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MLB’s 2020 Shortened Season, Shorter Preview: The NL East

In a shortened MLB season, who has the best odds at taking the NL East? The Marlins? The Phillies? The Braves? The Mets? Can the Nationals repeat as champs?

4TH by Cathy T is licensed under CC 2.0

MLB’s 2020 Shortened Season, Shorter Preview: The NL East

Estimated Reading Time: 5 Minutes

The 60 game MLB Season is upon us, and what better way to begin a shortened season than with some truncated analysis and team previews. So we’ve taken the best bits from our “30 in 30” Preview series and put them all in one, easily accessible place.

So let’s dive into the National League East!

Atlanta Braves – Joe Danbusky

The NL East is shaping up to yet again be one of the most competitive in MLB. It will be interesting to see how the post-Donaldson team comes together over the course of the season. This is a club that is loaded with talent so anything’s possible. As a Mets fan, it’ll be stressful, exciting, and entertaining to watch this division shake out.

I really do think it’s a coin toss that could land 4 of the 5 teams in the division on top this season. I just don’t think it will be Atlanta unless they get some consistent, solid play. That also means they’ll need to make a few moves during the season to address any needs that may arise. I had put them at 90-72 for the year, but your guess is as good as mine as far as what that means in a shortened season.

Philadelphia Phillies – Violet Jones

Playing in the NL East this season should be interesting.

The division as a whole looks remarkably the same. Atlanta beefed up their pitching, but lost their all-star 3B Josh Donaldson to Minnesota. The Nationals won the World Series, but lost Anthony Rendon to the Angels. The Mets stayed fairly quiet but still managed to get sucked into the sign-stealing scandal

With all of that uncertainty, it isn’t outside the realm of possibility to think that the Phillies have a legit shot at contention in 2020. However, even if this lineup hits to expectation, there are still some significant question marks all around the diamond. Is Scott Kingery a viable 3B or is he just keeping Alec Bohm’s seat warm? Who is going to play CF? Right now Adam Haseley is penciled in, but can he be counted on for the whole season? With no significant additions to the bullpen, is hoping for bounce-backs from injuries a good enough plan?

The Phillies season is going to be decided by one factor, in my opinion. Can this team go on a run? Last season the team was so frustrating because it seemed like they were never able to string together any significant number of quality games from all units. If this Phillies team is going to have any luck in the division this season, they’ve gotta get hot for a little bit and bank some wins for the dog days of summer.

(They also need to do better than the 5-7 record they managed against the lowly Marlins in 2019.)

Miami MarlinsJustin Colombo

As the Marlins wait for their farm to grow prosperous, they will not be good for a while. Even then it’s uncertain if they’ll truly be able to compete with teams who are willing to spend rather than grow. However, in the meantime, Miami can do something even more important: play spoiler. After finishing 2019 with a 57-105 record, there really is nowhere to go but up. As they battle to make that climb, will they break the hearts of division rivals along the way?

New York Mets – Joe Danbusky

Despite the exhilaration and agony throughout 2019, the Mets did manage to finish with a winning record. It was their first time in three years. Their second half was historic. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, they were only the 4th team in MLB history with a second-half record at least 20 games over .500 after entering the All-Star Break 10 or more games under .500. They added Marcus Stroman mid-season in 2019 – will he continue to improve in 2020? They’ve made several moves to try and bolster the bullpen (Brad BrachDellin Betances), and they’ve got new energy from Luis Rojas, who will steer the ship as the manager for 2020. What will it mean for the season ahead? Will it be more of the same for us Mets fans:

Only time can tell, but at least we’ll get to see some of our old friend, Yoenis Cespedes!

Washington Nationals – Justin Colombo

The 2019 Washington Nationals were an expertly crafted baseball team in that they had solid players who stepped up big time, but weren’t without their faults. Fielding an elite baseball team that wins it all isn’t as much fun as a team that feels like an underdog the entire time. That was the Nationals last season.

This season, with the majority of their pitching staff returning, they could dominate the rest of the NL East. They could have, that is, if they kept some of their fire power at the plate.

With the departure of Anthony Rendon and the opting out of Ryan Zimmerman, the Nationals are now going to have to depend on some guys who aren’t necessarily power-hitting pieces, with the exception of Juan Soto. This team just isn’t the same one that won a ring last year. But in a shortened season, anything can happen.

Compiled by Joe Danbusky, Justin Colombo and Kevin Michael Morin.

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