2013 MLB Predictions: NL East
This is the second segment of my 2013 Major League Baseball Preview. In the first segment, I took a look at the American League East. In this one, I preview the National League East.
1)—WASHINGTON NATIONALS—Washington won 98 games last year, the most in baseball, and could be even better in 2013.
Stephen Strasburg should pitch a lot more innings this year, and Dan Haren was a quality pick-up. Put those two with Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann, and you have yourself one formidable rotation, which could be better than it was a season ago, if you add in the projected innings of Strasburg and Haren, not to mention the addition of closer Rafael Soriano.
Washington improved themselves offensively too, adding outfielder Denard Spann and catcher Kurt Suzuki, to go along with third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, first baseman Adam LaRoche, a vastly improving Bryce Harper, and outfielder Jason Werth, who was injured for a part of 2012.
If all goes well, the Nationals should be even better than the 98-win team from a season ago, and that’s bad news for the rest of the NL East.
2)—ATLANTA BRAVES—Atlanta won 94 games last year, and like the Nationals, may be even better this year.
Atlanta acquired Justin and B.J. Upton, giving them one of the most talented and exciting outfields in the game, along with Jason Heyward.
They also have a lights-out bullpen, headlined by closer Craig Kimbrel.
There are questions however. Such as; Can Brian McCann come back from shoulder surgery and have a bounce back year? Can they replace Chipper Jones’ production at third base? Does Tim Hudson have enough left, at the age of 37, to headline a playoff-type pitching rotation?
I like the Braves, enough to pick them as a wild card team. But over a 162-game schedule, I think they’re a bat, and an arm, short of the Nats.
3)—PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES—Philadelphia’s window of opportunity has closed. They won’t be a bad team, but I don’t view them as a legit playoff contender, not with Washington and Atlanta in their division, and not with the Phillies continuing to age.
They won 81 games last season, and that’s what I see them as this year…a .500 club.
The pitching is strong. Sure, there is concern about how much Roy Halladay has left in the tank, but I don’t think he’s completely done, and with Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, and Kyle Kendrick, the Phillies will at least pitch decent.
The bullpen should also be okay, with Jonathan Papelbon closing
Offense is an issue. Ryan Howard and Chase Utley have a history of injuries, while Jimmy Rollins is now 34, and Michael Young is 36.
I do love the addition of center fielder Ben Revere, who will add a much-needed spark to this club.
4)—NEW YORK METS—New York was surprising a few people in the first half of last year. They were 43-36, through their first 79 games, before going 31-52 over their last 83 games, to finish 74-88. Unfortunately for Mets fans, I think this year’s edition of the team will more closely resemble the team from the second half of last year.
Other than David Wright, and maybe to a far lesser extent, Daniel Murphy and Ike Davis, who is going to provide some offense for this club? The Mets will be offensively-challenged in 2013.
The Mets do have a decent pitching rotation, even after the R.A. Dickey trade, with the likes of Matt Harvey, Jonathon Niese, and the newly-acquired Shawn Marcum.
The bullpen, however, looks like a major concern.
New York would be ecstatic to reach 74 wins again this year. I think they’ll fall 5-8 short of that.
5)—MIAMI MARLINS—Miami only won 69 games in a disastrous season in 2012, and that was with Jose Reyes, Omar Infante, Emilio Bonafacio, Mark Buehrle, and Josh Johnson, who are no longer with the franchise.
I guess you could say; “Well, we finished last with them, so we can’t do worse without them”, but you can, at least in wins.
Giancarlo Stanton is one of those few players you have to stop and watch. He’s a tremendous talent, who makes the Marlins worth watching, all by himself.
After Stanton, there’s not much there.
Pitching-wise, Ricky Nolasco is a capable pitcher, but his not a #1, which is where Miami has him. Again, there’s just not a whole lot there.
The Marlins received a lot of talent in exchange for the players they shipped off, and again, they have a bright future, if they don’t deal everyone away, yet again.
This season, they should be the worst team in the National League, and may rival the Astros for the worst team in all of baseball.
Earlier, I took a look at the American League East. Tomorrow, I’ll preview the American League and National League Central Division’s.