What to watch for in Major League Baseball in 2024?

Here’s what we should watch for during the official launch of the 2024 Major Baseball season.

The “Sho” begins

Ohtani already made his debut with the Dodgers last week in South Korea, but all eyes will be on him as Los Angeles hosts the St. Louis Cardinals. The US$700 million star will not pitch this season, however, as he recovers from a second elbow ligament reconstruction. He began 2024 with three hits in 10 at-bats and two RBIs as the Dodgers split their two-game series against the San Diego Padres.

Duel of titans in the East

Zack Wheeler and Spencer Strider will face each other in a race in the National East between the Phillies and the Atlanta Braves, in Philadelphia.

Wheeler just agreed to a three-year, $126 million contract extension for the 2025 to 2027 seasons this spring. The 33-year-old gunner could have become a free agent at the end of this season, but he instead committed to Philadelphia for a longer period, where he has been part of the elite since he joined training, in 2020.

Meanwhile, Strider, 25, developed a new throw. The right-hander has been working on a curve this spring to add to his repertoire. This is rather bad news for hitters: without this curve, Strider dominated the Majors with 281 strikeouts in 186 2/3 innings last season and finished fourth in the Cy-Young voting in the National.

The 2023 MVP, Ronald Acuna Jr. helped the Braves finish 14 games ahead of the Phillies over the past two seasons. But the Phillies eliminated the Braves in four games in the division series each time.

New addresses

Several stars will make their debut with a new formation. Juan Soto, who is only 25 years old, was traded from the Padres to the New York Yankees this winter and will be alongside Aaron Judge when they visit the Houston Astros. At the end of the game, the Astros could well try to muzzle Soto with the help of Josh Hader, No. 1 star reliever who signed a contract in Houston in January.

Corbin Burnes will be on the mound for the Baltimore Orioles against the Los Angeles Angels after the trade of 1er February that moved him from the Milwaukee Brewers to Maryland. Matt Chapman is expected to be at third base for the San Francisco Giants, while Rhys Hoskins will be in uniform for the New York Mets.

Welcome to the big stage

Two of baseball’s hottest prospects, Jackson Chourio of the Brewers and Wyatt Langford, with the Texas Rangers, will take their first steps in the MLB. Chourio, 20, signed an eight-year, $82 million contract this winter, the most lucrative guaranteed deal for a player with no big league experience. Langford reaches the Majors less than a year after being the fourth overall pick in the 2023 draft.

Despite impressive camps, Orioles infielder Jackson Holliday and Washington Nationals outfielder James Wood were unable to secure a spot in the lineup.

Absent subscribers

Several teams will begin their season without their injured No. 1 reliever. This is the case for the Arizona Diamondbacks (Paul Sewald), the Orioles (Felix Bautista), the Brewers (Devin Williams), the Minnesota Twins (Jhoan Duran) and the Toronto Blue Jays (Jordan Romano).

The reigning AFC East champions, the Orioles hired Craig Kimbrel, eighth all-time with 417 saves, to replace Bautista, who is expected to miss the full season after ligament reconstruction and another elbow procedure.

The Mets will, however, find Edwin Diaz, who missed the last campaign after undergoing knee surgery.

reference: www.lapresse.ca

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