National League East 2015 Preview + fantasy sleepers
Washington: The Nationals have arguably the best starting 5 in Baseball this season. They have legit aces in Strasburg and Scherzer. They also have crafty Lefty Gio Gonzalez and J. Zimmerman as well as D. Fister. Their bullpen though could pose a problem as Drew Storen must prove he can be a real deal closer after taking over from Rafael Soriano late last season. Tyler Clippard has departed in a trade to Oakland and the Nationals will rely on former Toronto closer C. Janssen to set things up for Storen. At the plate the Nationals should have plenty of fire power, provided Bryce Harper stays healthy and they get solid years from Denard Span, Ian Desmond and R. Zimmerman, who now crosses over to First base. If all goes well and they can avoid a rash of injuries the National should win between 95 and 98 wins and win the division
NY. Mets: The Mets can be a big sleeper team this year. On paper they look like a team that can win 81 to 83 wins. However, they have several intangibles in their favor. First they have M. Harvey looking solid coming off Tommy John Surgery as he had an excellent spring allowing just 1 walk in 21 innings in Pre season games, with an Era close to 1. He will head up a solid rotation that even with the loss of Z. Wheeler should be solid. Lefty J. Niese should excel this year with a bit more run support. Rookie of the Year Jacob Degrom looks just as spectacular as he did last season. Veteran B. Colon had 15 wins last season and will be old reliable once again along with super steady D. Gee. Waiting in the wings is Rafael Montero who also looked solid in spring and will start off in the pen. Much like the Nationals the Mets may have a weakness in the Pen. Meija must prove he can be a full time closer and J. Familia must be successful as a set up man as Bobby Parnell gets back to full strength. They do have a solid long man in Carlos Torres. On offense they have a rejuvenated David Wright who spent the off season in the weight room. We can expect a return to power for Curtis Granderson as the fences are moved in and he should return to form off a sub par season. He will head up a solid defensive out field that has gold glover J. Lagares who appears ready to take the next step at the plate. At First Lucas Duda provides the pop and he may hit 30+ homers this year. The infield looks weak on defense with Murphy and Flores but both should hit well this year. Behind the plate Travis Darnuad is poised to have a break out year with the bat. But perhaps the biggest piece will be newly acquired M. Cuddyer who can hit to all fields. No matter how you look at it Mets Fans have reason to rejoice and their team has a legitamate shot at a wild card. Prediction 85-88 wins
Miami Marlins: The Marlins are off an exciting off season as they know they will have Super star Giancarlo Stanton long term after he inked one of the richest contracts in MLB History. The trick now is to surround him with enough talent to take them to the next level. Michael Morse, Ichiro Suzuki, Dee Gordon, Martin Prado, Dan Haren and Mat Latos all made the move to Miami this winter because of the apparent commitment to winning. Miami could even be legitimate contenders this year if a few extra things go their way, such as a big second-half performance from ace Jose Fernandez who should be back around June. They will need big years from Dan Haren and M. Latos as they are not strong in the starting pitching department. They have a decent bullpen and should be solid defensively all over the diamond. They will contend, but need over achieving seasons at several positions to really make noise. Prediction 81-83 wins.
Atlanta Braves: Gone are the Days of Bobby Cox and Chipper Jones. The once Beast of the east is now a shell of their former selves. The Braves went through a major makeover this off season that has left fans wondering what this team will look like come Opening Day. They will have a decent rotation with Teheran, A. Wood and Shelby Miller. Closer Kimbrel will be solid too. The down side is the loss of Evan Gattis and Justin Upton. Freddy Freeman will have to shoulder the load here as the Braves don't figure to have enough offensive punch. They will need Gold glove Shortstop Andrelton Simmons to really step it up at the plate and the same for 3rd baseman Chris Johnson who had a down year last year. Prediction 4th place
Philadelphia Phillies: Another long season is in store for a Phillies team that has won 73 games in each of the last 2 seasons. Jimmy Rollins is gone and the 2 high end starters in Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels wont be enough. The Bullpen will be decent as the Phils have flame throwing Ken Giles who may not be too far away from taking the closer job from Papelbon. Elder statesmen Chase Utley and Ryan Howard are back, but are a shell of their former selves. They have a weak outfield after unloading Marlon Byrd. The Phillies are old and seemingly in denial as they still have not cleared out some of the fading veterans. The Prediction is a long hot summer in the basement of the National League East.
Top 5 Fantasy Sleepers
1. Mookie Betts Boston Red Sox. Betts tore up spring training and will tattoo the green monster this season.
2. Kendall Graveman Oakland. Graveman had a solid spring and made the rotation beating out J. Chavez who was sent to the pen.
3. Wilmer Flores Mets. This will be his 3rd year and he appears poised to finally hit to his potential. The fences are in at Citi field and he should provide some pop.
4.Gregory Polanco Pittsburgh Pirates. Polanco is one of the top prospects in the majors. He was called up and started hot with the Pirates last year before tailing off late. Look for a big year from him.
5.Stephen Drew NY. Yankees. Drew was doomed last season after waiting for a contract. He rushed back and was injured and had a disaster of a season. This spring he was solid and regained his confidence. Look for a big return to form for a player know one is talking about.
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