MLB Opening Weekend Team Breakdown

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    Graphic courtesy of MLB.com

    Opening Day has come and gone and baseball has returned throughout every Major League ballpark. After the first two series, we have a very early idea of how teams are playing. Let’s take a look at the teams currently at the top of the standings and some teams that are underachieving as we are about to begin the third series of the season.  

    Teams at the top:

    Tampa Bay Rays

    The Rays are coming off a 86-76 season and a loss in the AL Wild Card series to the Cleveland Guardians. This season they are MLB’s only remaining undefeated team at 6-0. Granted, they swept the Tigers and Nationals who are sure to be two of MLB’s worst teams. With Randy Arozarena and Wander Franco at the top of the lineup, the offense is sure to punish opposing pitchers. Not to mention the starting pitching with Shane McClanahan, Jeffrey Springs and the impending return of Tyler Glasnow. The Rays will once again challenge for the top spot in the AL East. 

    Atlanta Braves 

    The Braves sit at 5-1 with two wins at the Nationals and a dominant sweep over the Cardinals. The Braves finally have Ronald Acuña Jr. back and fully healthy and boast one of the deepest lineups in baseball. Ace Max Fried is on the IL and Kyle Wright is working his way back but Spencer Strider and the bullpen will attempt to cover as many innings as possible until those two starters come back. The Braves are in the running for their sixth straight division title.

    Milwaukee Brewers

    The Brewers are also sitting at 5-1 and are coming off a sweep over the Mets in which they outscored them 26-6. Their lineup includes Christian Yelich, Jesse Winker and newcomer William Contreras. The rotation is one of the best in the game with Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff. Of course, they have Devin Williams lurking in the bullpen to close games with the best changeup in the game. The Brewers biggest help is the fact they play in the NL Central one of the weaker divisions in baseball.

    Cleveland Guardians

    The Guardians were major overachievers last season and added some help in the offseason with the signing of Josh Bell. Any lineup with Jose Ramirez who is always one of the more underrated players in the game is a lineup that should not be overlooked. Also the veteran play of Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez are a strong double play combo up the middle. Former AL CY Young award winner Shane Bieber leads a rotation that can pitch deep into games. The Guardians will look to fend off the White Sox and the Twins in the always tight AL Central.

     

    Underachievers:

    New York Mets:

    The team with the highest payroll in baseball at over $336 million dollars has gotten off to a slow start in 2023. Free agent signee Justin Verlander has yet to pitch and is on the IL while other $43 million dollar starter Max Scherzer looked his age in his recent start. The lineup has Francisco Lindor, Pete Alonso and Starling Marte but question marks remain in the rotation and in the bullpen especially after Edwin Diaz’s season ending injury in the World Baseball Classic. Also, the Mets did not make much of an upgrade to a team that won 100 games last season, but they are in the same division as fellow big spenders in the Phillies and the reigning division champion Braves.

    Philadelphia Phillies 

    Like the Mets, the Phillies made a huge free agent signing by handing Trea Turner an 11 year, $330 million dollar deal. The addition of Turner to Kyle Schwarber and J.T. Realmuto among others make this a formidable lineup. The team will await the return of Bryce Harper around the middle of the season before they can be considered at full strength. They started off the season poorly with a sweep at the hands of the Rangers in which their pitching imploded and dropped two games at Yankee Stadium. It will be imperative for the Phillies to get back in the win column with their home opener starting against the Reds.

    St. Louis Cardinals

    Rather than make many upgrades, the Cardinals decided what they had was enough and decided to run it back with their team other than the addition of Willson Contreras. The lineup features Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado in the heart of the order and when they get rolling it is a difficult duo to stop. Their pitching has questions with the age and durability of Adam Wainwright key along with Jack Flaherty getting back to his top of the rotation ability. To be fair, the Cardinals had to start off their season facing the Bluejays and the Braves which are a tough draw to open up the season.

    Seattle Mariners

    The Mariners will look to make it back to the postseason for back to back season after running to the playoffs for the first time in 21 years. Julio Rodriguez is a blossoming star and a youth approach has brought prospects up that play key roles in this team. The pitching staff led by Luis Castillo compare well with any other teams in baseball. The Mariners lost three out of four at home to the Guardians and will have to play better than that if they want to win a tough division that features the reigning World Series champion Astros and the Angels who have two of the best players in baseball with Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout.