It feels like baseball fans were enjoying Opening Day just yesterday. Now the first month of the 2019 MLB season is coming to a close.
The opening month certainly didn’t fall short. It delivered plenty of headlines, incredible moments and some unbelievable starts. Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich is on a historical pace out of the gate. Meanwhile, the reigning World Series champs find themselves at the bottom of the standings.
Now a new month is on the horizon and with it comes plenty of excitement. From the Toronto Blue Jays finally calling up Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to All-Star candidates rounding into form, the next few weeks will deliver plenty for fans to enjoy.
Here are 10 bold MLB predictions for the month of May.
Red Sox climb atop the A.L. East
It would be an understatement to call the first month of the season a disaster for Boston. The Red Sox have only dealt with a few injuries, far fewer than the Yankees, yet it’s Boston who sits near the bottom of the standings.
However, Boston is starting to show signs of life after a 2-8 start in its first 10 games. Chris Sale is slowly figuring things out with his diminished velocity. Additionally, Mookie Betts is starting to correct his issues at the plate and sent his batting average skyrocketing after it fell to .200 on April 17.
The schedule loosens up for the Red Sox a bit in May with their first four series coming against below-average opponents (Chicago White Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, Colorado Rockies). While two three-game series against the Astros will be challenging, a strong start to the month and a rebound from Boston’s key stars could push them back on top in the division.
Craig Kimbrel signs with the Brewers
When Kimbrel became a free agent, many expected the game’s top closer to receive a plethora of interest and sign a long-term deal to be a huge chess piece in a contender’s bullpen.
Instead, Kimbrel remains a free agent and bullpens across the league are dealing with injuries, inconsistency, or both. While teams might view Kimbrel’s demands as high, urgency will take over at some point and caving to a three-year deal for the future Hall of Famer will be worth it.
Given the injuries to Corey Knebel and Jeremy Jeffress and the recent fall in the standings, Milwaukee makes the most sense. The organization is more willing than the Atlanta Braves to sacrifice a draft pick and seems to be prioritizing contending more. A duo of Hader and Kimbrel would simply be sensational in the postseason.
San Francisco Giants become the first sellers
Under a new front office, the Giants are finally going to see the changes that likely should have been made a few years ago. President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi is going to build the organization his way and will start very soon with the beginning stages of a transition.
San Francisco will likely trade Madison Bumgarner before the trade deadline. However, a combo of veteran relievers will appeal to plenty of clubs. Closer Will Smith may stay in San Francisco until July, but Tony Watson, Nick Vincent and even Sam Dyson should attract interest and could be dealt in May.
Moving one of their relievers would also open the door for the Giants to bring up some of their young arms from Triple-A Sacramento. While the big chips may not fall quite yet, don’t be surprised if a few lockers are emptied out in the next few weeks.
Twins post second-best record in MLB
In an offseason headlined by the Philadelphia Phillies and San Diego Padres, Minnesota quietly made solid additions to an underrated core and is already seeing the rewards.
This team is far from perfect with weaknesses in its rotation and bullpen, but the schedule in May is light. Minnesota already has one of the best records in baseball and will head into a month with matchups against a depleted Yankees roster along with matchups against the Blue Jays, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners, and Chicago White Sox.
Each of those series is winnable, and the Twins could even walk away with a sweep or two during that time. The Mariners are going to fall back to earth and the Rays have stumbled as of late, opening the door for Minnesota to slide right behind Houston in the league’s standings with a strong month of baseball.
The Mets fall back to earth
The first month of the season can at times be used as a measuring stick for potential success for the season ahead. In New York’s case, its record near the top of the standings is misleading.
New York is just one of four teams in the National League with a run differential higher than -10. The Mets (-19) are allowing a ton of runs (160) and it partly explains their 4-6 record over the past 10 games.
Even the return of Jacob deGrom isn’t enough to completely stop this. Statistically and on talent, the Braves are the better team this season. Even the Washington Nationals can give the Mets a fight. Until the team’s pitching issues are seriously corrected, the floor will sink further down for this team.
Nick Senzel makes MLB debut
We’ve already seen the likes of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Eloy Jimenez and Fernando Tatis Jr. make their MLB debuts. It might be a matter of weeks before another top prospect joins the ranks with his own MLB debut.
There is little doubt Senzel can make the Cincinnati Reds a better team. The 23-year-old can play second base or center field and brings a bat more than capable of doing some damage.
Senzel suffered a right ankle sprain that sidelined him towards the end of spring and delayed his start in Triple-A. He might need a week or two to shake the rust off, but his .887 OPS in 171 at-bats at the same level in 2018 showed he deserves a shot. Besides, it can’t get worse than Scott Schebler (.567 OPS) or Jose Peraza (.545).
Dodgers start to run away with N.L. West
The San Diego Padres have already provided some fun moments this season and will be a threat in the N.L. West for years to come. Right now they aren’t a threat to win the division.
Los Angeles owns the west. Its two-game advantage in the division should skyrocket in May. The Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks belong in a rebuild, while the Colorado Rockies seem to have lost the magic spark from 2018.
So, the team with the highest run differential (+31) in the N.L. should start putting some distance between itself and everyone else right about now. This team should be the favorite to win the pennant. Beating up on their division rivals and some other struggling clubs in May will help them get there.
First no-hitter of 2019 is thrown
A year after we saw three no-hitters by May 8 in the MLB season, we are now approaching that same date without one in sight. In fact, James Paxton’s no-no on May 8, 2018 is the last time we saw the historic feat.
The streak will reach a full calendar year this month. However, it will not make it to June. While several marquee pitchers are struggling out of the gate, these guys tend to improve as the year goes on.
We could go really bold and say a San Diego Padres pitcher will throw the first no-hitter in team history, but that’s a little too out there. Instead, let’s focus on the San Francisco Giants as a victim. They’ve nearly gone hitless on two separate occasions this year and a matchup against Reds starting pitcher Luis Castillo could be the time it finally happens
Yankees come crashing down
Despite seeing 13 players land on the injured list, New York is right near the top of baseball’s best division. It’s scary to think what this team will do if it ever gets healthy given what we’re seeing now, but what’s happening also isn’t going to continue.
Even with the return of Gary Sanchez, an everyday lineup with Brett Gardner, Mike Tauchman, Tyler Wade, Gio Urshela and Thairo Estrada isn’t going to maintain this success.
If the pitching can keep up its success, perhaps that can keep this team afloat for a little while longer. Ultimately, that just isn’t very likely and series losses to the Twins, Tampa Bay Rays, Boston Red Sox, and even a split to the Seattle Mariners, could be in this team’s future. It will get better, and this team will be great when healthy. But this just isn’t sustainable for Triple-A players and backups.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. posts a .950-plus OPS
The future finally arrived and the excitement for Guerrero’s presence in Toronto’s lineup goes far beyond the fan base. The 20-year-old is a generational talent and we’re going to see it in the coming weeks and months.
Ignore his slow start since Toronto called him up, those numbers don’t really matter. What stands out is his 70-hit tool and 80-grade power on the traditional 20-80 scouting scale. Guerrero Jr. is going to be a transcendent superstar in the majors and we’re only just about to get a taste of it.
A .950-plus OPS is lofty in a month, but it’s achievable for a player of this caliber. If he can display that massive power with doubles and home runs, his slugging percentage can clear .600. Pair that with his contact ability and discipline at the plate, and you get a .350-plus OBP to send him to a .950 OPS. If the Blue Jays come to play in your city, go get tickets and watch the start of this star’s career.