There were some significant moves in the NL East this offseason, including some star player departures. Lets see how the NL East will look in 2018.

Washington Nationals

2017 & Offseason Review

Record: 97-65, NL East Champions

Postseason Result: Lost NLDS vs. Chicago

Offseason Moves:

Key Signings: Miguel Montero, Matt Adams, Howie Kendrick

Key Departures: Adam Lind, Jayson Werth

Offseason Grade: B

2018 Preview

Bovada’s 2018 Projection: 92.5

The Nationals coasted to an easy NL East title last year, winning by 20 games. However, once again they still couldn’t get over the playoff hump, as they fell in the NLDS to the Cubs, continuing to put up a 0 in the playoff series win column for the franchise. The question will loom about the final year of Bryce Harpers contract in D.C., but in regards to this season, the Nats return almost the same team as last year, except for their manager. After firing Dusty Baker at the end of 2017, the Nationals replaced him with former Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez. The Nationals get back Adam Eaton in the outfield, and they made some key depth signings, bringing in Matt Adams, Howie Kendrick, and Miguel Montero to back up Matt Wieters, who had his option exercised this offseason. With the familiar studs in the rotation led by Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Gio Gonzalez, this is the most loaded team in the NL East. They should surpass the 92.5 win total and win their 3rd straight NL East title.

Biggest Question: Bullpen

While it’s a fair question for every team, I am curious to see how the bullpen performs for Washington. Can Sean Doolittle repeat his 2017 success in his first full year as Washington closer? Can Ryan Madson and Brandon Kintzler perform consistently? The Nationals bullpen was shaky before the deadline in 2017, so its something to keep an eye on for 2018.

Player to Watch: Victor Robles, The 20 year old top prospect was optioned to the minors to start 2018, but he will be back. It’s not a matter of if, but when. After getting called up in September last year, he played well enough to make the postseason roster. Keep an eye to see when he will be back up this year, as he should be a quick contributor.

Prediction: 94-68, NL East Champs

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Image courtesy of NY Post

New York Mets  

2017 & Offseason Review

Record: 70-92, 4th in NL East

Postseason Result: Missed Postseason

Offseason Moves:  

Key Additions: Todd Frazier, Anthony Swarzak, Jay Bruce, Jason Vargas, Jose Reyes, Adrian Gonzalez

Key Departures: Nori AiokiWalker, Josh Smoker

Offseason Grade: B

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Image courtesy of Newsday

2018 Preview

Bovada’s 2018 Projection: 81

After a World Series appearance in 2015 followed by a wild card game birth in 2016, 2017 was a downright disaster for the Mets. Literally everything that could have gone wrong for them went wrong. Noah Syndergaard was lost for the season in April, Matt Harvey was atrocious, Steven Matz was hurt, Cespedes was banged up, and Michael Conforto tore his shoulder apart on a freak swing. The Mets dumped as much as they could at the deadline including Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson, and Addison Reed, bringing back some small pieces. The Mets split from manager Terry Collins, bringing in Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway to lead the squad.

However, a fresh start brings hope for 2018. Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz return healthy, while Matt Harvey has shown promise this spring. In addition, with one of the best pitchers in the game in Jacob Degrom and the addition of SP depth in Jason Vargas, the Mets pitching staff once again can be scary good in 2018.

In an effort to improve power and defense, the Mets made a key signing bringing in Todd Frazier to play third. The Mets also went ahead and resigned Jay Bruce, who was a free agent, and Adrian Gonzales as well.

There are still holes in the squad, including the first base contest that was given to Gonzalez by default as Dom Smith couldn’t stay healthy, and the aging Asdrubal Cabrera being the opening day 2B.

But while they aren’t as good as Washington, this can be a very good team that should compete for a wild card spot, therefore I predict the over at 86 wins.

Biggest Question: Health. Yes, it can be said with every team, but it’s doubly true with the Mets. The team that is constantly injured must stay healthy if they are going to have any shot this year. Last year, missing significant time from Syndergaard, Conforto, Familia, Harvey, Matz, and Cespedes, just to name a few, led to a 70 win season. Simply put, if healthy they will be in the mix, and possibly compete with Washington for the division.

Player to Watch: Brandon Nimmo:

The 24 year old outfielder who struggled to find an playing time has earned his way onto the opening day roster this year. Nimmo played well in August in September last year after the injury to Michael Conforto, and followed it up with a fantastic spring. Expect Nimmo to be the opening day center fielder, and should be a huge contributor until Conforto returns. Even when Conforto does return, it would not surprise me to see Nimmo in center, Conforto in RF, and Jay Bruce at first, as the Mets have serious questions at the position, and Bruce got some playing time there last year.

Prediction: 86-75, NL Wild Card game

 

Philadelphia Phillies

2017 & Offseason Review

 

Record: 66-96, 5th in NL East

Postseason Result: Missed Postseason

 Offseason Moves:

Key Additions: Carlos Santana, Jake Arietta, Pat Neshek, Tommy Hunter

Key Departures: Freddy Galvis

 Offseason Grade: A-

2018 Preview

Bovada’s 2018 Projection: 75.5

It’s not often a team in the midst of a rebuild could be in the running for best offseason, but here we are with the Phillies. The Phillies took advantage of a bad market for free agents, and brought in Carlos Santana, Jake Arietta, Pat Neshek, and Tommy Hunter. All of a sudden this looks like a somewhat competitive team, with a lineup that includes Odubel Herrera, Carlos Santana, Rhys Hoskins, Maikel Franco, and Nick Williams. In addition, the rotation now includes Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta, with a bullpen of Hector Neris and Pat Neshek.

While I don’t think its enough to compete for a wild card, this team wont be the pushover it was in 2017. I expect the over in wins.

Biggest Question: Rotation:

After Nola and Arrieta, the rotation seems to be lacking. Velasquez showed promise in 2016, but took a big step back last year, while Jared Eickhoff is already injured. I think the lack of SP will limit the Phillies in 2018, which is ok! This is a rebuilding team, and they can take another major step forward.

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Image courtesy of NBC Sports 

Player to Watch: Rhys Hoskins:

I know, the 2017 call up was a breakout star, however I think it’s important to watch to see if it continues. Hoskins hit 18 home runs in 170 at bats last year, and is expected to bat cleanup on opening day. He was never highly ranked as a prospect, so many want to know if it was a fluke or not. If it wasn’t he will be a huge piece of the Phillies rebuild puzzle.

Prediction: 77-84, 3rd in NL East

 

Atlanta Braves

2017 & Offseason Review

Record: 72-90, 3rd in NL East

Postseason Result: Missed Postseason

Offseason Moves:

Key Additions: Brandon Mccarthy, Ryan Schimpf, Yangervis Solarte, Randal Grichuk, Jaime Garcia

Key Departures: Matt Adams, R.A. Dickey, Matt Kemp

Offseason Grade: D

2018 Preview

Bovada’s 2018 Projection: 74.5

The Braves off-season couldn’t have started any worse. After an MLB investigation determined international signing violations, MLB stripped Atlanta of 13 prospects, including top prospect Kevin Maitan. Their former GM John Coppolella was also banned for life.

Atlanta didn’t do much else this offseason, as they traded for Scott Kazmir, Brandon Mccarthy, and Adrian Gonazalez from the Dodgers in a outcome that was just a salary dump, releasing Kazmir and Gonzalez.

This is a young team in the beginning of a rebuild, especially up the middle of the infield in 21 year old Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson at SS. There is also a significant amount of young pitching talent in the minors.

For this year however, with a shaky rotation and mediocre lineup that includes Freddie Freeman, the Braves will be more focused on developing their youth rather than competing for a playoff spot. A strong 2018 could very well set them up for a significant 2019.

With that being said, I expect the under in wins.

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Image courtesy of Bleacher Report 

Biggest Question: Dansby Swanson

After being touted as one of the top prospects in the game and a solid showing in 2016, Dansby Swanson had a pretty brutal 2017. Batting .232 with a .312 OBP was not what was expected. However, he is still just 24 years old. The Braves will hope that he can get back to his potential and be a significant piece of this team moving forward

Player to Watch: Ronald Acuna

The 20 year old top prospect has crushed it in the minors and in spring training. He is absolutely ready for the majors. However, he is going to start in the minors so the Braves can extend financial control on him. He will be up by the end of April, and will be a huge contender for rookie of the year.

Prediction: 72-90, 4th in AL East.

Miami Marlins

2017 & Offseason Review

Record: 77-85, 2nd in NL East

Postseason Result: Missed Postseason

Offseason Moves:

Key Additions: Starlin Castro, Cameron Maybin

Key Departures: Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon, Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich, Edison Volquez, Ichiro Suzuki,

 Offseason Grade: F

2018 Preview

Bovada’s 2018 Projection: 64.5

Yikes, what a disaster. After Derek Jeter obtained ownership and control, this franchise got absolutely gutted. These were all salary dump moves, no way to sugarcoat it. Slashing millions by trading franchise player Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees in November, the Marlins continued the fire sale. Gone are the great players in Ozuna and Yelich, and infielder Dee Gordon. This upcoming season wont be about wins or losses, but strictly financials.

The lineup still has some ok players, mainly Justin Bohr, Starlin Castro, and Derek Dietrich, but in that lineup they’re going to struggle. The rotation that was awful last season did not improve at all while projected number 2 starter Dan Strally will miss the start of the season with elbow inflammation.

This is going to be the worst team in baseball, and I expect the under in wins in the first season of the complete rebuild for the franchise.

Biggest Question: More trades?

The Marlins gutted the core of the franchise, but there are still veteran pieces to be had. Castro, Bour, Maybin, Dietrich, and closer Brad Ziegler could all fetch decent returns at the trade deadline this season. The Marlins will most likely be very active in moving whatever veterans remain this season.

Players to Watch: Lewis Brinson, Sandy Alcantara

The one and only bright spot was the return that was received for Yelich and Ozuna. Key prospects Lewis Brinson and Sandy Alcantara immediately become top prospects for the Miami rebuild. While RHP Alcantara will start the season in the minors, OF Brinson will be on the opening day roster potentially batting leadoff, and could be a bright spot in a rough season in South Florida.

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Image courtesy of Sun Sentinel 

Prediction: 60-102

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