2017 NL East Preview: A race between Nationals and Mets?

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Jacob deGrom (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)

Jacob deGrom (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)

Washington Nationals: Projected record 92-70

There is no doubt that this team is one of the most stacked in all of baseball and is a serious contender to win the World Series. The Nationals have steadily over the past 5 years gone from the bottom feeders of the MLB to one of the most feared teams in the National League. The Nationals were a double away from making it to the NLCS this past season, in game 5 of the NLDS, down 4-3 with one out and runners on first and second, Nationals silver slugger winning second basemen Daniel Murphy steps up to bat, the Dodgers call in Clayton Kershaw to come in and he gets Murphy to pop out and 2B Wilmer Difo strikes out swinging earning Kershaw his first career save and sending the Dodgers to the NLCS and the Nationals home. This offseason, it seemed as if every big name in trade/free agency rumors, the Nationals came up in the conversation as teams interested, whether it being trading for Chris Sale or even Andrew Mccutchen, these deals never happened but the Nationals still made some big moves to further thrust themselves into National League contenders. Coming into this year, the Nationals still have one of the most feared pitching staffs in all of baseball and a very scary lineup. I think their record will take a slight dip this upcoming season but I still believe they will be crowned NL East champions for the second season in a row.

Projected Starting Rotation:

  1. Max Scherzer
  2. Stephen Strasburg
  3. Tanner Roark
  4. Gio Gonzalez
  5. Joe Ross

Projected Starting Lineup:

  1. Adam Eaton
  2. Trea Turner
  3. Daniel Murphy
  4. Bryce Harper
  5. Anthony Rendon
  6. Jayson Werth
  7. Ryan Zimmerman
  8. Derek Norris

 

 

New York Mets: Projected record 89-73

Last Season, the Mets finished 8 games behind the Nationals in the NL East and they will be looking to retake the NL East now that they go into 2017 with a healthy team. 2016 saw a Mets team that at years end had pitchers Jacob DeGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler all sidelined due to injury, but going into this year, DeGrom, Harvey and Matz will all be back along with ace Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler is expected to be ready for spring training, but it is hard to expect much out of the pitcher after missing the last two seasons while recovering from Tommy John surgery. With Syndergaard, Harvey, DeGrom and Matz all locked into rotation spots, that fifth spot is still very much up for grabs, I believe the fifth spot is Rob Gsellman’s to lose right now but it will be more clear if it’s Gsellman, Seth Lugo or even Wheeler starting the season in the fifth spot in the rotation as spring training approaches. With all of these injuries to the Mets pitching in 2016, the offense stepped up in a big way, carrying the Mets to a 87-75 record, and a wildcard spot. After the season ended, there were many rumblings that the Mets would be unable to retain Yoenis Cespedes, but the front office was able to resign the powerhouse OF to a 4 year 110 million dollar deal. Coming into 2017, the Mets have about the same lineup as last year which saw three batter hit at least .280 and had four batters with at least 23 home runs. With this dangerous lineup returning and their pitching getting healthy, I believe this Mets team can easily make it back to the playoffs.

Projected Starting Rotation:

  1. Noah Syndergaard
  2. Jacob DeGrom
  3. Matt Harvey
  4. Steven Matz
  5. Rob Gsellman

Projected Starting Lineup:

  1. Curtis Granderson
  2. David Wright
  3. Yoenis Cespedes
  4. Jay Bruce
  5. Neil Walker
  6. Asdrubal Cabrera
  7. Lucas Duda
  8. Travis d’Arnaud

 

Miami Marlins: Projected record 78-84

2016 was a year to forget for the Miami Marlins. After a long, injury riddled 2016 season, the Miami Marlins finished 79-82 and missed the playoffs for the 14th year in a row. The season was actually going very well for the Marlins, until the season hit the dog days of August. They lost 10 of their first 11 games in August, and their biggest power source Giancarlo Stanton suffered a groin injury that kept him out almost the entire month. Then on September 25th, the Marlins ace Jose Fernandez lost his life in a boating accident and the MLB lost not only a great pitcher, but also a great person, and it took a big toll on the Marlins to finish out the 2016 season. Coming into this season, the Marlins really didn’t add anything to their offense, but with studs in their lineup like Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton and possibly the fastest player in the league Dee Gordon, the Marlins already have a very dangerous lineup, which is why it is basically unchanged from last year. The Marlins offense may be dangerous, but their pitching is not, without a true ace after the tragic loss of Jose Fernandez, the Marlins are going to have to rely on 5 mid-to-low level pitchers, none of them being more than a 2nd or 3rd starter on a team with a good pitching staff. If the Marlins lineup can stay healthy and they add a pitcher or two to boost up their rotation, the marlins could be in playoff contention this season, but as the roster stands now, I don’t believe that’s a possibility.

Projected Starting Rotation:

  1. Wei-Yin Chen
  2. Tom Koehler
  3. Edinson Volquez
  4. Dan Straily
  5. Jeff Locke

Projected Starting Lineup:

  1. Dee Gordon
  2. Martin Prado
  3. Christian Yelich
  4. Giancarlo Stanton
  5. Marcell Ozuna
  6. Justin Bour
  7. T Realmuto
  8. Adeiny Hechavarria

 

Atlanta Braves: Projected Record 76-86

The Braves may have finished with one of the worst records in baseball last year but they quietly built themselves a pretty good lineup last year. They traded for one of the top prospects in the MLB, Dansby Swanson, and added him to a lineup that already has some very good players like Freddie Freeman, Matt Kemp, and Nick Markakis. With a competitive, young lineup, the focus this offseason for the Braves was pitching. As soon as the season ended, the Braves quickly added 3 veterans to their rotation in Bartolo Colon, R.A. Dickey and Jaime Garcia. None of these guys are going to be Cy Young contenders but they are all solid veterans that can help this young team win some games while also rebuilding the roster. With some good young players already in the majors and some promising prospects waiting to come up, this Braves team will certainly have a lot of different players in the lineup all throughout the year. This team may not be ready for the playoffs just yet, but with a new stadium opening in 2017 and an exciting young roster, the future is bright for the Atlanta Braves.

Projected Starting Rotation:

  1. Julio Teheran
  2. Bartolo Colon
  3. Jaime Garcia
  4. Mike Foltynewicz
  5. A Dickey

Projected Starting Lineup:

  1. Ender Inciarte
  2. Adonis Garcia
  3. Freddie Freeman
  4. Matt Kemp
  5. Nick Markakis
  6. Tyler Flowers
  7. Sean Rodriquez
  8. Dansby Swanson

 

Philadelphia Phillies: Projected record 75-87

Officially every player from the Phillies 2009 World Series team is gone. This is an entirely new Phillies team and over time, should be an exciting one. 2016 saw the Phillies go 71-91, certainly this is not a record to be proud of but it is an 8 win improvement from the 2015 season that saw the Phillies go a lowly 63-99. This offseason, the Phillies go into the season with some young talent on the roster along with some talented veterans such as OF Michael Saunders, 2B/OF Howie Kendrick, and SP Clay Buchholz. While none of these guys are going to lead the league in jersey sales, they are all experienced and can warm the seats up for the young studs waiting in the minors. The Phillies have a pretty good lineup heading into 2017 lead by young future stars Odubel Herrera and Maikel Franco. These two had very good seasons in 2016 and should be the building blocks for the Phillies to build around. With Ryan Howard gone, this gives young slugger Tommy Joseph a chance to fully take the first base job now and see if he’s the first baseman of the future, and with 29 homeruns, 76 rbis and a .263 average last year, I believe he is a prime candidate to break out in 2017 and become a premier power threat in the MLB. As for the rotation, I believe that it is one of the most underrated in the MLB, with a healthy blend of veterans and youngsters, I believe the Phillies will be a hard team to score runs against and it will be overall a hard team to beat. I don’t think the Phillies will contend for a playoff spot in 2017, but the future is very bright for this team and it may be sooner than later that this team is back in the playoff conversation.

Projected Starting Rotation:

  1. Jerad Eickhoff
  2. Aaron Nola
  3. Jeremy Hellickson
  4. Vincent Velasquez
  5. Clay Buchholz

Projected Starting Lineup:

  1. Cesar Hernandez
  2. Howie Kendrick
  3. Odubel Herrera
  4. Maikel Franco
  5. Tommy Joseph
  6. Michael Saunders
  7. Freddy Galvis
  8. Cameron Rupp

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