National League 2017 Prediction

Posted: April 3, 2017 in Uncategorized

N.L. East

First – New York Mets.

Great pitching with just enough hitting lands the Mets in front of the Nationals.  Noah Snydergaard, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, Robert Gsellman and Matt Harvey should share a win total of at least 75 games.  The bullpen features two guys who can close:  Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia.  Fernando Salas and Jerry Blevins are best of the rest.

Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson, Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera provide enough offense.  If Jay Bruce can find his old self, Mets’ fans will be pleased.  If not, Brandon Nimmo is looking for at bats as is T.J. Rivera.

Second – Washington.

A fine outfield now that Jayson Werth drives in runs.  Adam Eaton is one of the best centerfielders in the game.  Bryce Harper will start fast, stall, rally his sizable ego and have a good year.  Anthony Rendon, Trea Turner and Daniel Murphy can all hit.  Ryan Zimmerman returning to form would be swell for Nats’ fans.

Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Tanner Roark, Joe Ross and Gio Gonzalez present difficulty for any lineup.  Blake Treinen should close.  Not Shawn Kelley.  Joe Blanton keeps pitching and eating.  He Bartolo Colon should lead us to the fountain of youth.  Sammy Solis is the best of an anemic bullpen.

Third – Philadelphia.

Maikel Franco, Odubel Herrera and Cesar Hernandez will make a lot of money in the near future.  A talented trio.  Michael Saunders and Howie Kendrick bring experience to a youthful team.

Jeremy Hellickson and Jerad Eickhoff are becoming an effective one-two as starters.  Vince Velasquez and Aaron Nola need to improve.  Why any team would trade for Clay Buchholz is without explanation.  Hector Neris should replace Jeanmar Gomez as the closer.  Joaquin Benoit, Pat Neshek, Edubray Ramos and Juely Rodriguez will get plenty of appearance and build on last year’s success.

Fourth – Miami.

The starting pitching will struggle.  Only Dan Straily brings any success from 2016.  Edinson Volquez, Tom Koehler, Wei-Yin Chen and Adam Conley will make for many a long day in Miami.  A.J. Ramos will marvel at the few save opportunities presented.  Kyle Barraclough, David Phelps, Junichi Tarawa, Dustin McGowan and Nick Wittgren form an above average bullpen ready to work.

Justin Bour is becoming a quality first baseman.  Martin Prado, Christian Yelich, J.T. Realmuto, Derek Dietrich (he needs a place to play) and Giancarlo Stanton will offer plenty of runs, but often come up shy given the woeful starting pitching.

Fifth – Atlanta.

If the Braves had a better bullpen, I’d chose them in front of the Marlins.  But, they do not.  Julio Teheran meets Bartolo Colon (43!) this year.  Hopefully, Jaime Garcia and Mike Foltynewicz will ask Mr. Colon for advice.  R.A. Dickey either wins 18 games or 10 games this year.  You choose.  The aforementioned bullpen, less Jim Johnson, Josh Collementer and Chaz Roe is a glass of spilled beer.

Much like the Marlins, the Braves will score and score often.  Freddie Freeman (he and Paul Goldschmidt are above and beyond as first basemen), Matt Kemp, Nick Markakis, Ender Inciarte, Dansby Swanson (the real deal in development) and Tyler Flowers will often wonder, how many runs do we need to score to win?

N.L. Central

First – Cubs.

As if I needed to type that word.  These guys are loaded.  From top to bottom.  Loaded.  Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Jason Hayward, Wilson Contreras, Addison Russell and Ben Zobrist are productive plus.  Jon Jay and Tommy La Stella offer the best bench production in the league.  Mr. Jay should replace Albert Almora in center.

The pitching is stupid good.  Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, John Lackey, Brett Anderson and Kyle Hendricks will dominate entire series against good teams.  Wade Davis closes.  The rest of the ‘pen is as deep as the starters.  Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop, Carl Edwards, Koji Uehara, Brian Duensing and Mike Montgomery will do their best to share innings.

Second – Pittsburgh.

One of the better offenses in baseball.  All five outfielders hit.  Gregory Polanco (why is he and his cannon arm in left field?), Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen, Adam Frazier and John Jaso all produce.  Jay Bell, Jeff Kang and Francisco Cervelli represent the infield.  David Freese is looking for more at bats.

Jameson Taillon is better than Gerrit Cole.  Ivan Nova completes an impressive first three.  Chad Kuhl and Tyler Glasnow need to improve to keep away the Cardinals.  Tony Watson closes, but getting to him can be a challenge given the average ability of the bullpen.  Expect for Wade LeBlanc.  I never though I would type those words.

Third – St. Louis.

Psst.  Guess what?  Their starting pitching ain’t what it used to be.  Carlos Martinez is the only starter who had a quality 2016.  Adam Wainwright slipped as did Michael Wacha who slipped even more.  Lance Lynn returns from injury.  Mike Leake was unimpressive.  Thankfully, the bullpen is deep.  Seeing Hwan Oh will close.  Kevin Siegrist, Brett Cecil, Jonathan Broxton, Matt Bowman and Miguel Socolovich rarely falter.

Yadier Molina and Eric Fryer offer a lot of punch as a catching duo.  Matt Adams, Aldemys Diaz, Dexter Fowler and Stephen Piscotty don’t quite add up to the Pirates offense, but if they can hand a one run lead to the bullpen, all is well.

Fourth – Milwaukee.

There is little difference between the Brewers and Reds.  Both teams could be as bad as the Padres, Twins and Athletics.  Yep, that bad.

The Brewers do have a group of outfielders who can hit in Ryan Braun, Keon Broxton and Domingo Santana.  I understand the Brewers want to see the continued development of Eric Thames at first, but placing Travis Shaw at third is a mistake.  Many an out will stand on second benefiting from yet another wild throw across the diamond by Mr. Shaw.  Alas, he can hit.  Jonathan Villar is a quality second baseman.

Junior Guerra and Zach Davies at least offer a chance to win.  Once Jimmy Nelson, Wily Peralta and Matt Garza take the mound, seek cover.  Neftali Feliz, Carlos Torres and Jacob Barnes are the best in a thin bullpen that will see far too much action in 2017.

Fifth – Cincinnati.

Joey Votto and Jose Peraza are the offense.  Will Billy Hamilton ever learn to love the walk?

The starting pitching is bad.  Anthony DeSciafani is the only starter who could win a dozen games.  Starting pitchers in the Reds’ organization at the AAA and AA level should receive an extended opportunity in 2017.  Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen and Barrett Astin offer the beginning of a bullpen, but suffer from a lack of company.

N.L. West

First – San Francisco.

The reason I choose the Giants over the Dodgers (the other three teams have no chance) is better starting pitching.  Madison Bumgarner is awesome.  Johnny Cueto, Matt Moore and Jeff Samardzija should each win between 14 to 18 games.  Matt Cain is the only weak link.  Mark Melancon arrives as the closer.  Derek Law, Hunter Strickland, George Kontos, Steven Okert and Ty Blach complete a formidable ‘pen.

The offense is average on a good day, but Bruce Bochy usually finds a way to win.  Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Hunter Pence and Brandon Crawford provide most of the limited punch.

Second – Los Angeles.

A lot more offense than the Giants, but not near the bullpen.  Andrew Toles should get a well earned shot in left.  Joc Pederson is reducing his strikeouts.  Yasiel Puig will peg the guy selling popcorn on the second level on the third base side.  Corey Seager, Logan Forsythe, Adrian Gonzalez and Yasmani Grandal will highlight the offense.  Justin Turner looks cool, but he’s overrated.

Clayton Kershaw is unbelievably good.  Kenta Maeda, Rich Hill and Alex Wood are almost as good as their Giant counterparts.  Kenley Jansen will get the saves while Grant Dayton, Sergio Romo, Josh Ravin and Pedro Baez will get most of the work.

Third – Colorado.

If nothing else, these guys can hit.  Lots of power and runs courtesy of Charlie Blackmon, Nolan Arenado (especially), Trevor Story, D.J. LeMahieu, Mark Reynolds and Tom Murphy.  David Dahl and Ian Desmond will make the most of their at bats as well.

Starting pitching is bad less Jon Gray.  The bullpen will feature Greg Holland closing.  Adam Ottavino and Mike Dunn are the best of a suspect group.

Fourth – Arizona.

Torey Lovullo will make the best of a bad team, thus finish in front of the Padres.

Paul Goldschmidt is stuck in the desert until somebody offers enough talent on 7/31/17.  Jack Lamb is the only other source of consistent offense.

Zack Greinke did not have a Zack Greinke year in 2016.  If he returns to form, he and Taijuan Walker will win half the games in the Diamondback win column at year’s end.  Fernando Rodney will close.  Does anything else need to be said?

Fifth – San Diego.

Call me crazy, but San Diego has a lot of youth and talent.  At least on the offensive side.  Alex Dickerson, Hunter Renfroe, Yangeris Solarte and Wil Myers can sweat a pitcher.  The organization has a ton of talent at the AAA and AA level.  Parade the kids and see who can play.

The pitching is awful less a few guys in the bullpen.  Trevor Cahill is the best of the starters.  Jered Weaver will throw a breaking ball clocked in the 50s.  I guarantee the moment.  Returning to the bullpen, Carter Capps should close.  Brad Hand, Ryan Butcher and Buddy Baumann will rarely rest.  A long year awaits.



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