Yankees and Padres Lead The Challengers

Opening Day

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The 2021 Major League Baseball season is just about to start! As the Spring Training comes to an end, teams are getting ready for the Opening Day, on April 1. The reigning champions Los Angeles Dodgers are the favourites to lift the Commissioner’s Trophy at the end of the season, but the New York Yankees are on a mission to stop the first consecutive titles since 1999. A team that showed a lot of potential last season, and made good movements in the offseason, the San Diego Padres are expected to be fierce contenders in the National League.

After a few months of negotiations between the MLB and the Players Association, a full 162-game season was announced, with the 91st All-Star Game scheduled to be played on July 13, at Truist Park in Atlanta, Georgia. The World Series is projected to begin on October 26, and a potential Game 7 is scheduled for November 3.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Major League Baseball announced that the temporary rule changes for the 2020 season would continue in the 2021 season, with doubleheaders being played as two seven-inning games, and runners being placed on second base at the start of every half-inning of game that goes into extra innings. Ball parks will operate under a limited capacity, and some teams will even require PCR testing to enter the stadium.

This season will also mark the final season the Cleveland Indians play under the 106-year-old moniker. After decades of controversy, the team announced that they would unveil the new nickname and uniforms before the 2022 season.

New York Yankees

Yankees

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The 2020 season was one to be forgotten by Yankees fans. The team posted great numbers at the bat, but terrible performances on the mount haunted their bullpen the whole season. 

However, the Yankees are still the best team in the American League, and their batting squad presents a tough challenge for any major league pitcher. DJ LeMahieu re-signed for another 6 years, as well as Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres, giving the Bronx Bombers so many options they could field two lineups.

Pitching, which was their major issue last year, will certainly improve with the arrival of Corey Kluber. The three-time All-Star and two-time Cy Young Award winner played the 2020 season for the Rangers, after a 8-year tenure with the Indians. Analysts project him to make an impact in the Yankees bullpen, even after some serious injuries over the last few seasons.

Missing the World Series since 2009, when they defeated the Philadelphia Phillies and were crowned champions, New York aims to end the drought and stop the Dodgers’ back-to-back titles, which would be the first since the Yankees three-peat between 1998 and 2000. The team enters Opening Day with +550 odds to win the title, and some of the best MLB bets this season. 

San Diego Padres

San Padres, Baseball

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The San Diego Padres reached the postseason last year, for the first time since 2006, displaying great performances at the bat with the likes of Fernando Tatís Jr, Eric Hosmer and Manny Machado. The team now starts the 2021 season with great expectations, after General Manager A.J. Preller struck major deals in the offseason.

To bring more stopping power to the mount, Preller signed All-Stars and Cy Young Award contenders Yu Darvish and Blake Snell, and traded for San Diego native Joe Musgrove, who was part of the Astros’ 2017 World Series-winning team. He also signed the latest Korean star to make the leap to the majors, Ha-Seong Kim, and former All-Star Mark Melancon. 

Preller managed to acquire a lot of talent without emptying the minor league system, which is one of the best in the country, with two players in Baseball America’s top 11 prospects and the sixth-rated farm system in the majors. Such talent certainly made the Padres serious World Series contenders in the National League, as the team is at +800 to win the title, and +200 to win the NL West.

The reigning champions

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Entering Opening Day, the reigning champions Los Angeles Dodgers are clear favourites to win the 2021 World Series, with +350 odds. After posting a league-best 43-17 record last season, and lifting the Commissioner’s Trophy in October, the front office was able to retain most of their stars – Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager signed new contracts in the offseason.

Some of their signings were good additions to the bullpen, making it one of the best pitching staffs in the league. With a sturdy batting lineup and great rotation possibilities, the Dodgers are an offensive threat to any challenger in the National League, and are definitely in contention for a title run.

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