MLB preview: Five storylines plus Carpenter’s predictions


Brian Carpenter, Staff Writer

America’s national pastime is back once again. Starting Thursday, 30 MLB teams will battle in a grueling 162 game regular season to earn a trip to the postseason and a chance to win the World Series. Let’s take a look at the five biggest storylines heading into the 2019 MLB season.

New faces in new places

After the conclusion of one of the most anticipated off-seasons in recent memory, we will get to see some familiar names get to wear new uniforms in 2019. Superstars Bryce Harper and Manny Machado both signed massive contracts to leave their former clubs, the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers, to go play for division rivals. Harper signed a 13 year/ $330 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies and Machado signed a 10 year/ $300 million contract with the San Diego Padres. On top of that, we saw starting pitcher Patrick Corbin sign with the Washington Nationals, relief pitcher Adam Ottavino sign with the New York Yankees and designated hitter Nelson Cruz sign with the Minnesota Twins. These moves will add a lot of intrigue when it comes to how the division races play out across Major League Baseball as the season progresses.

Can the Boston Red Sox repeat?

The Red Sox will be looking to become the first team since the 1998-2000 Yankees to repeat as World Series champions. Although we have seen plenty of teams since then make back-to-back World Series, no team has been able to win two straight. The Red Sox are bringing in almost the same exact same team that was able to win it all in 2018. This includes reigning MVP Mookie Betts, JD Martinez and ace Chris Sale. The only major difference and the biggest question mark the team will have to answer is Craig Kimbrel not returning as their closer. Although Kimbrel remains unsigned, there have been no indications that the Red Sox will be bringing Kimbrel back. This means that the team will rely on relief pitchers like Ryan Brasier and Matt Barnes to help take over that closer role. The Red Sox will still be one of the teams to beat in the American League, but the bullpen will be something to watch closely in 2019 as they look to defend their crown.

Who will win the competitive NL East?

In what many are calling the most competitive division in 2019 in baseball, the NL East is setting out to be a dogfight till the very end. The Atlanta Braves, who are the defending division champions, field a team with plenty of exciting names, including outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr and second baseman Ozzie Albies. The Braves also added a former MVP to play third base in Josh Donaldson. The Phillies and Nationals both to be teams that will look to dethrone the Braves with the additions both teams made in the offseason. On top of Harper, the Phillies added a former MVP themselves in outfielder Andrew McCutchen and one of the top catchers in the game in JT Realmuto in a trade with division rival, the Miami Marlins. And on top of Corbin for the Nationals, they added second baseman Brian Dozier and have one of the top prospects in baseball in outfielder Victor Robles. Also, the New York Mets collectively have one of the top rotations in all of baseball, which includes the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob DeGrom. This will be a division that many baseball fans will be watching closely all season.

How will the new trade deadline rule impact teams?

Starting in 2019, there will only be one MLB trade deadline instead of two. At the end of August, there used to be a waiver trade deadline which meant that teams could still make trades into August. However, with this new rule in place, no more trades can occur after the July 31 deadline. MLB hopes that this one trade deadline will force teams to set their rosters sooner in the season and create more certainty for players according to an article from Sports Illustrated. This deadline will make teams decide sooner on if they want to be buyers or sellers come the end of July and will bring tough decisions for many teams in baseball going forward.

Who will be the next breakout young star in 2019?

In what has become a theme for Major League Baseball every season, the league will be looking to see who takes the reigns as their next young star. Many expect it to be Toronto Blue Jays outfielder, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who has taken the baseball world by storm with his massive home runs he has hit in the minor leagues. Other names include Chicago White Sox outfielder Eloy Jimenez, who recently signed a six-year/ $43 million contract extension with the White Sox. This contract is the largest contract extension ever signed by a player that hasn’t played in a major league game. The Nationals Robles and Mets first baseman Pete Alonso are also two names that are generating a lot of buzz when it comes to players expected to make immediate impacts in 2019.

Below are my postseason and World Series predictions for the 2019 season. Here’s to a great baseball season for all!

American League Division winners

East: Boston Red Sox

Central: Cleveland Indians

West: Houston Astros

Wild Card game: New York Yankees over Tampa Bay Rays

National League Division winners

East: Philadelphia Phillies

Central: Chicago Cubs

West: Los Angeles Dodgers

Wild Card: Atlanta Braves over St Louis Cardinals

Divisional Series

NL: Cubs over Braves, Phillies over Dodgers

AL: Red Sox over Indians, Astros over Yankees

Championship Series

NL: Cubs over Phillies

AL: Astros over Red Sox

World Series

Astros over Cubs in seven games

Staff Writer Brian Carpenter can be found on Twitter @carp_brian28. Any tips or suggestions should be forwarded via email to