SEATTLE (CBS) — With the 2019 season starting up, let’s give you five predictions for the defending World Series champions.
1. Andrew Benintendi will take his game to another level.
Much like Mookie Betts did a season ago, Benintendi will lead the charge for Boston in the top spot. He’s only 24 years old, and if you look at his numbers, they’ve been good. I just think Benintendi can go higher — maybe .300 with 20-25 HR and 30 stolen bases, plus a Gold Glove award.
2. Granted, winning a World Series, Gold Glove and an ALCS MVP award help, but Jackie Bradley Jr. looks ready to put it all together.
His revamped swing has led him to being the loudest Sox hitter this spring and he seems to be in a really good place. He seems relaxed and supremely confident. I think the numbers will be much more consistent this year with not as many dry periods at the plate.
3. Rick Porcello will be Boston’s best starter.
Porcello has been in the big leagues since he was just 20 years old and he has been really good his last three years. Yes, he gives up too many home runs, but he finds a way to keep his team in the game. He also seems to adapt very well from year to year, and his confidence has to be sky high following his outstanding starter/bullpen postseason last year. Would love to see the Sox extend him, but it may not happen.
4. The bullpen won’t be a problem.
Alex Cora is supremely confident that the Sox will figure it out on the back end. There’s no proven closer out there, but Cora believes that they have the arms to get the job done. And by the way, it’s not just Cora — it’s Dana LeVangie, Brian Bannister, Craig Bjornson, all the way through the organization. And this bullpen may include several youngsters down on the farm. Guys like Darwinzon Hernandez, Durbin Feltman, Marcus Walden, etc. could come up and be huge contributors.
5. The 2019 Red Sox will return to the ALCS to face either the Yankees or the Astros.
The Sox had such good mojo and chemistry in the postseason as everything went right. Tough to have that happen twice. Now I’m not saying they can’t repeat. I just think that’s hard to predict, but I do think they’ll at least get to the ALCS.