ESNY’s 2022 National League East Preview and Predictions

How do the Mets stack up against the rest of their loaded division?

The MLB’s April 7 Opening Day is now less than one week away. The New York Mets, for better or worse, are a part of what should be a much-improved NL East.

Specifically, the reigning World Series champions paired with two significantly improved possible playoff teams. Add in a slowly improving Miami Marlins team and a Washington Nationals team that should be improved as well. It’s a recipe for a very strong division.

So, how may the division pan out? Well, let’s see how what the oddsmakers think:

  • NL East Winner Odds:
    • Mets – +140
    • Braves – +150
    • Phillies – +400
    • Marlins – +1400
    • Nationals – +4000
  • NL East Team Win Totals:
    • Braves – 90.5
    • Mets – 90.5
    • Phillies – 85.5
    • Marlins – 76.5
    • Nationals – 71.5

With these in mind, let’s take an in-depth look at each team. Specifically, how their respective offseason went, how the opening rosters project, and how they may fair this season.

mets brewers
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

New York Mets

Additions and Subtractions:

Additions (ZiPS Projected WAR)

Subtractions (Fangraph’s WAR last season)
Max Scherzer (4.4) Marcus Stroman (3.4)
Starling Marte (2.5) Jonathan Villar (2.1)
Eduardo Escobar (2.5) Javier Baez (1.7)
Chris Bassitt (2.4) Aaron Loup (1.5)
Mark Canha (2.1) Michael Conforto (0.8)
Robinson Cano (0.5) Kevin Pillar (0.7)
Adam Ottavino (0.5) Brad Hand (0.2)
Chasen Shreve (-0.1) Robert Gsellman (0.2)
Noah Syndergaard (0.0)
Jeurys Familia (0.0)
  • Total (Fangraph WAR)
    • Additions: 14.8
    • Subtractions: 10.6
    • Difference: +4.2

Projected Roster:

Projected Hitters:

Lineup:

Bench:
1. Brandon Nimmo (CF) Robinson Cano (2B/DH)
2. Starling Marte (RF) J.D. Davis (3B)
3. Francisco Lindor (SS) Luis Guillorme (INF)
4. Pete Alonso (1B) Travis Jankowski (OF)
5. Eduardo Escobar (3B) Tomas Nido (C)
6. Dominic Smith (DH)
7. Mark Canha (LF)
8. Jeff McNeil (2B)
9. James McCann (C)

Projected Pitching Staff:

Rotation:

Bullpen:

1. Jacob deGrom CP: Edwin Diaz
2. Max Scherzer  SU: Trevor May
3. Chris Bassitt SU: Adam Ottavino
4. Carlos Carrasco RP: Miguel Castro
5. Taijuan Walker RP: Seth Lugo
RP: Drew Smith
RP: Chasen Shreve

Analysis:

The New York Mets were one of the busier teams in the MLB this offseason. They spent the fourth-most total money and now have the second-highest payroll in the league. In doing so, they addressed an area they struggled with so dearly last year: hitting.

They brought in the likes of Starling Marte, Mark Canha, and Eduardo Escobar. Each of which should provide a nice boost to the team’s 20th ranked batting average and 27th ranked runs per game average form last season.

In what was arguably the biggest move of the offseason, New York brought in future hall of fame pitcher Max Scherzer. He gives the Mets’ the best one-two punch in the league. With the trade acquisition of Chris Bassitt, the Mets have an extremely strong one-two-three.

Lastly, bounce back seasons for Taijuan Walker (4.60 xERA) and Carlos Carrasco (4.69 xERA) can possibly spell the difference between playoffs and no playoffs.

The bullpen enters the season as strong as its been in a while. The additions of New York native Adam Ottavino and Chasen Shreve have the shot to each be extremely valuable signings.

Edwin Diaz’s luck (3.45 ERA versus 2.62 xERA) should get better and Miguel Castro and Trevor May are each coming off strong seasons.

Keys to the Season:

  • McNeil, Smith, Davis all return to a similar player they were pre-2021.
  • Bounce back seasons for Carrasco and Walker.
  • Health – the Mets had the second-most games missed by players due to injury last season.
Matt Olson
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Braves

Additions and Subtractions:

Additions (ZiPS Projected WAR)

Subtractions (Fangraph’s WAR last season)
Matt Olson (4.8) Freddie Freeman (4.5)
Manny Pina (1.0) Jesse Chavez (0.9)
Kenley Jansen (0.8) Jorge Soler (0.9)
Colin McHugh (0.8) Chris Martin (0.5)
Brock Holt (0.4) Joc Pederson (0.4)
Alex Dickerson (0.4) Ehire Adrianza (0.2)
Tyler Thornburg (0.0) Drew Smyly (0.1)
Josh Tomlin (0.0)
Richard Rodriguez (-0.5)
  • Total (Fangraph WAR)
    • Additions: 8.2
    • Subtractions: 7.0
    • Difference: +1.2

Projected Roster:

Projected Hitters:

Lineup

Bench
1. Eddie Rosario (RF) Guillermo Heredia (OF)
2. Ozzie Albies (2B) Brock Holt (INF)
3. Matt Olson (1B) Orlanda Arcia (UTIL)
4. Austin Riley (3B) Manny Pina (C)
5. Marcell Ozuna (LF)
6. Alex Dickerson (DH)
7. Adam Duvall (CF)
8. Travis d’Arnuad (C)
9. Dansby Swanson (SS)

Projected Pitching Staff:

Rotation

Bullpen
1. Max Fried CP: Kenley Jansen
2. Charlie Morton SU: Will Smith
3. Ian Anderson SU: Tyler Matzek
4. Huascar Ynoa  RP: Collin McHugh
5. Kyle Wright RP: Luke Jackson
RP: Darren O’Day
RP: Tyler Thornburg
LR: Tucker Davidson

Analysis:

The defending World Series champions had themselves an offseason full of scrutiny. However, as has been the case recently, it appears somehow the Braves came out better for it. They lost franchise cornerstone Freddie Freeman to the Los Angeles Dodgers but instantly replaced him with two-time Gold Glove winner Matt Olson who slugged 39 home runs last season.

Add in the return of Ronald Acuña sometime in the beginning of the season, as well as the retention of Adam Duvall and Eddie Rosario, the Braves’ lineup should still be strong.

The rotation is led by Max Fried (3.04 ERA) and Charlie Morton (3.32 xERA), each of which had extremely strong 2021 seasons. Ian Anderson bursted onto the scene but may be due for some slight regression (4.32 xERA versus 3.58 ERA). Also, Huascar Ynoa had both an ERA and an xERA in the 4.00-range last season.

Each are still very young and Braves’ fans surely hope for some further development from each. The last rotation spot will be held down until Mike Soroka, who is battling back from an achilles injury, gets healthy.

The bullpen, along with the lineup, is Atlanta’s biggest strength. The additions of former Dodger Kenley Jansen (350 career saves) and the terrific signing of Collin McHugh (1.55 ERA) should bolster a group that was solid to begin with.

Keys to the Season:

  • Acuña and Soroka recovery.
  • Young starters’ development and progression.
  • Can the bats sustain after several career-years last season?
    • Examples: Adam Duvall, Austin Riley, etc.
Bryce Harper
Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Phillies

Additions and Subtractions:

Additions (ZiPS Projected WAR)

Subtractions (Fangraph’s WAR last season)

Kyle Schwarber (3.1) Andrew McCutchen (1.2)
Nick Castellanos (2.6) Brad Miller (1.0)
Corey Knebel (0.5) Hector Neris (0.5)
Johan Camargo (0.5) Travis Jankowski (0.4)
Brad Hand (0.2) Archie Bradley (0.2)
Jeurys Familia (0.0) Vince Velasquez (0.0)
Ian Kennedy (-0.4)
Matt Moore (-0.4)
Andrew Knapp (-1.1)
  • Total (Fangraph WAR)
    • Additions: 6.9
    • Subtractions: 1.4
    • Difference: +5.5

Projected Roster:

Projected Hitters:

Lineup Bench
1. Kyle Schwarber (DH) Garrett Stubbs (C)
2. J.T. Realmuto (C) Johan Camargo (INF/OF)
3. Bryce Harper (RF) Alec Bohm (3B)
4. Nick Castellanos (LF) Nick Maton (UTIL)
5. Rhys Hoskins (1B)
6. Jean Segura (2B)
7. Didi Gregorius (SS)
8. Bryson Stott (3B)
9. Matt Vierling (CF)

Projected Pitching Staff:

Rotation Bullpen
1. Zack Wheeler CP: Corey Knebel
2. Aaron Nola SU: Jose Alverado
3. Ranger Suarez SU: Jeurys Familia
4. Kyle Gibson RP: Brad Hand
5. Zach Eflin RP: Conor Brogdon
RP: Seranthony Domínguez
RP: Samuel Coonrod
RP: Bailey Falter

Analysis:

Comparing the Phillies’ roster pre-lockout and post-lockout are two totally different pictures. After the roster freeze ended, when a deal was reached, they added two possible 30-plus home run bats in Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos. With these additions their lineup now boasts one of the strongest one-through-six hitter groups in the league. Four of which are very capable of hitting 30-plus home runs and one of these four just won a MVP in Bryce Harper.

Add in the possible reinforcement of the number 45 prospect in the MLB, Bryson Stott (9-for-18 in spring training), and a lot of runs should be scored by this group this season.

The Phillies’ rotation is relatively untouched from last season. All star Zach Wheeler is dealing with a shoulder issue but should prove to be a terrific top of the rotation arm once again, if healthy. Aaron Nola is a prime bounce back candidate who had some severe bad luck last season (4.63 ERA versus 3.35 xERA). However, he has struggled mightily in spring (9.0 IP, 10 H, 8 ER), for whatever that is worth.

Ranger Suarez is an extremely intriguing case. He was stretched out and pitched extremely well last season (1.36 ERA). Can this be sustained? Probably not, but even if he is a low-to-mid 3.00 ERA pitcher the Phillies should be in good shape.

Kyle Gibson is slated to be the number four but struggled pretty heavily down the stretch (2.29 first half ERA compared to 5.51 second half ERA). So much so, it may have indicated the first half of 2021 may have been more of an outlier and the 2020 season (5.35 ERA) is a better representation of his play. Lastly, Zach Eflin is expected back and should be an okay number five starter.

The bullpen, like it was last year per the group’s sixth-worst ERA in the league, may be another question mark. Post-lockout the Phillies added former Mets’ Brad Hand (4.66 xERA) and Jeurys Familia (3.94 ERA), to pair with an extremely valuable pickup in Corey Knebel (2.46 ERA) pre-lockout. Along with those new arrivals, Connor Brogdon (2.92 xERA) returns and a full season of Seranthony Domínguez should help immensely.

It remains to be seen how improved the bullpen actually will be, given the loss of Héctor Neris (2.97 xERA) and possible volatility thanks to control issues with José Alvarado and Familia. 

Keys to the Season:

  • Defense – Phillies had negative-54 defensive runs saved last season. None of the moves they made improved this area and may have possible worsened them.
  • 25-plus home runs for at least three of Rhys Hoskins, J.T. Realmuto, Harper, Schwarber, or Castelllanos.
  • How much does Ranger Suarez regress? Can Kyle Gibson return to his 2021 performance with the Rangers?
  • Was the bullpen addressed enough?
Jorge Soler
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Marlins

Additions and Subtractions:

Additions (ZiPs Projected WAR)

Subtractions (Fangraph’s WAR last season)

Jacob Stallings (2.6) Jorge Alfaro (0.6)
Jorge Soler (1.9) Zach Thompson (0.0)
Joey Wendle (1.8) Magneuris Sierra (-0.2)
Avisail Garcia (1.3) Lewis Brinson (-0.2)
Sandy Leon (-0.6)
  • Total (Fangraph WAR)
    • Additions: 7.6
    • Subtractions: -0.4
    • Difference: +8.0

Projected Roster:

Projected Batters:

Lineup

Bench

1. Jazz Chisholm Jr. (2B) Payton Henry (C)
2. Jorge Soler (RF) Joey Wendle (INF)
3. Garrett Cooper (DH) Bryan De La Cruz (OF)
4. Avisail Garcia (CF) Jon Berti (UTIL)
5. Jesus Sanchez (LF)
6. Jesus Aguilar (1B)
7. Brian Anderson (3B)
8. Jacob Stallings (C)
9. Miguel Rojas (SS)

Projected Pitching Staff:

Rotation

Bullpen

1. Sandy Alcantara CP: Dylan Floro
2. Pablo Lopez SU: Anthony Bender
3. Trevor Rogers SU: Anthony Bass
4. Elieser Hernandez RP: Richard Bleier
5. Jesus Luzardo RP: Steven Okert
RP: Zach Pop
RP: Cody Poteet
RP: Louis Head

Analysis:

Like the rest of the division, the Marlins also made some solid improvements. Still a team viewed in a rebuild, but certainly one who is in the up-swing. Especially given what appears a very analytically-drive offseason.

Their lineup received a nice power boost in the signing of World Series champion Jorge Soler. Miami also brought in two pure hitters in Avisail Garcia and Joey Wendle. Further development of youngsters Jazz Chisholm Jr. and Jesus Sanchez should also aid a Marlins’ lineup who struggled desperately.

Despite getting a hefty 93 RBIs from Jesús Aguilar last season, the Marlins ranked 29th in runs per game and 28th in batting average. So, this is an area they must improve this season. Worth pointing out the acquisition of Jacob Stallings. Although anemic at the dish at times, he is one of the better defensive catchers in the game.

The rotation is by far the strongest aspect of the Marlins. Sandy Alcántara is an innings-eater while Trevor Rogers got some rookie of the year hype last season. The 26-year old Pablo López may end the season as one of the league’s more underrated pitchers.

Meanwhile, both Elieser Hernández and Jesus Luzardo have loads of potential. It is not crazy to think the Marlins’ one-two-three in their rotation are one of the stronger groups in the NL.

The Marlins’ bullpen pitched to an impressive 3.79 ERA last season which ranked fourth in the NL. They kept most of the group together and are led by a superb trio of Anthony Bender, Dylan Floro, and Richard Bleier. Regression for this group is possible given how many career-years there were. However, nonetheless should be a good group.

Keys to the Season:

  • Hitting needs to rebound and give support to the strong pitching staff.
  • Continued development of young arms.
  • How much will the bullpen regress?
mets nationals
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Nationals

Additions and Subtractions:

Additions (ZiPS Projected WAR) Subtractions (Fangraph’s WAR last season)
Nelson Cruz (1.9) Ryan Zimmerman (0.4)
Cesar Hernandez (1.4) Alex Avila (0.2)
Sean Doolittle (0.2) Kyle McGowin (0.1)
Steve Cishek (0.2) Ryne Harper (-0.1)
Maikel Franco (-0.1) Luis García (-0.2)
Anibal Sanchez (-0.1) Wander Suerro (-0.4) 
Ehire Adrianza (-0.4) 
  • Total (Fangraph WAR)
    • Additions: 3.1
    • Subtractions: 0
    • Difference: +3.1

Projected Roster:

Projected Hitters:

Starting Lineup

Bench

1. Cesar Hernandez (2B) Riley Adams (C)
2. Juan Soto (RF) Ehire Adrianza (INF)
3. Nelson Cruz (DH) Yadial Hernandez OF)
4. Josh Bell (1B) Andrew Stevenson (OF)
5. Keibert Ruiz (C)
6. Lane Thomas (LF)
7. Alicides Escobar (SS)
8. Maikel Franco (3B)
9. Victor Robles (CF)

Projected Pitching Staff:

Rotation

Bullpen

1. Patrick Corbin CP: Kyle Finnegan
2. Josiah Gray SU: Steve Cishek
3. Paolo Espino SU: Sean Doolittle
4. Erick Fedde RP: Will Harris
5. Anibal Sanchez RP: Andres Machado
RP: Tanner Rainey
RP: Francisco Perez
LR: Austin Voth

Analysis:

Despite making some improvements, there is no doubt the Nationals are enduring a full-blown rebuild. Of the improvements, it appears they added three new starting bats. The ageless Nelson Cruz was surprisingly brought in to fulfill the new designated hitter role.

Meanwhile, former Phillies’ Cesar Hernandez and Maikel Franco each should provide a nice boost. If there is any real strength to Washington, it would be their hitting.

Patrick Corbin will look to rebound after two miserable seasons. He will likely serve as their number one pitcher until Stephen Strasburg is finally healthy. Josiah Gray, who was acquired in the Scherzer/Trea Turner deal, will look to grow this season. Veterans Paolo Espino, Erick Fedde, and Anibal Sanchez project to fill out a rotation that is arguably one of the worst in the league.

The bullpen, which ranked 29th in the league last season, feature two main additions. These being veterans Sean Doolittle and Steve Cishek. Each should provide an immediate boost to a pen that desperately needed it. Still, on paper, a unit that will most likely struggle.

Keys to the Season:

  • Any chance of continued success will originate from Juan Soto and the rest of that lineup.
  • Development of Keibert Ruiz and Josiah Gray, as well as any other young Nationals’ that find their way in the majors.
  • Increasing trade values of several veterans throughout the season: Nelson Cruz, Cesar Hernandez, Alicides Escobar, Steve Cishek, etc.

Final Predictions:

It is not often a division sees all five of its teams improve in the same offseason. That is what appears has happened in the NL East. As a result, the top-three teams should be set for an extremely competitive season. It would not be surprising if any one of those three were crowned NL East champions at year’s end. Of course, the defending World Series champs lead the way, but on paper the Mets may have the most talented roster. The Phillies offense alone disallows them from being ruled out.

At the bottom, the Marlins should be improved if regression does not hit too hard. Furthermore, despite the full-fledged rebuild, the Nationals made some nice moves. They should not be a push-over they were last season, at least until the trade deadline.

With all the above in mind, let’s take a look at some final predictions and projections:

Order of Standings and Quick Predictions:

  1. New York Mets
      • – As a team, finally remains healthy for most of the season. Offseason acquisitions, led by Scherzer and Marte pay off immensely.
  2. Atlanta Braves
      • – Some slight regression with the bats and young arms. Still comfortably make the playoffs
  3. Philadelphia Phillies
      • – Bullpen ultimately was not addressed enough. Bottom part of rotation falters. However, in the wild card race all year and just miss the playoffs.
  4. Miami Marlins
      • – Sees some regression in pitching – specifically the bullpen. Offense takes small step forward thanks to the Jorge Soler, Avisail Garcia, and Joey Wendle acquisitions. However, not enough to be a real wild card threat.
  5. Washington Nationals
      • – Somewhat competitive to start the season. Ultimately move a lot of their pickups at the deadline and finish as one of the league’s worst teams.

Win Total – over/under:

  • Atlanta Braves: over 90.5
  • New York Mets: over 90.5
  • Philadelphia Phillies: over 85.5
  • Miami Marlins: under 76.5
  • Washington Nationals: under 71.5

Floor and Ceilings:

  • Atlanta Braves –
    • Ceiling 1st place
    • Floor: 3rd place
  • New York Mets –
    • Ceiling: 1st place
    • Floor: 3rd place
  • Philadelphia Phillies –
    • Ceiling: 1st place
    • Floor: 4th place
  • Miami Marlins –
    • Ceiling: 3rd place
    • Floor: 4th place
  • Washington Nationals –
    • Ceiling and Floor: 5th place

Main Reason(s) for Success or Failure:

  • Atlanta Braves –
    • Success: Status quo, no regression and bolstering of bullpen pays off.
    • Failure: Steep regression with bats and young arms.
  • New York Mets –
    • Success: Everyone performs as expected on paper. Big offseason spendings pays off.
    • Failure: Health evades and the strong depth becomes the everyday assets.
  • Philadephia Phillies –
    • Success: Top-five offense – led by the long ball – and pitching is league average.
    • Failure: Defensive struggles are too much and bullpen was not addressed enough.
  • Miami Marlins –
    • Success: New bats provide a league-average offense and the pitching staff does not regress.
    • Failure: Offense is subpar once again and bullpen regresses from top-10 to bottom-10.
  • Washington Nationals –
    • Success: Young battery develops and offseason moves pay off in some good play and return at trade deadline.
    • Failure: Fail to move veteran trade chips at trade deadline.

All data, transitions via the following sources: Baseball Savant, Fangraphs, and Baseball Reference.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.