Jeff Passan: ‘Alex Cobb Is Going To Have A Big Breakout Year’

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(Credit: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

(Credit: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Given that it’s Opening Day, the only logical place for Yahoo! Sports MLB columnist Jeff Passan to be is in a ballpark, right?

“I’m in a ballpark every damn day of the year,” Passan said on The John Feinstein Show, prompting a chuckle from Feinstein and co-host Andrew Bogusch.

Instead, Passan has spent the last nine Opening Days at home in Kansas City, where he does a live chat on Yahoo!

“It’s a tradition I have no intention of breaking,” Passan said.

Of course, Passan doesn’t figure to miss a whole lot being at home today, especially in the National League, where the Nationals, Cardinals and Dodgers are consensus picks to win their respective divisions.

“Those are the three teams that I have,” Passan said. “I don’t know if it’s not wide open, but I think there are three distinct favorites, especially with the injuries to Atlanta’s pitching staff, (and) especially with some of the players – Shin-Soo Choo (and Bronson Arroyo) – gone from Cincinnati; Aroldis Chapman (is) hurt. Patrick Corbin getting hurt for the Diamondbacks absolutely killed them; And I just don’t know if the Giants have a strong enough offense to make up the talent gap between them and the Dodgers. So the National League, I think, is pretty chalk at this point.”

The American League, however, is a different story. The Tigers, for example, are considered the class of the AL Central, but they are by no means a lock.

“I did not like Detroit’s offseason, I do not like what has happened during spring training and maybe, just maybe, I want a home game for one time in my baseball writing career in the postseason, so I picked the Royals to win the division,” Passan said. “But I really do like Kansas City – legitimately so. There’s a lot of young talent there. They’ve got some really good pitching that I think is going to be arriving midseason or so. And once that happens, I think they have a chance to take off.”

While the Central may be a two-team race, every team – except for maybe the Blue Jays – has a fighting chance in the East. Ultimately, Passan expects the Rays to win the division.

“I really like their pitching staff,” he said. “I think Alex Cobb is going to have a big breakout year, I think Matt Moore is going to take a step forward, they’ve already got David Price, Chris Archer – they’ve just got a lot of pitching.”

Passan added that Wil Myers and Evan Longoria will be “terroristic” in the middle of the lineup if they stay healthy.

Passan also thinks the defending World Series champions, the Boston Red Sox, will be very good, but that the Yankees will underachieve – relative to their free-wheeling offseason spending, anyway.

As for the West, anything can happen. Oakland and Texas have been decimated by injuries to their pitching staff, while the Angels don’t have much pitching to begin with.

Passan is picking Oakland to win the division but without much confidence, saying, “Out West, it’s a complete crap shoot.”

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