National League East Preview

by Maize_in_Spartyland

The Miami Marlins get the MLB season started in the United States with a showdown against the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals in the Marlins new stadium. The start of the major league season means a new beginning for each of the 30 teams – each team has an equal shot at making the post season. While each team starts with the same record, the end result won’t be the same.

Today, I’ll cover the National League East teams, offering a prediction as to whether each team will exceed or fall short of their expectations.

Atlanta Braves

Manager: Fredi Gonzalez, second year

Last Division Title: 2005

Last NL Pennant: 1999

Last World Series Title: 1995

Last Season Record: 89-73

Key Changes: Lost SP Derek Lowe, SS Alex Gonzalez, and OF Nate McLouth

LVH over/under win total: 87

The Braves are the other team, besides the Red Sox, to have an epic collapse down the stretch in 2011. Atlanta held an 8.5 game lead for the Wild Card position over St. Louis on September 1st, only to have that lead evaporate. Because of the collapse down the stretch and the lack of production from the corner outfielders in 2011, changes were made in the Braves organization and Manager Fredi Gonzalez is widely known to be on the hot seat. Oh and who knows how long 3B Chipper Jones will be out; Jones will retire following the 2012 season. Expect the Braves’ rotation to be Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens, Mike Minor, Brandon Beachy, and Randall Delgado. Tim Hudson will join the rotation in early May. The Braves signed Livan Hernandez, who was waived by the Houston Astros; Hernandez will pitch out of the bullpen.

Over/under win total projection: Under

Miami Marlins

Manager: Ozzie Guillen, first year

Last Division Title: Never

Last NL Pennant: 2003

Last World Series Title: 2003

Last Season Record: 72-90

Key Changes: Added SS Jose Reyes, RP Heath Bell, SPs Mark Buehrle, Carlos Zambrano and Wade LeBlanc

LVH over/under win total: 84.5

Miami will have their Opening Day under the lights, hosting the defending World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals. The new look Marlins will feature a revamped pitching staff – last year’s staff had an ERA of 3.95 – middle of the pack. The Marlins were in the bottom third in runs scored, RBIs, and batting average in 2011. Adding Reyes, if he is healthy, should boast an already strong infield, led by (now) 3B Hanley Ramirez. Bell will anchor the closing position, with Juan Carlos Oviedo (formerly known as Leo Nunez) taking the setup role, assuming he is cleared to play by MLB. Miami’s starting rotation looks to be different from last years: Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Ricky Nolasco, Carlos Zambrano, and Anibal Sanchez.

Over/under win total projection: Over

New York Mets

Manager: Terry Collins, second year

Last Division Title: 2006

Last NL Pennant: 2000

Last World Series Title: 1986

Last Season Record: 77-85

Key Changes: Lost SP Chris Capuano, C Ronny Paulino, SS Jose Reyes, OF Angel Pagan

LVH over/under win total: 70.5

In seasons past, the Marlins have been sellers and the Mets have been buyers. To most, it should be a surprise that the opposite is true. With the Marlins new stadium and the desire to build a competitive team, Miami has been a buyer. The Mets are mired in the Madoff scandal, forcing them to cut payroll, and to, potentially, assume their place at the bottom of the NL East. New York was without SP Johan Santana last season, who is expected to be back for the 2012 season. Additionally, OF Jason Bay was flat out awful – even if he improves slightly, the Mets would benefit, as Bay has shown the ability to be a power hitter. Reyes played 126 games last season, missing significant time due to a hamstring injury, but still batted .337. The Mets were in the top third in batting average in MLB, but were among the worst in home runs hit. As a team, the Mets had an ERA of 41.9, putting them in the bottom third of all baseball staffs; with 24 blown saves, they incurred the seventh most. The Mets will likely have a starting rotation of Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, Jon Niese, and R.A. Dickey. Dillion Gee and Chris Schwinden will compete for the final spot.

Over/under win total projection: Over

Philadelphia Phillies

Manager: Charlie Manuel, eighth year

Last Division Title: 2011

Last NL Pennant: 2009

Last World Series Title: 2008

Last Season Record: 102-60

Key Changes: Lost OF Raul Ibanez and RPs Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson; Add 1B Jim Thome, RPs Jonathan Papelbon and Chad Qualls

LVH over/under win total: 93.5

Its no surprise that the Phillies were offensively challenged in 2011. Ibanez was never able to swing the bat for a decent average last season and players like Jimmy Rollins had to battle through injury. The Phillies scored the second fewest runs of any team to make the playoffs last season, with only Tampa Bay behind them. The Phillies won the NL East Division for the fifth straight year behind solid pitching, sporting an ERA of 3.02, far and away better than San Francisco (3.20) and San Diego (3.42). The Phillies will again have to battle through injuries, with 1B Ryan Howard and 2B Chase Utley projected to miss Opening Day, and possibly significant time. The restructuring of the Phillies bullpen, and having OF Hunter Pence for the entire year, if the reason why the Phillies should win the NL East again this season. Losing RP Brad Lidge was addition by subtraction and Papelbon is definitely an upgrade. Expect a starting rotation of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Vance Worley, and Joe Blanton.

Over/under win total projection: Over

Washington Nationals

Manager: Davey Johnson, first full year

Last Division Title: 1981

Last NL Pennant: Never

Last World Series Title: Never

Last Season Record: 80-81

Key Changes: Lost SPs Livan Hernandez and Jason Marquis; added SP Gio Gonzalez and RP Brad Lidge

LVH over/under win total: 84.5

Three of the seven best pitching staffs resided in the NL East last season, with the National being the third best in the division (3.58). Washington’s offense was bad though as they were in the bottom third in runs scored and batting average (.243). Having 3B Ryan Zimmerman on Opening Day will help. Bu having OF Michael Morse on the disabled list to start the year will hurt. Expect OF Bryce Harper to be called up by July. Assuming the Nationals have been success at the plate this season, they’re a dark horse contender for a playoff spot. Lidge’s offseason addition helps to anchor the bullpen, but don’t expect to see him in the closer’s role permanently; he likely will fill in, in that role with Drew Storen’s injury, as Storen will start the season on the DL, according to Manager Davey Johnson. Expect the Nationals’ starting rotation to be Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson, and Ross Detwiler. In a surprising move, on April 3rd, John Lannan was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse.

Over/under win total projection: Over

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  1. Pingback: New Content Added: Week of April 1st | beforevisitingthesportsbook

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