MLB Pitchers: the Key Ingredient to a Successful Season

Ryan Bremer, Contributing Writer for Spokesman

The 2014 Major League Baseball season came down to a nail-biting finish. Even though the supposed “underdog” did not win, as happens in so many clichéd sports movies, the World Series reached seven games, and the San Francisco Giants defeated the Kansas City Royals to achieve their third championship in five years. The 2014 season also saw the retirement of New York Yankees’ twenty-year shortstop Derek Jeter and seventeen-year MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. While the Yankees have not fully figured out a fix to the gap in their infield, Rob Manfred has stepped in as the tenth Commissioner of Major League Baseball. Manfred has already made differences to the game, including extending youth involvement and quickening the pace of play by requiring batters to remain in the box during at-bats.

The 2015 season will be dominated by pitchers, not only because of the aforementioned time limitations put on batters, but also because of the downward trends of ERAs and batting averages over the past fifteen years. Those downfalls and the increase of strikeouts per nine innings will contribute to fewer home runs and closer games behind aces like Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner.

Just because the pitching talent has improved, does not mean that teams will be weaker. Many teams made important signings in the off-season. Just a year after the monumental contract given to second-baseman Robinson Cano, the Seattle Mariners signed the heavy- hitting Nelson Cruz from the Baltimore Orioles and locked up their third- baseman Kyle Seager with a $100 million contract. If Cano fully adjusts to the Seattle rain this year and Cruz and Seager produce well at the plate, the Mariners will be right behind the 2014 AL MVP Mike Trout and Los Angeles Angels in the American League West.

As for the American League East, the New York Yankees have Alex Rodriguez, Masahiro Tanaka, and CC Sabathia back from their respective suspensions and trips to the disabled list. However, considering the team was thirteenth in the American League in runs last year, the Yankees do not have the same pop in their lineup.

Regarding the postseason, I think it is safe to say that there are two teams that will be spending their October at home. The Minnesota Twins, who were last in the American League in ERA last year, do not nearly have enough pitching to back up their ace Phil Hughes, and not enough production at the plate to put up many runs. Sorry, local fans, but in the National League, the Philadelphia Phillies offer an aging staff and weak offense that will not get the job done this year.

Alright, bold prediction time: in the 2015 World Series, I see the Chicago Cubs besting the Los Angeles Angels. Yes, the Cubs: the team that has not won a World Series in over 100 years. I like the Cubbies this year because of newly-acquired manager,Joe Maddon and free agent Jon Lester, the latter of whom had a 2.46 ERA with Boston and Oakland last year. With first-basemen Anthony Rizzo and shortstop Starlin Castro leading the offense, the 2015 Cubs will end the longest World Series drought in Major League Baseball. That, and the fact that the film Back to the Future Part II predicted they would win.