Sizing Up the NL East


1. Nationals

2. Braves

3. Mets

4. Phillies

5. Marlins

Atlanta Braves

2019 Season:

Record: 97-65

NL East Finish: 1stin NL East

Playoffs: Lost in NLDS to Cardinals

Catching-Tyler Flowers and Brian McCann split the time at catcher last year, and they both were mediocre hitters. Flowers is a good fielder, and so is McCann. McCann was cut, and the Braves signed Travis d’Arnaud. He’s an average hitter at best, and he’s an okay catcher. I imagine that McCann and d’Arnaud will split the time at catcher, and it’s hard to imagine otherwise.

Infield-Freddie Freeman will lead the infield charge this year. He slashed .295/..389/.549 and he hit 38 home runs. He was an All-Star last year, and he had .938, and he was 36% better than the average hitter. Ozzie Albies is an important part of the team’s core, and he slashed .295/.352/.500 with 24 home runs. He’s very short, and he’s also very fast. Dansby Swanson is also a vital part of the young core. Josh Donaldson is a good fielder and he is a great leader. He slashed .259/.379/.521 with 37 home runs. Adeiny Hechavarria could also play his way into the mix. Since Josh Donaldson went to the Twins, Johan Camargo (.233/.279/.384 7 HR) will likely find himself starting at 3B on Opening Day.

Outfield-Marcell Ozuna was the big signing here in the offseason. He plays LF, which is quite perfect. Austin Riley held that spot LY, and with a .279 OBP, he was quite horrible. Ozuna hit .241 LY with a .328 OBP and 29 HR. He’s a fine fielder, and he’s a veteran in a clubhouse that will need a veteran for the upcoming year. Adam Duvall could also find himself in the mix for the job in LF. He slashed .267/.315/.567 with 10 home runs in just 120 AB. He’s a power presence in a lineup that doesn’t exactly lack power. If Ozuna were to get hurt, Duvall would be the #1 candidate to fill the void. Ronald Acuna Jr sat in the CF spot LY, and he was an MVP candidate. He slashed .280/.365/.518 with 41 home runs and 38 steals. Oh, and he’s a great fielder! He is the center piece of the Braves rebuild. He did strike out 188 times LY, so there could be improvement there. In the RF spot there’s Nick Markakis who hit a .356 OBP LY with 9 home runs. He is 35, and it would be hard to imagine the Braves investing full time with him. Ender Inciarte will fill in at CF in case Acuna Jr gets hurt.

Starting Pitching-Last year we saw the improbable rise of Mike Soroka to the Braves’ ace. Soroka had a 2.68 ERA while getting 13 wins and 4 losses. His WHIP was 1.111, and he struck out 142 batters in 174.2 IP. Julio Teheran went 10-11 LY with a 3.81 ERA in 174.2 innings, and Max Fried went 17-6 with a 4.02 ERA. They each had a 1.323 and 1.334 WHIP, respectively. Mike Foltynewicz went 8-6 with a 4.54 ERA, and Dallas Keuchel went 8-8 with a 3.75 ERA. Kevin Gausman made the jump from the Orioles, and he went 3-7 with a 6.19 ERA. Bryse Wilson and Kyle Wright each had 4 starts a piece, but it’s hard to imagine them getting any playing time. Cole Hamels was added as a free agent, and he had a 3.81 ERA LY with the Cubs.

Bullpen-This is where the Braves really struggle. While there were a select few bright spots, like Jacob Webb, the bullpen was horrible. Webb went 4-0 with a 1.39 ERA, but he wasn’t full time. Luke Jackson was the closer, and he went 9-2 LY with a 3.84 ERA and 18 saves. Sean Newcomb also had a 3.16 ERA. The big addition was Will Smith, who had 34 saves LY.

2020-While I do have confidence in this team, I can’t just forget what happened last year. Losing Josh Donaldson was huge, and it’s tough to recover from losing your second best hitter. Acuna Jr has nowhere to go but down, Albies isn’t good at any one thing, and Freeman led the team in double plays caused. There is also the contrary side that says the exact opposite. I do believe in this team, but it’s going to take something big to get out of the first round and into contention.

Washington Nationals

2019 Season:

Record: 93-69

NL East Finish: 2ndin the NL East

Playoffs: Won World Series vs Astros

Catching-Yan Gomes got the job last year, and he was horrible with the bat (.223/.316/.389 12 HR), but he was a good fielder. Kurt Suzuki also played in 85 games last year, and he slashed .264/.324/.486 with 17 HR. While Suzuki was the much better hitter, he was a bad fielder. Tres Barrea and Raudy Reed round out the group, and they played a combined 8 games last year going 1-13 in 13 PA. I think that Yan Gomes will win out the job, because the Nationals don’t need another bat.

Infield-Matt Adams, Howie Kendrick, and Ryan Zimmerman split the time at 1B LY, and Howie Kendrick was by far the best. Adams slashed .226/.276/.465 with 20 HR, and Zimmerman slashed .257/.321/.415 with 6 HR. Kendrick on the other hand slashed an unreal .344/.395/.572 with 17 HR in 334 AB. His OPS+ shows that he is 42% better than the average player. Adams is gone, and in his place is Eric Thames, who will likely get the call at 1B. He hit 24 HR LY with the Brewers. Brian Dozier, who started LY at 2B is gone, and sliding into his spot will be Starlin Castro. But don’t count Carter Kieboom out, as he hit .303/.409/.493 with 16 HR LY in AAA. He played in 11 games with the Nationals LY. Howie Kendrick could also play 2B. At SS will be Trea Turner. He slashed .298/.353/.497 with 19 HR at the leadoff spot. When he was absent, Wilmer Difo played SS. He had a .315 OBP. Howie Kendrick could fill in at 3B in 2020, replacing Anthony Rendon. Rendon slashed .319/.412/.598 with 34 HR. The strongest candidate though, is Wilmer Difo.

Outfield-In the LF spot LY was Juan Soto, who’s only 21. He hit an unreal 34 HR last year with a .401 OBP and a .548 SLG. He was the strongest OF LY. Andrew Stevenson played in 25 games last year, and he got 30 AB and 37 PA. He slashed .367/.486/.467 with 0 HR. The starting CF will be Victor Robles, who had a .326 OBP with 17 HR. Michael A Taylor backed him up. Playing RF will be Adam Eaton. He slashed .279/.365/.428 with 15 HR. Backing the OF up will be Gerardo Parra.

Starting Pitching-This staff is among the best in the game. Max Scherzer is the clear ace here. He had a 2.92 ERA with a 1.027 WHIP. He was 57% better than the average pitcher. He went 11-7 last year. The number 2 would be Stephen Strasburg. He went 18-6 last year with a 3.32 ERA and a 1.038 WHIP. Sliding in at the number 3 spot in the rotation is Patrick Corbin. He had a 3.25 ERA last year, and he went 14-7. Anibal Sanchez is next up. He went 11-8 with a 3.85 ERA. Erick Fedde returns to the staff after a 4-2 record lat year with a 4.50 ERA. Joe Ross could also see some time in the rotation.

Bullpen-This bullpen was among the game’s worst. But in the offseason the Nationals added Will Harris, who in 68 games went 4-1 with a 1.50 ERA. He had a masterful 0.933 WHIP. Daniel Hudson returns, and he was the lone bright spot in an otherwise dark bullpen. He went 3-0 last year with a 1.44 ERA. Sean Doolittle was the closer last year, and he went 6-5 with a 4.05 ERA and 29 saves. Tanner Rainey and Wander Suero also return.

2020-There is all of the reasons in the world to believe in this team. But losing Anthony Rendon will take a toll, and Max Scherzer is getting old. I do believe strongly that this year could be very interesting. We’ll have to see if Juan Soto can step it up again, as he did last year. While I don’t believe that another World Series trophy is waiting for the Nationals at the end of this season, I do believe that they could make some strong current in the NL East. Another Wild card berth is likely, but we’ll see if the Nationals can handle the pressure. This team will be interesting for sure. Don’t count them out, as we could see another year like the last.

New York Mets

2019 Season:

Record: 86-76

NL East Finish: 3rdin NL East

Playoffs: N/A

Catching-Last year Wilson Ramos played in 141 games, and he hit .288/.351/.416 with 14 home runs. He is a rare well hitting catcher. He’s a bad to average fielder, so he’s a pretty average player in general. Thomas Nido played in 50 games last year. He slashed .191/.231/.316 with 4 home runs. He’s above average at defense, so he might work his way into some time playing catcher. Ali Sanchez also made the 40-man roster.

Infield-Pete Alonso moved into the starting 1B role last year as a rookie, and he played 161 games. He slashed .260/.358/.583 with a major league leading and record breaking 53 home runs. He broke the rookie record for home runs set by Aaron Judge in 2017. He is a star in the making. Robinson Cano started at 2B last year. He slashed .256/.307/.428 with 13 home runs. Jeff McNeil, who is a utilityman, split the time with Cano, while also playing other positions. McNeil slashed .318/.384/.531 with 23 home runs in his rookie year! He had a 144 OPS+, which is amazing for a rookie year. Adeiny Hechavarria also played some time at 2B last year. He slashed .204/.252/.359 with 5 home runs in 60 games and 142 AB. But he’s gone this year. Jed Lowrie, who plays 2B, could also start come Opening Day. Lowrie has knee problems, so that may be unlikely. Amed Rosario was the starting SS last year. He played in 157 games last year. He slashed .287/.323/.432 with 15 home runs. Todd Frazier started at 3B last year. He played 133 games, and he slashed .251/.329/.443 with 21 HR. Andres Gimenez and Luis Guillorme also made the roster.

Outfield-JD Davis started in LF last year, and he did quite well. He slashed .307/.369/.527 with 22 HR. He was 38% better than the average MLB hitter. Dominic Smith also played LF last year. He slashed .282/.355/.525 with 11 HR. CF was by far the Mets’ worst position. Brandon Nimmo was limited to only 69 games, and he was supposed to start in CF. Instead, Juan Lagares at CF, and he slashed .213/.279/.326 with 5 HR. It was a disaster of a year for Lagares. When Nimmo did play, he was very good. He slashed .221/.375/.407 with 8 HR. Michael Conforto started in RF, and he slashed .257/.363/.494 with 33 HR. Yoenis Cespedes comes back this year after missing all of last year, and the Mets signed Jake Marisnick in the offseason. This OF unit is looking up.

Starting Pitching-Jacob deGrom was the clear star of the staff, as he went 11-8 with a 2.43 ERA. Noah Syndergaard wasn’t very good with a 4.28 ERA, but he was decent. Zack Wheeler went 11-8 with a 3.96 ERA, and Jason Vargas went 6-5 with a 4.01 ERA. Marcus Stroman was at the alternate spot in the rotation. Well, this year Wheeler’s gone, and that leaves Stroman to take his spot in the rotation. The Mets added Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello in the offseason to try to help improve the pitching staff. This is a good staff, and it looks to improve further in 2020.

Bullpen-Seth Lugo was the star of the ‘pen last year, as he went 7-4 with a 2.70 ERA. He was one of the game’s best last year. Justin Wilson was equally good, if not better last year. He had a 2.54 ERA with a 1.333 WHIP. Aside from those two, the bullpen was a disaster. Robert Gsellmen was the 3rdbest of the bullpen, and he had a 4.66 ERA. The “closer” Edwin Diaz had a 5.59 ERA! The Mets did add Dellin Betances, who should help. The bullpen will have to improve for 2020.

2020-This is an interesting team. The hitting is great. The starting pitching is good. And yet, they struggled last year. The bullpen has to improve for this team to be success, though. In a decent division, this team could make it far. They’ll need Pete Alonso, and a whole lot of help.

Philadelphia Phillies

2019 Season:

Record: 81-81

NL East Finish: 4thin the NL East

Playoffs: N/A

Catchers-JT Realmuto was the full time catcher, and he was one of the best catchers in the league. An amazing catcher who’s also known for his hitting, Realmuto slashed .275/.328/.493 with 25 HR and a 108 OPS +! Andrew Knapp slashed .213/.318/.324 with 9 HR. Knapp’s fielding is slightly above average. Also making the roster is Deivy Grullon. He played in 4 games last year with 9 PA and 1 hit. I’d be surprised to see anyone but Realmuto starting on Opening Day.

Infield-Rhys Hoskins was the starting 1B last year, and he was quite good. He slashed .226/.364/.454 with 29 HR. He drew also116 walks. Logan Morrison played in 29 games last year, totaling 38 PA. Cesar Hernandez and Sean Rodriguez were the two 2B last year, and now they’re both gone.Scott Kingery played 10 games at 2B last year, Jean Segura played 142 games at 2B in 2016, and Arquimedes Gamboa played at 2B in 2 games last year in the minors. Jean Segura started at SS last year, and he slashed .280/.323/.420 with 12 home runs. There’s also Josh Harrison, who spent 2019 with the Tigers. But he isn’t on the 40 man roster, and last year he slashed .175/.218/.263 with 1 HR. His last full year was in 2017 when he slashed .272/.339/.432 with 16 HR. He made the All-Star squad that year. Segura will most likely win the job. At SS it will be newly signed Didi Gregorius, who slashed .238/.276/.441 with 16 HR. He wasn’t fully healthy, and he has nowhere to go but up. Scott Kingery will start at 3B after Maikel Franco was granted free agency, and then signed with the Royals. Kingery slashed .258/.315/.474 with 19 HR last year.

Outfield-Andrew McCutchen, when healthy, is dangerous. In 59 games last year, he slashed .256/.378/.457 with 10 HR. Jay Bruce is going to back McCutchen up. Bruce slashed .221/.235/.510 with 12 HR in 145 AB. Adam Haseley will get the call in CF. He slashed .266/.324/.396 with 5 HR. Roman Quinn will back him up. In RF is the highly touted Bryce Harper. Harper signed at 13 year, $330 million contract in February 2019. He was good, but not totally worth it. He slashed .260/.372/.510 with 35 HR. Backing Harper up will be Nick Williams. Also on the roster is Nick Martini.

Starting Pitching-This Phillies staff wasn’t particularly good in 2019, and the Phillies acknowledged that by signing Zack Wheeler. Wheeler will be the ace of the staff, as he went 11-8 with a 3.96 ERA. Aaron Nola is also quite good. He went 12-7 with a 3.87 ERA. The next best on the staff is Zach Eflin. He went 10-13 with a 4.13 ERA and a 1.347 WHIP. Jake Arrieta was a pretty average pitcher at 8-8 and a 4.64 ERA. Finally, Drew Smyly had a 3-2 record and a 4.45 ERA. Smyly was a slightly above average pitcher. Spencer Howard is a top prospect, and he could make a difference this year.

Bullpen-The bullpen was okay for the Phillies last year. Ranger Suarez was good at a 6-1 recordand a 3.14 ERA with a 1.315 WHIP. Jose Alvarez went 3-4 with a 3.36 ERA, and Adam Morgan had a 3.94 ERA. Juan Nicasio had a 4.75 ERA, and closer Hector Neris went 3-6 with a 2.93 ERA. Only Neris and Suarez are good, and the rest are just mediocre.

2020-2019 was supposed to be a good year. After signing Bryce Harper in the off-season, the Phillies were supposed to be in contention for the 2019 season. That didn’t happen as the Phillies finished 4thin the NL East. This year will make or break the way that the Phillies will be headed, so this is a crucial season for the Phillies.

Miami Marlins

2019 Season:

Record: 57-105

NL East Finish: 5thin the NL East

Playoffs: N/A

Catchers-Jorge Alfaro was the primary catcher in 2019. He is an okay fielder, and an okay hitter. He slashed .262/.312/.425 with 18 HR. According to OPS+, he was the 3rdbest hitter on the Marlins in the starting lineup. Francisco Cervelli joins the squad for 2020, and he slashed .259/.378/.431 with 12 HR in his last full year, 2018. Chad Wallach will be the 3rdstring.

Infield-Garret Cooper started at 1B last year, and he was pretty good. He slashed .281/.344/.446 with 15 HR. Neil Walker was his primary backup, and he slashed .261/.344/.395 with 8 HR while also playing 3B. Jesus Aguilar, who was signed over the offseason, could see playing time. Martin Prado also plays 1B. Playing 2B will be Isan Diaz. He slashed ..173/.259/.307 with 5 HR. Jonathan Villarwill be Diaz’s backup. Miguel Rojas will play SS. He slashed .284/.331/.379 with 5 HR. Jon Berti will back him up (.273/.348/.406 6 HR). Jonathan Villar will start at 3B, and he slashed .274/.339/.453 with 24 HR in all 162 games. Backing him up will be Brian Anderson.

Outfield-The starting LF was Curtis Granderson last year, but he was horrible and he retired. But the Marlins signed Corey Dickerson, who slashed .304/.341/.565 with 12 HR in 78 games with the Pirates and the Phillies. Harold Ramirez will back Dickerson up. CF was a disaster for the Marlins last year. Lewis Brinson started there last year, and he slashed .173/.236/.221 with 0 HR. He only played in 75 games, though. After a lot of work in the offseason, Brinson should be the Opening Day starter. Starting in RF will be Brian Anderson. Anderson slashed .261/.342/.468 with 20 HR. He played 3B last year. Backing him up will be last year’s starter, Harold Ramirez. Matt Joyce could also find significant time in the outfield. He slashed .295/.408/.450 with 7 HR in 238 PA. He very well could remove Brinson of his starting job.

Starting Pitching-Sandy Alcantara was the lone bright spot last year for the Marlins. He went 6-14 with a 3.88 ERA and a 1.318 WHIP. According to ERA+, he was the lone above average pitcher for the Marlins. Caleb Smith went 10-11 with a 4.52 ERA, and Trevor Richards went 3-12 with a 4.50 ERA. But Richards is gone this year, and sliding in his place will be Jordan Yamamoto who went 4-5 with a 4.46 ERA last year. Pablo Lopez had a 5.09 ERA, and Elieser Hernandez went 3-5 with a 5.03 ERA to finish out the staff.

Bullpen-This bullpen was horrible last year. I know this because a combined 112 appearances were given to Tayron Guerrero (6.26 ERA) and Adam Conley (6.53 ERA). Jarlin Garcia was reliable at 4-2 with a 3.02 ERA, and so was Tyler Kinley who went 3-1 with a 3.65 ERA. Unfortunately for the Marlins, they’re both gone. The Marlins did sign Yimi Garcia who went 1-4 with a 3.61 ERA for the Dodgers last year. They also have Ryan Stanek and Brandon Kintzler. The closer, Sergio Romo, is also gone, leaving this bullpen in a lot of mystery.

2020-After last year’s disaster, it’s hard to expect anything from this year. Sandy Alcantara heads an inexperienced staff. Brian Anderson was the biggest offensive producer last year. And Jonathan Villar is supposed to help. It’s going to take a lot more than having Villar, Derek Jeter working for the Marlins, and Don Mattingly as manager to fix this train wreck.

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