Saturday, March 19, 2016

MLB Preview 2016: NL East

            Now we head into the National League portion of our MLB Preview. We take a look at the NL East, a division that might not look good now. However, there is a bright outlook for most of the teams in this division. This division also features the reigning National League champions in the New York Mets. Anyways, let's get this preview underway!!

Atlanta Braves
Sweet Dream: The league's best farm system helps expedite the rebuilding process earlier. Think of the Houston Astros in 2014, when they went 70-92 before making their surpise run the next year. The difference would be that the Braves get here with good, young starting pitching and less home runs. Anyways, if this year goes right, it could help usher in the SunTrust Park era with a promising future. The Braves shouldn't really shoot for .500 this year. Instead, they should hope that the rebuilding process goes swimmingly well.
Nightmare: The Braves say goodbye to Turner Field by ending the 2016 season with not just the worst record in baseball, but the worst record in a 162-game season. That's right, worse than the 2003 Detroit Tigers. The Braves can't find anybody who can hit, let alone get on base, many of the prospects show signs of being potential busts, and star first baseman Freddie Freeman gets traded. All of this adds up with little reason for Braves fans to want to go to their new SunTrust Park in 2017.
Miami Marlins
Sweet Dream: Marcell Ozuna (.259 BA, 10 homers, 44 RBI) rights the ship and gives the Marlins the lethal outfield that they've wanted. It'll be interesting to see what new manager Don Mattingly and new hitting coach Barry Bonds do with Ozuna. But a lot will be riding on what Ozuna does this season. Also, Dee Gordon (205 hits, .333 BA, 58 stolen bases, .359 OBP) continues to amaze for the Marlins and Giancarlo Stanton (27 homers, 67 RBI in 279 at-bats) plays a full season along with Jose Fernandez. All of this will add up to the Marlins making the playoffs (By the way, the Marlins have never lost a playoff series in franchise history).
Nightmare: Injuries plague this team all season long. The Marlins also can't get reliable help from the rest of their starting pitchers as the Marlins fall into the bottom of the NL East with the Braves and Phillies. With that possibly comes the Jeffrey Loria fire sale as whatever Marlins fans are left call for Loria's head.
New York Mets
Sweet Dream: The Mets make their return to the Fall Classic by way of their bread and butter: pitching. Jeurys Familia (1.85 ERA, 43 saves, 86 SO, 1.00 WHIP) remains a solid closer for the Mets and the rotation picks up where it left off from last season with the likes of Jacob DeGrom (2.54 ERA, 14-8, 205 SO, 0.98 WHIP), Matt Harvey (2.71 ERA, 13-8, 188 SO, 1.02 WHIP), and Noah Syndergaard (3.24 ERA, 166 SO, 1.05 WHIP).
Nightmare: The lineup doesn't produce enough runs, leaving the starters with very little run support. This time, it's with Yoenis Cespedes (.291 BA, 35 homers, 105 RBI) in the lineup, who's the only one that produces. David Wright starts to show signs of degenerating play as the Mets barely miss out on a playoff berth.
Philadelphia Phillies
Sweet Dream: Like the Braves, Philadelphia shouldn't worry about making the .500 mark this season. They must hope that most of the prospects they've acquired continue healthy developments in the minors. They've gotten rid of most of their bad contracts and have replenished their farm system. Now their hope to usher in a new competitive era of Phillies baseball in the future.
Nightmare: Like the Braves, the Phillies end up with the worst record ever in a 162-game season. At least Phillies fans will see this team in the same park in 2017.
Washington Nationals
Sweet Dream: NL MVP Bryce Harper (.330 BA, 42 homers, 99 RBI, .460 OBP, 172 hits) gets some hitting assistance from his lineup. Despite being third in runs in the National League with 703, the Nationals were ninth in team batting average at .251. If new manager Dusty Baker can also reel in the clubhouse tension, then Washington will finally be able to win a playoff series.
Nightmare: Stephen Strasburg starts to trend down a bit and the rotation misses Jordan Zimmermann. Gio Gonzalez (3.79 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 69 walks) gets exposed as a pitcher who puts too many men on base, leading to Max Scherzer being the only viable starter for Washington. Tensions arise between Harper and his teammates as the Nationals fall to around .500, missing the playoffs.

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