Let’s predict ’22 lineups, rotations, closers

March 23rd, 2022

Here’s how each club’s lineup and starting rotation is predicted to look on Opening Day:

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

BLUE JAYS
1. George Springer, R, CF
2. Bo Bichette, R, SS
3. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., R, 1B
4. Teoscar Hernandez, R, RF
5. Matt Chapman, R, 3B
6. Lourdes Gurriel Jr., R, LF
7. Randal Grichuk, R, RF
8. Cavan Biggio, L, 2B
9. Danny Jansen, R, C

Closer: Jordan Romano, RHP

It’s still possible the Blue Jays look to add a lefty bat, but the addition of Matt Chapman settles their infield for now, allowing Cavan Biggio and Santiago Espinal to handle second. The catching position is another spot that will develop as the season goes on, with Alejandro Kirk getting reps and No. 1 prospect Gabriel Moreno just around the corner.

ORIOLES
1. Cedric Mullins, L, CF
2. Ryan Mountcastle, R, 1B
3. Trey Mancini, R, DH
4. Anthony Santander, S, RF
5. Austin Hays, R, LF
6. Rougned Odor, L, 2B
7. Ramon Urias, R, SS
8. Kelvin Gutierrez, R, 3B
9. Robinson Chirinos, R, C

Closer: Cole Sulser, RHP

The O’s have remained open to adding to both their lineup and rotation, but the biggest question truly resides in if any prospects break camp with the team. Adley Rutschman is the biggest name in question, especially considering the dearth in catching depth, but his likelihood for the Opening Day roster is extremely slim given a triceps strain he endured at the outset of camp.

RAYS
1. Brandon Lowe, L, 2B
2. Wander Franco, S, SS
3. Randy Arozarena, R, LF
4. Austin Meadows, L, DH
5. Yandy Diaz, R, 3B
6. Ji-Man Choi, L, 1B
7. Mike Zunino, R, C
8. Kevin Kiermaier, L, CF
9. Manuel Margot, R, RF

Closer: Andrew Kittredge, RHP

The Rays used 158 different batting orders last season, so don’t get attached to any projections here. This platoon-filled group could change before Opening Day, anyway, as the Rays have pursued a right-handed bat and considered trades involving their surplus of outfielders. It’s possible a different outfielder — like Brett Phillips or prospect Josh Lowe — could start on any given night. Same goes for versatile, switch-hitting infield prospect Taylor Walls, who could see a lot of time around the infield as their new Joey Wendle. Shane Baz might have started the season in Triple-A Durham anyway, but he’s officially no longer an Opening Day option after undergoing arthroscopic elbow surgery. The Rays don’t have a closer, but it’s fair to designate the versatile Kittredge as their top reliever coming off an All-Star, 1.88 ERA campaign.

RED SOX
1. Kike Hernandez, R, CF
2. Trevor Story, R, 2B
3. Rafael Devers, L, 3B
4. Xander Bogaerts, R, SS
5. J.D. Martinez, R, DH
6. Alex Verdugo, L, LF
7. Bobby Dalbec, R, 1B
8. Jackie Bradley, Jr., L, RF
9. Christian Vazquez, R, C

Closer: Matt Barnes, RHP

Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom secured the right-handed bat he was looking for by signing Story to a six-year, $140 million deal. The move should become official soon. With team leader Xander Bogaerts entrenched at shortstop, Story will move over to second base, giving the Red Sox one of the most potent double-play combinations in the Majors from an offensive standpoint. The Sox should have a fearsome 2-5 in the batting order. Ace lefty Chris Sale will be out for at least the first month of the season as he recovers from a stress fracture in his right ribcage, increasing the importance of Eovaldi and Pivetta early on. Manager Alex Cora hasn’t given any hints on his closer, but Barnes is trying to win back the job he lost down the stretch last year.

YANKEES
1. Anthony Rizzo, L, 1B
2. Aaron Judge, R, RF
3. Joey Gallo, L, LF
4. Giancarlo Stanton, R, DH
5. Josh Donaldson, R, 3B
6. Gleyber Torres, R, 2B
7. Aaron Hicks, S, CF
8. Isiah Kiner-Falefa, R, SS
9. Kyle Higashioka, R, C

Closer: Aroldis Chapman, LHP

The Yanks are banking on a healthy return to the rotation from Severino, who has pitched just 18 big league innings since the beginning of the 2018 campaign. Taillon is expected to be ready for the beginning of the regular season, which comes as something of a surprise considering he had surgery in late October to repair a torn tendon in his right ankle.

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL

GUARDIANS
1. Myles Straw, R, CF
2. Amed Rosario, R, SS
3. Jose Ramirez, S, 3B
4. Franmil Reyes, R, DH
5. Josh Naylor, L, RF
6. Bobby Bradley, L, 1B
7. Oscar Mercado, R, LF
8. Austin Hedges, R, C
9. Andres Gimenez, L, 2B

Closer: Emmanuel Clase, RHP

The Guardians are expected to make some moves prior to Opening Day that could shake up the way the outfield will line up. If not, Mercado could platoon with Bradley Zimmer in left field, assuming Naylor is cleared to be back with the big league team to start the season after rehabbing his fractured leg over the last 8 1/2 months.

ROYALS
1. Whit Merrifield, R, RF
2. Nicky Lopez, L, 2B
3. Salvador Perez, R, C
4. Carlos Santana, S, 1B
5. Hunter Dozier, R, DH
6. Andrew Benintendi, L, LF
7. Adalberto Mondesi, S, SS
8. Bobby Witt Jr., R, 3B
9. Michael A. Taylor, R, CF

Closer: Scott Barlow, RHP

The Royals are giving top prospect Bobby Witt Jr. every chance available to make their Opening Day roster, as long as he performs in Spring Training and shows that he’s ready. Even if he starts the season in Triple-A, it won’t be long until he makes his debut. The Merrifield-Lopez-Perez combination at the top of the lineup proved itself last year, especially at the end of the season, but it seems the middle of the order could still be up for grabs based on how players look this spring. Merrifield played all of 2021 at second base, but to fit Witt Jr. in the equation, it seems the Royals’ best option is to move the veteran to the outfield and have Mondesi and Lopez man the middle infield — as long as health permits. The Royals could have outfielders Kyle Isbel (lefty) and Edward Olivares (righty) on the bench as platoon hitters.

TIGERS
1. Akil Baddoo, L, LF
2. Robbie Grossman, S, RF
3. Javier Baez, R, SS
4. Miguel Cabrera, R, DH
5. Jeimer Candelario, S, 3B
6. Jonathan Schoop, R, 2B
7. Spencer Torkelson, R, 1B
8. Tucker Barnhart, S, C
9. Riley Greene, L, CF

Closer: Gregory Soto, LHP

Baddoo would lead off only against right-handed pitchers, with Robbie Grossman likely leading off against lefties. That said, don’t rule out the idea of Greene eventually leading off. Even as a rookie, he could bat in several different spots in the order under A.J. Hinch, who rarely uses the same order for more than a couple games. Hinch could platoon Baddoo in left with Eric Haase, though Haase will also be in the mix at catcher.

Closer: Taylor Rogers, LHP

Things should be very fluid, with Gio Urshela rotating into third base, Arraez rotating to second, Polanco occasionally rotating to shortstop, and a handful of players sliding through the DH slot. The fact that the Twins can make such a lineup right now without even including Urshela certainly isn’t a bad sign. Adding Correa could push Arraez and Urshela into splitting time at third base, with several hitters rotating through the DH slot and corner outfield spots and both Sanchez and Jeffers seeing time at catcher.

WHITE SOX
1. Tim Anderson, R, SS
2. Yoan Moncada, S, 3B
3. Jose Abreu, R, 1B
4. Eloy Jimenez, R, LF
5. Yasmani Grandal, S, C
6. Luis Robert, R, CF
7. Andrew Vaughn, R, RF
8. Gavin Sheets, L, DH
9. Josh Harrison, R, 2B

Closer: Liam Hedriks, RHP

The White Sox still could add a veteran bat in the outfield, although they like their in-house options. Adam Engel and Leury Garcia also are in play for right field.

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST

ANGELS
1. Shohei Ohtani, L, DH
2. Mike Trout, R, CF
3. Anthony Rendon, R, 3B
4. Jared Walsh, L, 1B
5. Max Stassi, R, C
6. Brandon Marsh, L, LF
7. Jo Adell, R, RF
8. Andrew Velazquez, S, SS
9. David Fletcher, R, 2B

Rotation
1. Shohei Ohtani, RHP
2. Noah Syndergaard, RHP
3. Michael Lorenzen, RHP
4. Patrick Sandoval, LHP
5. Jose Suarez, LHP
6. Jaime Barria, RHP

Closer: Raisel Iglesias, RHP

Justin Upton will share time with Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh in the outfield corners. Upton could be used in a platoon with the left-handed-hitting Marsh. The Angels have yet to determine who will serve as the club’s leadoff hitter, but they are expected to experiment with Shohei Ohtani atop the lineup.

ASTROS
1. Jose Altuve, R, 2B
2. Michael Brantley, L, LF
3. Alex Bregman, R, 3B
4. Yordan Alvarez, L, DH
5. Yuli Gurriel, R, 1B
6. Kyle Tucker, L, RF
7. Chas McCormick, R, CF
8. Jeremy Pena, R, SS
9. Martin Maldonado, R, C

Rotation
1. Justin Verlander, RHP
2. Framber Valdez, LHP
3. Luis Garcia, RHP
4. Jose Urquidy , RHP
5. Cristian Javier, RHP/Jake Odorizzi, RHP

Closer: Ryan Pressly, RHP

Two years ago, the Astros had George Springer in center and Carlos Correa at shortstop. Those spots are now occupied by youngsters in Pena and McCormick, with Jake Meyers (center field) headed to the injured list to start the season. Tucker could play center and Brantley can move to right if the Astros want to put Alvarez in left field. Expect Aledmys Diaz and Niko Goodrum to get time at shortstop, as well. With Lance McCullers Jr. set to begin the season on the injured list, the Astros are down a key starting pitcher. Fortunately for them, they have some solid depth with young arms in Garcia, Urquidy, Javier and Valdez.

ATHLETICS
1. Tony Kemp, L, 2B
2. Elvis Andrus, R, SS
3. Sean Murphy, R, C
4. Seth Brown, L, LF
5. Chad Pinder, R, RF
6. Billy McKinney, L, 1BB
7. Kevin Smith, R, 3B
8. Sheldon Neuse, R, DH
9. Cristian Pache, R, CF

Closer: Lou Trivino, RHP

With Ramon Laureano still needing to serve 27 games on his suspension, center field is wide open. Pache’s excellent defense makes him an ideal candidate, though Barrera can also handle the position as well. Pinder should maintain his usual super utility role, filling in at all three outfield spots in Laureano’s absence.

Closer: Ken Giles, RHP; Paul Sewald, RHP

A lineup that lacked punch last season has three new All-Stars in Frazier, Winker and Suarez, the latter two of whom combined for 55 homers last year in Cincinnati. The Mariners also have a much more balanced lineup between righties and lefties, allowing manager Scott Servais to get more creative while also injecting some power potential in the lower half. Speaking of creativity, the Mariners will not commit to a specific DH and rather will use a variety of players to help build in regular rest and create extra playing time across their roster.

RANGERS
1. Marcus Semien, R, 2B
2. Corey Seager, L, SS
3. Mitch Garver, R, C
4. Adolis Garcia, R, CF
5. Nathaniel Lowe, L, 1B
6. Brad Miller, L, LF
7. Kole Calhoun, L, RF
8. Willie Calhoun, L, DH
9. Andy Ibanez R, 3B

Closer: Joe Barlow

Third base is the well-noted hole in the Rangers otherwise solid infield, but the combination of Ibanez and Yonny Hernandez will likely share time unless the front office gets a placeholder as everybody waits for Josh Jung to recover from shoulder surgery. The front office still would like to add another outfield bat.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

BRAVES
1. Eddie Rosario, L, LF
2. Dansby Swanson, R, SS
3. Matt Olson, L, 1B
4. Marcell Ozuna, R, DH
5. Austin Riley, R, 3B
6. Ozzie Albies, S, 2B
7. Adam Duvall, R, CF
8. Travis d’Arnaud, R, C
9. Alex Dickerson, L, RF

Closer: Kenley Jansen, RHP

Ronald Acuna Jr. will return to the leadoff spot once he completes his recovery from a torn right ACL. There’s a chance he could be ready around April 21. The addition of Rosario provides more of a left-handed presence. Ozuna could also fill one of the outfield spots, but his defensive limitations seem to make him a perfect DH.

MARLINS
1. Jazz Chisholm Jr., L, 2B
2. Garrett Cooper, R, 1B
3. Jesus Aguilar, R, DH
4. Avisail Garcia, R, RF
5. Jorge Soler, R, LF
6. Jesus Sanchez, L, CF
7. Brian Anderson, R, 3B
8. Jacob Stallings, R, C
9. Miguel Rojas, R, SS

Closer: Dylan Floro, RHP

The Marlins lengthened their lineup by adding Jorge Soler, Avisail Garcia and Joey Wendle, and with more depth than a year ago, they plan to manage workloads and run favorable matchups. The big question mark lies in center field, where Jesus Sanchez is penciled in as the starter. Sanchez opened his pro career there, but he hasn’t played the position since 2019 at the Triple-A level. Garcia, Bryan De La Cruz and Jon Berti also are options. At the back end of the bullpen, Dylan Floro is the projected closer after serving in that role once Yimi Garcia was dealt near the Trade Deadline.

METS
1. Brandon Nimmo, L, CF
2. Starling Marte, R, LF
3. Francisco Lindor, S, SS
4. Pete Alonso, R, 1B
5. Robinson Cano, L, DH
6. Eduardo Escobar, S, 3B
7. Jeff McNeil, L, 2B
8. Mark Canha, R, RF
9. James McCann, R, C

Closer: Edwin Diaz, RHP

Much revolves around second base, with Cano and McNeil likely to share reps at that position. Based on what happens at second, the Mets can use some combination of Cano, J.D. Davis, Dominic Smith and (sometimes) Alonso at designated hitter.

NATIONALS
1. Cesar Hernandez, S, 2B
2. Alcides Escobar, R, SS
3. Juan Soto, L, RF
4. Nelson Cruz, R, DH
5. Josh Bell, S, 1B
6. Keibert Ruiz, S, C
7. Lane Thomas, R, LF
8. Maikel Franco, R, 3B
9. Victor Robles, R, CF

Closer: Tanner Rainey, RHP

The Nationals enhanced their lineup by agreeing to a deal with the veteran Cruz, who fills the DH role and adds protection behind slugger Soto. With Hernandez coveted in the leadoff spot, Thomas could have to hit elsewhere in the order. The starting rotation will have to be determined during camp as Strasburg is returning from injury, Joe Ross suffered a setback. Fedde, Rogers, Paolo Espino and Anibal Sanchez are competing for the remaining spots.

PHILLIES
1. Kyle Schwarber, LF
2. J.T. Realmuto, R, C
3. Bryce Harper, L, RF
4. Nick Castellanos, R, DH
5. Rhys Hoskins, R, 1B
6. Didi Gregorius, L, SS
7. Jean Segura, R, 2B
8. Alec Bohm, R, 3B
9. Matt Vierling, R, CF

Closer: Corey Knebel, RHP

Joe Girardi has more options and versatility since the Phillies added Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos on multiyear contracts. Schwarber thrived in the leadoff spot last year, so it stands to reason he returns to the role. Castellanos looks really good hitting behind Harper, and in front of Hoskins. Realmuto struggled last season getting on base, but he prefers to hit second when he is swinging the bat well.

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

BREWERS
1. Kolten Wong, L, 2B
2. Willy Adames, R, SS
3. Christian Yelich, L, LF
4. Hunter Renfroe, R, RF
5. Omar Narvaez, L, C
6. Andrew McCutchen, R, DH
7. Rowdy Tellez, L, 1B
8. Lorenzo Cain, R, CF
9. Jace Peterson, L, 3B

Rotation
1. Brandon Woodruff, RHP
2. Corbin Burnes, RHP
3. Freddy Peralta, RHP
4. Eric Lauer, LHP
5. Adrian Houser, RHP
6. Aaron Ashby, LHP

Closer: Josh Hader, LHP

Coming off a career year, Luis Urias projects as the Brewers’ regular third baseman over the course of the season. But he suffered a groin injury in the team’s second Spring Training game and appears poised to open the season on the injured list, making Peterson and right-handed hitting Mike Brosseau the leading candidates to fill in.

CARDINALS
1. Tommy Edman, S, 2B
2. Paul Goldschmidt, R, 1B
3. Tyler O’Neill, R, LF
4. Nolan Arenado, R, 3B
5. Dylan Carlson, S, RF
6. Yadier Molina, R, C
7. Nolan Gorman, L, DH
8. Paul DeJong, R, SS
9. Harrison Bader, R, CF

Closer: Giovanny Gallegos, RHP

Lars Nootbaar, a late-season sensation last year, and Triple-A slugger Juan Yepez are also in play for DH because of their steady strokes.

CUBS
1. Nick Madrigal, R, 2B
2. Frank Schwindel, R, 1B
3. Willson Contreras, R, C
4. Ian Happ, S, DH
5. Patrick Wisdom, R, 3B
6. Seiya Suzuki, R, RF
7. Clint Frazier, R, LF
8. Jason Heyward, L, CF
9. Nico Hoerner, R, SS

Closer: David Robertson, RHP

Happ (right elbow) is slightly behind this spring, but the Cubs are hopeful he’ll be ready for the opener, especially with the DH now available. The addition of Suzuki potentially pushed the veteran Heyward to center field. The back of the rotation will be fluid at the start of the season, and there are a few options for closing duties (including Rowan Wick).

PIRATES
1. Ke’Bryan Hayes, R, 3B
2. Yoshi Tsutsugo, L, 1B
3. Bryan Reynolds, S, CF
4. Daniel Vogelbach, L, DH
5. Ben Gamel, L, RF
6. Roberto Perez, R, C
7. Anthony Alford, R, LF
8. Cole Tucker, S, 2B
9. Kevin Newman, R, SS

Closer: David Bednar, RHP

Manager Derek Shelton announced on Tuesday that, aside from third base and center field, there will be competition all across the diamond. That is to say, this lineup could look very different in just one week. The signing of Daniel Vogelbach provides the Pirates with some much-needed punch and gives Shelton several more options than he had at the beginning of camp.

REDS
1. Jonathan India, R, 2B
2. Tyler Naquin, L, RF
3. Tyler Stephenson, R, C
4. Joey Votto, L, 1B
5. Colin Moran, L, DH
6. Nick Senzel, R, CF
7. Mike Moustakas, L, 3B
8. Jake Fraley, L, LF
9. Kyle Farmer, R, SS

Closer: Luis Cessa, RHP

Cincinnati’s lineup remains in flux, especially after the trade of Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suarez to the Mariners. More moves have not been ruled out but the club is short on power.

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

D-BACKS
1. Josh Rojas, L, 3B
2. Ketel Marte, S, 2B
3. Daulton Varsho, L, CF
4. Christian Walker, R, 1B
5. David Peralta, L, LF
6. Carson Kelly, R, C
7. Pavin Smith, L, RF
8. Seth Beer, L, DH
9. Nick Ahmed, R, SS

Closer: Mark Melancon, RHP

The D-backs are still in the market for a third baseman, which would free up Rojas to move around and play multiple positions. They could also use another right-handed hitter or two to balance out the lineup a bit. The DH spot will likely be filled by multiple players, which would give manager Torey Lovullo the opportunity to get some players off their feet on certain days.

DODGERS
1. Mookie Betts, R, RF
2. Freddie Freeman, L, 1B
3. Trea Turner, R, SS
4. Max Muncy, L, 2B
5. Will Smith, R, C
6. Justin Turner, R, 3B
7. Cody Bellinger, L, CF
8. Chris Taylor, R, LF
9. AJ Pollock, R, DH

Closer: Blake Treinen, RHP

With Freeman now in the fold, the Dodgers will have one of the most potent offenses in the Majors. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will have to find a way to balance out the left- and right-handed options in the lineup. But given that Pollock, who had an .892 OPS last season, is projected to be the No. 9 hitter, there’s really no wrong answer.

GIANTS
1. Tommy La Stella, L, 2B
2. Brandon Belt, L, 1B
3. Evan Longoria, R, 3B
4. Brandon Crawford, L, SS
5. Darin Ruf, R, DH
6. Joc Pederson, L, LF
7. LaMonte Wade Jr., L, RF
8. Mike Yastrzemski, L, CF
9. Joey Bart, R, C

Closer: Camilo Doval, RHP

La Stella might not be ready for Opening Day as he continues his recovery from left Achilles surgery, so if he’s unavailable, the Giants could opt to start Wilmer Flores, Thairo Estrada or Mauricio Dubon at second base. San Francisco prefers to stack its lineup with right-handed bats against lefties, with Austin Slater typically batting leadoff in those games.

PADRES
1. Trent Grisham, L CF
2. Manny Machado, R, 3B
3. Jake Cronenworth, L, 2B
4. Luke Voit, R, DH
5. Eric Hosmer, L, 1B
6. Wil Myers, R, RF
7. Austin Nola, R, C
8. Jurickson Profar, S, LF
9. Ha-Seong Kim, R, SS

Closer: Robert Suarez, RHP

Fernando Tatis Jr.’s injury shakes things up at the top of the Padres’ lineup and, obviously, at shortstop. Kim is Tatis’ most likely replacement. Even after adding Voit, the Padres are on the lookout for a bat to slot into the middle of their order, most likely a left fielder. They might be looking for a closer, too.

ROCKIES
1. Raimel Tapia, L, RF
2. Brendan Rodgers, 2B
3. Charlie Blackmon, RF
4. Kris Bryant, LF
5. Ryan McMahon, 3B
6. C.J. Cron, 1B
7. Sam Hilliard, CF
8. Elias Diaz, C
9. Jose Iglesias, SS

Closer: Alex Colome, RHP

This lineup bellows for a big bat in the middle. While most believe Kris Bryant is the priority, Michael Conforto also is in play, and the club must sign one.