A Look at the Phillies and the Competitive National League East Division

A Look at the Phillies and the Competitive National League East Division
As the Phillies open another season there is more optimism since 2011, the last time they made the playoffs.
 
After an 80-82 season, the Phillies appear poised to make a serious run at a postseason berth.

Here is a look at the Phillies and the rest of the National League East, among the most competitive divisions in baseball.
 
Philadelphia Phillies
Last year: 80-82 (third place).
Manager: Gabe Kapler (80-82).
Key returning veterans: P Aaron Nola (17-6, 2.37 ERA, 175 ERA+), RP Seranthony Dominquez (2.95 ERA, 149 ERA+, 74 K, 22 BB, 58 IP), P Jake Arrieta (10-11, 3.96), 1B Rhys Hoskins (.246, 34 HR, 96 RBI, .850 OPS), 2B Cesar Hernandez (.253, 15 HR, 60 RBI, 91 runs).
Key additions: OF Bryce Harper (133 OPS+, .249, 34 HR, 100 RBI with Washington), RP David Robertson (3.23 ERA, 91 K, 69 2/3 IP with NY Yankees), C J.T. Realmuto (131 OPS+, .277, 21 HR, 74 RBI with Miami), SS Jean Segura (.304, 10 HR, 63 RBI with Seattle), OF Andrew McCutchen (.255, 20 HR, 65 RBI with San Francisco, NY Yankees). 
Why they should win the division: With the addition of Harper, Seguara and Realmuto, the Phillies should have the best offense in the division and the pitching has more margin for error.
Why they should not win the division: The starting rotation, outside of Nola, remains a question mark.
 
Atlanta Braves
Last year: 90-72 (won division).
Manager: Brian Snitker (221-227).
Key returning players: 2B Ozzie Albies (.261, 24 HR, 72 RBI, 105 runs), LF Ronald Acuna (.293, 26 HR, 64 RBI, 144 OPS+), 1B Freddie Freeman (.309, 23 HR, 98 RBI, 140 OPS+), P Julio Tehran (9-9, 3.94).
Key additions: 3B Josh Donaldson (119 OPS+ in 187 at bats with Toronto/Cleveland) C Brian McCann (.212, 7 HR, 23 RBI, 189 AB with Houston),
Why they should win the division: The offense is dangerous and if healthy, Donaldson should make it even better.
Why they should not win the division: Injuries to starting pitchers Mike Foltznewicz, Kevin Gausman and Mike Soroka, deplete a starting rotation that wasn’t deep to begin with. If the starting pitching doesn’t come around, the Braves could struggle.
 
Washington Nationals
Last year: 82-80 (second place).
Manager: Dave Martinez (82-80).
Key returning players: P Max Scherzer (18-7, 2.53, 300 K, 220 2/3 IP), P Stephen Strasburg (10-7, 3.74), 3B Anthony Rendon (.308, 24 HR, 92 RBI), SS Trea Turner (.271, 19 HR, 73 RBI, 103 runs), OF Juan Soto (.292. 22 HR, 70 RBI).
Key additions: P Patrick Corbin (11-7, 3.15 with Arizona), RP Kyle Barraclough (60 K, 34 BB in 55 1/3 IP, 4.20 ERA with Miami), 2B Brian Dozier (.215, 21 HR, 72 RBI with Minnesota and LA Dodgers), C Yan Gomes (.266, 16 HR, 48 RBI with Cleveland).
Why they should win the division: The starting upper part of the rotation is strong and despite the loss of Bryce Harper, the offense should be formidable.
Why they should not win the division: Relief pitching remains a question, the back end of the rotation is questionable and Strasburg can’t be counted on to remain healthy an entire season.
 
New York Mets
Last year: 77-85 (fourth place).
Manager: Mickey Calloway (77-85).
Key returning players: P Jacob deGrom (10-9, 1.70, 216 ERA+), P Noah Syndergaard (13-4, 3.03), P Zack Wheeler (12-7, 3.31 ERA), OF Michael Conforto (.243, 28 HR, 82 RBI, 124 OPS+).
Key newcomers: RP Edwin Diaz (57 saves, 1.96 ERA with Seattle), 2B Robinson Cano (.303, 10 HR, 50 RBI in 80 games with Seattle), INF Jed Lowrie (.267, 23 HR, 99 RBI, .801 OPS with Oakland); C Wilson Ramos (.306, 15 HR, 70 RBI with Tampa Bay and the Phillies).
Why they should win the division: The pitching staff is deep, and the bullpen led by Diaz should be solid, while offseason additions have improved the offense.
Why they should not win the division: Injuries. The Mets haven’t proven they can stay healthy and preseason injuries to Lowrie and Ramos didn’t help matters.

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Miami Marlins

Last year: 63-98 (fifth place).
Manager: Don Mattingly (665-628; 4th season with Miami, 219-265).
Key returning players: 2B Starlin Castro (.278, 12 HR, 54 RBI); P Jose Urena (9-12, 3.98); CF Lewis Brinson (.199, 11 HR, 42 RBI)
Key newcomers: C Jorge Alfaro (.262, 10 HR, 37 RBI with the Phillies), 1B-2B Neil Walker (.219, 11 HR 46 RBI with NY Yankees); OF Curtis Granderson (.242, 13 HR, 38 RBI with Milwaukee and Toronto).
Why they should win the division: They won’t. This team is years away from contention.
Why they should not win the division: There is not the talent to even remotely keep up with the other four teams in the division.

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Author: Marc Narducci; Photo by Marc Narducci

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