Examining 2021 MLB Futures After One Month Of Action
The Major League Baseball season is a normal 162-game slate played within the regular timetable this year, unlike the 60-game sprint season played last summer. At the end of April, it is always a challenge to determine if the first month of the season was an indicator of what is to come, or if teams just needed a month or a month and a half to finally get into a groove and play well. Weird things are happening in baseball, so this is not a short-term projection. It is more a long-term view about the next five months.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers have lost seven of nine games heading into play on Wednesday. Yet, they started the season 13-2, so they still have a solid 15-9 record. They should be fine in the long run, but their bullpen is shaky, the bottom of the order isn’t hitting well, and Mookie Betts has struggled after getting hit by a pitch midway through April. There are some causes for legitimate concern, but over six months, the Dodgers’ depth in pitching and hitting is still likely to carry them through difficult periods. There are simply too many good players on this team in order for the Dodgers to remain in a slump. Going 2-7 in a nine-game period probably won’t happen again this year. This team will be there in the playoffs with a legitimate chance to go all the way.
San Diego Padres
The Padres don’t have an especially great record, and they just lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night, but anyone who saw their first seven games against the Dodgers this season (the two have 12 more games against each other in future months) knows the Padres are a real contender. They are deep, tough, and talented. They get production from many parts of their roster. They battle well late in games and create tough outs for opposing pitchers. This is a team built to win over 162 games, a lot like the Dodgers. Don’t worry too much about the sluggish start.
The A’s started the season 1-7 but then won 13 games in a row, much as the Dodgers started 13-2 and then went 2-7 in their next nine. Oakland, like the Dodgers, went 15-9 through the first 24 games of the season. With the Houston Astros losing George Springer and a few other key pieces, Oakland is the clear favorite in the American League West. No team in the American League Central looks like a heavyweight, and the New York Yankees are struggling. This could be Oakland’s year, but the A’s have a reputation for falling short in the playoffs. They lost six straight playoff series before beating the White Sox in the first round last year. Oakland has played 13 playoff series this century, winning only two.
New York Yankees The Yankees have been terrible in April. There is no denying this. Gerrit Cole has been great… and virtually everything else about this team has been absolutely awful. Yet, we often see very talented teams stumble out of the gate in April and the cold weather before regrouping in May when the weather gets warmer and players feel more comfortable. Players relax and just start playing instead of thinking about every pitch and trying to do everything all at once. There are more than 130 baseball games left to be played. New York can’t continue to play this poorly for another two months. Assuming the Yankees fix things by Memorial Day and the start of June, they should be fine. If they are still playing bad baseball when July arrives, then it will be time to panic. No team with so many good hitters and such a large payroll should be thi