Odds to win 2017 NL East

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Updated: March 2, 2017

The 2017 NL East should be one of the hottest races in baseball, but it will only be a two-team race like it has been for the past two years. The New York Mets have elite pitching that has carried them to the playoffs in each of the last two seasons while the Nationals are one of the most well-rounded teams in the league. These two will be in a dogfight all season as the rest of the division is in various stages of rebuilding.

NL East – Odds to Win

Washington Nationals -140
New York Mets +160
Miami Marlins +1200
Atlanta Braves +1600
Philadelphia Phillies +2000

The Phillies have the worst odds to win this division and it’s not hard to see why. Their offense leaves a lot to be desired. I’ve always liked Odubel Herrera, but it’s questionable whether Maikel Franco will ever be more than he is right now. The same can be said about presumptive first baseman Tommy Joseph, Cesar Hernandez and catcher Cameron Rupp. The outfield has been bolstered by two veterans in moves that don’t quite make sense to me as they added Howie Kendrick to man left and Michael Saunders for right. Saunders at least offers some high reward if he pans out, but Kendrick is on the wrong side of his career. The exciting thing to watch this year is that we should see some of the Phillies prospects making their debut. J.P. Crawford is their shortstop of the future and Jorge Alfaro could be the same at catcher. I also hope to see more of Roman Quinn who was a very intriguing speedster in his short time with the team last year.

The rotation here isn’t actually that bad with Aaron Nola, Vincent Velasquez, Jerad Eickhoff and Jeremy Hellickson making up a decent rotation. A step forward for a couple of the younger guys could be huge for them this year, but not enough to contend.

The Braves also spent a lot of money to shore up the rotation this offseason as they added R.A. Dickey, Bartolo Colon and Jaime Garcia. Quality innings eaters is important, even if they end up giving up a few runs. Where this move doesn’t make sense is in how much the Braves have done to acquire young pitching over the past few years. Now 4/5s of the rotation is going to be filled by two guys in their forties, Garcia and Julio Teheran. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for prospects with Matt Wisler and Mike Foltynewicz also needed starts. It could be awhile before we see Aaron Blair or Max Fried in this rotation.

The lineup is even weirder to me as they surrounded the elite Freddie Freeman, last year’s breakout Ender Enciarte and top prospect Dansby Swanson with a mish-mash of veterans. Brandon Phillips, Nick Markakis and Matt Kemp have all seen better days. None of Tyler Flowers, Kurt Suzuki and Anthony Recker should be starting at catcher right now. I don’t see what it is they see in Adonis Garcia at third. This is just a weird team that will be lucky to win 75 games.

The Marlins have one of the best outfields in baseball with Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna who will make up more than half this team’s offensive value. J.T. Realmuto is a great catcher and Dee Gordon is a solid leadoff man. The problem with this team is a sad one, their best pitcher Jose Fernandez died. That is simply something you can’t replace and they probably won’t be any good this year. Their best starters by WAR are projected to be Wei-Yin Chen and Edinson Volquez. That is not a good sign and this is a team that could be sellers early in the season.

New York is probably the most interesting team in that they are so reliant on good health this year. Lucas Duda and David Wright are trying to make comebacks from injury and if they can come back, that would be huge for this team. Neil Walker had his own injury issues and hopefully he can be healthy this year as well. This team would probably be screwed if anything happened to Yoenis Cespedes who mans the outfield with Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce, two guys who are aging to a place where you start to worry about them.

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The pitching also needs some good health. Last season nearly their entire rotation was injured, but if they can keep Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz and Matt Harvey healthy they are going to be really scary. If not, Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo showed some real signs of being contributors last year.

That said, the bullpen is very good led by Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia and if the pitching staff can be something like 75% healthy then I really like this team. That pitching is deadly and they showed last year that they can overcome a beat up offense with sheer run prevention.

Washington is the favorite for a reason though. They match that starting rotation with Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer who are one of the best 1-2 combinations you’ll find in this league. They’ll be followed by some combination of Joe Ross, Tanner Roark, Gio Gonzalez and A.J. Cole. That’s a solid rotation, even if the reason it’s so solid is 100% dependent on those top two being so good they make the rest look better.

The lineup is the real interesting thing for the Nationals. Daniel Murphy was an MVP candidate last year, Trea Turner was one of the most exciting rookies in the game and Bryce Harper is one of the best players on the planet. Harper had a down year last year that many have linked to injury so hopefully he’ll be full strength this season. Anthony Rendon is an underrated hitter and the Nats added Adam Eaton this offseason which may be one of the best acquisitions of the year. The questions in the lineup are Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth and Matt Wieters. Werth has been holding back the hands of time, but the first base situation may be something they need to address this season if they want to compete with the Dodgers and Cubs.

The Nationals have also, strangely, refused to address their bullpen situation. They missed out on a few free agents, but they seem to have a real hole in the late innings. The signing of Joe Blanton helps, but Shawn Kelley is not what you think of when you think of a World Series champion closer. I could be proven wrong and this team could still have one move left in them.

The Mets will be challenging all year long, but this division is the Nationals to lose.

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