By Matt Hetzler
NL East Predictions 2013
By Matt Hetzler
NL East Predictions 2013
#1 Washington Nationals
Stadium Capacity: 41,888
Manager: Davey Johnson
2012 Record: 98-64
Starting Pitching: It looks as if Stephen Strasburg will have no restrictions in the 2013 season. Strasburg is one of the best pitchers in the game, andhe is coming off a sensational 2012 campaign. Before being shut down towards the end of the season, Starsburg won 15 contests. Strasburg added 197 strikeouts and held a 3.16 ERA in only 159.1 innings of work. Strasburg is poised for a huge 2013 season, and it will no doubt, be fun to watch. Gio Gonzalez cast himself out from behind Strasburg's shadow in 2012. Gio won 21 games and finished with a 2.89 ERA, good enough for third in the Cy Young vote. Gio was dominate after coming over from Oakland. He ended up with 207 K's and a 1.13 WHIP. Gio has been surrounded by controversy in the offseason, showing up on some PED lists.Washington is full of solid pitching, after the top two you have Jordan Zimmerman. Zimmerman put himself together a great season in2012. Zimmer posted a 2.94 ERA to go along with 153 K's and a 12-8 record. He started 32 games and is a durable arm. Washington signed Dan Haren in the offseason and Haren will be the #4. Haren won 12 games with the Angels in 2012. He started 30 games and ate up 176.2 innings while striking out 142. Ross Detwiler should fill out the starting five. Detwiler started 27 games last season and won 10. His 3.40 ERA and 105 strikeouts are solid for a bottom of the rotation pitcher.
Relief Pitching: Washington inked Rafael Soriano in the offseason to become the closer. Soriano closed for the Yankees last season once Rivera went down with a knee injury. Soriano was clutch converting 42 saves out of 46 opportunities. Soriano posted a 2.26 ERA. Soriano as the closer allows Tyler Clippard to move back into the setup role. Clippard took over the closers role for Drew Storen last season. Clippard finished with 32 saves and a 3.72 ERA. Clippard added 84 strikeouts and will be one of the best set up men in the league. Drew Storen should be back and healthy for 2013. Storen who began the season on the DL in 2012, finished with a 3-1 record and a 2.37 ERA. Craig Stammen is another solid arm in the Nats' bullpen. Stammen went 6-1, posting a 2.34 ERA in 88.1 and struck out 87. Ryan Mattheus adds more depth to an already solid bullpen. He went 5-3 with a 2.85 ERA in 66.1 inning for Washington in 2012. Zach Duke who is a lefty will also provide solid work out of the bullpen.
Infield: Kurt Suzuki will be the starter at catcher to being 2013. Suzuki joined the Nationals mid season and produced big time. Suzuki was struggling in Oakland hitting just .218 but after the trade Suzuki hit .267 in 43 games for Washington. Wilson Ramos should see some starts behind Suzuki in 2013. Ryan Zimmerman is coming off another solid year. Zimmerman who plays third, hit .282 in 2012.He added 36 doubles, 25 homers, and 95 RBI. I wouldn't expect those numbers to change much going into the new year. Ian Desmond is the SS for the Nationals. He had a great year even with the injury. Desmond hit .292 with 25 homers and 73 RBI.Desmond has plenty of speed and stole 21 bases last season. If Desmond stays healthy he could be a key piece for a deep Nationals run. Danny Espinosa will start at second, he went for 17 homers last season and stole 20 bags. Adam LaRoche is coming back after a monster year in 2012. LaRoche hit 33 homers and drove in 100 RBI.
Outfield: In left field will be Bryce Harper. Harper who is coming off an NL Rookie of Year award at the age of 19, is poised for another big season. Harper has all the tools to become a future MVP. Harper hit .270, scored 98 runs, hit 22 homers, drove in 59 RBI, and stole 18 bases. Harper may be the real deal, it will be interesting to see if he avoids a sophomore slump. I like Harper all around, he is great with the glove and his offense speaks for itself. Washington made a move to get a center fielder, picking up Denard Span from Minnesota. Span hits for average and has some speed. Span added 38 doubles last season for the Twins. Jayson Werth will be in right field. Werth had a successful season coming back from an injury. In 81 games, Werth hit .300 and knocked in 31 RBI.
Outlook: I have the Nationals winning the NL East. Washington is rich with talent across the board. I can see them passing the 98 win mark from a year ago and get over 100+ wins. This team is built to be a winner for the next few seasons. The Braves will give them a good run, but in the end I think the Nationals take the East crown.
#2 Atlanta Braves
Stadium Capacity: 50,096
Manager: Fredi Gonzalez
2012 Record: 94-68
Starting Pitching: Tim Hudson should be the opening day starter for the Braves. Hudson is coming off of a solid 2012 campaign. Hudson won 16 games and ended with a 3.62 ERA. Kris Medlen will be in the starting rotation. Medlen was freakishly good last season. He made 12 starts for the Braves. In those 12 starts he posted 10 quality starts and a 0.97 ERA. Mike Minor will be behind Medlen in the rotation. Minor made the most starts of anyone coming back and had a good year in 2012. Minor won 11 games and carried a 4.10 ERA with 145 K's. Paul Maholm will look to continue to build on his good 2012 campaign. Atlanta acquired Malhom towards the deadline and he finished strong with the Braves. Brandon Beachy and Julio Teheran will battle it out for the final spot in the rotation.
Relief Pitching: Craig Kimbrel will be back as the closer for the Braves. Kimbrel is the best closer in the MLB. Kimbrel finished with a 1.01 ERA and 42 saves. Kimbrel stuck out 116 and only walked 14. Kimbrel is as close to a sure thing as there can be. The Braves also have lefty Jonny Venters, Venters went 5-4 in 2012 with a 3.22 ERA. Atlanta picked up Jordan Walden after trading Tommy Hanson to LA. Walden had a good year despite some setbacks. Walden should be a solid arm in the Braves pen. Eric O' Flaherty is another solid lefty out of the pen. O'Flaherty finished with a 3-0 record and a 1.73 ERA.
Infield: Brian McCann will be the field general behind the plate. McCann is solid defensively but last year he struggled at the plate. McCann hit just .230. but he did add 20 HR and 67 RBI. At third will be Chris Johnson, who was acquired from Arizona. Johnson will have the unfortunate job of replacing fan favorite Chipper Jones. Johnson played with Houston and Arizona last season, he finished with a .281 AVG, 15 HR and 76 RBI. Johnson could get some competition from Juan Francisco. Francisco has some power, but his average is not that great. Andrelton Simmons will play SS and he should be a good one. Simmons in only 49 games last season hit .289. Simmons is young and exciting. Dan Uggla is coming off a decent year. His power was there (19 HR) and RBI (79), but his average is still way down at .220. Freddie Freeman comes into 2013, fresh off of a great 2012 season. Freeman clubbed 23 homers and drove in 94 RBI. Freddie hit for .259 last season and that could improve in 2013.
Outfield: The Braves made headlines after the blockbuster deal with for Justin Upton. Justin comes over from Arizona and will play with his brother B.J. Justin has a ton of talent. His power fell off last season to 17 HR (down from 31 in 2011) and his average dropped 9 points. But Justin has a ton of upside and it feels like he has something to prove in Atlanta.I expect Justin to get back around the 30 HR mark. Justin's brother B.J. will man center field. B.J. signed with Atlanta and is coming for the Tampa Bay Rays. B.J. has great speed and should get over 30 steals. He has never hit much for average but he has power. He had 28 homeruns in 2012. He could easily be a 30/30 guy in Atlanta. In right field will be Jason Heyward. Heyward begins 2013 with a lot of hype. In 2012, Heyward hit .269 with 27 HR, 82 RBI, 93 R, and 21 SB. Heyward could be a MVP candidate this season. Heyward should continue to show his power and speed. I think 30/30 is a stretch, but it could happen.
#3 Philadelphia Phillies
Stadium Capacity: 43,647
Manager: Charlie Manuel
2012 Record: 81-81
Starting Pitching: Cole Hamels enters 2013, coming off on an excellent 2012 season. Hamels went 17-6 last season. He carried a 3.05 ERA in 215.1 innings of work. Hamels had 216 strikeouts to only 52 walks. Hamels is poised for another promising season as the ace for Philadelphia. Cliff Lee went 211 innings last season, but only found 6 wins in 30 starts. Lee had a respectable 3.16 ERA, but the offense never seemed to help Lee any. This is a promising 1-2 punch coming into 2013. It's hard to believe I am talking about Roy Halladay after those two pitchers. But Roy, has had better days. He just is not an elite pitcher anymore (11-8, 4.49 ERA, 156.1 IP) . Roy's success this season could carry the Phillies to a deep run if everyone remains healthy. Kyle Kendrick and John Lannan should fill out the starting five.
Relief Pitching: Jonathan Papelbon had a successful first season with the Phillies. Papelbon finished with 38 saves and a 2.44 ERA with 92 strikeouts. The Phillies picked up Mike Adams in free agency. Adams had another solid season for Texas. He complied a 3.27 ERA and a 5-3 record. Antoni Bastardo is a lefty out of the pen for Philly. Bastardo had 81 strikeouts in only 52 innings of work in 2012.
Infield: Carlos Ruiz will be behind the plate following his 25 game suspension. Ruiz had a solid season for Philadelphia in 2012. Ruiz hit .325 and had 16 HR and 68 RBI. Erik Kratz should get the bulk of the starts for Ruiz. Michael Young comes over from Texas to play 3B for Philly. Young had another good year in Texas, hitting .277 and driving in 67. Young is an upgrade over Polanco who moved on to Miami. Jimmy Rollins played 156 games last season, his most since 2007. With Rollins being healthy he hit .250 with 23 HR and stole 30 bases. Chase Utley will man second base, in only 83 games he hit .256 with 11 HR and 11 SB. Utley being healthy will be a key to the 2013 season. Ryan Howard who also was injured in 2012 is back. He played less games than Utley at 71. He struggled with his average at .211 but still had 14 HR and 56 RBI.
Outfield: Dominic Brown should get the starts in left field at the start of 2013. Brown appeared in 56 games for the Phillies last season. Ben Revere will be the starter in center field. Revere comes over from the Twins, where he was successful in 2012. Revere hit .294 and stole 40 bases. He replaces Juan Pierre who is now with Miami. Revere is all speed and if he can get on base, he is dangerous. It looks like Delmon Young should start in right field for Philly. Young played for Detroit last season, and he had a pretty solid year. Young hit .267 with 18 HR and 74 RBI with the Tigers.
Outlook: The Phillies are no longer the dominant team of the East. It will be tough for them to contend, especially if they can't stay healthy. If the old guys can stay healthy, they could make a wild card run. Philadelphia could win more than 81 games, but not much more than that. Solid third place team in Philly.
#4 New York Mets
Stadium Capacity: 45,000
Manager: Terry Collins
2012 Record: 74-88
Starting Pitching: Johan Santana will be the opening day starter for the Mets in 2013. The Mets shipped 2012 Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey off to Toronto. Johan had the Mets first no hitter in 2012, but won't bring much to the Mets rotation this year. Jon Niese is slated to be the #2 starter. The lefty had a solid 2012, posting 13 wins and a 3.40 ERA. Neise was durable last season, making 30 starts. Shawn Marcum signed a to a one-year deal. Marcum struggled with injury last season, limiting him to only 21 starts. He managed a 7-4 record and held a 3.40 ERA with 109 strikeouts. Dillon Gee should start the season in the Mets rotation. Gee made 17 starts last season winning 6 and had a 4.10 ERA. Matt Harvey, the young right hand pitcher, should fill the last slot in the rotation. Harvey is a solid talent. Harvey showed some of his stuff in 10 starts at the end of 2012. Harvey went 3-5 with a 2.73 ERA and had 70 strikeouts to only 26 walks. Harvey is going to be special for the Mets, expect him to win 10+ games this season.
Relief Pitching: Frank Francisco will be back as the closer at some point for the 2013 New York Mets. New York had a problem closing games out last season. Francisco had 23 saves in 26 opportunities. Francisco may not be ready to go on Opening Day, so Bobby Parnell will start as the closer. Parnell has great stuff, he added 7 saves last season. He finished with a 2.49 ERA in 68.2 innings worked. Young lefty Josh Edgin and righty Jeremy Hefner should see plenty of time in Mets bullpen this season.
Infield: John Buck will be the starting catcher for the Mets in 2013. Buck comes in from the trade with Toronto. Buck played for Miami last season, where he hit just .192. It will be interesting to see if top prospect Travis d'Arnaud gets some time behind the plate this season. At third base will be David Wright. Wright is the face of the Mets franchise. Wright had a solid year in 2012, hitting .306 with 21 HR, 93 RBI, 41 doubles, and stole 15 bases. Wright could easily reach 100 RBI this season, and add some home runs to his 2012 total. Up the middle will be SS Ruben Tejada and 2B Danial Murphy. Tajada is a young SS and hit .289 in 2012, look for him to continue to get better. Murphy hit .291 with 6 HR and 65 RBI, and added 10 steals. Ika Davis is coming off a 32 HR season, he added 90 RBI. He will play first and will look to improve the .227 AVG. from 2012.
Outfield: Lucas Duda will start in LF for the Mets. Duda was terrible in the field last season, but he shows some promise with his bat. Duda hit 15 homeruns in 2012, and should increase that total with regular playing time. Kirk Nieuwenhuis will play center, he is a young player who had a decent 2012 season. Mike Baxter will be in right field. Baxter had 179 AB last season, hitting .263. Jordany Valdespin will be the fourth outfielder off the bench. He is solid backup to any of the starting outfielders.
Outlook: The Mets on paper look pretty bad. They have a few young players that could be difference makers. Luckily for the Mets, they play Miami 19 times. I see a team that will struggle to improve on the 74-88 record from last season.
#5 Miami Marlins
Stadium Capacity: 37,000
Manager: Mike Redmond
2012 Record: 69-93
Starting pitching: Ricky Nolasco will be the #1 pitcher for the Marlins. Nolasco put together a decent season for the Marlins in 2012. He is by no means an "ace", but he will eat up innings. Henderson Alvarez comes in from Toronto. Alvarez had a good 2012 season, despite being in the AL East. He started 31 games, finishing with a 9-14 record. Jacob Turner will be in the rotation, Turner was acquired last season from Detroit. He started 7 games for the Marlins in 2012. Turner held a 1-4 record with a 3.38 ERA with Miami. Nate Eovaldi and Wade LeBlanc should round out the rotation.
Relief Pitching: Steve Cishek will come in as the closer from Miami. Cishek had 15 saves in 2012, and carried a 2.69 ERA in 68 games. Chisek could end up with 30+ saves this season for Miami. Mike Dunn and Ryan Webb should be decent options out of the bullpen. Dan Jennings is a young left handed pitcher, who could do some good things for Miami in 2013.
Infield: Rob Brantly will be behind the plate for Miami to start 2013. Brantly showed promise in 31 games in 2012. Brantly hit .290, and added 3 homers. At third base will be the veteran, Placido Polanco. Polanco played in Philadelphia last season, in 90 games he hit .257. At shortstop will be Adeiny Hechavarria, who was acquired in the big trade with Toronto. He is great with the glove, but struggles with the bat. Donovan Solano is the starter at second coming into 2013. Solano hit .295 in 93 games last year for Miami. Logan Morrison will start the season at first base. Morrison struggled last season, and finished with a .230 AVG. He posses the power to be a 20+ HR talent, but will need his average to rise first.
Outfield: Veteran Juan Pierre comes in as the starting left fielder. Pierre, spent his 2012 season in Philadelphia. Pierre brings speed and a solid batting average to the Marlins. Justin Ruggiano came out of nowhere last season and put together a great year. Ruggiano hit.313 in 91 games, adding 23 doubles, 13 homeruns, and 14 steals. In right field is Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton had a monster year in 2012. Stanton had 37 HR and 86 RBI, while batting .290 in only 123 games. Stanton is the real deal and should eclipse the 40 HR and 100 RBI mark this season.
Outlook: Miami is by far the worst team in the NL East. Just one year ago, Miami was considered to be contenders for an East title and more. All of the top talent is gone, with the exception of Stanton. The pitching is not good at all. I see nothing on paper that would make me believe Miami, will finish anywhere but last.