National League East Preview and Predictions – 2021 MLB Season
National League East preview incoming! Pitchers and catchers are set to report to their spring training facilities soon, and that means baseball season is a few months away. Throughout the next few weeks, I (or we) will be previewing the divisions one by one. Starting with the National League East.
Before I get into the preview, I just wanted to say a few things first. First of all, thank you to Andrew McGuinness for helping me write this, he is a great writer and you can read his other posts here.
Secondly, this site is trying to get to the next level to have the best content possible, buy a shirt, support the company so we can bring this site to the next level.
Okay into the National League East preview!
New York Mets
This Mets team is unlike any other Mets team of the past. They have been linked to almost every single free agent and big named superstar on the trading block. That is because there is a new owner, Steve Cohen. The former hedge fund guy is a billionaire, and the richest owner in all of baseball.
They have made the biggest move of the off-season thus far, trading for Franciso Lindor. In that deal they also got Carlos Carrasco to add to their already stacked rotation. They did trade away Steven Matz, but their rotation is better than ever with Marcus Stroman and Noah Syndergaard both returning.
They got a catcher with James McCann who they signed to a four-year deal this off-season. They are looking for a third baseman, but in the meantime, JD Davis has proven he can be a solid bat in that lineup.
I don’t expect the acquisitions to be over for the Mets, but even looking at this team now, I see them getting close to 100 wins. In this National League East preview, the Mets win the division.
The Nationals won the 2019 World Series right after letting Bryce Harper go to a division rival. The team has been led by Max Scherzer and Steven Strasburg on the bump, and this year they signed veteran Jon Lester to give them a solid number 3 starter.
After Wilson Ramos left town a few years back, they haven’t had the best success at catcher, so this season they signed Alex Avilla to help Yan Gomes. They brought back Ryan Zimmerman who had been getting starts at first base, but they traded for Josh Bell and now have a solid switch hitting first baseman who can hit for power in the middle of the lineup.
Their outfield is very solid all around, they brought in Kyle Schwarber to secure left field, and they of course have Juan Soto in right field who is one of the most electric young players in baseball.
This team could win 90 games and still not win the division. Depending how the season shakes out I can see them trying to bring in another starter via trade to solidify their rotation.
The Atlanta Braves won the division in 2020, but I don’t expect them to come anywhere close to this finish this year. Their depth chart is thin, but they did bolster their pitching staff.
They brought in Charlie Morton, Drew Smyly and Josh Tomlin to make their staff more complete.
The Braves also re-signed Marcell Ozuna, the slugging center fielder will be a middle of the lineup bat to go with Freddie Freeman, Dansby Swanson and Ronald Acuna Jr.
I am curious to see what they do behind the plate, with d’Arnaud being the main catcher last year, they brought in Wilson Contreras. Two solid options behind the plate, so maybe be on the lookout for one of those guys to be traded.
I expect this team to sit around .500 all year with a loaded division this year.
Philadelphia Phillies – Written by Andrew McGuinness
2021 figures to be another year in baseball purgatory for the Phillies. The owners of the longest Postseason drought in the National League should be a bit better than last year’s ugly road to 28-32.
It’s not that the Phillies are a bad team, and new president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has done a solid job of patching their holes. But considering the remaining questions and recent September track record, their odds are long in the deep NL East. On offense, Philadelphia chose to “run it back,” retaining J.T. Realmuto (5 years, $115.5 million) and Didi Gregorius (2 years, $28 million). Realmuto is the best catcher in baseball and one of the team’s most consistent hitters.
Gregorius had a major bounce back in 2020 on a 1-year prove it deal, leading the club with 40 RBIs. Bringing those two back keeps the line-up stacked. Bryce Harper looked like an MVP candidate early in the season. Rhys Hoskins worked out of an early slump and should be back from off-season Tommy John on his non-throwing arm. Reigning NL ROY runner-up Alec Bohm only figures to get better.
The only question mark is in center field, but the Phillies should get enough production from some combination of Scott Kingery, Adam Haseley, and Roman Quinn. The Phillies also bring back last year’s strong 1-2-3 punch of Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, and Zach Eflin in the rotation. Wheeler was a beast in his first year in Philly, finishing fourth in pitching WAR (2.9) in the Majors.
Top prospect Spencer Howard got his feet wet in the show last season and he has the most upside of the team’s back of the rotation options. New-comers Chase Anderson (1 x $4) and Japanese import Matt Moore (1 x $3) will be competing for a starting role. Vince Velasquez is also in the mix, but he hasn’t posted an ERA below 4.9 since 2016 and struggles to go deep in games.
It might be his last chance to find a spot here. Of course, the team’s biggest weakness last year was a historically bad bullpen. Like worst ERA in ninety years bad. It will be hard for them to be worse in 2021, but can they be good enough? The jury’s still out. Archie Bradley, a bonafide actually good set-up man, is the biggest addition. Lefty Jose Alvarado has electric stuff and high-upside, though he posted an ugly 6.00 ERA last year. Personable lefty JoJo Romero (3.66 FIP) and flame-throwing righty Conor Brogdon (13.5 K/9) both showed some promise in 2020.
A successful pen isn’t a guarantee, but there’s at least a legitimate path towards assembling one. This year figures to be a pivotal one for Dombrowski and second-year manager Joe Girardi. The Phillies are fully locked in on key pieces like Harper, Realmuto, Nola, and Wheeler now. The club’s performance in 2021 will go a long way to showing if building a contender around them is possible with the players and assets the organization has assembled.
The Phillies are finally taking steps forward to improve their pitching and depth, but it may be too little, too late. Considering the success and potential of the rest of their division, the Phillies feel dangerously close to being stuck in limbo.
Although this team made the expanded playoffs last year, they haven’t done anything to really move them up a level. I think it was a fluke with the shortened season and participation trophy style playoffs.
They are a young team, and their future might be bright, but this year I see them sitting around 50 wins, maybe 60 if they get lucky.
TL//DR: National League East preview, Mets will win the division.