DSC Shave Time 728x90
Legends On Deck

MLB 2018 Opening Day Preview

Courtesy of MLB.com

The 2018 season is upon us as Opening Day will be this Thursday March 29th with all 30 teams from both the American and National Leagues on tap to get this exciting new season underway.

There is much anticipation for many teams as well as for a few that might surprise some fans. There are also new ball players that every fan of the game will be looking for to make their impacts in the game.

Here is my look at what to look for as the season starts.  There will be much more down the line as the season matures, but just wanted to look at a few things to get us going.

Key Opening Day Pitching Matchups

Cardinals v. Mets
Carlos Martinez v Noah Syndergaard

Martinez enters his sixth season with the Cardinals and has averaged 14 wins, and 192 strikeouts in 193.1 IP over the last three. The Cardinals are looking to get out to a good start as they will have to battle the Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers for top dog in the NL Central Division.

As for the Mets, Syndergaard is coming off an injury plagued season and will be looking to get back on track and regain the title as Ace of the rotation. Hopefully he realizes that just throwing harder is not the answer to success, but his health will be one of the keys to the Mets playoff hopes.

Giants v. Dodgers
Ty Blach v. Clayton Kershaw

The Giants were given a huge blow when Madison Bumgarner went down with a hand injury last Friday after getting hit on the throwing hand as he attempted to snag a come-backer to the mound. The Giants Ace is expected to return by early June. The Giants No. 3 starter Jeff Samardzija also is not available to start the season as he is suffering from a strained pectoral muscle. Just with the new additions to their line-up, the Giants were being looked at as the team to beat in the NL West, but now they will have to scramble to be able to replace both Bumgarner and Samardzija for the forseeable future and also try to stay relevant in the West until their Ace returns.

The Giants had options on who should start the season, especially with Johnny Cueto as their #2 guy, but they will hand the ball over to lefty Ty Blach, who ironically has had great numbers against the Dodgers in his career. The 27-year-old has a 2.23 ERA against L.A. in 36 1/3 innings pitched. So it will be on his shoulders to get the Giants off to a good start, but it will be a tall task as San Francisco will have to face Dodgers Ace Kershaw who was nearly flawless this spring training. In six spring training games, the lefty was 1-0, with a 0.00 ERA, allowing 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts through 21.1 innings pitched.

For the Giants to come out on top and put the team in the right direction they will have to somehow overcome Kersahw who has a 1.60 career ERA against the Giants in 41 games, with 307 K’s in 297 1/3 innings pitched.

If you’re looking for a great game to watch on Opening Day, I would suggest checking this one out, because the battle for the West Division starts in Game 1.

Anticipated New Stars to Watch

Shohei Ohtani, L.A. Angels

If you have not heard about Ohtani yet, then you will soon as the International Two-way player is very close to breaking camp with the Angels and joining them for opening day against the Oakland A’s on Thursday.

Ohtani, who has not shown his talents as well as most have hoped this spring, is probably one of the most anticipated players coming into the 2018 season. There will be questions, especially how many games will he pitch in, how many will he actually get to hit in and will he be an impact player for the Angels. Only time will tell, but a very interesting story will unfold with the Angels this season.

Ronald Acuna, Atlanta Braves

The hype has been out for the Braves #1 Prospect as he is being tabbed as a great candidate for the NL Rookie of the Year in 2018. Last Braves player to win that award was RHP Craig Kimbrel in 2011 and the last position player was SS Rafael Furcal in 2000. Acuna brings great speed to the game and good pop in his bat. He is an impact player that can help the Braves to finally start to build in the right direction, back to winning baseball.

Scott Kingery, Philadelphia Phillies

Kingery has yet to make his major league debut, but he already signed his first multi-year contract, as the Phillies locked up their prized possession with a six-year contract worth $24 million. During the current Spring Training season, Kingery batted .392, with four home runs and seven RBIs in 20 games.

The Phillies are very excited about the young second baseman and after bringing on Carlos Santana this off-season, Philadelphia is hoping to build a new winning atmosphere on their club. They are on the right track.

Best Guess For Comeback Player of the Year

Matt Harvey, New York Mets

There are probably a few guys on the Mets team that would be deserving of just a comeback season, but Harvey is probably the one guy that would be best suited to win the award. The past two seasons has not been kind to Harvey as he has struggled to get back to what he once was. But if all goes well in 2018, he won’t be what he was, but he may be what he needs to be and if that brings on success, the Mets and their fans will be greatly appreciative to the righty.

Surprise Team of 2018

The Milwaukee Brewers are my pick to win the NL Central Division, and one or many may think that I am crazy because the Chicago Cubs are stronger and better, and the St Louis Cardinals are always in the mix, but I just have a hunch that the Brewers may surprise a lot of people with the additions of outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich. Of course its takes more than just two players and other factors have to be in play, but they only finished six games (86-76) behind the Cubs in 2017, and you have to think that adding two bats to their lineup will give them a better chance to add to the win column. There will be question marks like Ryan Braun possibly playing some games at first base just to get at bats, but also how to make sure Eric Thames also get adequate at bats to make an impact in the lineup. But if manager Craig Counsell can figure it all out and keep everyone happy, the Brewers can be set for a successful season.

Is The Dynasty Back?

The Bronx Bombers had a great 2017 season and with the addition of another slugger in Giancarlo Stanton, the hopes are that they will win the Division and battle for a World Series Title. They have more than enough offense and enough pitching to bring this organization back to being a Dynasty once again.  But there are some questions that will need to be answered, will Aaron Judge continue dominating the league with his bat?, Will Stanton stay on the field long enough to impact the everyday lineup?, Will Gary Sanchez continue to develop into a great ball player even playing great defense behind the dish?, Will CC Sabathia, at age 37, be durable enough and pitch well enough to help the team win?. Lastly, will the rest of the team play well enough under Aaron Boone and get back to where they were last season and take the needed step forward to be even better? Only time will tell…

David Conde

David Conde

Co-Founder/Executive Editor at Legends On Deck®
David is the Founder and Executive Editor of Legends On Deck®. He was a Senior Editor for MetsMerizedOnline, MetsMinors.net and Contributor for Hardballchat.com. David's idea forLegends on Deck is to be a site where passionate fans of the game have a place to read about their favorite baseball teams. The site is also for people who had a talent to write or even take photographs and have the platform to share. The passion of following the Minor Leagues can be seen all over the site as the players journey's are what what drives the LOD team to share their content. David's passion is making available a site that people can have fun sharing and reading.

You can also reach out to David at daconde@legendsondeck.com
David Conde