It’s the special time of year when fans want to grab seats in the shade, have a refreshing drink and enjoy the summer of baseball. This time of the MLB season can be full of surprises, which makes it the perfect time for bold predictions.
The dog days of summer stoke the fire for teams and players. Some break out through the heat, while others wilt under the sun. During this special time of year, crazy things happen.
Players go on stretches that can win them major awards, teams start to create distance in the postseason and other teams experience dramatic change. It makes the dog days of summer so much more special and takes bold predictions for the coming weeks to a new level.
Here are 10 bold predictions for the dog days of summer.
Cleveland trades for Josh Donaldson to become World Series favorite
Barring a historic collapse, Cleveland will win the A.L. Central. Now, the front office must use August to make the necessary move to go toe-to-toe with the Boston Red Sox.
The top of the lineup is strong with Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor, Michael Brantley and Edwin Encarnacion. Meanwhile, Cleveland’s rotation is made for the postseason and they further solidified their bullpen in July. The Indians need one more power threat who comes alive in the postseason, and Donaldson fits that to a tee.
An impending free agent, Donaldson’s calf injury and $10-plus million owed over the rest of the season will allow him to clear trade waivers. Cleveland could then swoop in and land the perennial All-Star third baseman, who could immediately add an impact bat to the lineup. A loaded rotation with a strong bullpen and a loaded lineup, this could be the team to beat in the A.L.
Toronto Blue Jays fire manager John Gibbons
It is likely a matter of weeks before Toronto calls up Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the top prospect in all of baseball according to MLB.com. When the influx of youth comes, a new manager could also follow .
A rebuild is underway in Toronto and Gibbons no longer fits into that picture. After two lengthy stints, it is finally the time to show him the door for good. If it happens during the season, Toronto can promote Triple-A Buffalo manager Bobby Meacham to become Toronto’s interim skipper.
Meacham would already have a relationship with some of the young players the Blue Jays would call up in September. Furthermore, it would give the front office an extended look at a potential candidate to become the manager beyond 2018. Given Ken Rosenthal’s report that Gibbons seems destined to be fired, it appears to be a matter of when, not if.
Mookie Betts runs away with A.L. MVP award
The race for the American League’s MVP award has been a battle throughout the season. However, that will likely change this month as the Boston Red Sox surge to the league’s best record and the Los Angeles Angels sink further down the standings.
We’ve already seen Betts get off to a strong start in August. He has seven hits in 13 at-bats with a 1.300 OPS this month as he starts to return to the player we saw before the All-Star Break.
All he needs to do is finish out the months strong, surpassing 30-plus home runs on the season and maintaining his league-best batting average. If he does, the MVP award will be a wrap. Thanks to the excellence by Boston this season, the 25-year-old should wrap up the MVP award in the coming weeks.
Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich carry Brewers to a division title
On a single day, Milwaukee made two moves that could define its season. The acquisitions of outfielders Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain have already paid off for the Brewers, but the best could be on the way.
Milwaukee trails the Chicago Cubs by less than two games in the N.L. Central, and as Chicago deals with injuries, Milwaukee added to its lineup. Jonathan Schoop and Mike Moustakas add more protection to the lineup and with more surrounding talent, there will be increased run-scoring opportunities for Yelich and Cain.
As a result, August presents an opportunity for the outfield duo to turn in their best stretch of the season. While they may fall short of serious MVP consideration, the timing is right for them to give Milwaukee a divisional lead that it can carry into September.
Robinson Cano’s return reignites the Mariners’ lineup
As the Mariners surged in June, it seemed like they were better off without Cano. Seattle was in striking distance of the Houston Astros in the A.L. West and held a comfortable lead for a wild-card spot.
Reality caught up to them and now things have crashed considerably. As Seattle falls down the standing and sits two games back of the second wild-card spot, its offense holds plenty of the blame. Over the last 30 days, the Mariners have scored the third-fewest runs (81) in the majors.
Seattle needs Cano to return as soon as possible. Fortunately, his bat will be back in Seattle’s lineup on Aug. 14. While his 80-game suspension will prevent him from playing in the postseason, the veteran’s power and patience at the plate should push Seattle back into the postseason hunt.
Boston surpasses last year’s win total in August
Things went very well for Boston last season as they won the A.L. East and finished the regular season with 93 wins. This season, they could reach last year’s win total far ahead of schedule this season.
Sitting at 79 wins, Boston only needs to win 14 more games to tie its finish from 2017. The Red Sox have upcoming matchups against the Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays, all teams they can can sweep when they are clicking.
This is a stacked squad and its light schedule should easily allow it to reach or surpass 14 wins by the last week of August. Realistically, we could witness one of the best seasons in MLB history.
Max Scherzer leaps past Jacob deGrom in the race for Cy Young award
While both candidates will be mentioned as MVP candidates, the real debate should focus on the Cy Young award. Given deGrom holds a significant advantage in ERA (1.85) and has been dominant as of late, it seems like the edge is in his favor.
However, wins and a hot stretch on a good team at the end of the season can decide these races. deGrom will be lucky to win eight games this season, while Scherzer is pushing for 18-plus and his team is steadily improving in a postseason race.
Furthermore, Scherzer has the strikeouts on his side to build more appeal. It will be Washington that draws the eyes, while the Mets continue to waste great outings from their ace. Thanks to the team success, strikeouts and wins under the brightest lights, Scherzer will steal the award away from deGrom.
Eloy Jimenez brings hope back to Chicago
It’s about time for fans to start counting down the days. While this season has been another disappointment, a significant moment of delight and a sign of the future is coming.
Jimenez is one of the most gifted players in the minors. He crushed Double-A pitchers with a .317/.368/.556 slash line then came up to Triple-A and took things to a new level with a .376/.425/..679 slash line. Simply put, he is ready for an actual challenge and that will only come in the majors.
He is reportedly “really close” to a call-up, which would mean MLB.com’s No.3 overall prospect will soon be hitting home runs in Chicago. The 21-year-old outfielder offers elite power with an outstanding hit tool and a good feel for the strike zone. He is the kind of player whose presence in the lineup will make those around him better. It’s time for fans in Chicago to get excited because Jimenez could deliver a Rhys Hoskins-like debut to end the season.
Athletics surge past the Yankees in the A.L. wild-card race
After adding reliever Shawn Kelley, Oakland now has one of the best bullpens in baseball. It makes the Athletics an even scarier threat when you consider how hot they have been in recent months.
Since June 15, Oakland has won 33 of its last 43 games. Everything has clicked in Oakland from the lineup to a rotation with castoffs like Edwin Jackson, Trevor Cahill and now Mike Fiers. The squad of unknowns and forgotten players is knocking over everyone in its path.
Meanwhile, New York’s big lead atop the wild-card race is dwindling rapidly. Momentum is a real thing and with Aaron Judge still unable to swing a bat, there is a window for the Oakland to leapfrog New York. Taking the Yankees away from Yankee Stadium and putting them front of a loud, wild A’s crowd could make all the difference in the postseason. This stretch of the season will be critical for both teams but momentum indicates the A’s will come out ahead.
Tampa Bay Rays see immediate awards from Chris Archer trade
After being the face of Tampa Bay’s rotation for years, the organization finally traded Chris Archer. In return the Rays landed Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows, two players who can be difference makers almost immediately.
Glasnow, once a top-10 prospect in all of baseball, found himself in the perfect spot to capture his potential. Rays’ pitching coach Kyle Synder is 6-foot-7 and is renowned for helping tall pitchers (Glasnow is 6-foot-8) better understand how to pitch with their size and maintain their mechanics. Tampa Bay’s unique rotation, in which starters work up to three innings, will help Glasnow develop at his own pace and iron out his command issues from the past.
As for Meadows, he can be a reliable hitter at the top of the lineup as long as he stays healthy. The Rays need all the help they can get and will give Meadows plenty of opportunities to hit near the top of the lineup immediately.
These are two players with All-Star potential who should contribute in August and September for the Rays. While Archer was great for this organization, the chance to develop and have Glasnow and Meadows for years to come will take Tampa Bay even further.