The Atlanta Braves have won the NL East Division each of the past five seasons, and while they certainly will contend again with a terrific young team, the New York Mets are the slight +125 favorites on the MLB odds to win it for the first time since 2015 despite signing All-Star Carlos Correa and then losing him.
Experts’ Predictions for the National League East Division | MLB Lines
The Mets had quite the offseason. They lost two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom in free agency to the Texas Rangers but replaced him with three-time AL Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander, who heads to the NL for the first time in his Hall of Famer career. The deal reunites Verlander with fellow three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, who played alongside him from 2010-14 with Detroit.
At age 39, Verlander is coming off a year in which he produced a league-best 1.75 ERA over 28 starts for the Astros, leading the Majors with a 0.83 WHIP and a 220 league-adjusted ERA+ (which suggests he was more than twice as effective as an average pitcher).
Also new in the rotation this season will be veteran lefty Jose Quintana and Japanese right-hander Kodai Senga. Senga spent 11 seasons in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball organization, all for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks. Overall, the right-hander posted a 2.59 ERA and 1.12 WHIP over 1,089 innings, striking out 28% of the batters he faced, but also walking 9%. In 2022, he had a 1.89 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP over 148 innings for the Hawks. Quintana, an 11-year veteran who produced a 2.93 ERA over 32 starts for the Pirates and Cardinals last season. Quintana should slot fourth in the rotation behind Scherzer, Verlander and Senga.
All-Star closer Edwin Diaz and center fielder Brandon Nimmo re-signed but one big fish who got away was Correa. The All-Star shortstop and former AL Rookie of the Year originally signed with the Giants but they had concerns about his physical. The Mets quickly pounced … only to have questions about his physical as well. The Mets were reportedly also concerned with Correa’s right ankle, which was surgically repaired while he played in the Minor Leagues in 2014. So Correa ended up back in Minnesota.
The Braves went 101-61 last year after winning the World Series in 2021, becoming the 18th team in history to win triple digits in their title defense, and the fourth in the last 40 years. However, they lost to the Phillies in the NLDS. The Braves’ five straight playoff appearances mark the club’s longest streak since their 14-year run from 1991-2005. Their streak of five straight division titles is the longest in the majors.
Atlanta (+135) did lose All-Star shortstop Dansby Swanson in free agency. The former No. 1 overall pick shortstop batted second much of last season, when he drilled 25 homers and won a Gold Glove. The Braves let the $177 million man end up with the Cubs. Kenley Jansen and Adam Duvall left for Boston and William Contreras was traded to Milwaukee. The Braves did trade for A’s All-Star catcher Sean Murphy.
Atlanta also returns one of the best starting-pitcher quartets in the majors with Cy Young runner-up Max Fried, phenom fireballer Spencer Strider, 21-game winner Kyle Wright and 39-year-old Charlie Morton. If they can get good work from their No. 5, it should make this one of MLB’s super rotations. Mike Soroka and Ian Anderson likely will battle for that job.
The Phillies (+325), who lost in the 2022 World Series to Houston, won’t have two-time NL MVP Bryce Harper in the lineup until perhaps midseason following Tommy John surgery – pretty unlikely for a non-pitcher to have that. The elbow injury, which Harper initially suffered back in April, limited his throwing ability and forced him to play exclusively at designated hitter for the majority of the 2022 MLB season. Harper played a pivotal role in the Phillies’ run to the World Series. He went 18-for-43 with five home runs over the first three rounds of the 2022 MLB playoffs.
That lineup will be dynamite when Harper is healthy after the free-agent signing of All-Star shortstop Trea Young from the Dodgers. Since he became a full-time starter with the Nationals in 2018, he has 24.9 Wins Above Replacement. It is the seventh-best mark in the Major Leagues over that span, behind only Mookie Betts, Mike Trout, Aaron Judge, José Ramírez, Francisco Lindor and Alex Bregman. He is the only player in the Majors with more than 90 home runs and 140 stolen bases from 2018-22.
The Miami Marlins (+2500) have some terrific young pitching but still not enough hitting to contend in the division. They did land 2022 AL batting champion Luis Arraez this winter from Minnesota for pitcher Pablo Lopez. The 25-year-old Arraez had a breakout season for Minnesota last year, making his first All-Star team while batting a league-best .316 and denying Aaron Judge a Triple Crown.
Washington (+10000) is in complete rebuild mode and the team is for sale, although that has been complicated by the recent death of owner Ted Lerner.
NL East Expert Predicted Order Of Finish
Atlanta, New York, Philadelphia, Miami, Washington
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