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Jason Douglas Lewis - MLB Preseason Outlook: NL East

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MLB Preseason Outlook: NL East

In the NL East, it’s easy to figure out who is on top and who is on bottom.  But the middle is up for grabs, and this division can produce multiple playoff teams. Photo: Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports

Originally published by FOX Sports http://www.foxsports.com/mlb/photos/mlb-preseason-outlook-nl-east-012815

By Jason Lewis
FOX Sports Digital Content Producer (2014- present)

 

Atlanta Braves




The Braves will not outright say it, but they are not looking to contend this year, and they are clearly looking to compete in the future, most likely when they open their new stadium in 2017.  They blew up their roster, trading away some of their best players who were going to demand big-money contracts.  This season they are returning only 16 players from their 2014 40-man Opening Day roster, and only seven of 22 pitchers.  It’s going to be a long year for the Braves, but on the bright side, the future looks great with the prospects that they were able to obtain.  They have done a really good job in the initial stages of their rebuilding process.  Photo: Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports

 

Miami Marlins



The Marlins are shaping up to be a really good team, and they are considered an offseason winner.  Extending Giancarlo Stanton shows that this organization wants to compete at the highest level over the long haul.  They have one of the best outfields in baseball, they revamped their infield through trades and free agent signings, and they added a veteran presence to go along with their young and talented core.  Their offense will be explosive with Stanton’s power to go along with Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozone’s bats.  With the speed that Dee Gordon will bring to the base path, the Marlins’ power hitters should see a lot of fastballs.  Their pitching staff is young and talented with Jose Fernandez and Henderson Alvarez, but this unit will have to step up for the Marlins to continue to improve.  Photo: Lynne Sladky/AP

 

New York Mets



From top to bottom, the Mets are pretty solid, with the only glaring hole at shortstop.  They have an incredible amount of young talent in their starting rotation, with All-Star Matt Harvey returning from Tommy John surgery, and Jacob deGrom winning last year’s Rookie of the Year award.  It looks like they have finally fixed their long-time bullpen issues.  Moving the Citi Field fences in should help jump start the Mets’ offense, especially for Curtis Granderson, and Travis d’Arnaud and Lucas Duda are young players ready to explode.  Add in All-Star Daniel Murphy, a healthy David Wright and with the addition of Michael Cuddyer, this ball club looks really nice. Photo: Cary Edmondson/USA TODAY Sports


Philadelphia Phillies



Like the Braves, the Phillies are pretty much taking the season off.  But unlike the Braves, the Phillies were not able to break up their roster, which could make for some very awkward moments.  They have made efforts to trade Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard, and Jonathan Papelbon, but all three remain on the team.  If the Phillies are stuck with those three players, pitchers Hamels and Papelbon will come in handy this year, as they both are still performing at a high level.  If Cliff Lee is healthy, and Ken Giles continues to progress out of the bullpen, the Phillies could have a good pitching staff.  But where will the offense come from?  They have a mixed bag of older players who cannot perform as well as their glorious past and young players who are still unproven. Photo: Rich Schultz/Getty Images



Washington Nationals



It’s good to be them!  They can either keep together a ‘super rotation’ that features pitchers Max Scherzer, Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, and Doug Fister.  Or they can makes some trades, and keep Gio Gonzalez or Tanner Roark in the starting rotation.  If they do not make any trades, Gonzalez and Roark, who could start on a number of MLB teams, would go to the bullpen.  They also have to figure out if they are going to keep or trade Ian Desmond, as the MVP-caliber player is looking for a mega contract.  The Nats biggest problem is how they are going to pay so many talented players, which is a good problem to have.  They also have offensive fire power throughout their lineup with Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, Anthony Rendon, and Denard Span. Photo: David Tulis/AP



Who will win the NL East?



Well that’s pretty obvious.  The Nationals are not just the favorites, it would be very surprising if they did not repeat as division champions.  Their biggest competitor will be the injury bug.  They are gearing up for a World Series run, and winning the division is just the first step in the process.  The Marlins and Mets are battling for second place, and a potential Wild Card spot.  Both teams look like they can be playoff contenders, and should take a step in the right direction this season.  As for the Phillies and Braves, they will be at the bottom of the division, as they are clearly in the initial stages of a rebuilding process. Photo: Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

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