The National League East has been a division of complete disarray over the past few years. Looking up and down the division, it is hard to find a team that has established their true identity. In 2016 the Washington Nationals began to establish themselves as one of the powerhouses in the National League, cruising away with the division title. Looking past the Nationals, the rest of the division does not impress me much. Look for 2017 to be no different.
Washington Nationals 95-67
New York Mets 90-72
Miami Marlins 80-82
Atlanta Braves 74-88
Philadelphia Phillies 73-89
The Nationals are head and shoulders above their competition in the National League East. The Nats tallied 95 wins on their way to their third division title in 5 years. Their roster is filled with talent throughout. Toeing the rubber every fifth day is reigning Cy Young Award winner, Max Scherzer and batting cleanup is former MVP Bryce Harper. Harper had a dramatic drop in production following his MVP season in 2015. Look for the slugger to turn things around and be a more dynamic player in 2017. Following Scherzer in the rotation are two other pitchers who could compete for a Cy Young of their own. Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez combined for 26 wins and have created one of the most dominant one-two-three punches in the National League. The Nationals are poised to make a run at a Pennant this coming October.
The New York Mets were hampered with injuries in 2016 which could have led to their early exit in October of last year. Going down the stretch run the Mets depended heavily on Noah Syndergaard to carry them throughout the playoffs, a very tough task for a 24 year old kid. What made the Mets so dominant just two years ago was their pitching rotation. Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey silenced bats night in and night out, leading them all the way to the World Series. The Mets have plenty of talent throughout their roster, the question is whether or not those players can stay healthy enough over the course of the season.
The Miami Marlins were in the thick of a Wild Card race when star pitcher Jose Fernandez was tragically killed in a boating accident last September. The loss of their best pitcher was too much to handle as they collapsed down the stretch, coming in third place in their division. It is imperative that the Marlins are able to establish a true number one in their rotation before the 2017 season begins. Over the offseason the Marlins made a few moves to improve their bullpen and rotation but did not do much to improve upon their offense which was their main downfall in 2016. If the Marlins are unable to acquire a big bat to follow Giancarlo Stanton in the lineup then the Marlins will have to suffer through another mediocre year.
At the bottom of the division I have both the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies. The Braves made a few head scratching moves this offseason, signing 43 year old Bartolo Colon and 42 year old RA Dickey. As a team that should be rebuilding, the addition of these two pitchers leaves me extremely puzzled. Both Colon and Dickey signed 1 year deals that totaled around $20 million. Neither pitcher will put the team over the top, and both take up a good chunk of cash that could be used to acquire young players for the future. As for the Phillies they have not done much to improve so I see them being bottom dwellers for a few more years to come.
The Nationals are the clear favorites to come out of the National League East, but don’t count out the Mets who, if healthy, can make a run for a division title. Don’t spend much time watching this division, there are better ones to keep an eye on in 2017.