by Jules Gonsoulin
Last year’s Major League Baseball season played host to the resurgence of several clubs looking to build winning cultures. In the American League, the Houston Astros, Cleveland Indians, and Baltimore Orioles all made significant moves during the season and in the postseason to put themselves in legitimate World Series contention in 2016.
The Houston Astros entered the postseason with obvious pitching needs. The team’s bullpen shouldered a great deal of the blame for their American League Divisional Series loss to the eventual World Series champions, the Kansas City Royals, by failing to close out a series-winning game with six outs remaining. The Astros opened the post season by nabbing young pitching stud Ken Giles from the Philadelphia Phillies. Giles, one of the youngest pitchers in the MLB, is known for his consistent 100-miles-per-hour pitches in late-game situations. The closer was not the only smart acquisition for the Astros, though. The team also signed former Washington National Doug Fister. With a greatly improved bullpen, and key returning players such as Jose Altuve, George Springer, and 2015 Rookie of the Year Carlos Correa, the Astros aim to contend again for an American League pennant.
The Cleveland Indians and Baltimore Orioles were on the cusp of claiming postseason spots last season, and key offseason moves have both teams contending again this year. The Orioles’ most important move of the offseason was signing outfielder and power-hitter Chris Davis to a massive $161 million dollar deal. Likewise, the Cleveland Indians aimed to keep their core squad together. They accomplished this by resigning 2013 Cy Young winner Korey Kluber, as well as Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco. The Indians’ starting pitching rotation can conceivably be one of the most successful in the AL next season, along with the Astros, who return 2015 Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel as well as Colin McHugh and Lance McCullers.
My prediction for the AL pennant series this year features the Astros taking on the Kansas City Royals for a spot in the World Series.