From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:
Trevor Bauer’s addition to the Dodgers’ pitching rotation makes Los Angeles the trendy pick to repeat as World Series champions this fall as MLB kicks off a full, 162-game season Thursday.
Bauer’s 1.73 ERA was the best in the National League in last season’s shortened coronavirus campaign that led the former Reds’ right-hander to winning the Cy Young award and ultimately him signing a three-year, $102 million deal with the Dodgers last month.
Bauer joins a star-studded staff in L.A. with Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler and David Price, who returns after opting out of 2020.
With three-fifths of the rotation featuring Cy Young hardware winners, the Dodgers should roar into the playoffs, and as long as the roster stays healthy, they are solid favorites to make the World Series.
The Yankees’ best question, like always, will be their health after the starting rotation behind Cy Young contender Gerrit Cole. We know the Yankees will hit home runs, but how much will injury-prone starters Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon give them? Chances are that Gary Sanchez will bounce back after a horrendous 2020, but how much time Aaron Judge will miss because of injuries?
The Mets are an interesting team to follow with the addition of shortstop Francisco Lindor, whose effervescent personality could leave a positive influence in the clubhouse. Will Pete Alonso return to his 2019 form when he hit an MLB-best 53 home runs and can catcher James McCann make the Mets’ starting staff more effective?
Here are my projected final division standings, postseason outlook and individual award winners for 2021:
AL EAST — Yankees, Rays, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Orioles.
AL CENTRAL — Twins, White Sox, Indians, Tigers, Royals.
AL WEST — Astros, A’s, Angels, Mariners, Rangers.
NL EAST — Braves, Mets, Nationals, Marlins, Phillies.
NL CENTRAL — Cardinals, Brewers, Reds, Cubs, Pirates.
NL WEST — Dodgers, Padres, D’backs, Giants, Rockies.
WILD CARDS — Rays, A’s in AL; Mets, Padres in NL.
ALCS — Yankees over Rays.
NLCS — Dodgers over Cardinals.
WORLD SERIES — Dodgers over Yankees.
MVPs — AL: Mike Trout (Angels); NL: Ronald Acuna, Jr. (Braves).
CY YOUNG — AL: Lucas Giolito (White Sox); NL: Jacob deGrom (Mets).
ROOKIES — AL: Randy Arozarena (Rays, yes, he’s still eligible): NL: Sixto Sanchez (Marlins).
MANAGERS — AL: Joe Maddon (Angels); NL: Dave Roberts (Dodgers).
Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org