The flat, rugged fields of grass in massive stadiums have become desolate. After what was such an exciting NFL season, where should our attention shift from here?
The baseball diamond has entered the chat, and with new faces in new places, including both contending New York teams, the 2023 MLB season should be one for the record books. Let’s take a look at the squads that call Queens and the Bronx home
After a promising 101-win season in 2022 that ended at the hands of the San Diego Padres in the wild-card round, the Mets have a chance to be legit contenders this year. While their lineup one through nine is solid, it’s their pitching staff that could carry this team into the postseason.
While the “Amazins” only retained two of last year’s five starting pitchers, their rotation might be better this year. Old friends Max Scherzer and reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander have joined forces, while Japanese baseball legend – and $75 million man – Kodai Senga fills in the third spot.
The fourth and fifth spots are covered by respected veterans Carlos Carrasco and José Quintana, who is coming off two questionable years with the Angels, Giants, Pirates and Cardinals.
Aside from the starting pitching, the firepower in the Mets bullpen tells the real story.
Decorated veterans Adam Ottavino and David Robertson will eat up one to three innings normally, followed by the best closer in the game to shut the door on merciless hitters, Edwin Diaz.
Accompany that with a lineup that includes durable outfielders Starling Marte and Mark Canha, a top-three middle infield of Francisco Lindor, Jeff McNeil and the ferocious power hitter Pete Alonso, and you have yourself a division-winning and possible pennant-winning New York Mets.
The same could be said for the Bronx Bombers. After a 99-win regular season and a disheartening sweep courtesy of the Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series, the Yankees will look to bounce back this season with a solid pitching staff and better rotation than in 2022.
The Pinstripes have practically three aces in their rotation with golden goose Gerrit Cole, fan-favorite Nestor Cortes Jr. and newest $162 million signing Carlos Rodón. Coming off All-Star campaigns, Cole and Cortes will eat up most of the innings, as they’ve both proven decent longevity in their starts.
The fourth and fifth spots in the rotation will be taken care of by former ace Luis Severino and Domingo German. Severino, though coming off only 19 starts last season, is due for a bounce-back year if he stays healthy.
As for the bullpen, Aroldis Chapman’s departure left only a small scrape. Ron Marinaccio and Michael King serve as young, elusive relievers who look to be taking the next step in their careers. But it’s flamethrower Tommy Kahnle and Jonathan Loáisiga that will serve as set up men for 2022 All-Star closer Clay Holmes.
Lineup-wise, the Yankees have a respectable one through nine, but their good players are close to great. Five-tool center fielder Harrison Bader showcased serious bashing and solid defense after coming back from injury. Behind the dish, Jose Trevino will continue his trajectory, as he’s arguably one of the best defensive catchers in the league.
But the production will come from two behemoths, one a former MVP and the other, the reigning: Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge. After a short “hometown kid” hype with the Giants this offseason, Judge re-signed and was given the captaincy.
Stanton, who is coming off a 31-home run, 78-RBI season, has the ability to match Judge’s numbers if he’s healthy, which would be terrifying for opposing pitchers.
Both of these teams look to do some damage and hint at a Subway World Series for only the second time ever, but there will be enticing headlines elsewhere.
Ronald Acuña Jr. is coming back fully healthy and could make an NL MVP case. Jacob deGrom left the Mets, and it’s now the American League’s turn to feel his Rangers wrath. Finally, the Angels and all-time great Mike Trout’s production determines where generational talent Shohei Ohtani signs after 2023.
It’s going to be an electric season for all 30 teams, and April can’t come soon enough.
Featured photo courtesy of KA Sports Photos, Flickr