- Justin Verlander will get the nod on Opening Day for the Astros. A.J. Hinch opted for Verlander over Dallas Keuchel, who has started on Opening Day for Houston in each of the past three seasons. Verlander posted a 3.36 ERA over 33 starts last year. He was nearly untouchable following the trade to the Astros. Over five starts with Houston, the former Cy Young and MVP had a 1.06 ERA and 0.65 WHIP while winning each outing.
- Trevor Bauer has made adjustments to his slider in the offseason. He is attempting to copy the movement of teammate Corey Kluber‘s slurve. Bauer was a winner of 17 games in 2017. He posted a 4.19 ERA and a career best 10 K/9. He finished the year strong with a 2.42 ERA in his last 13 appearances (12 starts). Bauer has the pedigree to be a top 20 starter, copying a two-time Cy Young could help Bauer reach that potential.
- Mike Clevinger is likely to begin the year as the fifth starter for the Indians. Clevinger was in a battle with Danny Salazar and Josh Tomlin to fill out Cleveland’s rotation. Salazar has been slowed down this spring with a shoulder injury which seems to solidify Clevinger’s role to open the year. In 21 starts last season, Clevinger posted a 2.84 ERA and 9.9 K/9.
A few more quick hitters:
- Jon Lester will use a Jordan-to-Pippen style bounce pass when throwing to first base this season.
- Luke Weaver will enter the 2018 season without an innings limit.
- Dominic Leone is considered a favorite for the Cardinals closer role.
- Mallex Smith is likely to serve as the primary left fielder for the Rays.
- Franklin Barreto has impressed this spring and the Athletics may add him to the Opening Day roster.
- Dodgers top prospect, Walker Buehler, is expected to throw between 140 to 150 innings this season.