MLB Preview: Red Sox-Yankees Rivalry Reignites in a Tough AL East

Jason Upton, Sports Editor

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After two of the biggest names in baseball have finally chosen teams and Opening Day has come and gone, baseball is back in full swing. New powerhouses have arised in the National League including a revamped Phillies squad featuring Bryce Harper, and a Mets team that will be looking to make a playoff push behind Cy Young contender Jacob deGrom. The American League is still defined by a trio of stacked teams in the Astros, Red Sox, and Yankees. Here’s a look at what to expect for the 2019 MLB season.

Betts will look to lead the Red Sox to back-to-back championships this year.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The American League boasted three teams last year that reached the 100 win milestone. The Astros, who lost in the AL championship to the Red Sox, are the consensus favorite to take the pennant this year. The top of their batting lineup looks as if it could be the first four batters in the All Star game: George Springer, Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, and Carlos Correa. As intimidating as their 3-4 hitters are, Bregman is still in the top four candidates to win AL MVP. Their pitching has taken a hit in the last couple years with the departure of former Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel and the season-ending injury of Lance McCullers, but Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole are a strong 1-2.

The defending champs Red Sox are more of the same with their hitting: Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, and Xander Bogaerts head their lineup. Betts is looking to win back-to-back AL MVPs and J.D. might reach 40 homers for the third straight year. Chris Sale heads a strong starting pitching unit that includes David Price and Rick Porcello, but Boston’s Achilles heel is definitely their relief pitching. With the loss of Joe Kelly to the Dodgers and Craig Kimbrel unlikely to resign after holding out, the Red Sox will need to figure out their bullpen if they plan on making the World Series.

In contrast to the Red Sox, their archrival Yankees have arguably the best relief pitching in the league, featuring Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, and Zach Britton. Their starting pitching is questionable due to their ace, Luis Severino, being injured. Fortunately, they have some big bats in their lineup, with the most power the league has seen in quite a while. Aaron Judge is favored by many to win AL MVP and hit 50 bombs, Giancarlo Stanton has hit a combined 97 homers in his last two seasons, and Gary Sanchez is currently the AL leader in home runs. Expect the NY-Boston series to be especially meaningful this year.

The National League is wide open, with the Dodgers acting as the favorites for this year. The Brewers, Phillies, Nationals, and Cardinals are also in contention, but the odds are that the team that emerges from the AL will win the World Series. Still, this will just make the race for the pennant all the more exciting. There are a minimum of five teams that could viably make the World Series.

With rising stars like Matt Chapman, Ronald Acuna Jr, and Cody Bellinger; stars on new teams like Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, Robinson Cano, and Paul Goldschmidt; and the spike in home runs, the MLB should be in for a spectacular season.