NL East Predictions

The last of the divisions. With a shortened season on the horizon myworld may have picked differently. Sustainability won’t be as critical with less games to play. A team like the Mets may be able to survive with five starting pitchers for an 81 game season, or what number of games major league baseball decides to play.

The east may be the beast this year with four teams vying for control of the top spot. We believe in karma so this year we are picking the Phillies so Bryce Harper can get revenge on National fans for razzing him after the Nats World Series victory without him. One thing myworld learned from all the sports I played is never gloat too much over a victory because it only motivates another to beat you even more. So on to our last division picks. If you want to see the other division picks just click on one of the teams in the subject and it should bring them up.

1. Philadelphia Phillies

Good - They lost a third baseman in Maikel Franco, but he will not be as critical to replace as Anthony Rendon for the Nationals or Josh Donaldson for the Braves. If Jake Arrieta can get back to his form of two years ago the Phillies have three good starters to throw each day. Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler should be poised for break out seasons. J.T. Realmuto was a good pickup last year. He is one of the better catchers in the National League and provides excellent offense.

Bad - The outfield leaves a lot to be desired. Bryce Harper can put up numbers but they appear to be short in left and center. Andrew McCutchen needs to get back from an injury plagued year last year, but he is getting older and comebacks at his age become more difficult. The Phillies hope to get sometbing from former first round pick Adam Haseley. Jay Bruce hit 26 homeruns last year but that came with a .216 average and a .261 OBA. The Phillies still need to decide where to play the trio of Scott Kingery, Didi Gregorius and Jean Segura. Didi at short, Scott at third and Jean at second seems to make the most sense, but moving them around could hurt the defense. Didi has always played short while Scott and Jean have played other positions.

Ugly - Harper had a career high 114 RBIs but he also had a career high 178 whiffs. His walk numbers also decreased significantly. Perhaps he was trying too hard to make something happen but his swing and miss game is getting more frequent than his power game. That has had a significant impact on his batting average.

Rookies - Spencer Howard is the favorite to win the fifth spot in the rotation. His triple digit heat is tough to hit and in a shortened season the innings limitation is not as big of a factor. The 2017 first round pick has not pitched over 112 innings in a season, but 15 starts in a 81 game season with an average of six innings per start only eats up 90 innings. Adonis Medina is another hard throwing pitcher who could see some starts. If the Phillies want to add some pop to the lineup they could bring up Alec Bohm to play third and move Kingery to the outfield.

Predicted Finish - It will be a dog fight but the Phillies will be the surprise winner.

2. Atlanta Braves

Good - They have good, young starting pitchers but the key to their success will be the consistency of Mike Foltynewicz. He went from their ace in 2018 to optioned to the minors in 2019. It’s a young rotation with a lot being asked of Mike Soroka and Max Fried. Felix Hernandez may win a rotation spot but he will eventually be replaced by either Kyle Wright or Ian Anderson as the season winds down and the Braves need a win. Ronald Acuna has transformed his skills into an MVP caliber player, He plays solid defense, hits for power and steals bases. He is the Mookie Betts of the Braves. Freddie Freeman is one of those players who you turn around to watch after you hear the sound of the ball off his bat during batting practice. He is just a professional hitter who always seems to drive in the big runs. Ozzie Albies is one of the better second baseman in the league and he continues to get better. He hits for power, gets on base, steals bases and has scored more than 100 runs the last two seasons.

Bad - Replacing the production of Josh Donaldson will hurt. Austin Riley is the best power source, but he can run hot and cold. His defense is also not as strong, so when he is running cold he contributes little to the team. The Braves may settle on the vanilla like production of Johan Camargo, who put up decent numbers in 2018 when he got regular playing time. The bullpen lacks a closer though the Braves hope the 11 saves Mark Melancon gave them last year is not a mirage. His last big save year was 2016. Shane Greene is another option, though most of his saves with the Tigers did not come with a team fighting for the playoffs.

Ugly - They could have some issues behind the plate. Travis D’Arnaud has had issues staying healthy. If he goes down their alternative is Tyler Flowers. He has not hit over .230 the last two years. He also struck out 105 times in his 271 at bats last year. That is really ugly. If those two go down the Braves will have to rely on rookies Alex Jackson, William Contreras or Shea Langeliers. It would be asking a lot of any of the three rookies to catch in the heat of a pennant race, but they could be better alternatives.

Rookies - Ender Inciarte has had issues staying healthy. Expect either Cristian Pache or Drew Waters to get some centerfield time while he is down. It could be difficult taking them out of the lineup once Inciarte comes back. Pitching is their strong suit. Ian Anderson, Kyle Wright and Bryse Wilson will all be waiting for an injury or ineffectiveness from a starting pitcher to get their opportunity. Jasseel de la Cruz has been a starter in the minors, but his triple digit heat gives him closer stuff. He could find himself in the bullpen by mid season.

Expected Finish - Second place but still good enough for a wild card spot.

3. Washington Nationals

Good - The starting pitching is four deep with Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer, Patrick Corbin and Anibal Sanchez. The big question is how all the innings in the playoff race impact their 2020 season. The upside is it will probably be a shortened season so the fatigue factor of the 80th game in September will not be as great as the 160th game. Juan Soto has improved his defense to such a degree that he is average to above average in left. He even got some gold flove consideration. His offensive game also keeps improving each year. If he had speed he could be the equivalent of Ronald Acuna, but he doesn’t.

Bad - The other two outfield spots need to step it up. Victor Robles is a phenomenal defensive centerfielder, but his bat is best fitted for the eight hole. Adam Eaton lacks the power other teams have with their rightfielders. The right side of their infield could be new. Howie Kendrick is probably better playing first, but he could get most of his time at second, where his defense is atrocious. Starlin Castro is another option but his offensive production is nothing special. Asdrubal Cabrera could be the best fit if he doesn’t play third. The Nationals would prefer this because that would mean Carter Kieboom won the third base spot. First base will be a platoon of Eric Thames and Ryan Zimmerman. The Z-man may be asked to come in later in games to play defense. This position will provide below average offensive numbers, not what you need when you’re trying to replace the offense lost by the departure of Anthony Rendon. Eric needs to replicate his KBO numbers.

Ugly - Rookie Carter Kieboom is being asked to replace the offense of Anthony Rendon. That is a lot to be placing on a rookie. If he fails Asdrubal Cabrera will take over the position until Kieboom produces in the minors. No matter who they put out there he will fall short of the numbers Rendon provided. That could be the difference between making the playoffs and watching them on television.

Rookies - Carter Kieboom will get every opportunity to replace Rendon at third. Last year he got a brief callup to replace Trea Turner at short and only hit .128 in an 11 game trial. Will Crowe will compete for a fifth spot in the rotation but he is not an impact pitcher. Tres Barrera will see some time at catcher if injuries put either Kurt Suzuki or Yan Gomes on the disabled list. His future may be as a backup.

Expected Finish - The loss of Rendon will be too much and they will fall just short of the playoffs.

4. New York Mets

Good - The fact that Steven Matz is competing for the fifth spot in the Mets rotation tells me the starting pitching should be good if it stays healthy. The acquisitions of Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha give them one extra starting pitcher. They may need him with the injury history of Noah Syndergaard. Jacob deGrom should still put up Cy Young numbers and Marcus Stroman pitches big. The Mets need another solid year from Peter Alonso. A sophomore slump will stagnant the offense. Amed Rosario came on strong with the bat in the second half. If he can get more consistency with his defense he could become one of the top shortstops in the league. No matter where you put Jeff McNeil his bat will hit. With Robinson Cano slated for second McNeil will play third. Michael Conforto is a good run producer in right field.

Bad - Wilson Ramos will have to provide better offense if he wants to continue as the starting catcher. His defense took a big hit last year with base runners taking advantage of his slow release. A lot of that blame could be placed on the pitchers inability to hold runners. Robinson Cano has seemed to have lost a lot. If Yoenis Cespedes makes the team the Mets would be better putting J.D. Davis at third, moving McNeil to second and benching Cano. Brandon Nimmo and Jake Marisnick may platoon in center but their bats will not provide much. Playoff teams win up the middle and the Mets fall short in three of the four positions.

Ugly - Edwin Diaz will not be the closer if he replicates his 5.59 ERA last year. Those are ugly numbers, the kind of numbers you would expect by a pitcher in Colorado. If Diaz fails as the closer and Cano sits the bench Mets fans will be brought to tears when they see Jarred Kelenic put up MVP numbers and Justin Dunn win a spot in the Mariners rotation. Cano and Diaz need to get the Mets into the playoffs to make that deal not look like a robbery.

Rookies - Andres Gimenez is probably a better defensive shortstop than Amed Rosario. If Amed continues to struggle with his defense at short he could be moved to center and Gimenez given the job at short. At worst Gimenez should fill a utility role. That is about it. Unfortunately for the Mets, they have no more Pete Alonso’s in their farm system.

Expected Finish - Fourth place but still close enough to battle for a play off spot.

5. Miami Marlins

Good - Whether you put him at third or right field Brian Anderson hits. He could have a break out season in 2020. Jorge Alfaro continues to get better with the bat each year. He could also have a break out year. Combining the break out years of Anderson and Alfaro could make the Marlins a surprise team in the NL East. Jonathan Villar can play anywhere if the Marlins are short of offense at a particular position. He could become the Marwin Gonzales of the Marlins.

Bad - The starting pitching is young and full of promise but it will have its days of being battered. Sandy Alcantara will continue his development as an ace but behind him they will struggle to contain offenses. Ryan Stanek will continue his role as an opener. In the last two years he has started 56 games but thrown only 143 innings, many of those in relief. The Marlins will have to hope for a resurgence from Jesus Aguilar or first base could be stagnant at producing any offense.

Ugly - Offense. They have none. Too many back up players being put in starting roles. Lewis Brinson will get a third opportunity in centerfield, but he has yet to hit over .200. Jesus Sanchez waits in the minor leagues. Myworld does not know the fascination with Isan Diaz. He is not a player that has hit for average, even in the minor leagues. With a young pitching staff, this offense will not be give the pitching staff a lot of runs.

Rookies - Don’t know how many times Brinson will get to fail in center field, but Jesus Sanchez is a potential five tool player. Of course, when the Marlins acquired Brinson from the Brewers in the Christian Yelich trade he had the same tool set as Sanchez. Some of the starting pitchers will probably fail, which will give opportunities for Sixto Sanchez and Edward Cabrera to debut in the organization. Like Sandy Alcantara they throw heat. Monte Harrison needs to cure his proclivity to swing and miss to earn a spot in center field. He has impressive tools if he can make better contact. Lewin Diaz could get an opportunity to take over first base if Jesus Aguilar fails. Lewin carries impressive power on his 6′4″ frame. First round picks Braxton Garrett and Trevor Rogers have been kind of forgotten, Braxton missing a year for Tommy John surgery, but both could contribute to the rotation with good years.

Expected Finish - Too much in this division for them to finish anywhere but last.

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