NL Playoff Predictions

NL East: Florida Marlins
NL Central: Chicago Cubs
NL West: San Francisco Giants
NL Wildcard: New York Mets

I doubt many predictions have these four teams, but here's my reasoning.

The Marlins will win the East simply because they are the best team in the division. Do they have power, you ask? Yes. See Hanley Ramirez (33 HR), Dan Uggla (32 HR), Jorge Cantu (29 HR), Cody Ross (22 HR), and Jeremy Hermida (17 HR). Do they have speed? Yes. See Hanley Ramirez (35 SB), and Cameron Maybin (21 SB in double A). Do they have a starting rotation? Yes. See Ricky Nolasco (3.52 ERA, 186 K's), Josh Johnson (3.61 ERA), Chris Volstad (2.88 ERA), and Anibal Sanchez (5.57 ERA through to starts in 08, but a career 3.86 ERA). Do they have a bullpen? Yes. See Matt Lindstrom (3.14 ERA), Leo Nunez (2.98 ERA), Logan Kensing (4.23 ERA, but struck out 55 in 55.1 innings) and prospect Jose Ceda (2.08 ERA in 30.1 innings at the double A level last year. Add in the fact that the Marlins won't have to deal with aging players, and they seem like a clear choice for the Division Champs.

The Cubs will win the Central, because, well...how can they not? They have a rotation of Carlos Zambrano(3.91 ERA), Ted Lilly(4.09 ERA), Ryan Dempster(2.96 ERA), Rich Harden(2.07 ERA) and Sean Marshall(3.86 ERA). They also have Aaron Heilman as insurance. Not to mention, they could still possibly swing a trade for Padres' Ace Jake Peavy once ownership issues are settled on both sides. They have a ridiculous lineup with the likes of Aramis Ramirez, Derrek Lee, Alfonso Soriano, Geovany Soto, and Ryan Theriot. If Milton Bradley stays healthy and performs like he did in 08, he could be another major threat in the lineup. They have some quality arms in the bullpen such as Carlos Marmol, Kevin Gregg, and Jeff Samardzija. The Cubbies' closes competitor in 08, the Brewers, lost their primary ace (CC Sabathia) as well as their secondary ace (Ben Sheets) to free agency. The Reds have a great young core of talent, but too many dominoes have to fall into place for them to beat out the Cubs. The Astros have a fine offense, but have way too many question marks in the rotation. After Roy Oswalt, you can't be sure of anything from the other starters. The Cardinals could be good, since Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Kyle Lohse, and Todd Wellemeyer have all succeeded at the major league level, but their offense, particularly their infielders not named Albert Pujols, is incredibly weak. And the Pirates... I mean do you really expect them to do anything?

The NL West will be won by the team with the best pitching. Since the Rockies just lost their ace(Jeff Francis) for the year, the Padres have only two established starters, one of whom they may very well trade away, and the Dodgers have a very injury-prone rotation, I see the division title being fought for between the Giants and the DBacks.A San Francisco rotation of Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum(2.62 ERA), Matt Cain (3.76 ERA), future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson (3.91 ERA), former Cy Young winner Barry Zito (he's been terrible since arriving in San Fran, but a new year could mean new success...maybe), Noah Lowry (missed all of 08, but had a 3.92 ERA in 07), and youngster Jonathan Sanchez (showed promise until the all star break, before fading down the stretch) could be one of the best in the league. Arizona has Brandon Webb(3.30 ERA) and Dan Haren (3.33 ERA) leading their rotation. Then they trot out league average veterans Jon Garland(4.90) and Doug Davis(4.32 ERA) as their 3rd and fourth starters. In the 5th spot we could see top prospect Max Scherzer come in and make a big impact. Overall, it seems more likely that San Fran will have 3-5 successful starters than Arizona will, so I say San Fran will win the West

There are not teams in the Central or the West that are good enough to win the Wild Card, so I am almost certain it will come from the East. I don't think the Phillies can defend their title, not with the overrated Brett Myers (4.55 ERA), the 46 year old Jamie Moyer(3.71 ERA), and the mediocre Joe Blanton (4.69 ERA). Phillies slugger Ryan Howard has seen his batting average, slugging percentage, on base percentage, and walk total decline each of the past two years. Third baseman Pedro Feliz had a .302 OBP in 08. And Catcher Carlos Ruiz had a .320 OBP and a .300 SLG in 08. This isn't a playoff team. So the Wild Card comes down to the Mets and the Braves. Lets do a quick comparison.

Derek Lowe(3.24 ERA) Johan Santana(2.53 ERA)
Javier Vasquez (4.67 ERA) Mike Pelfrey (3.72 ERA)
Jair Jurrjens (3.68 ERA) Oliver Perez (4.22 ERA)
Kenshin Kawakami (Played in Japan) John Maine (4.18 ERA)

Both teams will have a fight for the 5th rotation spot. The Mets will let Livan Hernandez, Freddy Garcia, Tim Redding, and Jon Niese fight for the spot, while the Braves will let Jorge Campillo, Jo-Jo Reyes, and Tom Glavine hold down the spot until top prospect Tommy Hanson is ready to take over. The Mets have a stronger lineup with superstars Carlos Beltran, David Wright, Jose Reyes, and Carlos Delgado. The Braves have a nice core of young talent, with guys like Brian McCann, Yunel Escobar, and Kelly Johnson, complemented by veterans Chipper Jones and Garrett Anderson. Then the Mets have a bullpen with JJ Putz and Francisco Rodriguez, as well as Duaner Sanchez and Pedro Feliciano. Meanwhile the Braves have Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano among others. The Mets seem to have the edge, and after two late season collapses they have everything to prove.

1 comment:

Bronx Baseball Daily said...

Interesting to hear you think the Marlins are the best team in that division. I'm wondering how good Atlanta's rotation can be. The Mets better hope there is nothing wrong with Santana.