Why They’ll Suck: Karma for doing very little in the offseason outside of adding a new closer and fifth starter. The rebuild is supposed to be over.
Bold Prediction: Carlos Correa is more Alex Gonzalez than Alex Rodriguez.

Kansas City Royals
Why They’ll Suck: They replaced Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist with Ian Kennedy and Christian Colon. Like, on purpose.
Bold Prediction: Kennedy wins 18 games and Colon hits .310. Eff the Royals, man.

Los Angeles Angels
Why They’ll Suck: The Angels have surrounded Mike Trout with as little position player talent as possible in an effort to make him look even greater by comparison.
Bold Prediction: Jered Weaver’s fastball hits 84 mph once or twice.

Los Angeles Dodgers
Why They’ll Suck: The Dodgers have surrounded Clayton Kershaw with as little pitching talent as possible in an effort to make him look even greater by comparison.
Bold Prediction: It becomes clear Yasiel Puig peaked early.

Miami Marlins
Why They’ll Suck: The fans and players are doomed to pay for Jeffrey Loria’s evil villian-ness. Fun Fact: They’ve never won a division title either. They’ve also never lost a postseason series.
Bold Prediction: Christian Yelich breaks out and puts up Andrew McCutchen numbers. I’m serious about that one.

Milwaukee Brewers
Why They’ll Suck: They’re another team that is going to suck on purpose. Before long they’re going to trade Jonathan Lucroy too.
Bold Prediction: Ramon Flores hits 15 dingers with a .350 OBP.

Minnesota Twins
Why They’ll Suck: I don’t know, but I’m sure Twins fans will blame it on Joe Mauer.
Bold Prediction: Miguel Sano plays right field better than Torii Hunter did last year.

New York Mets
Why They’ll Suck: They’re still the Mets. Case in point: the recent Matt Harvey bladder story. Last year’s pennant didn’t change anything in that regard.
Bold Prediction: They have to trade for a starting pitcher at the deadline.

Oakland Athletics
Why They’ll Suck: No joke, I can name only one A’s starter (Sonny Gray) and one A’s infielder (Marcus Semien). Is Bobby Crosby still playing?
Bold Prediction: Josh Reddick gets traded for a holy crap package at the trade deadline. I’m thinking … Royals.

Philadelphia Phillies
Why They’ll Suck: Still reeling from the 2009 World Series, obviously.
Bold Prediction: Someone not named Maikel Franco or Ryan Howard hits a home run.

Pittsburgh Pirates
Why They’ll Suck: The baseball gods will not let John Jaso’s hair go unpunished.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Bold Prediction: Mark Melancon is traded at the deadline. I’m thinking … Dodgers.

St. Louis Cardinals
Why They’ll Suck: The Cardinals will never suck. The only thing they suck at is sucking. Their ace made four starts and their highest paid position player hit four home runs last season, and they still won 100 games. The Cardinals, man.
Bold Prediction: Three years after learning to play second base and one year after learning to hit for power, Matt Carpenter picks up pitching and saves 46 games.

San Diego Padres
Why They’ll Suck: I’m not entirely convinced the Padres exist at this point. Are we sure MLB still lets them into the league? What an amazingly nondescript franchise.
Bold Prediction: Someone throws the first no-hitter in franchise history. I’ll go with Colin Rea, who is a real player and definitely not someone I just made up.

San Francisco Giants
Why They’ll Suck: They buy into the “even year trend” a little too much and give Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner weeks off at a time this summer.
Bold Prediction: Bumgarner out-slugs the starting outfield.

Seattle Mariners
Why They’ll Suck: I don’t know how it will happen exactly, but they’ll suck. The Mariners are the Wile E. Coyote of MLB. Every time they looked poised for success, they crash into the mountain with a tunnel painted on the side of it.
Bold Prediction: Bob Cano mashes 30 taters and finishes in the top three of the MVP voting. I’m expecting a big year from Robbie.

Texas Rangers
Why They’ll Suck: They won’t suck. They’ll be just good enough to get thisclose to winning something meaningful before having it ripped away again. Think Game Six of the 2011 World Series, or the seventh inning of Game Five of last year’s ALDS. That’s how the Rangers roll.
Bold Prediction: Josh Hamilton leads the team in home runs.

Washington Nationals
Why They’ll Suck: They’re the NL version of the Red Sox. They have talent and everyone buys the hype. It should work! But it doesn’t.

Homer Simpson

Bold Prediction: Bryce Harper is even better this year.