N.L. East 2016 Prediction

Posted: March 29, 2016 in Uncategorized

First:  New York.

Pitching:  As long as injury remains a stranger, the entire staff is a dream.  Choose from Matt Harvey or Jacob deGrom or Noah Snydergaard as the number one starter.  Steven Matz will be blessed as the next great Mets starter during 2016.  Zach Wheeler returns sometime in July.  A perfect second-half boost.  Bartolo Colon is 100 years old and logged almost 200 innings pitched last year.  Jeurys Familia had a great 2015.  2016 will be equally impressive.  Hansel Robles or Antonio Bastardo should throw the eighth inning, not Addison Reed.  In fact, Erik Goeddel and Sean Gilmartin should receive more appearances and innings than Mr. Reed.  Jeremy Blevins and Logan Verrett complete a deep bullpen.  Oh yeah, Josh Edgin returns in May.  Life is tough in Queens.

Offense:  A stout offensive trio is found in Michael Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes (his agent should receive an award for the contract accepted by the Mets.  All that is missing is Mets administration agreeing to load and unload Mr. Cespedes’ dishwasher) and Curtis Granderson.  Alejandro De Aza waits for at bats.  David Wright is old and brittle.  Well, old for a 33 year old.  Lucas Duda received at bats and produced.  Look for even better numbers in 2016.  Why Matt Reynolds is not christened the starting shortstop over Asdrubal Cabrera and Wilton Flores (will these two ever embrace the idea of a walk?) is a mystery.  Neil Walker takes over second.  Travis d’Anaud handles the catching.

Players in the system who can help:  Dilson Herrera (2b, assuming he does not make the team after spring training), Gavin Cecchini (ss, though reduce the errors), Jayce Boyd (lf) and Paul Sewald (relief).

Second:  Miami.

Pitching:  Wei-Yin Chen and Jose Fernandez lead a solid group of starters.  Adam Conley should be the #3 guy.  Tom Koehler and Jarred Cosart complete the first five.  The bullpen will miss Carter Capps.  Who sets up A.J. Ramos?  Given Mr. Capps absence, David Phelps and Edwin Jackson are included in the bullpen shuffle.  Bryan Morris and Mike Dunn are part of an unimpressive collection of relievers less Mr. Ramos (who is very good).  The bullpen is the Marlins weak link.

Offense:  A fine young outfield in need of one adjustment . . . shifting Christian Yelich to center and sitting Marcell Ozuna on the bench.  Derek Dietrick in left and the ever impressive Giancarlo Stanton in right provide plenty of offense.  Justin Bour and Martin Prado (32 and the old man of the infield) handle the corners while the Marlins hope for another stellar year from both Dee Gordon and Adeiny Hechavarria.  J.T. Realmuto will get the bulk of the games behind the plate less the occasional appearance from future manager, Jeff Mathis.

Players in the system who can help:  Nick Wittgren (relief), Greg Nappo (relief) and Brian Ellington (relief).  Those of you wondering, yes, the Fish have the best relief development in MLB.  Given the shallowness of the Marlins’ bullpen, these guys should get a long look this year.

Third:  Washington.

Pitching:  Max Scherzer, less his win total, had a solid 2015.  Will the Nationals finally allow Stephen Strasburg a second opportunity to pitch 200 innings or better?  This upcoming season will be Mr. Strasburg’s fifth full year of baseball.  Dare he approach his 2014 innings total of 215?  Gio Gonzalez slipped in 2015.  Tanner Roark and Joe Ross bring up the rear.  Jonathan Papelbon provided one of my favorite moments in 2015 when he smacked Bryce Harper.  Here’s hoping for a repeat.  Felipe Rivero is waiting for Mr. Papelbon’s departure so that he may assume the closer role.  Shawn Kelly and Yusmeiro Petit provide a hint of bullpen depth.  Blake Treinen, Aaron Barrett and Oliver Perez are average.

Offense:  I am not a Bryce Harper fan.  Color me biased.  Sure, he had a fine season last year, but I don’t care.  Why Jayson Werth starts in left or anywhere for any team is a mystery.  Clint Robinson will replace Mr. Werth as the season progresses.  Ben Revere should have a solid 2016.  Wilson Ramos threw out 24 of 54 baserunners in 2015.  Impressive.  Ryan Zimmerman hasn’t enjoyed a full season since 2013.  Anthony Rendon, Danny Espinosa and the vastly overpaid Daniel Murphy complete the infield.

Players in the system who can help:  Trea Turner (ss) and Wilmer Diffo (ss.  Watch out, Mr. Turner).

Fourth:  Philadelphia.

Pitching.  Ouch.  Aaron Nola should be the #1 starter followed by Jerad Eickhoff.  Why?  Because the rest of the starters are a collective yawn.  In no particular order Jeremy Hellickson, Charlie Morton, Vince Velasquez and Brett Oberholtzer do not impress.  These guys will keep the bullpen far too busy.  Sadly, the bullpen resembles the starters.  Hector Neris, Jeanmar Gomez and Dalier Hinojosa need to be sorted into closer, eighth inning and seventh inning roles.  Any team featuring Ernesto Frieri and Edward Mujica are in dire need of restructuring the relief corps development from rookie ball forward.

Offense:  Odubel Herrera in center has a bright future.  Why is Peter Bourjus in right field?  He is a defensive disaster awaiting disassembly.  First to third will be a common theme for opposing baserunners with balls rolling into right field.  Tyler Goeddel probably replaces Mr. Bourjus by mid-May.  Cody Asche in left is hopefully more productive than Cody Asche at third base.  Ryan Howard’s swan song is 2016.  Time to retire.  Maikel Franco is as talented as Odubel Herrera.  Same goes for Cesar Hernandez.  Andres Blanco should take the shortstop job from Freddy Galvis.  Cameron Rupp, during his short time in the Bigs, has tossed 27 of 73 baserunners.

Players in the system who could help:  Brock Stassi (1b), Angelo Mora (2b), J.P. Crawford (ss), Roman Quinn (cf), Reiner Roibal (starting pitching), Mark Leiter (starting pitching) and Jimmy Cordero (relief).

Fifth:  Atlanta.

Pitching:  Julio Teheran and Jhoulys Chacin should be one-two.  After those two, close your eyes.  Bud Norris, Matt Wisler, Mike Foltynewicz and Williams Perez are a collective crash. Arodys Vizcaino and Jason Grilli battle for the closer spot (and de facto eighth inning appearances).  Alexi Ogando offers a third man in the ‘pen.  The remainder of the men who sit and wait are, well, um, not of major league quality.  I was polite.

Offense:  Michael Bourn and Kelly Johnson platoon in left.  Ender Inciarte was under the radar in 2015.  But, then again, he plays for Atlanta.  Nick Markakis rues the day he left Baltimore.  Adonis Garcia, Erick Aybar and Jace Peterson hopefully improve on their respective 2015 numbers.  Freddie Freeman is the Paul Goldschmidt of the East (however, Paul now has teammates who can play.  Freddie, not so much).  A.J. Pierzynski (39 and catching in Atlanta.  The heat.  The humidity.  Yuck) and Tyler Flowers will split the catching duties so neither passes out during a game.

Players in the system who could help:  Everyday position development is barren.  Ryan Weber (starting pitching).


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