Just over a week away from MLB’s Opening Day, teams are beginning to finalize their rosters for the upcoming 162-game stretch. While roster projections from analysts are usually off due to variables such as last-minute injuries, acquisitions, teams deciding to use fewer starters out of the gate or a variety of determining circumstances, it’s often fun to project how each team will line up to begin the season. With that, I’ve taken on the arduous task of projecting each ballclub and while some of the powerhouse ballclubs such as the Braves, Mets, Dodgers and Padres were rather simple, teams with a lot more competition in camp, a la the Nationals and Cubs, are a bit more difficult.
There are a lot of storylines heading into the March 30th start date of the 2023 season. Superstar players the calibre of multi-time National League Most Valuable Player Bryce Harper are starting the year on the injured list, while players such as his former Nationals teammate Trea Turner will hope to bolster the lineup in his place after signing a mega-deal with the Phillies. Meanwhile, Andrew McCutchen finally returns home, beginning a comeback tour with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Is this the year that Manny Machado or Nolan Arenado finally win their MVP? Are the Dodgers and Braves the best team in their divisions heading into the new campaign? Did the Cubs re-tool enough to make noise in the National League Central? Which National League star will break out amidst new rules that highlight offence?
Much like the final rosters, all of these answers remain to be seen. Yet, it’s setting up for an extraordinary summer in the Senior Circuit. Here’s how I expect each team to look out of the gate, ordered by division and 2022 divisional standings.
National League East
MLB Opening Day | The Atlanta Braves:
Five of the players that were on the field when the Braves recorded the final out of the 2021 World Series are now in other organizations. Yet, despite that turnover, the big storyline with the Braves is the exact opposite. The story is that they’ve gotten stronger since, with a knack for extending some of the best players in the sport such as Ronald Acuna Jr., Austin Riley and Ozzie Albies to below-market deals, allowing them payroll flexibility to acquire and extend hitters like Matt Olson and Sean Murphy. On top of that, the lineup is complimenting by its young talents through the pipeline, including five-tool outfielder Michael Harris II in his first full Major League season.
On top of a very talented lineup littered with some of the most fundamentally sound players in baseball, the pitching staff features Max Fried, a lefty with perhaps the most devastating curveball in the sport. Behind Fried in the rotation comes Spencer Strider, the flamethrower who broke rookie K records set by Hall of Famer Randy Johnson in 2022. Veteran Charlie Morton rounds out the three-headed monster, providing three distinct styles and unique arms for teams to contend with. The bullpen has multiple arms with closer experience, being able to give teams different looks at different angles as well.
Shortstop Vaughn Grissom seemed like a lock heading into spring to be the starter in the wake of Dansby Swanson’s departure. Yet, poor performance made it seem like prospect Brendan Shewmake would make the team. As of March 20th, both have been optioned, presumably to get more minor-league appearances. Orlando Arcia, the veteran shortstop who’s out of options, will once again take a bigger role than imagined with non-roster invite utility player Ehire Adrianza rounding out the bench.
The most interesting storyline in spring with the shortstop problem resolved is the fifth starter spot, which seems to have been won outright by prospect Jared Shuster, as Ian Anderson has been optioned to the minors just one year removed from not surrendering a hit in his World Series outing.
Projected Opening Day Roster:
Rotation: Max Fried, Spencer Strider, Charlie Morton, Kyle Wright, Jared Shuster.
RF Ronald Acuna Jr.
2B Ozzie Albies
3B Austin Riley
1B Matt Olson
DH Travis d’Arnaud
C Sean Murphy
CF Michael Harris II
LF Eddie Rosario
SS Orlando Arcia
Bench: Marcell Ozuna, Sam Hilliard, Kevin Pillar, Ehire Adrianza.
Bullpen: Raisel Iglesias (closer), AJ Minter, Jesse Chavez, Lucas Luetge, Dylan Lee, Joe Jiminez, Kirby Yates, Collin McHugh.
*Injured List: Huascar Ynoa, Tyler Matzek, Kolby Allard.
MLB Opening Day | The New York Mets:
The Mets were amongst the biggest spenders in free agency for a second consecutive year, bringing in reigning Cy Young recipient Justin Verlander on a deal worth $40M annually, coinciding with the yearly average of Max Scherzer, who he shared a rotation with in Detroit, on the Mets. One of the most interesting rotation battles for the Opening Day spot is the Mets, as both have won three Cy Young awards, pitched multiple no-hitters, recorded over 3,000 Ks and are surefire likes for the National Baseball Hall of Fame. As the two prepare to continually pass each other on the all-time K list each time one takes the mound, it will likely be Scherzer as he’s been in New York longer. The rotation has a brand new look, though, as this is the first time since 2014 that the Mets rotation won’t feature stalwart ace Jacob deGrom. The team also brought in Jose Quintana who’s starting the season on the IL, so it forces an older veteran like Carlos Carrasco to take a larger role than otherwise planned.
As for the lineup, the top of the lineup looks to be an offensive juggernaut with superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor and run-producing machine Pete Alonso. Jeff McNeil is the reigning batting champion at the top of the lineup, too. But the deeper you get into the lineup, the less athletic and the older it becomes. The Mets offense looks to be a tale of two teams.
The biggest story this spring is easily Edwin Diaz. Diaz signed the most lucrative contract in MLB history for a reliever and recently fell victim to an ACL tear in the World Baseball Classic. Their bullpen is suddenly less deep, though David Robertson figures to step into the closer role. Though it’s his first year as a New York Met, Robertson was an All-Star closer in the city of New York dating back to his tenure with the Yankees. Meanwhile, Adam Ottavino provides scintillating movement on a wipeout slider. After that, the bullpen seems to leave quite a bit desired. Buck Showalter in his first year in Queens got the most out of all 26 players on his roster in 2022, so perhaps the Mets surprise me.
Rotation: Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Kodai Senga, Carlos Carrasco, David Peterson.
CF Starling Marte
2B Jeff McNeil
SS Francisco Lindor
1B Pete Alonso
DH Daniel Vogelbach
3B Eduardo Escobar
LF Mark Canha
C Omar Narvaez
RF Tommy Pham
Bench: Tim Locastro, Luis Guillorme, Tomas Nido, Darin Ruff.
Bullpen: David Robertson (closer), Brooks Raley, Adam Ottavino, Elieser Hernandez, John Curtiss, Tylor Megill, Stephen Nogosek, Drew Smith.
*Injured List: Brandon Nimmo, Jose Quintana, Edwin Diaz, Sam Coonrod, Danny Mendick, Bryce Montes de Orca.
MLB Opening Day | The Philadelphia Phillies:
When Philadelphia starts the season in Arlington, Texas, they will being doing so with significantly higher expectations than a year ago. Not only did they bring in the top shortstop in a loaded shortstop market, but they come in having played in the World Series after getting hot at the perfect time in 2022.
Though they still play in the Philly fan box known as Citizen’s Bank, the top three of Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola and Taijuan Walker is one of the best in the NL. The bullpen has a bit of a new look despite returning a number of arms in the backend, notably Seranthony Dominguez and Jose Alvarado. Craig Kimbrel returns to the National League East having never given up a run in his new home ballpark, former Detroit closer Gregory Soto solidified an already-loaded pen and Matt Strahm figures to be a long-relief option.
As the lineup recovers from the loss of cornerstone Bryce Harper, they still trot out some of the guys most known names in J.T. Realmuto and Kyle Schwarber. Trea Turner, arguably the most complete shortstop in baseball, heads to Philadelphia for the first season in his new eleven year commitment with rules changes that should only improve his game. The team will have no shortage of offense in 2023, even with their best player out until the All-Star break.
Rotation: Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Taijuan Walker, Ranger Suarez, Bailey Falter.
SS Trea Turner
C JT Realmuto
1B Rhys Hoskins
DH Kyle Schwarber
RF Nicholas Castellanos
3B Alec Bohm
LF Jake Cave
2B Josh Harrison
CF Brandon Marsh
Bench: Kody Clemens, Garrett Stubbs, Edmundo Sosa, Bryson Stott.
Bullpen: Craig Kimbrel (closer), Andrew Bellatti, Jose Alvarado, Gregory Soto, Michael Plassmeyer, Seranthony Dominguez, Matt Strahm.
*Injured List: Bryce Harper, Cristopher Sanchez, Nick Nelson.
MLB Opening Day | The Miami Marlins:
The Marlins had one of the more stranger offseasons in recent memory that led to some peculiar roster construction. With the best pitcher in baseball atop their rotation, three young pitchers with excellent stuff and veteran All-Star Johnny Cueto, the Marlins traded away burgeoning young pitcher Pablo Lopez from a position of strength for Twins first baseman Luis Arraez. Yet, because they have five outfielders vying for three spots, Jorge Soler is primarily the DH. This moved designated hitter Garrett Cooper to first base, forcing them to find a different spot for the most recent AL batting crown. Their best player is Jazz Chisholm, a second baseman. Arraez played second base originally with the Twins before moving to first. They have Joey Wendle, an All-Star in 2021, and signed Jean Segura. Both are second baseman who have played other infield positions.
This leaves four hitters fighting for three infield spots. The first baseman will be playing second base, the second baseman will be moving to centerfield, exacerbating the outfield conundrum. Wendle has played third base more than shortstop in the Majors, and Segura has played shortstop more than any other position. Naturally, Segura will be playing third base and Wendle will be playing short. They also have informed Garrett Hampson, who’d been in camp on a minor-league pact, that he’s made the team. The two positions he’s played in the Majors? Outfield and second base.
The Marlins have a lot of really solid players that know how to grind, but in a division that had two 100-game winners last year and a third team go very deep into October, it will be another middling year in South Beach.
Rotation: Sandy Alcantara, Johnny Cueto, Braxton Garrett, Edward Cabrera, Jesus Luzardo.
LF Jon Berti
2B Luis Arraez
3B Jean Segura
CF Jazz Chisholm
DH Jorge Soler
RF Avisail Garcia
1B Garrett Cooper
C Jacob Stallings
SS Joey Wendle
Bench: Bryan De La Cruz, Garrett Hampson, Nick Fortes, Jesus Sanchez.
Bullpen: Matt Barnes (closer), JT Chargois. Huascar Brazoban, Chi Chi Gonzalez, Tanner Scott, Steven Okert, Dylan Floro, AJ Puk.
*Injured List: Anthony Bender, Nic Enright.
MLB Opening Day | The Washington Nationals:
The 2023 roster for the Washington Nationals club is a far cry from the championship squad of Trea Turner, Max Scherzer, Anthony Rendon, Stephen Strasburg and Juan Soto. A transition year, the roster bestows little-to-no confidence. For a team such as the Nationals, it’s players such as Keibert Ruiz and Josiah Gray continuing to show promising development in a lost year that’s the most intriguing storyline. The Nationals will also seek big first halves out of veteran’s Jeimer Candelario and Corey Dickerson in hopes of a potential trade deadline swap for future pieces.
Rotation: Josiah Gray, MacKenzie Gore, Trevor Williams, Patrick Corbin, Erasmo Ramirez.
SS CJ Abrams
2B Ildemaro Vargas
C Keibert Ruiz
1B Joey Meneses
LF Corey Dickerson
DH Dominic Smith
RF Lane Thomas
3B Jeimer Candelario
CF Victor Robles
Bench: Alex Call, Riley Adams, Carter Keiboom, Luis Garcia.
Bullpen: Kyle Finnegan (closer), Alex Colome, Sean Doolittle, Carl Edwards Jr., Hunter Harvey, Thad Ward, Mason Thompson, Chad Kuhl.
*Injured List: Tanner Rainey, Victor Arano, Stephen Strasburg, Cade Cavalli.
National League Central
MLB Opening Day | The Los Angeles Dodgers:
The Dodgers offseason isn’t about what they gained more than it is about what they lost. With the two Turner’s away from the lineup, injuries to three crucial players in Gavin Lux, Walker Buehler and Tony Gonsolin, and six pitchers departing in free agency, the Dodgers are bringing back a weakened version of their 2022 club while the Padres overhauled.
The Dodgers did bring in J.D. Martinez, who historically hits well at Dodger Stadium, including a four-homer game at Chavez Ravine with the Diamondbacks in 2017 and a 2018 World Series Championship with the Red Sox. The Dodgers are hoping a change of scenery does wonders for Jason Heyward, who re-unites with longtime teammate Freddie Freeman. With the infield picture changing due to Lux going down in spring camp, Chris Taylor is no longer anticipating much time in the outfield, expanding Heyward’s role on the team.
The Dodgers depth is tested, but they’re grading well in the pitching category as their starting rotation still looks lights out despite losing two young All-Star arms. Noah Syndergaard comes in for his first year in Dodger blue, but second year in the L.A. metropolitan area, and Los Angeles hopes that Julio Urias can replicate a season where he won an ERA crown. That being said, former N.L. MVP Clayton Kershaw is expected to take the bump Opening Day, as usual. Kershaw’s 2.28 ERA in 2022 was tied for the sixth lowest of his career, meaning the sixth or seventh best season of his MLB career would be a vast majority of pitcher’s career year. The dominance is unparalleled, and perhaps that’s a piece for me to do at TWM+ in the future.
Rotation: Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urias, Dustin May, Noah Syndergaard, Ryan Pepiot.
RF Mookie Betts
SS Chris Taylor
1B Freddie Freeman
C Will Smith
2B Max Muncy
DH JD Martinez
LF Jason Heyward
3B Miguel Rojas
CF Trayce Thompson
Bench: David Peralta, Yonny Hernandez, Austin Barnes, Miguel Vargas.
Bullpen: Brusdar Graterol (closer), Alex Vesia, Shelby Miller, Jimmy Nelson, Phil Bickford, Evan Phillips, Caleb Ferguson, Yency Almonte.
*Injured List: Tony Gonsolin, Alex Reyes, Gavin Lux, Daniel Hudson, J.P. Feyereisen, Walker Buehler, Blake Treinen.
MLB Opening Day | The San Diego Padres:
Alongside the Mets, the Padres were the most polarizing team of the offseason because of the ample amount of funds spent. After a year that saw them lose in the NLCS, the Padres are hungry for their first World Championship. In doing so, they extended their best position player, best swingman and their best starting pitcher, they signed four new hitters to join their club and they spent an excess of $888M this offseason.
The most fascinating signing is Nelson Cruz coming off of his worst Major League season clocking in at an age over 40. But despite their success and the existence of Juan Soto and Manny Machado, the story of the Padres heading into April is the return of Fernando Tatis Jr. from his performance enhancing drug suspension. With Tatis struggling with his public image, guidance from Cruz could be the answer. Cruz served a suspension for steroids many moons ago with the Texas Rangers and is one of the few players to be so beloved after that it doesn’t come up.
Until then, the Padres seemed destined to waltzed their way to the postseason again. With MVP candidates in Machado and Soto anchoring an offense that will feature four other players who have been All-Stars on Opening Day, scoring runs won’t be an issue. Preventing runs? Ha-Seong Kim and Xander Bogaerts will provide exceptional infield defense on a pitching staff of Yu Darvish and Blake Snell, both of whom often pitch to contact.
Rotation: Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Nick Martinez, Michael Wacha, Seth Lugo.
CF Trent Grisham
SS Xander Bogaerts
3B Manny Machado
RF Juan Soto
1B Jake Cronenworth
DH Nelson Cruz
LF Matt Carpenter
C Austin Nola
2B Ha-Seong Kim
Bench: David Dahl, Adam Engel, Luis Campusano, Jose Azocar.
Bullpen: Josh Hader (closer), Drew Pomeranz, Julio Teheran, Nabil Crissmat, Steven Wilson, Robert Suarez, Luis Garcia, Tim Hill.
*Injured List: Joe Musgrove, Jose Castillo, Adrian Morejon.
MLB Opening Day | The San Francisco Giants:
It was an offseason where San Francisco looked to spend a giant amount of money that was burning such a hole in their pocket that it qualified as ‘arson.’ The team made huge offers to both Aaron Judge and Carlos Correa, having one foot out the door when agreeing to the terms on the latter contract.
While the team didn’t sign one of the biggest options on the market, they did make improvements. Longtime Mariner Mitch Haniger and former Met Michael Conforto will now play their home games in Oracle Park, while they also made small rotation upgrades.
It will be hard to compete in a division with the Dodgers and Padres, though the team is only a season removed from winning the NL West. With more-or-less the same club, they could go either way.
Rotation: Logan Webb, Sean Manea, Ross Stripling, Alex Wood, Alex Cobb.
CF Mike Yastrzemski
SS Brandon Crawford
DH Michael Confoto
LF Joc Pederson
3B Wilmer Flores
1B JD Davis
RF Austin Slater
C Roberto Perez
2B Thairo Estrada
Bench: Joey Bart, LaMonte Wade Jr., David Villar, Blake Sabol.
Bullpen: Camilo Doval (closer), Tyler Rogers, Taylor Rogers, Sam Long, Anthony DeSclefani, Jakob Junis, John Brebbia, Scott Alexander.
*Injured List: Luis Gonzalez, Mitch Haniger, Luke Jackson.
MLB Opening Day | The Arizona Diamondbacks:
Much like the Giants, the Diamondbacks don’t exactly have the talent pool to compete with the Padres and Dodgers in 2023. But, the organization is in a more optimistic spot. While small veteran signings such as Evan Longoria and trading Daulton Varsho highlighted the offseason, they added 2020 AL Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis and the top catching prospect in baseball to an already young and exciting roster.
Ketel Marte signed a five year extension this past offseason, keeping their most popular player in the desert long term. It’s also set to be the first full-season of Jake McCarthy’s career, one of Arizona’s top young prospects. McCarthy posted a 118 OPS+ in 2022 and finished fourth in ROTY voting, despite playing in less than 100 games.
At worst, the Diamondbacks have a stellar bullpen, a veteran rotation and a balanced lineup. Don’t be surprised if they make noise, even if it isn’t expected. It should be a fun year in Arizona that sees the ballclub take that next step forward.
Rotation: Zac Gallen, Madison Bumgarner, Merril Kelly, Drew Jameson, Zach Davies.
SS Ketel Marte
1B Christian Walker
LF Jake McCarthy
DH Pavin Smith
3B Evan Longoria
RF Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
C Carson Kelly
CF Kyle Lewis
Bench: Emmanuel Rivera, Gabriel Moreno, Corbin Carroll, Josh Rojas.
Bullpen: Joe Manitply (closer), Andrew Chafin, Miguel Castro, Scott McGough, Kevin Ginkel, Kyle Nelson, Jeurys Familia, Cole Sulser.
*Injured List: Mark Melancon, Corbin Martin.
MLB Opening Day | The Colorado Rockies:
It’s hard to speak kindly about the Colorado Rockies, especially when they once again had the worst offseason in baseball. Outside of acquiring 2016 NL MVP Kris Bryant, who will search to find his power stroke again in 2023, they’ve been arguably the worst front office in the sport in recent memory.
However, they do have a nice collective of veterans, including CJ Cron coming off of his first All-Star season, recent signings of Mike Moustakas and Jurickson Profar, and Charlie Blackmon nearing the end of his contract. All four could be trade deadline fodder depending on their first half performance for an organization that desperately needs prospect capital.
Rotation: German Marquez, Kyle Freeland, Austin Gomber, Ryan Feltner, Jose Urena.
CF Yonathan Daza
DH Charlie Blackmon
2B Ryan McMahon
RF Kris Bryant
1B CJ Cron
3B Mike Moustakas
LF Jurickson Profar
C Elias Diaz
SS Ezequiel Tovar
Bench: Alan Trejo, Harold Castro, Brian Severn, Eluheris Montero.
Bullpen: Daniel Bard (closer), TJ Zeuch, Brent Suter, Brad Hand, Dinelson Lamet, Connor Seabold, Lucas Gilbreath, Justin Lawrence.
*Injured List: Antonio Senzatela, Randal Grichuk, Sean Bouchard, Brendan Rogers.
National League Central
MLB Opening Day | The St Louis Cardinals:
A few years removed from when the most curious storyline in Cardinals camp was whether or not Paul Goldschmidt would acclimate to a ballpark other than Chase Field, the story became the same in camp for Nolan Arenado and Coors Field. If 2022 was any indication, both have become better players away from two hitter-friendly confines out west, and the storylines in Cardinals camp have pivoted to how their pitching staff handles a season without Yadier Molina calling the game for the first time in the better part of two decades.
It’s a new era of Cardinal baseball, one where the veteran backstop is longtime Chicago Cub Willson Contreras. Outside of the consensus top three players on the roster, the Cardinals have talented athletes all over the diamond. While top prospect Jordan Walker doesn’t seem to be cracking the roster despite a gaudy performance in camp, they still have Tommy Edman, utilityman who finished seventh in WAR in 2022, Tyler O’Neill is one of the strongest players in baseball and Lars Nootbaar looks to flash even more power in 2023.
Rotation: Adam Wainwright, Jordan Montgomery, Jack Flaherty, Miles Mikolas, Steven Matz.
CF Dylan Carlson
SS Tommy Edman
3B Nolan Arenado
1B Paul Goldschmidt
C Willson Contreras
LF Tyler O’Neill
DH Paul DeJong
2B Brendan Donovan
RF Lars Nootbaar
Bench: Juan Yepez, Alec Burleson, Nolan Gorman, Andrew Knizner.
Bullpen: Ryan Helsey (closer), Giovanny Gallegos, Chris Stratton, Genesis Cabrera, Drew VerHagen, Matthew Liberatore, Andre Pallante, Jordan Hicks.
MLB Opening Day | The Milwaukee Brewers:
The Brewers were part of one of the biggest blockbuster trades of the offseason, acquiring 2022 All-Star backstop William Contreras in the three-team swap that sent Sean Murphy to Atlanta. Contreras joins a mostly young, powerful lineup and fits in rather nicely. Willy Adames is perhaps the Brewers most potent piece, a defensive dynamo at shortstop who’s coming off his best two seasons at the plate. The former Tampa Bay Ray has hit 51 homeruns in 238 games as a Brewer since arriving in Milwaukee, and despite his name swirling in trade rumors again this past offseason, he seems to be a fixture in a Brewers lineup that’s seen massive underperformance from players such as Christian Yelich in recent seasons.
The Brewers strength, however, is their pitching. Both 2021 winner Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff have excellent odds for the 2023 NL Cy Young, while closer Devin Williams is armed with the best changeup in baseball. The Brewers aren’t going to outscore you, but their pitchers will pitch deep and the bullpen will shorten the games, a dominating combination that keeps Craig Counsell’s team in the running every year.
Rotation: Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, Eric Lauer, Freddy Peralta, Wade Miley.
RF Jesse Winker
LF Christian Yelich
SS Willy Adames
C William Contreras
1B Rowdy Tellez
DH Brian Anderson
3B Luis Urias
2B Michael Brosseau
CF Garrett Mitchell
Bench: Keston Hiura, Owen Miller, Victor Caratini, Abraham Toro.
Bullpen: Devin Williams (closer), Matt Bush, Joel Payamps, Adrian Houser, Bryse Wilson, Ethan Small, Javy Guerra, Holby Milner.
*Injured List: Aaron Ashby, Tyrone Taylor, Justin Wilson.
MLB Opening Day | The Chicago Cubs:
The Cubs are in full rebuild mode, but they quietly set the standard this offseason for solid, cost-effective moves in a division that could be up for grabs. With Nico Hoerner and Christopher Morel and young talent through the pipeline coming up to build around, they’ve inked veterans in roles to both stop gap and compliment the young talent for the foreseeable future. Dansby Swanson was the biggest deal the Cubs signed this offseason, bringing a clutch bat with ample playoff experience to a young club. On top of that, Eric Hosmer also brings October experience in one of the many, including Cody Bellinger and Trey Mancini, short-term-prove-it deals.
The Cubs also shored up a problematic bullpen, bringing in 2015 All-Star Brad Boxberger and Michael Fulmer on the cheap. A lot of low-risk, high-reward contracts were given in the North side of Chicago and the worst case scenario is that they’re players the team can move at the deadline should the season go south.
Rotation: Marcus Stroman, Jameson Taillon, Justin Steele, Drew Smyly, Adrian Sampson.
RF Ian Happ
2B Nico Hoerner
SS Dansby Swanson
CF Cody Bellinger
DH Trey Mancini
1B Eric Hosmer
3B Christopher Morel
C Yan Gomes
LF Nelson Velasquez
Bench: Tucker Barnhart, Nick Madrigal, Patrick Wisdom, Edwin Rios.
Bullpen: Brandon Hughes (closer), Brad Boxberger, Nick Burdi, Michael Fulmer, Michael Rucker, Adbert Alzolay, Manuel Rodriguez, Rowan Wick.
*Injured List: Seiya Suzuki, Codi Heuer, Kyle Hendricks, Ethan Roberts.
MLB Opening Day | The Cincinnati Reds:
In what looks to be another albatross year for the Reds, but it could be a celebration of the greatness of Joey Votto. Votto, a Red at the Major League level since 2007, has posted Hall of Fame numbers in Cincinnati and is one of the most beloved players in team history. Entering his age 39 season, his career’s in its twilight and this is the last season of his current contract with the exception of a $20M team option that the Reds aren’t likely to pick up.
Beyond that, it’s a young man’s game and the Reds haven’t been shy about starting the best players regardless of age, club control or professional experience. The offensive players such as Nick Senzel and Jonathan India haven’t made adequate adjustments, but the pitching staff looks to. Hunter Greene didn’t have the best season last year, but his strikeout totals were through the roof having never faced Major League hitting. Alexis Diaz, the brother of Mets closer Edwin, is likely to be the closer for the first time in his career. The Reds are counting on both to breakout and bookend their staff.
Rotation: Hunter Greene, Luis Cessa, Nick Lodolo, Graham Ashcraft, Justin Dunn.
2B Jonathan India
1B Joey Votto
LF Wil Myers
RF Chad Pinder
DH Jake Fraley
C Tyler Stephenson
3B Spencer Steer
SS Kevin Newman
CF Will Bensen
Bench: Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Luke Maile, TJ Freidl, Matt Reynolds.
Bullpen: Alexis Diaz (closer), Connor Overton, Buck Farmer, Tayron Guerrero, Reiver Sanmartin, Fernando Cruz, Lucas Sims, Ian Gibault.
*Injured List: Tejay Antone, Nick Senzel, Luke Weaver, Vladimir Guitterez, Tony Santillan.
MLB Opening Day | The Pittsburgh Pirates:
Much like the Reds, the Pirates main priority this year will also figure to be a celebration of the team’s most recent superstar as Andrew McCutchen returns home to the Steel City for the first time since being traded to the Giants in January 2018. Cutch, a five-tool superstar that won an MVP in Pittsburgh, is one of quite a few veteran grabs to help an inexperienced ballclub in 2023. The other offseason additions for the Bucs include two veteran first basemen, a veteran backstop and the oldest player in baseball for the back part of their rotation.
Yet, it’s the young players on the precipice of greatness that attract headlines. While the statistics aren’t quite following the hype of Oneil Cruz, the underlying metrics are. The skyscraper shortstop is hitting the ball harder than almost everybody in the last ten years coming through the Pirates system, while current glove-first infielder Ke’Bryan Hayes is on a mission to prove why the Pirates extended him early.
Rotation: Mitch Keller, JT Brubaker, Roansy Contreras, Vince Velasquez, Rich Hill.
CF Bryan Reynolds
RF Andrew McCutchen
SS Oneil Cruz
3B Ke’Bryan Hayes
DH Carlos Santana
1B Ji-Man Choi
C Austin Hedges
LF Cal Mitchell
2B Rodolfo Castro
Bench: Ji-Hwan Bae, Connor Joe, Kevin Plawecki, Jack Suwinski.
Bullpen: David Bednar (closer), Yerry De Los Santos, Jose Hernandez, Chase DeJong, Colin Holderman, Dauri Mareta, Duane Underwood Jr., Will Crowe.
*Injured List: Jarlin Garcia, Robert Stephenson.
Which players would you like to see make each Major League roster? Let me know on Twitter, @TheJameus, and be sure to listen to TWM’s Can of Corn Podcast.