The 2015 MLB season begins Sunday night. Here are David Lennon's top 10 story lines for fans to follow during the season.
TWO WORDS: ALEX RODRIGUEZ
Try to dismiss him as a media-created Frankenstein, but A-Rod is coming back from a year’s PED suspension to a Yankees team that wants no part of him. Belongs on the Lifetime network.
With new commissioner Rob Manfred open to reviewing the Pete Rose case, this could be the Hit King’s best chance to have his ban lifted — and maybe get into the Hall of Fame.
NEW LOOK FOR WRIGLEYVILLE
The Cubs are in the midst of a major renovation, from their 101-year-old ballpark to the big-league roster, which former Rays manager Joe Maddon now presides over. Armed with Jon Lester, will the youth movement shine in ’15?
MOUND OF TROUBLE
Never before has pitching seemed like such a fragile commodity with the proliferation of Tommy John surgery and top arms such as Yu Darvish, Cliff Lee and Zack Wheeler already lost in spring training.
All eyes will be on San Diego, where Huntington native A.J. Preller has tried to upgrade the Padres in a hurry by flipping the roster and gambling on a brand-new outfield of Matt Kemp, Justin Upton and Wil Myers.
NEED FOR SPEED
With concern about ever-shortening attention spans, MLB is adopting new rules to pick up the pace of games, such as keeping one foot in the batter’s box at (almost) all times. Players can adjust, but will it actually work?
EXILE ON BROAD STREET
The Phillies need to start over, but they’ve been stuck in neutral since trading Jimmy Rollins. Cliff Lee’s injury isn’t helping, and GM Ruben Amaro will have to get creative to move Jonathan Papelbon, Ryan Howard and possibly Cole Hamels.
WHO GETS TO 100?
Only three teams have won 100 or more games since 2005, and none since the ’11 Phillies. With Bud Selig’s vision of parity coming to fruition, it seems the Dodgers might have the best chance of cracking triple-digits, with the Nationals close behind.
ACES IN NEW PLACES
Max Scherzer ($210 million), Jon Lester ($155M) and James Shields ($76M) all got richer in the offseason. But they’re probably better now, too, with all three moving from the AL to the NL, leaving the DH-deep lineups behind.
WHO CAN BE ROYALS?
The Royals were 50-1 preseason long shots to win the 2014 World Series before losing in Game 7. So who’s the best bet to replace them as lovable ’dogs? October outcasts such as the Mariners (12-1), Cubs (14-1), Padres (18-1) and Indians (20-1) have way better odds this year.