Preview 2021: NL East

The NL East, particularly the Mets and Nationals, had a busy offseason and should be overall stronger this year. As always, I address each team in the order I expect them to finish.

  1. Washington Nationals. First, players back from injury…Stephen Strasburg (who’s looked good this spring), Starlin Castro, and Seth Romero. Then there’s players who opted out last year: Joe Ross and Ryan Zimmerman. New players include Jon Lester, Kyle Schwarber, Josh Bell, Brad Hand, Alex Avila, Justin Miller, and Gerardo Parra (return of the Baby Shark, back from Japan on a minor league deal). With that many new faces, there are departures too…Adam Eaton, Brock Holt, Howie Kendrick, Asdrubal Cabrera, Sean Doolittle, Kurt Suzuki, and Eric Thames. Last year, the Nationals finished last in the division, so why do I move them to first?? Well, one I can point out their record last year in the 60-game season was about the same as their record after 60 games in 2019…when they ultimately won the WS. I also think last year’s result was something of a fluke. With the caveat of good health, I expect big years from Max Scherzer and Juan Soto.
  2. Atlanta Braves. They will get back Mike Soroka from injury and re-signed Marcell Ozuna. They also brought in Charlie Morton, Ryan Goins, and Josh Tomlin. Meanwhile Cole Hazels remains a free agent, Mark Melancon is a Padre, and Adeiny Hechevarria is with the Chiba Lotte Lions of the NPB. Nick Markakis has retired. Expect Freddie Freeman to have another monster year. Max Fried still anchors the pitching staff.
  3. New York Mets. Their new owner has shown a willingness to remember New York is a big market and spend accordingly. The Mets have clearly had the biggest haul of new high impact players. Every year a team becomes the darling of pundits to become sudden contenders. It’s with good reason the Mets are this year’s darling. However, my response has always been to remain skeptical until proven otherwise, so I’m slotting them in here but with a winning record. Their haul includes Francisco Lindor, Carlos Carrasco, James McCann, Albert Almora, Caleb Joseph, Kevin Pillar, Aaron Loup, Taijuan Walker, and Jonathan Villar. They brought back Marcus Stroman. They hope to get Noah Syndergaard back fromTJS around June…and he hopes to also as he is a free agent after this season. Their most significant departures are Steven Matz, Rick Porcello, Todd Frazier, Michael Wacha, Jed Lowrie, Eduardo Nunez, Wilson Ramos, Robinson Chirinos, and Yoenis Cespedes.
  4. Philadelphia Phillies. They re-signed JT Realmuto. They’ve overhauled their bullpen with Brad Miller, Archie Bradley, and Tom Watson. They also signed Matt Moore and minor league deals with Neftali Felix and Ivan Nova. Departures include David Robertson, Jake Arrieta, and Jay Bruce. It’ll be interesting to see Alec Bohm in his first full season. Better pitching from the pen will make them a better team, and they’ve definitely got weapons with Realmuto and Bryce Harper…but it won’t be enough.
  5. Miami Marlins. They were the surprise playoff team last year and can hope to build on that with Sixto Sanchez leading the way from the mound. However, they had the quietest offseason of any team in the division. They brought in Adam Duvall and Anthony Bass. Outgoing are Ryne Stanek, Jose Urena, Brandon Kintzler, and Brad Boxberger. They did well last year in a short season with a team of role players, but where the other teams in the division have improved, I don’t think the Marlins have. Look for them to be sellers at the trade deadline; if so, Starling Marte will draw a lot of interest.

3 thoughts on “Preview 2021: NL East

  1. Rays: As always I love your concise and cogent analysis even if I occasionally disagree.

    But I’d like to go off topic for a moment because I just burst into laughter. Seems a Cubs minor league was pulled over in Arizona and inside his blue duffle bag were cleats, gloves and…”21 pounds of suspected meth and 1.2 pounds of suspected oxycodone pills.” Also found was $1,000 cash, but don’t we all carry some mad money?

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    1. Had to go find out about that minor leaguer after seeing your comment. Jesus Camacho-Corrales has been in the Cubs system since 2015. He’s from Sinaloa, Mexico, also home of the Sinaloa cartel. Apparently he’s claiming a friend paid him $500 to take his duffel. He’s never gotten above high-A ball. I guess he never will now. I’ll leave the joking comparison of living conditions of a career low-level minor leaguer and prison to someone else.

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