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OC Register: 2021 AL Central season preview

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Note: Rotations and bullpens are not Opening Day projections but pitchers expected to contribute in those roles early in the 2021 season.


2020 record: 35-25, tied for second in Central, lost to A’s in AL wild-card series

2020 AL rank in runs scored: Second

2020 AL rank in runs allowed: Fifth

Manager: Tony La Russa

Rotation: Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel, Lance Lynn, Dylan Cease, Carlos Rodon

Bullpen: Aaron Bummer, Michael Kopech, Garrett Crochet, Evan Marshall, Matt Foster, Nik Turley, Codi Heuer

Closer: Liam Hendriks

Lineup: 1B Jose Abreu, 2B Nick Madrigal, SS Tim Anderson, 3B Yoan Moncada, LF Leury Garcia, CF Luis Robert, RF Adam Eaton, C Yasmani Grandal, DH Andrew Vaughn

Fun Fact: Abreu had 100-plus RBIs in five of his first six seasons and led the AL with 60 last year, winning the MVP.

Fun Fact II: Keuchel gave up two home runs in 63⅓ innings and had a career-best ERA of 1.99 in 2020.

Prediction: First in Central. At 76, La Russa wasn’t coming out of retirement to manage just anybody.


2020 record: 36-24, first in Central, lost to Astros in AL wild-card series

2020 AL rank in runs scored: 10th

2020 AL rank in runs allowed: Second

Manager: Rocco Baldelli

Rotation: Kenta Maeda, Jose Berrios, Michael Pineda, J.A. Happ, Matt Shoemaker

Bullpen: Tyler Duffey, Hansel Robles, Caleb Thielbar, Cody Stashak, Jorge Alcalá, Derek Law

Closer: Alex Colomé/Taylor Rogers

Lineup: 1B Miguel Sanó, 2B Jorge Polanco, SS Andrelton Simmons, 3B Josh Donaldson, LF Brent Rooker/Alex Kirilloff, CF Byron Buxton, RF Max Kepler, C Mitch Garver, DH Nelson Cruz

Fun Fact: Cruz became the first 40-year-old to lead a league in home runs in 2020 and has exceeded .900 in OPS in five of the past six years.

Fun Fact II: Maeda gave up just 15 hits to right-handed batters in 2020.

Prediction: Second in Central. Twins should at least snap their record 18-game postseason losing streak.


2020 record: 35-25, tied for second in Central, lost to Yankees in AL wild-card series

2020 AL rank in runs scored: 13th

2020 AL rank in runs allowed: First

Manager: Terry Francona

Rotation: Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac, Aaron Civale, Triston McKenzie, Cal Quantrill

Bullpen: Emmanuel Clase, Oliver Pérez, Phil Maton, Bryan Shaw, Adam Plutko, Trevor Stephan, Blake Parker

Closer: James Karinchak/Nick Wittgren

Lineup: 1B Jake Bauers, 2B César Hernández, SS Andrés Giménez, 3B José Ramírez, LF Eddie Rosario, CF Óscar Mercado/Brad Zimmer, RF Josh Naylor, C Roberto Pérez/Austin Hedges, DH Franmil Reyes/Bobby Bradley

Fun Fact: Since 2015, Cleveland has finished first or second in AL ERA five times

Fun Fact II: Ramirez was the only player in MLB who had 17 homers, 10 steals and a .990-plus OPS in 2020.

Prediction: Third in Central. Suggested nickname: Cleveland Dealers. Nobody develops pitching better.


2020 record: 26-34, fourth in Central

2020 AL rank in runs scored: 14th

2020 AL rank in runs allowed: Seventh

Manager: Mike Matheny

Rotation: Brad Keller, Danny Duffy, Mike Minor, Brady Singer, Jakob Junis

Bullpen: Josh Staumont, Scott Barlow, Jesse Hahn, Tyler Zuber, Kyle Zimmer, Jake Newberry, Wade Davis, Richard Lovelady, Ervin Santana

Closer: Greg Holland

Lineup: 1B Carlos Santana, 2B Nicky Lopez, SS Adalberto Mondesi, 3B Hunter Dozier, LF Andrew Benintendi, CF Michael Taylor, RF Whit Merrifield C Salvador Perez, DH Jorge Soler

Fun Fact: The Royals saved 19 games in 20 opportunities in 2020, the top percentage in the league.

Fun Fact II: Mondesi led the majors in stolen bases (24) in 2020.

Prediction: Fourth in Central. A significantly better lineup, especially if Benintendi rebounds.


2020 record: 23-35, fifth in Central

2020 AL rank in runs scored: 11th

2020 AL rank in runs allowed: 14th

Manager: A.J. Hinch

Rotation: Matthew Boyd, Spencer Turnbull, Casey Mize, José Ureña, Julio Teheran, Tarik Skubal

Bullpen: Joe Jimenez, Jose Cisnero, Daniel Norris, Buck Farmer, Derek Holland, Tyler Alexander, Rony Garcia

Closer: Gregory Soto/Bryan Garcia

Lineup: 1B Renato Núñez/Niko Goodrum, 2B Jonathan Schoop, SS Willi Castro, 3B Jeimer Candelario, LF Robbie Grossman, CF JaCoby Jones, RF Victor Reyes/Nomar Mazara, C Wilson Ramos, DH Miguel Cabrera

Fun Fact: Candelario was a .203 hitter in 2019, .297 last year.

Fun Fact II: Detroit pitchers had 444 strikeouts in 2020, a league-low.

Prediction: Fifth in Central. Help, or at least hope, is on the way.

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