EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Sports

January 7, 2013

13 predictions for the 2013 baseball season

(Continued)

After all, if power-hitting prospect Wil Myers, who the Rays acquired from the Royals for starter James Shields, is the real deal, then Longoria will have more protection than he has ever had in the middle of the Rays lineup.

5. Jon Lester will win 18 games.

After posting a 3.37 ERA combined from 2009-11, Lester went 9-14 with a 4.82 ERA this past year. But new Sox skipper John Farrell, Lester’s former pitching coach, already said he saw obvious flaws in Lester’s delivery last year, making you think the southpaw can rebound in ‘13.

Let’s not forget that in 2007, then 28-year-old left-hander Cliff Lee posted a 6.29 ERA in 20 games, 16 starts, for Cleveland before winning the AL Cy Young in 2008 by leading the league in wins (22), ERA (2.54) and shutouts (2).

6. Tampa and Toronto will be only two AL East teams to make the playoffs.

With an extra Wild Card installed in ‘12, there is a chance three teams from the AL East could make the playoffs. But Tampa and Toronto are the only two that will.

Tampa’s pitching staff ranked first in ERA (3.19), strikeouts (1,383) and opponent batting average (.228) among AL staffs last year. Even without Shields, the Rays have enough starting pitching to lead in multiple statistical categories again.

Expect 24-year-old right-hander Chris Archer, who Baseball America ranked the No. 1 prospect in the Rays system, to take Shields’ spot in the rotation. Archer features a very good slider and a fastball that averaged 93.9 mph in his 29.1 innings in the majors last year.

Matt Moore should also be even better this year. Moore, 23, posted a 3.01 post-All-Star Break ERA last year.

7. Someone unexpected will emerge in the Sox rotation.

Either Junichi Tazawa, Rubby De La Rosa or Allen Webster will find his way into the Red Sox rotation and emerge as a legit starter.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports

Local Sports Videos
Sports Videos
SNC Minute: Phils lose; Lee set to return Eagles less than a week away from training camp Could Cliff Lee's health affect trade value? McCarthy and Stairs break down the Phillies' loss 105-year-old woman throws first pitch McIlroy wins British Open, Tiger finishes 69th Astros, Aiken fail to reach deal Could Rousey beat Mayweather? Can the Panthers replace Steve Smith? Will Bengals sign Dalton to long-term deal? Offseason Report: Biggest Question Marks in the AFC West Ole Miss facing increased expectations Derek Jeter Respect Ad Delivers Larry’s Notebook: Is Jimmie Johnson Behind the Curve? Wainwright, King Felix named All-Star starters Can Tiger Woods recapture British Open magic Will Mickelson win the British Open again? Jeter soaking in final All-Star Game Jones and Altidore react to Germany's win Favorite moments from Brazil 2014
Boston Sports
Curran: Did the Patriots make a mistake by drafting Garoppolo? McAdam: Yankees pitching troubles bad news for Sox negotiations with Lester Curran: Will Pats struggle to find an identity on offense this season? Perry: Lester impressive again in Sox 6-0 win over the Royals 105-year-old woman throws first pitch McIlroy wins British Open, Tiger finishes 69th Astros, Aiken fail to reach deal Could Rousey beat Mayweather? Can the Panthers replace Steve Smith? Will Bengals sign Dalton to long-term deal? Offseason Report: Biggest Question Marks in the AFC West Ole Miss facing increased expectations Players to watch when training camp opens Bruins 1st round pick David Pastrnak signs entry level contract Shaughnessy: Should re-signing Lester be the Sox #1 priority in the second half? McAdam Mid-season report card Derek Jeter Respect Ad Delivers Larry’s Notebook: Is Jimmie Johnson Behind the Curve? Wainwright, King Felix named All-Star starters Can Tiger Woods recapture British Open magic