As opposed to 2015, the NL East was one of the better divisions in the MLB in 2016. Their division included two playoff teams (Mets and Nationals) and included a talented Marlins team who only finished 3 games under .500 and were in the playoff hunt for the majority of the season.
There’s also hope for the bottom half of the NL East in which the Phillies and the Braves have both significantly improved over the past year. It will be interesting to see what the NL East brings to the table in the 2017 season. With that being said, here are my predictions for the NL East in the upcoming season.
Division Winners: New York Mets (92-70)
The New York Mets now have one of the best rotations in the MLB. This team comes into the 2017 season with a chip on their shoulder after they suffered a devastating loss to Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants in the NL Wild Card game. However, injuries held them back from making a deep postseason run.
The Mets starting rotation now features “Five Aces” as Noah Syndergaard has previously tweeted.
Their rotation includes Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz & Zach Wheeler. The scary part about this? They’re all 100% healthy. If the Mets can stay healthy, they will be your division champions.
2nd Place: Washington Nationals (86-76)
After a tough first round exit for the Nationals in the 2016 season, it seems as if they had missed their chance of making a deep postseason run. The Nationals haven’t won a playoff series since being in the league in 2005, and it doesn’t look like that will change this year.
Although the top of their rotation is extremely strong with former Cy Young winner Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, they are hurting at the bottom of the rotation and have an aging lineup as well.
Aside from superstar Bryce Harper who had a down year last year, their opening day lineup will include several players who are 30 or older. Unless the Nationals make some moves, it’s likely they will miss the playoffs in 2017.
3rd & 4th Place: Atlanta Braves (79-83) & Philadelphia Phillies (79-83)
The previous few seasons have not been pretty for Braves or Phillies fans. Luckily for fans of both clubs, both teams showed significant promise in the second half of the 2016 season.
With rising prospects on both teams, such as Odubul Herrera, Aaron Nola, Dansby Swanson and Julio Teheran, it’s likely that both clubs will continue to show improvement in the 2017 season. Don’t be surprised if their both once again contending for division titles within the next few years.
5th Place: Miami Marlins (71-91)
The tragic loss of star pitchera Jose Fernndez was nothing but a nightmare for the Marlins organization. Although the Marlins still have young stars in Dee Gordon, Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna, they have a ton of dark spots on their team and have a hard time staying healthy.
With the absence of Fernandez in the rotation, the Marlins have one of the worst rotations in the MLB. Although they have a ton of talent displayed throughout their lineup and had a decent 2016 season, don’t expect the Marlins to finish any better than .500 this year.
Division MVP: Yoenis Cespedes
Division Cy Young: Stephen Strasburg
If the season goes as I predicted, the celebration of clinching the NL East may look a little like this: