MLB 2021: NL East Division Preview

by Scott Rickenbach

NL East Division Preview for MLB 2021

Atlanta Braves – The Braves are projected by most to land at around 90 wins this season and battle it out with the Mets for top spot in this division. Atlanta has had 3 straight solid seasons as they are returning to the year over year consistency they had displayed for so many years before slipping a few years back. Now the Braves again look like the Braves of old with a solid rotation, including now Charlie Morton too, and they have great young arms too. Then you look at the lineup and this team has a great mix of young up and coming stars as well as veteran talent. It is hard to find a weakness with this team but the bullpen might be one area to watch. Mark Melancon is now with the Padres and so the Braves will have a different closer now and overall the pen could take some time to jell this season. 

Miami Marlins – The Marlins surprised some in a short season last year but now I look for them to return to a range of, at most, 70 wins. They are still in a rebuild mode which was simply a bit masked by the covid-shortened season last year. Manager Don Mattingly has been pushing the right buttons here but Miami’s bullpen was a weakness last year and their lineup produced a rather low slugging percentage. This team was fortunate to finish above .500 last season, still has some unproven starting pitchers that are still growing into their role in the rotation, and also finished toward the bottom of the league for team fielding. 

New York Mets – The new owner has opened up the pocketbook for sure and went on a spending spree. That is why a team that finished with a losing record last season is likely to get to around 90 wins this season. They added Lindor to bolster the lineup, McCann who is a solid veteran catcher, and Carrasco to the rotation. He’ll fit in well behind deGrom who is phenomenal. Also, the lineup looks even stronger as Dominic Smith continues to look stronger and stronger in terms of his potential. This lineup looks really strong with a lot of power potential plus the bullpen is strong in terms of closer and set-up men. 

Philadelphia Phillies – The Phillies could surprise this season. Hard to peg them ending up much better than .500 on the season especially when you consider the strength of the Braves and Mets. Also, the Nationals are similar in overall team strength to the Nationals. However, the reason Philadelphia could surprise is because they have Nola and Wheeler at the top of the rotation plus catcher JT Realmuto, a key piece, came back and they have Bryce Harper and other big bats like Hoskins, Bohm, Gregorius and Segura. The top guys in the bullpen can be strong for the Phils but that is their overall weakness. A horrible pen that was dead last in the majors last season! Keep an eye on this as a key to Phillies season.

Washington Nationals – Projected to be in the mid-80s for their win total this season. The Nats finished below .500 last season but they have to be back. They have a powerful line-up especially with the phenomenal hitting of Juan Soto plus Trea Turner and plus perhaps Josh Bell bounces back too. But when you have a solid pitching rotation led by Max Scherzer and you have Stephen Strasburg, if healthy, that is a tough 1-2 combo. Also, a very solid closer for the Nationals but their bullpen was overall a weak link last year and that could again be an issue as well. That is what could prevent Washington from competing with the Mets and Braves for the top spot in the division. 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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