The 2019 baseball season hasn’t caught fire for five teams struggling to get a foothold on the American League and National League leaderboard. Struggling with offense, defense, pitching problems, and injuries, these teams are looking to turn things around in the coming weeks and become solid MLB contenders instead of embarrassing pretenders. Here are five teams struggling in the early part of the 2019 MLB season.
Boston Red Sox
A championship hangover might explain by Boston struggled so much at the start of the 2019 MLB season.
At one point, the Red Sox had a sub-.500 record and sat well back in the AL East standings. They’ve since climbed over .500 and into third place. Boston’s offensive collapse to start the season can be spread around. That includes reigning AL MVP Mookie Betts, whose 1.078 OPS dropped to an ordinary .783.
Sloppy play on defense and had Boston ranked No. 23 in efficiency at one point. With virtually the same talented lineup as their 2018 World Series team and things trending in the right direction, Boston might finally join the conversation of legit MLB contenders in 2019.
Cleveland has allowed more runs than they have scored, which is a sure sign things aren’t going well for a team that considered itself a contender at the start of the 2019 MLB season. Standing at second in the AL Central, the Indians have some hope that things will turn around for the offense.
Superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor came off the injured list and immediately started producing, and teammate Jose Ramirez is shifting in the right direction with a .585 OPS.
Losing stars Michael Brantley, Edwin Encarnacion, Yan Gomes, and Yonder Alonso to trades and free agency in the offseason hurt the lineup, and the low-cost replacements are yielding few rewards. Then, ace pitcher Corey Kluber took a batted ball off his elbow and landed on the DL. They are feeling it in the field, and it remains to be seen if the bright star of Carlos Santana is enough to turn things around for Cleveland.
With a shaky starting rotation, the Athletics have yet to find firm footing on the field. Things looked promising early on, with a 6-2 record as of April 4, but that was due to their starting pitching, and things have gone south since then.
Sitting last in the AL West with a record of 19-24 on May 13 and missing the injured Sean Manaea and the departed Trevor Cahill, Oakland is questioning whether they have a workable starting rotation.
The Athletics’ starters have a 5.01 ERA in 2019, but only due to the outstanding work of Brett Anderson and Frankie Montas. If Oakland can flesh out a solid starting rotation behind that pair, there should be enough talent to fight for a postseason berth.
Even with the departure of Bryce Harper, the Nationals were supposed to remain MLB contenders this season. Instead, they sit in fourth in the NL East, and the only thing keeping them out of the basement are the dismal Miami Marlins.
Max Scherzer, Patrick Corbin, and Stephen Strasburg bring stability to the mound, and Sean Doolittle and Kyle Barraclough are solid from the bullpen. But aside from the big guns, the rest of the pitching falls into the questionable range.
The Nationals suffer from being too top heavy, and if you look past the stars, you see holes in the roster. Trea Turner is sorely missed at shortstop with a broken finger, and the Nationals aren’t having success at second base, first base, or catcher either. No one has stepped up to be even close to filling the hole left by Harper.
The Rockies were supposed to fight for a playoff berth at the start of the season, but instead, they sat in last place in the NL West at one point. They’ve since climbed out of the cellar, but they’re far from being MLB contenders this season.
An unpredictable offense that shows up to some games and is absent at others doesn’t help the cause. Although Colorado made it to the playoffs in 2018, it was no thanks to the offense.
Despite swinging at the most pitches in the league (49.7%), Colorado only has a .217 batting average, the sixth worst in the league. Questions surround the “tunneling” theory put forth by hitting coach Dave Madagan, which focuses on viewing the pitch straight out of the pitcher’s hand and recognizing the angle, instead of looking for a pitch at a certain part of the plate.
It worked for a while with the Arizona Diamondbacks, but then the team collapsed, and Madagan was released. If this theory is in place for Colorado, it could explain why a struggling offense is sinking even lower.The team’s offensive starters are made up of the problematic 2018 lineup, but there is hope that Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, and Charlie Blackmon will rise up and turn things around before it is too late.