9 brash prognostications for June

June 1st, 2022

We've got a lot of questions in baseball as we enter the month of June. The first of those questions is, "How the heck is it June already?"

Not sure how to answer that one, but, given my unmatched and proven (?) power of peering into the future and accurately relaying what happens before it happens, I can tell you what will happen this month in MLB.

Here are nine predictions for June.

1. The Cardinals will take over in the NL Central

As has been the case rather routinely in recent years, the Brewers are the best team in baseball that nobody talks about. But with Freddy Peralta on the shelf for the foreseeable future with a right shoulder issue, Brandon Woodruff (out at least a few weeks with a high ankle sprain) not up to his usual standard, the bullpen even more reliant on an untouchable Josh Hader than usual and the lineup fairly reliant on the long ball, it's fair to question whether the Brewers can maintain a pace that saw them post their best 50-game record in franchise history.

A four-game set between the Brew Crew and Cardinals on June 20-23 will be a key plot point in a division race that could go down to the wire. The Cards will have taken over first place by the end of that series. St. Louis is getting Jack Flaherty back in the rotation soon, and rookies and the surprising have augmented a lineup in which and have played like the superstars they are. has been impressive, as well. If Tyler O'Neill's shoulder responds positively to recent treatment, the Cards' offense can still reach another level.

2.  to the Rays, and we mean it this time

You might remember that I predicted Montas to the Rays for the month of May, and, well, you might have noticed that didn't happen.

But while the prediction might not have come true, absolutely nothing has changed. Montas still headlines a shallow starter trade market, the A's still have zero reason to keep him beyond this trade period, the Rays are still a really good team that doesn't get much length from its starters (only the Pirates have fewer starter innings this season), and Tampa Bay showed strong interest in Montas over the winter.

So I am going to keep stubbornly predicting this deal until it happens. (It will happen, right?!)

3. The Mets won't cede significant ground in the NL East

This is bold from the standpoint that the Mets…

A. Could spend this entire month without and at their disposal.

B. Have a very difficult schedule this month, with 17 games against the Dodgers, Padres, Angels, Brewers and Astros.

C. Are the Mets, which is to say crazy stuff can happen at any time.

But the Mets don't look like they're going to take their foot off the gas. They've got a fun, athletic lineup that only recently has begun to reach its power potential to go with its established ability to get on base. The pitching staff has been resilient. The offense routinely scores early to take the pressure off the starters, and the starters routinely pitch relatively deep into the ballgame to take the pressure off the 'pen. I still believe whole-heartedly that the Braves have better days ahead, but, as far as the NL East is concerned, it might not matter. (And the Phillies commit the dual sins of having a bad defense and a bad bullpen, so it's hard to imagine them making a real run at the Mets anytime soon.)

The Mets are in control and will stay in control, even amid a stringent June sked.

4. The Rockies will thrive in their City Connect jerseys

There's no way to measure this, but the Colorado-license-plate look that the Rockies will don for Saturday's game against the Braves seems to have inspired more passionate opinion -- on both sides of the issue -- than any previous City Connect threads. People think they are either delightful or dreadful, and there really doesn't appear to be any opinion in-between.

I think the reason is that the Rockies' look since their 1993 debut has been surprisingly static. Aside from a slight tweak to their specific shade of purple in 2017, they've barely budged both from a logo and uniform standpoint. So any stray from the norm is going to engender reactions.

Well, I, for one, am embracing the oddity of the Rockies players wearing unis that defy their traditional color scheme. It says here that Colorado has a license to drive balls all over the yard in a lopsided win over the defending champs. Perhaps that will inspire management to think outside the box (or Rox, as it were) with regard to future design changes.

5. Nelson Cruz will pitch in a game

'Tis the season for old position players to make their mound debut. In May, we saw it with both the 42-year-old Pujols and the 39-year-old Yadier Molina. In June, we will see it with the 41-year-old Cruz, who you might note has been more productive at the plate of late after a brutal start. The Nationals' pitching staff has an ERA just under 5.00, so, um, a blowout game that requires the pitching assistance of the daily DH is unfortunately not incomprehensible.

Once Cruz pitches in, all eyes will turn to a 39-year-old Miguel Cabrera to do the same. Alas, that won't happen until the second half.

6. The Angels will hit a rut

I want to believe this is the year that  gets back to October and that we all get to argue about when and how best to deploy  in a short series, and I do still think it can be. But this team has depth issues that will reveal themselves if Taylor Ward doesn't keep BABIP'ing his way into the MVP conversation and  doesn't keep thriving in his new role as a crafty craftsman with decreased velo and if  doesn't keep pitching like the surprising ace he's been the past year. The bullpen hasn't been very good, which adds to the pressure placed on the six-man rotation.

So this smells like the recipe for a June swoon. If it happens (or perhaps even if it doesn't), we will go into July with the Angels cast as the team with the most incentive to make a splash at the Trade Deadline.

7. Here come the Tork Bombs

The most-hyped members of the 2022 rookie class have collectively had some trouble living up to that acclaim. But the Mariners' Julio Rodríguez had a strong month of May, and the Royals' Bobby Witt Jr. has found his stroke in recent days. In June, it's 's turn.

The Tigers first baseman has looked like a Triple-A demotion waiting to happen for much of this year (.206 average, .652 OPS), but there is some encouraging stuff happening under the hood. Torkelson has got a really strong walk rate (12.9%) and a manageable whiff rate (25.7%), so it's not as if he's been totally fooled up here. It might be too late to save the Tigers' season on the skids, but this month, Torkelson is going to begin to more consistently show off the plus power that made him such a source of interest and intrigue.

8. will not homer in his return from injury

If all goes well, we could see Tatis return to the Padres from a broken left wrist in the latter half of this month. Predicting that he won't go deep upon his return is bold, because you might remember that he homered in his first game back from all three of his injured list stints in 2021. Given the trickiness of wrist issues and the law of averages, it will be a slower return to form for Tatis this time around. He might not homer until … his second game or so. Maybe that will teach him to stop going on the IL.

On a more serious note, the month of June concludes with a four-game set between the Padres and Dodgers in L.A. That's shaping up to be a big series -- and all the bigger if Tatis is indeed back in time for it.

9. Vinnie Pasquantino, on the other hand, will debut with a dinger

This prediction is solely for my colleague Mike Petriello, who understandably won’t stop talking about Pasquantino. This paisan has a .304/.395/.679 slash with 15 homers, 14 doubles and two triples at Triple-A Omaha, and the Royals can only let him be blocked by Carlos Santana (.641 OPS since the start of last season) so long.