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Saturday, March 23, 2013

2013 MLB Previews: NL East

On to the NL East, where the top three teams will all be competing for playoff spots. There's the young talented Braves, the veteran savvy Phillies and last season's winner the Nationals. Here's how we see things shaking out in 2013.

1st Place, Washington Nationals

CF Denard Span
SS Ian Desmond
LF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
RF Jayson Werth
2B Danny Espinosa
C Kurt Suzuki

RHP Stephen Strasburg
LHP Gio Gonzalez
RHP Jordan Zimmermann
RHP Dan Haren
LHP Ross Detwiler
SU: Drew Storen
CL: Rafael Soriano

The Nats where the team everyone thought would represent the NL in the World Series in September, but after they shelved Strasburg, they were never quite the same team. Now they'll have a full year of the young phenom righty, and they also have themselves a legit leadoff man to hit in front of a strong group of 2-6 hitters. Their big strength though is that pitching staff. If Dan Haren returns to form and throws like he did when in Arizona, they may have the best rotation in all of baseball. That bullpen is no joke either, as they landed one of 2012's best closers in Soriano to help ensure no more meltdowns like they had in the NLDS vs. St. Louis last season. Not only should they have a clear path to the postseason, but they're being considered the favorites for the NL pennant many pundits.

2nd Place, Atlanta Braves (NL Wild Card)

SS Andrelton Simmons
RF Jayson Heyward
LF Justin Upton
1B Fredi Freeman
CF B.J. Upton
C Bryan McCann
2B Dan Uggla
3B Chris Johnson

RHP Tim Hudson
RHP Kris Medlan
LHP Mike Minor
LHP Paul Maholm
RHP Julio Teheran
SU: Jonny Venters
CL: Craig Kimbrel

There's not much to dislike about this Braves squad, especially if they get their players back on track. The young lineup is certainly one of the brighter bunches in baseball, so if they get rebound seasons out of Dan Uggla and Bryan McCann, then lookout NL East! Look for Justin Upton to return to MVP- caliber status. I'm still curious to see how Simmons does leading off, but so far all signs point to it being a good fit. And if he fails, the Braves have some other options. As always, they have a strong rotation, led by the vet Tim Hudson and quite possibly baseball's second best young right-hander next to Strasburg in Kris Medlan. It's too bad they won't have Brandon Beachy, another young right-handed stud, until around mid-season, but when they get him back, that rotation too will be amongst the games elite. The bullpen is also a strength with the best closer in the NL and some strong power arms (Venters, Walden, O'Flaherty) leading up to him.

3rd Place, Philadelphia Phillies

SS Jimmy Rollins
3B Michael Young
2B Chase Utley
1B Ryan Howard
RF Delmon Young
C Carlos Ruiz
LF Dominic Brown
CF Ben Revere

LHP Cole Hammels
RHP Roy Halladay
LHP Cliff Lee
RHP Kyle Kendrick
LHP John Lannan
SU: Mike Adams
CL: Jonathan Papelbon

Much like the Yankees in the AL East, the Phils appear to be on their last legs of being a competitive ball-club. Utley and Howard haven't been able to stay on the field the last year and a half, and the rest of the lineup around them and Rollins is nothing special. Their starting rotation still has the potential to be great, but they have age issues there too, where Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay are nowhere near the arms they were 2-3 years ago. They have a decent pen, and they still have a talented, yet aging, roster so bounce-back years from Howard, Utley, Lee and Halladay would put them right in the mix for a playoff spot, and that's very much a possibility.

4th Place, New York Mets

SS Rueben Tejada
2B Daniel Murphy
3B David Wright
1B Ike Davis
RF Lucas Duda
C John Buck
RF Mike Baxter
CF Kirk Nieuwenhuis

LHP Johan Santana*
RHP Shawn Marcum
LHP Jonathan Niese
RHP Matt Harvey
RHP Dillon Gee
SU: Bobby Parnell
CL: Frank Francisco

*Will start season on DL, no concrete ETA

The Mets have really entered full-blown rebuild mode and are hoping to get back to their winning ways while David Wright's still in his prime, otherwise they should serious consider cashing in on him. Ike Davis has light-tower power and Tejada is a solid young shortstop, but outside of that, this lineup is thin. Their pitching staff is below average, even if Johan Santana does make his return by May. The bullpen too is below average. Everything about this team is below and they'll struggled to keep up with the 3 teams ahead of them in this division.

5th Place, Miami Marlins

LF Juan Pierre
3B Placido Polanco
RF Giancarlo Stanton
1B Logan Morrison
CF Justin Ruggiano
C Rob Brantley
2B Donovan Solano
SS Adeiny Hechavarria

RHP Ricky Nolasco
RHP Nathan Eovaldi
RHP Henderson Alvarez
LHP Wade LeBlanc
RHP Kevin Slowey
SU: Jon Rauch
CL: Steve Cishek

The Marlins essentially gave up on their 2013 season when they traded away virtually all their valuable players between late last summer and the offseason. It's tough to really say much about them aside form that. Stanton will still be a monster, and Logan Morrison is a talent if he can ever get those knees healthy, but the pitching staff, starters and relievers, could be the worst in the NL and they are their lineup is stock full of young guys who may not even last the season in the majors.
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1 Comments:

  • At 12:30 PM, Anonymous Stevie J. said…

    How do the Braves always end up with a good YOUNG team? They're never getting old and manage to always have young players on the up. They to me are the best in this division after they got the Uptons. J-Up is my MVP pick for this year. You heard it hear first!

     

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