The first week of the 2016 season has come to a close and boy, has it created some buzz. Some teams are off to a hot start, while others have been surprisingly slow out of the gates. Fortunately for those teams struggling, there is plenty of time to catch up in the standings. Last week, I promised my National League predictions, so let’s get started.
National League East
After the top two teams in the NL East, there is a huge void in talent. The Washington Nationals and the New York Mets are the clear favorites to compete for the N.L. East title. The Mets were the kings of the National League last year after defeating the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS, ultimately losing to the Kansas City Royals in the World Series. Last year, the Nationals traded in their bats for golf clubs much earlier than they had hoped. The Nats have an array of talented players, led by the 2015 Most Valuable Player, Bryce Harper, and former Cy Young Award winner, Max Scherzer. Are the Nationals poised to take down the Mets? Time will soon tell.
New York Mets 95-67
Washington Nationals 93-69
Miami Marlins 70-92
Philadelphia Phillies 66-96
Atlanta Braves 62-100
After the Mets and Nationals, the rest of the NL East is an absolute joke. I have the Mets barely taking home the title for a second consecutive year. I believe the Nationals will improve from last year and make the playoffs, playing in a Wild Card game. The Mets have a deep pitching rotation, led by Matt Harvey, Jake deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard. The rotation gives the Mets a leg up on the rest of their competition, leading to their 7th N.L. East title.
National League CentralEmbed from Getty Images
The N.L. Central is going to be one of the most interesting divisions to watch in 2016. The Cubbies, Pirates, and Cardinals all made the playoffs last year and could be equipped to have even better seasons this year. This division is up for grabs and will be fun to see who ranks superior.
Chicago Cubs 94-68
Pittsburg Pirates 92-70
St. Louis Cardinals 90-72
Cincinnati Reds 82-80
Milwaukee Brewers 74-88
The Cubs suffered a huge setback this week with the loss of their slugger, Kyle Schwarber. The big lefty tore his ACL and LCL in his left knee after a horrific collision with Center Fielder, Dexter Fowler. This is a huge loss for the defending N.L. Central Champions. Even with the loss of Schwarber, the Cubbies have an extremely deep roster as well as a fantastic pitching staff that can take them well into the playoffs. Following the Cubs, I have the Pirates beating out the Cardinals for the second Wild Card spot in the National League. I love this team’s athleticism and will-to-win. The Pirates seem to always be in contention late into September and this year will be no different.
National League West
The National League West was shaken up this offseason with many free agent signings. The Arizona Diamondbacks made the biggest splash, picking up the 2015 Cy Young Award winner, Zack Greinke. The San Francisco Giants made their push for another arm in their rotation, when they picked up Johnny Cueto from free agency. Adding a second ace to that rotation may be what the Giants need to get back on top of the National League West.
San Francisco Giants 95-67
Las Angeles Dodgers 90-72
Arizona Diamondbacks 83-79
San Diego Padres 79-83
Colorado Rockies 78-84
Lately, this division has been run by the Dodgers, winning the past three years in a row. This year is going to be different. Like I stated before, the Giants picked up Johnny Cueto and already have an ace in Maddison Bumgarner, who will be toeing the rubber every fifth day. The addition of Cueto, gives the Giants one of the best one-two combinations in the league. They also acquired Jeff Samardjiza as their number three in the rotation. I LOVE this pitching staff and I think it’s going to take them far into the playoffs. I have the Dodgers placing second in the highly competitive N.L. West. The Dodgers still have a great team, but did nothing to improve during the offseason. In fact, they lost their stud pitcher, Zack Greinke to their divisional foes. After the Giants and Dodgers, I don’t see any other teams putting up a fight to contend. The Diamondbacks did get much better with the acquisitions of Greinke and RHP Shelby Miller, but I don’t believe those moves can propel them past mediocrity.
The race to be National League Champions is going to be one to keep an eye on. Looking at this year’s rosters, I would not be surprised to see the Chicago Cubs beating the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS. The road to the World Series is a long one, but the Cubs have the tools necessary to finally reverse their 106 year curse.