Next up on my division by division preview is the NL East. Yes, I continue to be either optimistic enough or delusional enough to think a season will happen. As always, I address the teams in the order I expect them to finish.
Atlanta Braves. Assuming Cole Hamels is fully healthy by the time the season starts, he’s an upgrade from Julio Teheran. Marcel Ozuna and Adeiny Hechavarria together do not equal the loss of Josh Donaldson. Other newcomers include Félix Hernández, X-Ray Travis d’Arnaud, and Chris Martin. Overall, I’d say this year’s Braves are slightly weaker than last year’s division winner, but so are the winners of last year’s World Series.
Washington Nationals. Losing Anthony Rendon hurts. Signing Starlin Castro, Eric Thames, and Will Harris does not make up for it. On the plus side, a shorter season means less wear/tear on Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer. Gerardo Parra signed with the NPB; his departure won’t affect the team much, but some fans might miss “Baby Shark.”
Phlidelphia Phillies. One can argue they’re a little stronger with the addition of Zack Wheeler, but not enough to overtake the top two. They also welcome a new manager in Joe Girardi. Back from injury will be Andrew McCutcheon, Tommy Hunter, and Victor Arano.
New York Mets. They will get Yoenis Cespedes back from injury, assuming he doesn’t get hurt again; how productive he will be is an open question. They lost Zack Wheeler to the Phils. Noah Syndergaard is gone for the year due to TJS. They also have a new manager in Luis Rojas, one of the Alou family. Other new additions include Dellin Betances, Rick Porcello, Michael Wacha, and Brad Brach…with a significant amount of wishes by them of a return to health and productivity. They could easily sink to 5th.
Miami Marlins. They have improved, but it’s a deep pit out of which they’re trying to climb. They picked up Jonathan Villar, Corey Dickerson, Brandon Kintzler, Francisco Cervelli, Jesus Aguilar, and Matt Joyce. “Improved” is just based on the first three names… Joyce and Cervelli are not the players they once were, and Aguilar was below replacement level with the Yankees. The future is looking up for them in that ESPN rates their farm system as top third in MLB, For this year at least Billy the Marlin’s head shouldn’t be blowing off a skydiver’s head and winding up on the FL Turnpike.