BROKEN BAT BLOG: MLB Predictions, National League

by Corey Mansfield

Can Kris Bryant lead the Cubs back to the world series? (photo credit: Corey Mansfield)

NL East

#1 Washington Nationals - Another season and another manager for Washington Nationals. This time Dave Martinez will get a crack at taking the Nationals to the next level and a world championship. The Nationals are loaded with talent and arguably the best pitching staff in baseball. They have one of the best players in baseball in Bryce Harper and one of the best young players in baseball Trea Turner. There really is no excuse for this team to win this division. For me it comes down to chemistry. If this team struggles early in the season will they pack it in? Will they turn on each other and implode? Add in the fact the team and players will have to answers about Bryce Harper possibly leaving in free agency and I don't think this team has what it takes to win a world championship.

#2 New York Mets - The Mets had a dreadful season in 2017. Fans weren't sure what they were doing after the sold off many key pieces from their playoff teams in favor of the youth movement. The confusion continued this offseason as they added more "so-so" veterans to fill holes that were left by last years sell off. The Mets cleaned house not only with their coaching staff but also their medical staff this offseason. For the Mets it's simple, stay healthy get good starting pitching. The window is shrinking on their once young arms. The Mets have a much better lineup then people are giving them credit for and they'll score runs. They'll be a solid team and likely get the second wild card.

#3 Atlanta Braves - The Braves are on the upside of their rebuilding and some of the pieces they have acquired through the draft and free agency are going to fill key roles for them this season. Top Prospect, Ronald Acuna should be in the major leagues sometime this season and will be a star. The big question will be their pitching which ranked 24th in team ERA last season. If they can get good starting pitching then expect them to give teams in the NL East fits. If not, then you'll see some of their young pitchers from the minors get a shot.

#4 Philadelphia Phillies - The Phillies have suddenly thrust themselves into the conversation as possible wild card team after signing 2015 Cy Young Award winner, Jake Arrieta. Arrieta will lead a very young but talented pitching staff which showed glimpses of greatness last season. The question remains, can they score runs? The Phillies were 27th in baseball in runs scored last season. New acquired Carlos Santana should help with it but not enough to get the Phillies into a wild card spot.

#5 Miami Marlins - The Marlins sold off every star they had. Giancarlo Stanton...gone. Marcell Ozuna...gone. Dee Gordon...gone. Christian Yelich...gone. The Marlins are rebuilding to say the least. Don Mattingly will have his work cut out for him this season. The Marlins won't be awful but they certainly won't be in the conversation for a playoff spot.

NL Central

#1 Chicago Cubs - The Cubs struggled the early part of last season before turning things around and winning the division. They are still very young and very talented and unlike last year they should start this season off hot. They added Tyler Chatwood to their rotation to fill the void left by Jake Arrieta. Chatwood could be a surprise since he will no longer be pitching in Coors Field. They are a solid team across the board and should make it to the world series.

#2 Milwaukee Brewers - The Brewers were very active this off season signing Lorenzo Cain and trading for Christan Yelich. However, they didn't address their biggest need which is pitching. They are hoping their young arms can carry them through the season. At some point this season they will need to add some depth at pitching if they want to contend. Jonathon Villar could have a break season for the Brewers.

#3 St. Louis Cardinals - The Cardinals have seen their win totals decrease over the last three seasons and have missed the playoffs the last two seasons. Overall, they are a middle of the pack team who doesn't excel in one area. Newly acquired Marcel Ozuna will add some pop to their lineup. They still have solid pitching which should carry them through the season but I don't see them as being a team that can win the world series.

#4 Pittsburgh Pirates - The Pirates trade off two of their best players in Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole. It's unclear if the Pirates are rebuilding or were just dumping contracts. Either way you shake it the Pirates have seen their win totals decrease over the last three seasons and it's unlikely they will improve upon that this season. Their offensive was one of the worst in the MLB last season and didn't get any better with the subtraction of McCutchen.

#5 Cincinnati Reds - The Reds have been one of the worst team in baseball over the last four seasons and things won't get better this season. You would think a small market team like them would try to rebuild from the ground up through the draft and trades but the Reds are still holding on to Joey Votto who could bring a major haul of young talent. Yet, they still hold on to him. At what point do the Reds start to rebuild?

NL West

#1 Los Angeles Dodgers - The Dodgers are the team to beat in this division and may be the team to beat in baseball. They have a solid lineup and solid pitching staff. I have two lingering questions about the Dodgers; Can Cody Bellinger continue to put up superstar numbers and not have a sophomore slump? And at what point does 38-yeard old Rich Hill break down? If both can contribute at a high level then I see no reason the Dodgers can't win the world series.

#2 Arizona Diamondbacks - The Diamondbacks had a 24 win turnaround from 2016 to 2017. The team is solid across the board with perennial MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt at first base. They have a young pitching staff that ranked 3rd in MLB with a 3.66 ERA last season. Look for Patrick Corbin to have a break out season. The D-backs should be in place make their second straight trip to the playoffs.

#3 Colorado Rockies - The Rockies were an anomaly last season as their young pitching and powerful lineup propelled them toward a playoff spot. The young pitching was completely unexpected especially since it was in Colorado. Are their pitchers for real or was it just a fluke? Don't get me wrong, their pitching wasn't great, but it was better than in previous years. The Rockies lineup is one of the best in the game and is led by two of the best players in the game in Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado. While their lineup is great, I think their pitching regresses and they barely miss out on a playoff spot in 2018.

#4 San Fransisco Giants - The Giants had a rough season last year but 2018 seemed to be much better going into spring training especially with the addition of Andrew McCutchen. However, things went bad quickly when their ace Madison Bumgarner was hurt in spring training, sideline him for first two months of the season. The Giants offensive will have to carry the team until Bumgarner comes back and solidifies their pitching staff.

#5 San Diego Padres - The Padres have had one winning season in the last decade (2010). Things won't get better this season in arguably the toughest division in baseball. The Padres added some leadership with Eric Hosmer but the team is still far being a contender in the NL West. The addition of Hosmer could help with the develop of some of the younger players. The Padres still have one of the best farm systems in baseball and we could see some of the talent in the major leagues this season including Fernando Tatis Jr. and Luis Urias.

National League Predictions

Divison Winners:
NL East - Washington Nationals
NL Central - Chicago Cubs
NL West - Los Angeles Dodgers

Wild Card Teams:
1st Wild Card - Arizona Diamondbacks
2nd Wild Card - New York Mets

Wild Card Game: New York Mets def. Arizona Diamondbacks

Divisional Series: Los Angeles Dodgers def. New York Mets
Divisional Series: Chicago Cubs def. Washington Nationals

National League Championship Series: Chicago Cubs def. Los Angeles Dodgers

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