Continuing with my March assignment for the United Cardinals Bloggers, it’s my National League East Predictions blog. This is the first time I’ve done a division at a time predictions. The team at the top of the NL East seems to be a unanimous choice but after that it gets all messy
1. Washington Nationals – The Nationals had five pretty good starters last year before adding Max Scherzer into the mix this offseason. He makes their rotation go from really good to great. I have always been a big Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann fan so this rotation will be exciting to watch. I think Bryce Harper will have a better offensive year and Ryan Zimmerman will calm down and do much better at first base. Adam Laroche’s leadership on this team will need to be replaced, but they should be just fine. I believe they may acquire a better second baseman at some point before the trade deadline to make a postseason push.
2. Miami Marlins – The Marlins will finish in second place by a wide margin, probably double digit games back. They should stay a bit above .500 though. Mat Latos and Dan Haren need to have pretty good seasons for this to happen, so nothing is guaranteed here. A really good outfield of Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna will help their cause. I think the addition of Dee Gordon to bat leadoff and play second base was brilliant. He should fit in well and could fill a good leadership role. The Marlins will not be good enough to make the Wild Card.
3. New York Mets – I had the Mets in 2nd in this division and fighting for a Wild Card until Zack Wheeler was lost for the season. Now, they should be right at .500. One of my favorite non-Cardinals, Captain America David Wright, should be better this year. I think Michael Cuddyer should help this team a bunch. Matt Harvey does look like he is back to form this spring, but with the Mets being cautious with him this year, I assume their bullpen will blow a few of his games. Give the Mets one more year.
4. Atlanta Braves – Let the rebuilding for the new stadium begin. The good things about this Braves team are few. Freddie Freeman is one of the nice guys in baseball. Craig Kimbrel may be the best closer in the game today. I will pay attention when I see a Shelby Miller start since he is a former Cardinal. I am a huge Nick Markakis fan, but he can only do so much. This team will not be good enough to compete, yet they still won’t be at the bottom of this division.
5. Philadelphia Phillies – Wow, what is left of this team is old. Cliff Lee is too far too gone. Management has said they want to trade Ryan Howard. Cole Hamels and Jonathan Papelbon have been rumored to be traded to many teams. The rebuild is under way. There is not much else to say about the Phillies except that they may be the worst team in baseball in 2015.
This is not a hard division to evaluate. Sure, another pitcher could emerge in New York. Every elbow could fall apart in Washington. That is why they play the games.