So, last week, the AL East was under the microscope as we went to see who would win if the season started today. Now how about we go next door and break down the NL East? While the NL East doesn’t seem as deep as the AL East, all teams can win. The Mets had their best season in a long time. The Nationals under performed, although their season was an above .500 year at 83-79, and you have to believe with the roster that they have, means they are capable of more. The Marlins have a pretty talented team around Giancarlo Stanton leading the offense, and Jose Fernandez leading the rotation. The Phillies are still rebuilding, but they have some young prospects who could break out at any point, same thing could be said for the Braves.
So, let’s start with the Mets. The Mets had a great year last season. They made the playoffs for the first time since 2006, and the World Series since the year 2000. They almost won their first World Series since 1986. It all began with their pitching rotation last season. One of the very best rotations built from scratch: Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Mats, Jacob DeGrom. Let’s not forget Zach Wheeler is also recovering from Tommy John surgery. Bartolo Colon is also an insurance piece. Between all 5 of the starters last year, the combined record was 54- 36.
What is pitching with no offense you say? Well, they had that when acquired Yoenis Cespedes. Curtis Granderson, David Wright, and Daniel Murphy all contributed. Even with the losses of Murphy and what looks like a loss of Cespedes, the Mets still have a pretty formidable line up. Wright had trouble staying healthy and hasn’t really been himself since 2012, although he did solid in 2013 with health issues. If Wright can stay healthy and be the talented player we all now he is, with Granderson and new acquisition Asdrubal Cabrera who provides some pop in the lineup.
The Mets have a good shot at winning the division, but they won’t be able to walk in like they’re at the park as the Nationals will have something to say about the division as well. The Nationals have arguably the best player in the National League, maybe in the entire league with Bryce Harper. He’s still young and is bound for greatness. Oh and Daniel Murphy joined the family that already includes Wilson Ramos, Jason Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, and let’s not forget newly acquired Ben Revere, who should prove to be a solid lead off man. Their pitching rotation is pretty great still, even without Jordan Zimmerman and Doug Fister. Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez can lead the way if all three play to their potential as they are three potential aces on some teams when they are at the top of their game.
The Marlins have a pretty talented team as well, and could have a break out season at any time. Players like Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Dee Gordon, Martin Prado and lead a pretty solid offensive line up. Ichiro even at his age can still be key coming off the bench.
The pitching rotation could use some help after Jose Fernandez. He’s pretty great, but he will only pitch once every five days. He also has had some health issues, so without Fernandez, the rotation makes it even more challenging for the Marlins to take first. Anything can happen, but on paper the rotation does not look good. I believe that will be their downfall. A solid lineup with a subpar rotation will make it hard to overcome the Mets and the Nationals.
The Braves and Phillies are two teams who are clearly rebuilding, as they’ve traded the stars of their teams. The Braves made some questioning trades, getting rid of Andrelton Simmons and Shelby Miller, two young players who could have been key’s to their future. The Braves are going to have keep rebuilding to be able to contend again. However, the line up still does have some talent with Nick Markakis, Erick Aybar, AJ Pierzynski, and Freddie Freeman. The rotation does have some potential with players like Julio Teheran and Bud Norris. Manny Banuelos, one of the Yankees top prospects at one time, can still break out at anytime. The Braves have an uphill battle in front of them, but anything can happen.
The Phillies also have an uphill battle. Freddy Galvis has potential to be good, but even with a break out year and a comeback year from Ryan Howard, the Phillies will have a tough time over coming teams like the Mets and Nationals. The rotation led by Jeremy Hellickson also needs some help. The Phillies are aware of this, and know that the rebuilding process is ahead for them.
So, with all of this being said, the NL East is mixed with rebuilding teams like the Braves and Phillies and teams looking towards the World Series in the Mets and Nationals. The Marlins are a good mix of both. There is no way to tell the future of baseball, these are purely predictions. Things can go exactly opposite of them when you consider injuries, breakout stars, and comeback players.
NL East Standings Prediction As of 1/10/2016:
*Photo Credit to AP, Getty Images*