With the MLB season delayed due to COVID-19, here at Garage Door Sports we wanted to look at what the season might hold when it does play out. We will do an in-depth breakdown of each division and how they should further break down over a full season. Follow along as each division is released:
Where they should finish
- Minnesota Twins
- Chicago White Sox
- Cleveland Indians
- Kansas City Royals
- Detroit Tigers
101 wins is hard to replicate. But the Twins front office did an admirable job not only maintaining their team from a year ago, but adding in key pieces that will make them better for 2020.
The emergence of Jake Odorizzi last season and the shining star that is Jose Berrios are both returning at the top of the rotation. They will look to anchor a strong starting five that added Kenta Maeda, Homer Bailey and Jhoulys Chacin in the offseason. Add in the currently injured Rich Hill, who should be ready for a mid-June or early July return and the Twins will have a formidable rotation in the American League. Oh yeah, and there is the fact that Michael Pineda will be returning after game 39 this year. He is currently serving a suspension for PED use that started last season. When he comes back the rotation could be even better.
The bullpen is also on the rise in Minnesota. Taylor Rogers, Trevor May and Tyler Duffey all had strong seasons in 2019 and are looking to build on them. Adding in the veteran presence of Tyler Clippard and new long reliever Matt Wisler, who can start games as well, and the Twins are happy with their pitching staff.
In the Field
Bringing back 8 of 9 starters from last year’s 101-win team is no small order. Adding in perennial all-star third baseman Josh Donaldson and the front office in Minnesota is laughing. Donaldson might be 5 years removed from his AL MVP win with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2015. But the newest Twin hit 37 home runs last year. Not that the team needed more power. They destroyed the single season home run record and had 11 different batters hit double-digit homers. The middle of the lineup becomes that much more dangerous with Donaldson slotting in behind Nelson Cruz and in front of Miguel Sano.
Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler will bring the power from the outfield. They each had 30+ homers last year and were stellar defense players as well. Kepler didn’t make an error in the field last year. Add in speedy centrefielder Byron Buxton and the green grass in Minnesota is well looked after.
From top to bottom the lineup is dangerous and everyone should expect Minnesota to win the Central division for another year.
Chicago White Sox
The White Sox have always been the little brother in Chicago. Well maybe not in the 1910’s and 1920’s, but for a long time. It looks like they have turned a corner and with some key off-season additions, they will look to take the next step towards playoffs.
Here’s the deal. Lucas Giolito is legit. He is a top of the line arm that can carry a team. If you doubt this, just watch the film. His whiff percentage was up by over six points from 2018 on both his changeup and slider, getting swings and misses on over 41% with both pitches. Giolito also increased his fastball use and got rid of his sinker completely.
With the one spot taken care of the White Sox went out and picked up the lefthander Dallas Keuchel. After sitting out part of last season waiting for a contract, Keuchel managed 19 starts for the Atlanta Braves and authored a 3.75 ERA. While not his best year statistically, many think Keuchel is destined for a bounce back this year. Add in the returning arms of like Reynaldo Lopez and Dylan Cease and newcomer Gio Gonzalez and the Sox and ready to battle in the AL Central.
In the Field
After improving their win total from 62 to 72 last season the White Sox went out and added three power bats. Lefty Nomar Mazara, switch hitting catcher Yasmani Grandal and righty Edwin Encarnacion will boost a lineup already featuring young talent. Sure Jose Abreu is 33 and Leury Garcia is 29, but the rest of the lineup is 26 or younger.
After a breakout season last year, Tim Anderson is set to lead of the lineup and anger more pitchers. Yoan Moncada, the former top prospect is still coming into his own but is an average and power threat in the two spot. Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert and set to man the outfield with Mazara, which makes this one of the strongest outfield teams in the league. Expect home runs galore from this young squad who is only going to get better.
Another year older, but for the Cleveland Indians, it might mean another year closer to a full on rebuild. Only time will tell, but after moving one of their top pitchers, it is looking more and more likely.
Shane Bieber will be the leader on this team in 2020. In fact, he was already the leader of the rotation last season, issuing a 3.28 ERA across 33 starts. He also struck out 259 batters so he is more than capable of being a number one. With the team trading Trevor Bauer for a multitude of players, the rest of the pitching staff will need to step up. Mike Clevinger showed he is ready to be the number two after fashioning a team best 2.71 ERA across 21 starts. Carlos Carrasco showed everybody what it meant to be “Cookie Strong” after battling leukemia and he will look to come back even stronger this season.
The back half of the rotation is where the team from Cleveland will struggle. Adam Plutko and Jefry Rodriguez are not going to scare many opposing teams. While they each had admirable seasons in 2019, they will be sent out every fifth day again hoping to improve. It is possible that they will get better and become important pieces in the future. But don’t expect much this season.
In the bullpen the big names are all back. Brad Hand will continue to close out contests for the team. Nick Wittgren, Adam CImber and Oliver Perez will all bridge the innings between. They will also throw in the likes of Phil Maton, James Hoyt, Hunter Wood and non-roster invitee Dominic Leone. While it is the same as the group that dominated just a few years ago, they still have some great arms coming on in relief.
The Indians also have some promising young arms in their system. Logan Allen, Zach Plesac and Aaron Civale will all play a role this season for the team, even if they don’t start in the majors.
In the Field
The trade that sent Bauer to the Cincinnati Reds brought in a decent haul for Cleveland. Franmil Reyes was the biggest player from that trade still with the squad as Yasiel Puig was traded away. Reyes has power for days and will slot in with Jose Ramirez to form a great duo in the four and five slots. Francisco Lindor may be on the move soon, but right now he is the young leader on the team. With power and speed he is the perfect top of the order guy.
The team picked up two very good free agents in Cesar Hernandez and Domingo Santana, but neither one pushes the dial enough to make an impact. While another year of at-bats for youngsters Oscar Mercado and Greg Allen, don’t expect them to get this team into the playoffs.
Kansas City Royals
There’s no two ways about it, the bottom two teams in this division are not going to be good. The Kansas City Royals may have the better chance to finish fourth than the Detroit Tigers. But not by much.
One look and its clear this rotation is not what it used to be. Gone are the hard throwing arms that led this team to the World Series. In their place is Brad Keller, Danny Duffy, Jakob Junis, Mike Montgomery and Jorge Lopez. Yes, that’s really the rotation. Duffy is the only returning pitcher who had a winning record at 7-6. Keller will most likely be the opening day starter and he is just one year removed from his rookie year that he threw a 3.08 ERA with nine wins. He could be a bright spot in this otherwise dim rotation. Junis, Montgomery and Lopez are all returning and will anchor the back end of the rotation, hopefully for the Royals not literally.
Ian Kennedy is the most experienced arm in the bullpen. He transitioned from a starter to the closer last year and managed to pull out 30 saves. Scott Barlow and Tim Hill both had decent seasons in 2019. Josh Staumont could be the biggest ray of hope for the Royals middle relief corp. In his rookie season he managed to get in 16 games and had a 3.72 ERA. If he can continue to get better he will shine for Kansas City this year.
In the Field
Seven starters are returning from last year’s 59-win season. While that could be considered a bad thing, you need to look at who is. Yes, Alex Gordon, Whit Merrifield and Salvador Perez are all over 30. But Merrifield, who will transition fulltime to the outfield, had one of his best seasons in 2019. He has only been in the league for four years but he will continue to be a great leadoff man for this team. Perez and Gordan are still viable batting options, even with Perez coming back from injury in 2019.
The infield is young. There’s the headline. All four starting infielders are 27 or younger. Ryan O’Hearn and Adalberto Mondesi return with Maikel Franco and Nicky Lopez rounding it out. O’Hearn and Lopez are inexperienced having played less than two seasons each. The outfield of Gordan, Merrifield and Hunter Dozier is a solid, if not an overly exciting trio.
Overall the team is just that, a team. They won’t blow you away and won’t get blown out of the water every game. It will be a tough year to be a fan of the crowned Royals.
Like the Royals, things are looking bleak for the Detroit Tigers. They had lots of turnover in the offseason and will look to take a step in the right direction. Even if that will be a hard sell.
Four of five starting pitchers are returning, so that’s good. Unfortunately, those four pitchers combined for just 16 wins in 114 starts last season. Not exactly encouraging for Tigers fans. Daniel Norris had statistically one of his best seasons in the majors. His 125 strikeouts was a vast improvement on his career high of 86 in 2017. Spencer Turnbull vastly improved in his second season, if only to muster a 3-17 record. He and Norris could bode well for Tigers fans who are looking for players to cheer for.
Matthew Boyd will still be the leader of the group and will likely get the opening day start. In 2019 he blow his career high in strikeouts but racking up 235. He will be leaned on heavily at the top of the rotation with Turnbull and Norris. Jordan Zimmermann and Ivan Nova will add veteran presence. Don’t expect too much though from this rotation. When he is healthy Michael Fulmer will take his place at the top of the rotation. He was sorely missed in 2019 after undergoing Tommy John Surgery.
The bullpen is a who’s who of, well, relative unknowns. Joe Jimenez will most likely take on the role of closer this season and he is the only name that will come out of the pen. Buck Farmer had a decent season last year and will look to be the set-up man for Jimenez. Jose Cisnero will also be leaned upon in 2020. The middle relief with be in the hands of Bryan Garcia, Gregory Soto and David McKay with Tyler Alexander and Rony Garcia will also get chances out of the pen.
In the Field
The word turnover is usually bad. But in the case for the 2020 Tigers, turnover might be good. Gone are Gordon Beckham, Nicholas Castellanos and Brandon Dixon. Coming in is Cameron Maybin, C.J. Cron, Jonathan Schoop and Austin Romine. Obviously losing Castellanos will hurt the team, as he was their best player. But adding Schoop and Cron gives the team two middle of the lineup bats that are capable of doing real damage. Its still a long way from a competitive team. But there are some signs. It just doesn’t look like its going to amount to much this season. Strap in Tigers fans. It could be another long season.