Pitchers and catchers have reported and the first spring training games are just around the corner. Here is a look at the 2020 NL East Breakdown and what fans can expect.
The Braves are returning superstars Ronald Acuna Jr. and Freddie Freeman but will play without one-year fan favorite Josh Donaldson who departed via free agency to the Minnesota Twins. Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos did reach out and added free agent Marcel Ozuna in an attempt to replace the offensive production lost in the middle of the lineup. The Braves still have a gaping hole at third base. Some think the Braves will pull the trigger on a blockbuster trade deal for Kris Bryant from the Cubs or Nolan Arenado from the Rockies, however, it seems unlikely but with the Braves plethora of prospects cannot be completely ruled out. Atlanta added a veteran arm to their starting rotation in Cole Hamels after the departure of Dallas Keuchel and will enjoy another year of a rotation with young and upcoming starters.
Overall 2020 Record: NL East Champs at 99-63
Only one time in Marlins history have they lost more games than in 2019. CEO Derek Jeter was not impressed with his club last year. The Marlins’ January and February transaction list reads like a club that doesn’t seem to care. Not a single trade or signing that would considerably bolster the gasping for life offense or sub-par pitching staff. Young rookies Isan Diaz and Lewis Brinson bring some hope to Miami but only if these guys can find a way to hit Major League pitching. The acquisition of Matt Joyce and Corey Dickerson bolster their bench and outfield but it does not have Miami fans leaping for joy. Fans would be hard-pressed to find someone willing to take the Marlins out of the cellar of the NL East.
Overall 2020 Record: fifth Place at 62-100
New York Mets
Finishing third in the NL East in 2019, the Mets look to improve on their 86-win mark. Bringing back aces like Jacob DeGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz give the Mets the second-best rotation only behind the Nationals. Low scoring games will be a theme this year for New York, which is about the only way they can expect to win. Their line-up leaves a whole lot to be desired with only two starters projected to drive in more than 90 runs. Power is another sore spot for this lineup but expect Pete Alonso and Michael Conforto to do their part. The Mets are the wildcard in the East as they shouldn’t finish more than a third or fourth place again in 2020. The firepower just isn’t enough to keep up with Atlanta and Washington. They sure will be fun to watch pitch, though.
Overall 2020 Record: third Place at 81-81
The Phillies had a disappointing 2019 finishing right at .500 for the year. Philadelphia was a projected NL East winner at the beginning of last year, but seriously flopped by the All-Star break. The lineup for 2020 posts at least one big upgrade with the addition of shortstop Didi Gregorius. Andrew McCutchen needs to slap the ball around Citizens Bank Park to create scoring opportunities. If a good year is added in for Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto and Rhys Hoskins there is great potential for a powerful dynamic to be forged in Philly. The strength of the starting rotation, on paper, seems to be promising. The Phillies need a good 13-14 win season from their top three starters in Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler and Jake Arrieta to stay competitive. The bullpen will blow its fair share of games and most likely be a contention point at mid-season. If the cards all fall right, Philly could find themselves in a playoff race. More likely, they finish well down in the East.
Overall 2020 Record: fourth Place at 70-92
The title defense begins now. Heading into 2020 with repeat on the mind, Washington brings back key pieces in Trea Turner and Juan Soto hoping for all out MVP years from both. The entire line up is daunting and shows no real weakness from top to bottom. The lineup is susceptible to strikeouts with four of the projected starters having 100 plus K’s, but this is not a big issue for teams that can generate runs like the Nationals. The pitching is deep and scary. A rotation that contains Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez will dominate opponents and easily drive the engine towards a playoff run. Overall, the Nationals have weak points, but very few. The race between Atlanta and Washington for the NL East crown will come down to the wire.
Overall 2020 Record: second Place at 97-65
The NL East race will be a tight one with the Braves, Nationals and maybe the Phillies shooting for the title. The expectation is the race will come down to the final week of the season with one team being crowned king and the other fighting for life in the one-game wildcard playoff. The NL East should be the most competitive league in the NL and will definitely be fun to watch!