They’ve won their division 5 straight seasons. With that pitching staff, I don’t see anything changing.
Next to the Red Sox, the Braves suffered the biggest collapse in baseball last year by losing their lead in the Wild Card standings to the Cardinals. This year, I think they’ll lock up one of the Wild Card spots and hold onto it.
The most surprising team this off-season was the Miami Marlins. Big signings such as Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle should move this team up in their division.
Honestly, I think the 3rd spot in this division is a toss-up between the Marlins and Nationals. Washington acquired Gio Gonzalez this off-season to help add depth to their pitching rotation, and they have Stephen Strasburg back and healthy to start the season. I would also expect a bounce-back season from Jayson Werth.
Not much has gone right for the Mets in recent years. They have been lacking pitching lately, but now they are lacking offense. They traded away Carlos Beltran last year, and they lost Jose Reyes to the Marlins this off-season.
Yes, I know they lost Pujols, but this team is still loaded with talent. They have Adam Wainwright back to start the season (who was arguably the best pitcher in baseball when he got hurt last spring), and they signed Carlos Beltran this past winter to add to their offense. It’ll be a close race between the Cardinals and Brewers, but in the end I think St. Louis prevails for the division crown.
Like the Cardinals, they lost a huge piece of their offense in Prince Fielder this off-season. In his place, they signed Aramis Ramirez to try and get back some of the offense that they lost. If they are going to make a run at winning the division again this year, they need their pitching to stay strong and healthy the entire season. I feel like they have the offense to get it done, but how will their pitching compare to the Cardinals’? With that said, I think the team that finishes second in this division will get one of the two Wild Card spots.
They just inked Joey Votto to a huge, multi-year deal. So they have that going for them. Their offense is decent, and they play in a definite hitter’s park. Their pitching, however, is what will hold them back in the division. The addition of Matt Latos will help, but it’s not enough.
They had a great first half to the season last year, but then reality sunk back in for the Pirates. They have some good players on their roster, led by Andrew McCutchen, but I still don’t think they will finish over .500 this season.
The Cubs are in the re-building phase right now. They traded away Carlos Zambrano and Sean Marshall this off-season, among others, and they lost Aramis Ramirez to free agency. This year is going to be a year for guys like Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney to grow into better players and gain more experience at the Major League level.
There’s not a whole lot going on down in Houston. It’ll be a year full of bringing up minor league players to try and get them some MLB experience, much like the Cubs.
If Ian Kennedy can have another strong season on the mound for these guys, and if Trevor Cahill can have a good season, I think they have a really good shot as repeating as division champions. I am predicting that Justin Upton hits over 40 home runs this year.
Pitching is the biggest question mark for the Rockies this season. Every year we say that Colorado has a shot at winning the division, but their pitching always lets us down. If they can get quality innings out of 4 of their 5 starters throughout the entirety of the season, they will challenge the D-Backs for the division championship.
Unlike the Rockies, pitching is not what the Giants are concerned about. It’s their offense. They brought in Carlos Beltran at the trade deadline last year to try and produce more runs down the final stretch of the season, but that didn’t work. They will be getting Buster Posey back to start the season, which is definitely a positive, but they just don’t have a comparable offense to either Arizona or Colorado.
This could be my most underrated team in the National League. They have the reigning Cy Young winner, and the MVP runner-up. For whatever reason, the Dodgers just haven’t been able to play up to their potential the past few years. If Chad Billingsley can find a way to get back to his 2008 form, and if Aaron Harang can provide some quality innings and get 10 wins this year, we could be talking about the Dodgers possibly winning this division come late September.
There are too many question marks surrounding the Padres this year. In recent years, they have been able to put together a couple strong seasons seemingly out of the blue. I don’t see that happening this year, however.