MLB Division Previews: NL East

Will the Nats win the division? Harper thinks that’s a “clown question, bro”

Standings

  1. Washington Nationals
  2. Atlanta Braves
  3. New York Mets
  4. Miami Marlins
  5. Philadelphia Phillies

Division Awards

MVP- Bryce Harper

Cy Young- Stephen Strasburg

Rookie of the Year- Travis d’Arnaud

Breakout Player- Zack Wheeler

Comeback Player- BJ Upton

Washington Nationals

Projected Lineup:

Bryce Harper  OF

Ryan Zimmerman  3b

Jason Werth  OF

Adam Laroche  1b

Wilson Ramos  C

Anthony Rendon  2b

Denard Span  OF

Rotation Candidates:

Stephen Strasburg

Jordan Zimmermann

Doug Fister

Gio Gonzalez

Ross Detwiler

The Nationals pulled off the heist of the offseason, grabbing starter Doug Fister from Detroit for spare parts.  The Nats rotation is deep and should be the key to their division run, in my opinion.  The top 4 of Strasburg, J-Zimm, Fister, and Gio is as good as any in the majors, and should be able to eat up innings and put zeros on the scoreboard.  On the offensive side of the ball, the Nats should also be very good.  Harper is the most dynamic player in the National League, and is only getting better.  Zimmerman, Werth, Ramos and Rendon should all contribute pop, and overall make this an above average lineup.  The good thing for Washington is that they should also have a chip on their shoulders coming into this season.  Last year many people predicted them to make it all the way to the World Series, but they fell well short of those lofty expectations.  However, this season I see them rebounding and winning the division.

Atlanta Braves

Projected Lineup:

Jason Heyward  OF

Andrelton Simmons  SS

Freddie Freeman  1b

Justin Upton  OF

Evan Gattis  C

Chris Johnson  3b

Dan Uggla  2b

BJ Upton  OF

Rotation Candidates:

Kris Medlen

Mike Minor

Julio Teheran

Alex Wood

Brandon Beachy

The Braves pulled off an amazing feat last season, leading the league in strikeouts yet winning the division is no easy task.  Atlanta is hoping they don’t have to be tops in that category again to repeat, but I’m sure they will take it just the same.  Bounce back seasons from Uggla and BJ Upton would certainly help the Braves in a big way, as they hit .179 and .184, respectively.  How the hell you win a division when you have the two worst hitters in the league in your lineup is beyond me.  I’m sure just by sheer luck the will be slightly better, but I’m not optimistic Gattis or Johnson can be the contributors they were last season.  Regression to the mean can be positive or negative, so I think Uggla/Upton will improve while Gattis/Johnson taper off.  That being said, the Braves pitching staff was lock down last year.  The young core of Medlen, Minor, and Teheran really came together and dominated all season.  Of course, once they would hand the ball to the bullpen, stud closer Craig Kimbrel was ready to shut the door.  I think they Braves will compete in the division race, but ultimately end up settling into a favorite for the wild card.

New York Mets

Projected Lineup:

Eric Young Jr  OF

Daniel Murphy  2b

David Wright  3b

Curtis Granderson  OF

Ike Davis  1b

Chris Young  OF

Travis d’Arnaud  C

Ruben Tejada  SS

Rotation Candidates:

Jon Niese

Zack Wheeler

Dillion Gee

Bartolo Colon

Jenrry Mejia

Daisuke Matsuzaka

Noah Syndergaard

Unfortunately for the Mets, ace Matt Harvey will miss the entire season recovering from Tommy John surgery.  This was a huge blow as the organization was ready to turn the corner, and will be set back another season.  That being said, I think this team can still win 80-85 games and still build some momentum going into 2015.  The lineup should strike out a ton, but have some more pop with Granderson and Young being brought in as free agents.  Who knows, maybe Davis will remember that he hit 32 homers just a few years ago, and find his sack again.  If the Mets can get good production out of those three, that will really help Wright and Murphy and give the Mets a possibly dangerous lineup.  On the other side, the Mets pitching should be above average even without Harvey.  Wheeler looks poised to breakout in a big way, hes got ace stuff and flashed it down the stretch.  Without an innings limit, Wheeler should step up and be the go to guy this year.  Niese, Gee and Colon are all good pitchers, capable of eating innings and shutting down lineups on any given night.  The 5th spot is the only question right now, as Dice-K seems to be the favorite, but with stud prospect Noah Syndergaard ready to step in at any time.  This is a team I can see either winning 75 games if luck doesn’t go their way, or 85 if they do get some help.

Miami Marlins

Projected Lineup:

Rafael Furcal  2b

Christian Yelich  OF

Giancarlo Stanton  OF

Garret Jones  1b

Jarrod Saltalamacchia  C

Marcel Ozuna  OF

Casey McGhee  3b

Adeiny Hechavarria  SS

Rotation Candidates:

Jose Fernandez

Henderson Alvarez

Nate Eovaldi

Jacob Turner

Tom Koehler

Anything with the Marlins has to start with phenom Jose Fernandez; he is the reigning Rookie of the Year and almost won the Cy Young award.  Miami shocked the baseball world when they said “F@%k it!”, and sent Fernandez from Single A straight to the majors.  The Marlins are hoping they can strike gold again, and have another youngster step up.  The lineup is full of young guys, such as Ozuna and Yelich.  Both players were highly regarded prospects, and are now looking to make a statement at the major league level.  Not to mention Stanton is still in Miami, and a healthy season from him could mean 40 plus homers, even in that ballpark.  The biggest question mark for Miami is the pitching staff, besides Fernandez.  Alvarez is a ground ball pitcher in a big ballpark and I think he will be solid; Eovaldi and Turner are both still young and have promise.  I think the Marlins will be better than people think, but still are lacking in consistent, quality options in the rotation.

Philadelphia Phillies

Projected Lineup:

Ben Revere  OF

Jimmy Rollins  SS

Chase Utley  2b

Ryan Howard  1b

Dominic Brown  OF

Marlon  Byrd  OF

Carlos Ruiz  C

Cody Asche  3b

Rotation Candidates:

Cliff Lee

Cole Hamels

AJ Burnett

Kyle Kendrick

Roberto Hernandez

Miguel Gonzalez

The Phillies looked old and slow last year, so they made a conscience effort to get younger.  I think they did a great job of doing so, by signing Marlon Byrd (36 years old), AJ Burnett (37), and Bobby Abreu (179 years old). Those guys should definitely provide the young legs they wanted… Okay, all kidding aside, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro is an idiot, and dug his team into a bigger hole by neglecting to go young, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was fired by seasons end.  Philadelphia’s lineup is old and only Utley and Brown should still be good.  Howard, Rollins, and Ruiz are washed up and shouldn’t provide all that much positive production.  The pitching staff will be okay, but nothing like it was a few years back.  Lee is still at the top of his game, but at 35 years old should begin declining any day now.  Hamels was awful the first half of last season, but rebounded nicely down the stretch.  However, he has been dealing with shoulder complications all spring, and that’s never a good sign.  Kyle Kendrick sucks, and Roberto is old and on the verge of moving to New Orleans and marrying a voodoo woman named Phyllis.  Bottom line, I just don’t see this team competing, and if I was Amaro, I’d blow it up and get younger immediately.

by Sean Barnet

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  1. Pingback: 2014 Preview and Predictions: NL East - Lady Loves Pinstripes

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