Brother Banter: MLB Divisional Preview – Part 2: The NL

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Photo via CSN Chicago

By: Rossy and Adam Pasternak

Rossy: We’re back!

Adam: Better late than never I guess…

Rossy: Yeah, for sure. If you haven’t checked out our AL East Preview, click here. Let’s get to it then. The NL East.

NL East

Rossy: It’s really the Nats’ division to lose. Harper is a stud, and he’s good at baseball too. They have Trea Turner, Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth is back and their pitching is off the rails. I mean, Scherzer, Strasburg, Gio- that’s scary good. I haven’t even mentioned Daniel Murphy, Ryan Zimmerman, or Anthony Rendon, who all are amazing players as well. The Nationals, every year, are my pick as the team who’s going to make “The Jump” to the elite teams in the MLB. Right now that tier consists of the Cubs and the Indians. The Nationals’ window of opportunity is closing fast with Harper and much of their core becoming unrestricted free agents in the immediate future. Do you think this is the year they finally make “The Jump” or do the Mets or another team surpass them?

Adam: I think the Nats are one of the best teams in the league; not just in the NL or NL East. As you mentioned, they are just stacked. It’s clearly their division to lose and I would be dumb to try and argue against you. As for the rest of the division, I think the Miami Marlins could surprise us this year. Stanton is gonna crush as per usual, Christian Yelich had a great WBC and I think will carry that into the season, Dee Gordon is healthy, their bullpen is much deeper, and they will be dedicating the season to Jose Fernandez – so you know they will be playing with lots of emotion. The Mets are obviously a threat, and probably will finish above the Marlins, but it will be closer than you think.

The Phillies and Braves are obviously not going to contend this year, but this season is huge for both teams development wise. The Phillies have a solid young core of both position players and starting pitching, led by Vince Velasquez, Odubel Herrera and Maikel Franco. This year is all about progress; making sure all these young guys learn and improve. Their focus in two offseasons, however, will be on Manny Machado. The Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey led Atlanta Braves are destined for another top 3 draft pick, and this season is all about seeing how Dansby Swanson reacts to his first full season in the bigs.

My predictions:

  1. Nationals
  2. Mets
  3. Marlins (they will be a .500 team this year)
  4. Phillies
  5. Braves

Rossy: I have the Marlins ahead of the Mets and think that they will sneak into the playoffs in one of the Wildcard spots. Other than that, our predictions look basically the same. Also, a player to watch out for in Philly is SP Aaron Nola. Nola’s a 23 year-old righty who has nasty stuff, and could be the ace of the future for them. The Phillies will be a good team in two years barring any injuries.

Now, on to the NL Central

NL Central:

Rossy: The Cubs have this one locked up, right?

AdamI’m not too sure, Rossy. The Cardinals look like a real threat this year, and in my opinion, could squeeze past the Cubs if everything goes right this year. By that, I mean Carlos Martinez pitching like a Cy Young candidate, Dexter Fowler hit 20 bombs and swipe 40+ bags, Adam Wainright not pitch like his age, etc. The Cubs made some changes in the offseason, that in my opinion, didn’t make them any better and didn’t make them any worse. The Pirates are a good team, but unfortunately they are nowhere near the Cubs and Cards. It’s too bad really. Maybe they can squeeze in with a Wild Card spot, but the chances are pretty unlikely with a competitive NL this year.

The team that really interests me in the NL Central is the Milwaukee Brewers. I think they could be a .500 team this year. Travis Shaw should be a nice addition, as well as Keon Broxton is a solid young outfielder who looks like a Billy Hamilton 2.0.

How do you see the Central playing out this year, Rossy?

Rossy: You listed a few “ifs” for the Cardinals. The reason I love the Cubs is because there are no what-ifs. And they added Schwarber too, because remember he was out all but one game last season. I agree, the Cards and the Pirates are both very good baseball teams, and both have a chance to nab a Wild Card spot, much like I predicted the AL East to have two Wild Card winners.

Last one Adam, we’re almost done. NL West.

NL West

Rossy: This division is wide open in my opinion. What do you think?

AdamWide open? I’m not too sure about that. The Dodgers are going to win the division again, no problem. The Giants are making the playoffs this year, most likely as the Wild Card. They’re deep and they’re talented, plus you can never doubt MadBum. Brandon Crawford is one of the best shortstops in baseball, Eduardo Nunez has been fantastic with the bat and stealing bases early on, their rotation is deep with Matt Moore looking like a perfect number three behind MadBum and Johnny Beisbol (Cueto), Buster Posey is one of the best catchers in baseball…do I need to keep going?

The Rockies will be better, but they aren’t making the playoffs. I’m not sold on the D-Backs, in fact I don’t think they’ll be a threat at all come August. If they prove me wrong, this division could get exciting, but I really don’t think that will happen.

Then there’s the Padres…who are just going to be the Padres and stink once again. No need to go any further than that.

Rossy: I think everyone in this division has a chance to make the playoffs other than the Padres. The Rockies have Nolan Arenado, one of the best hitters in baseball over the past few years and an excellent fielder. They also have a supporting cast including Charlie Blackmon, Carlos Gonzalez, and Trevor Story, among others. It’ll come down to their pitching, once again.

Still, I have the same standings as you in the division as my prediction for this season.

Adam: That wraps it up then.

Rossy: Finally, we can focus on the games at hand.

Adam: Baseball is back baby!

Let us know what you think of Banter, the NL, and the MLB season so far! And remember to comment, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram!

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