Sports Illustrated has named the Washington Nationals this year's World Series favorite and has placed their star pitcher on one of six regional covers. With that I suppose that means Stephen Strasburg's arm will fall off by mid-June and Bryce Harper will be suspended for bumping in to an umpire at some point and Jayson Werth's hair will start falling out by September.
Mr. October, huh? Seems kind of sacrilegious to use one of baseball's best nicknames for a Hall of Famer like Reggie Jackson and placing it on a pitcher who could not even pitch in his first possible postseason because the management of the team decided to shut him down for the sake of 2017.
Anyway, not one of Sports Illustrated's writers picked the Phillies to reach the postseason, but they were labeled as a surprise team this season. Writes Albert Chen:
We have no idea what Philadelphia is going to get out of Roy Halladay, but it still has two elite starters in Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee. Domonic Brown's breakout season is finally coming. If Ryan Howard and Chase Utley stay healthy (so far so good), the Phillies will make a run.
Brown has had a strong spring, so hopefully this breakout season does indeed materialize. Howard and Utley have also been playing well overall in Grapefruit League action so there may be a reason to believe in the offense this season as well. I can see the Phillies certainly staying in the playoff hunt all season, and now that the Nationals have been tabbed the team to beat (deservedly so, mind you), we'll see if that somehow plays in favor of the Phillies.
Former Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino was a popular name for most disappointing free agent signing by the SI writers as well.
Check out the full run down of 2013 MLB predictions from Sports Illustrated.