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Katherine is the Managing Editor at The Hudsucker. She has been working in libraries for the past 10 years and holds a B.A. in American Studies & Ethnicity from the University of Southern California. In her free time, the Seattleite enjoys writing fiction, going to brunch, taking long walks with her roommate, and playing Dungeons & Dragons with her friends. Katherine is a huge fan of the Seattle Mariners and has probably seen every Marvel movie at least five times. She loves classic rock and can quote even the most obscure lines from The Simpsons. Follow Katherine on Twitter: @thethingiskat.

5 Storylines to Follow Ahead of MLB Opening Day

Image Credit: si.com

Spring training came to a close earlier this week, and the 162 game regular season grind is about to begin.

Major League Baseball has the longest regular season of all professional sports, which means that how you start is usually less important than how you finish. While that might make it seem like the beginning of the season is meaningless, it’s the exact opposite. Opening Day is when a multitude of offseason questions finally get answered, and every team starts with the same optimism for a winning season and a trip to the playoffs come October.

Historic Opening Day

MLB Opening Day 2018 is definitely one for the history books. The Thursday March 29th games mark the earliest Opening Day ever, as the season doesn’t traditionally get underway until the first week of April. For the first time since 1968, all teams will be starting the season on the same day too. Back then, MLB only had 20 teams, but for the 2018 season, all 30 teams in the American and National Leagues will have their first games of the season on Thursday.

Yankees Looking to Dominate

Image Credit: Brett Davis / USA Today Sports

For many fans, the Yankees are the team you love to hate, and 2018 seems like the year that anyone who isn’t a Yankees fan is going to hate the team. While they already have superstars like Aaron Judge, over the offseason they added reigning National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton during the Miami Marlins fire sale, and in many ways they look poised to dominate the American League. While new manager Aaron Boone is a bit of a question mark as he’s never managed before, there is too much on talent on this team for them to miss the playoffs if they can remain healthy.

How Will Shohei Ohtani Fare?

Shohei Ohtani, the 23 year old Japanese pitcher/hitter who caused a bidding war amongst almost every team this offseason, ended up signing with the Los Angeles Angels, and all eyes will be on him as the season starts. While his spring training stats were less than impressive, they are hardly an indicator of how he’ll fare during the regular season. The Angels intend to use him as a starting pitcher and designated hitter, so it’ll be interesting to see how he adjusts to those roles over the 162 game season. Regardless of whether he succeeds in MLB or not, Ohtani is definitely going to be one to watch as the season begins.

Redemption Arcs

Image Credit: Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times

Every season sees players, teams, and managers looking for redemption, and the 2018 season is no different. Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez gets the Opening Day start, his 10th straight for the team, and he’s looking to get back to King Felix form after an injury-plagued 2017 season. The Mariners themselves, who hold the current longest playoff drought in all of baseball, are hoping for a turnaround this year, they have tough competition in the division from reigning World Series champion Houston Astros and the Angels, who beat them out for Ohtani. The trade for Dee Gordon, who will play centerfield for the team, definitely helps, and resigning Ichiro Suzuki is a nice reminder of the last time the team made the playoffs, but it may not be enough to overcome the talent in the American League West.

The Cincinnati Reds are another team looking to make significant strides in 2018. In the midst of a multi-season rebuild, the team re-signed manager Bryan Price to a one year contract, hoping that this year they have all the pieces to make the team a contender. It’s safe to say that Price is the manager with the shortest leash to start the season, and if the Reds get off to a slow start, he could become the first managerial casualty of 2018. However, if the team ends the season with a winning record, they could end up as the biggest success story of the season.

Injuries

Injuries are an unfortunate reality of all sports, but it really hurts to lose a player before the season actually starts. This spring training saw two major injuries to players whose teams were counting on having them for the full season. San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner broke a finger on his pitching hand after being hit by a line drive and had to undergo surgery. He’s expected to miss at least two months, which is a huge blow to the Giants pitching rotation. The Yankees also lost their first baseman Greg Bird for 6-8 weeks after surgery on his ankle. Though the Yankees are seemingly stacked offensively, losing Bird for so long is still a tough blow to the team.

What are you most excited about for Opening Day? Who is your favorite team? Let us know in the comments!

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