Tuesday, March 31, 2015

NL East Still Belongs to the Nationals

It's not beyond the realm of possibility that the Washington Nationals won't win the NL East again in 2015.  They've already had several key players go down with injuries, and four of them are questionable for service by the time they open their season on April 6 against the New York Mets (Jason Werth, Nate McLouth, Casey Janssen & Anthony Rendon).  Another, Denard Span, is out indefinitely after undergoing abdominal surgery a couple of weeks ago.

Although they can survive without a few key players in the lineup from time to time, they can ill-afford to lose guys like Bryce Harper or Ryan Zimmerman (both with a history of injuries) for prolonged stretches again this season and hope to take the much more competitive NL East by storm.

Washington's starting pitching is probably good enough to carry them to the title again this season, even with a makeshift lineup behind them.  That's barring any major injuries to their starters, of course.

Both the Miami Marlins and New York Mets will be much better than last season, but the only way either team could win that division would be an unlikely combination of further Nats' injuries while keeping their rosters almost completely out of harm's way for an entire season.

As far as the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies are concerned, 2015 will be another forgettable season, as both former powerhouses are in a definite rebuilding mode.  Just three years ago, the Phillies were coming off a 102-win season.  But an aging core of players has made them perhaps the worst team in baseball - highly capable of losing 102 games in 2015.  It won't be pretty.

Here's what's in store for the NL East for 2015:

Washington    95-67
Miami             85-77
New York       84-78
Atlanta            70-92                  
Philadelphia    64-98

With all their talent in recent years, the Nats have failed to advance past the NLDS in two tries - losing to St Louis in 2012 and losing to San Francisco last season.  Still, they're the odds on favorite to win the World Series.  So in all likelihood, they'd have to beat the Cardinals to reach the Fall Classic.  Don't bet on it.

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