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MLB Bold Predictions: Jeter's back; Cubs, Nats, Dodgers miss playoffs

There’s often a fine line between bold predictions and sheer craziness. But hear me out as I explain why we will see three new National League Division champs and other wacky occurrences this season.

Four Met starters win 15 games; still miss playoffs

New head coach, Mickey Calloway, works his magic with the New York starting rotation as Noah Syndergaard (18), Jacob DeGrom (17), comeback player of the year, Matt Harvey (16) and Steven Matz (15) show what can happen when pitchers stay healthy. Jason Vargas is the hard luck member of the rotation, but even he breaks even at 8-8.

Amazingly, the rest of the pitching staff combines for only ten more victories. The bullpen’s closer-by-committee blows as many leads as it holds. The team finishes in second place and misses the wild card despite leading the league in starters’ ERA.

Nats implode; Phillies sneak past Mets to take division

Washington hired Dave Martinez in hopes he will break their two-year streak of first-round playoff losses. He will, but not in the way they hoped.

The baseball gods will punish Washington for firing Dusty Baker, one of the most respected men in baseball, after winning 192 games in two years. In fact, it has already started.

Daniel Murphy could miss April and May. Veteran reliever Joaquin Benoit was just placed on the DL. The Nationals are already planning for Ryan Zimmerman’s next injury, announcing they will play Bryce Harper some at first base.

Long story short, the Nationals are about to experience a classic lost season due to injuries, trade rumors, and contract-year players pressing. Meanwhile, the loosest team in the division is ready to pounce on the Nationals’ demise.

Philadelphia is one of the most improved teams in the league. Come July, they will find themselves in a three-way battle for the NL East title with the Mets and Nationals. The Phillies will pull off the best deadline trade, one that assures a worst-to-first season.

Cubs crash under pressure; Milwaukee brews a title

Milwaukee was the surprise team for most of 2017, sitting in first place well into the summer. The Cubs eventually recovered and charged back into first place. But the Brewers didn’t pack up the tent and stop playing. They finished only one win shy of taking the second wild card.

Chicago’s comeback will be its undoing this season. The notion that they can turn it on later will feed complacency, which will yield to concern, and ultimately panic as the Brewers hold on to first all season. The key will be the Brewers dominance of their division as they rack up 48 NL Central wins.

Dodgers dive to depths of NL West; Rockies rule

Complacency might slow the Dodgers, too. After all, they not only fended off the upstart Diamondbacks and Rockies last year; they left them in their dust. But a chunk of the Dodgers’ 104 wins came against the 91-loss Padres and the 98-loss Giants. That won’t happen in 2018.

Much has been written about the Giants’ expected comeback season. Injuries to Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samardzija might slow them out of the gate, but eventually, they will round into a strong competitor in the West.

San Diego added Eric Hosmer to a talented group of youngsters excited about their improvement. They will be much better, too.

Colorado and Arizona know they can win. The Rockies will keep their starting pitchers fresh deeper into the season and the D’backs are better for their experience in 2017.

The bottom line is these five teams are too talented for any of them to win 100 games. In fact, none will win or lose 90. The Dodgers will get sucked into the pack like an elephant in quicksand. (A key injury or two will hurt the Dodgers, as well… because otherwise this is a ridiculous prediction even by my standards.)

Colorado will edge the Diamondbacks in a classic pennant race. The talk of the post season, though, will be how the Giants’ season-ending series sweep of the Dodgers knocked L.A. out of the playoffs.

by Pat Opperman
by Pat Opperman

Derek Jeter loses his mind

New owner, Derek Jeter, sounds like he has a level-headed plan for the Marlins and looks forward to building a winner quickly. By July, Jeter, who has never experienced losing at any level or part of his life, will crack.

During another 5-1 loss in front of 132 fans, Jeter will rip off his suit and charge into the Marlins' dugout. He will use the bullpen phone to notify Major League Baseball he is activating himself and throw the first player he sees off the team to make room on the roster.

Alas, it will be for naught as even Jeter’s talent can not help this Marlins team. By season's end, a demoralized Jeter is spotted in the fetal position under the trainers’ table whimpering, “but I’m Derek Jeter!”

Philly tells Bryce Harper to …ummmm… “Forget” it.

In November, after two years of courting Bryce Harper to join Philadelphia after his walk year as a National, Matt Klentak, general manager of your National League Champion Phillies, will become an instant Philadelphia folk hero and a Philly for life by using the Philly fans’ favorite colorful adjective while telling Harper’s agent that the Phillies will not be needing his services after all.

Life is good in Philadelphia in 2018.

Too crazy to be true? Share your predictions in the comment section below!