As the2019 baseball season moves through its first month, every team still feels like it has a shot to compete after a busy offseason. Some teams have higher expectations than others. Some teams have expectations that may even be too high. Let’s look at five MLB teams who won’t live up to expectations in 2019.
5. New York Yankees
After a 100-win season last year and a playoff berth, the Yankees feel confident heading into this season. If it weren’t for being in the same division as Boston, they would have been the odds-on favorite to win the World Series last year. This season is different.
The Yankees have injury issues — shortstop Didi Gregorius will be out until late in the season. Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Andujar, and Gregorius replacement Troy Tulowitzki all went onto the injured list almost immediately upon beginning the season.
They added starting pitcher James Paxton, but last year’s ace Luis Severino faltered down the stretch after too throwing many innings in the first half. Along with CC Sabathia, he also began the season on the injured list. If New York can’t get healthy quickly, they may have more than Boston to worry about as they try to win the AL East this year. The devastating injuries and high expectations make the Yankees one of the MLB teams that might come up short in 2019.
4. Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies certainly won the offseason adding big offensive pieces like Bryce Harper, Jean Segura, and JT Realmuto. The expectation is for them to win the NL East going away.
Success may not come as easy as Philly fans believe, however. Harper struggled at times at the plate in his last season in Washington, hitting only .249. With the pressure of a big contract under his belt, Harper may press to perform in Philadelphia which could hurt his overall numbers.
Let’s not forget that the Phillies play in the hyper-competitive NL East. Atlanta, New York, and Washington all look promising this year. The Phillies will have to play all of them a disproportionate number of times due to the unbalanced schedule.
3. Cleveland Indians
The Indians are one of the most successful MLB teams of the 2010s. They put together a mini-AL Central dynasty by winning the division the last four years. The Indians’ bullpen took a major hit this offseason though, as they lost closer Cody Allen and setup man Andrew Miller to free agency.
Stud shortstop Francisco Lindor started the season on IL, slugging third baseman Jose Ramirez played with nagging injuries at the start of the year, and the offense behind them is a game of guess who. If Lindor and Ramirez can’t stay on the field, or if their production falls off, Cleveland run atop the division might be done.
The team looked to move some of their bigger contracts this offseason via trade, including former Cy Young winner Corey Kluber. While the team did not end up trading their ace, if it falls back in the standings this summer, then it may be selling at the trade deadline as opposed to buying.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers made waves this offseason by trading Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp to Cincinnati in what was largely seen as a cost-cutting measure. They also lost catcher Yasmiel Grandal and Manny Machado to free agency. That’s a big chunk of their offensive production playing for other teams.
The Dodgers pursued Bryce Harper in the offseason, but they weren’t willing to give him the decade-plus long deal he received from Philadelphia. While moving the big salaries may help the team remain financially flexible in the long term, it may be difficult to replace the production of the hitters they lost right away. After two World Series appearances in the last two years, the team almost has nowhere to go but down.
What’s worse? Ace Clayton Kershaw may be approaching the downturn of his career.
1. Colorado Rockies
The Rockies had a great season last year, surprising the baseball world with a Wild Card game victory over the Cubs at Wrigley. The question this year is their pitching. No. 1 starter Kyle Freeland pitched out of his mind last season with a 2.85 ERA and a 17-7 record, but pitching in hitter-friendly Coors Field may make those numbers tough to duplicate. The rest of the rotation is shaky at best. They lost stud reliever Adam Ottavino to the Yankees, making their bullpen more suspect, and aside from locking up Nolan Arenado, the Rockies had a quiet offseason. Two weeks into the season, Colorado sat in last place in the AL West, and all the signs point to the Rockies being among the MLB teams that fall short of expectations.