By: Scott Ostrowsky
NL East: Let me start with the worst and work my way up. The Braves have absolutely no shot. The fans know it, everyone does. Look out for them once their farm system blossoms. The Phillies looked decent to start the year but have quickly fallen back to their usual ways…4th/5th place and giving division foes a hard time. The Marlins are making me believe again that “almost” miracles are possible. With Jose Fernandez looking like his former healthy self, he brings life to the clubhouse. Imagine if Giancarlo Stanton could wake up this year and start contributing to the surprising production that Miami lineup brings. The Mets have fallen under the same curse they had last year. They can’t hit. Somehow, through the pitching of Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard, they are still have a small foot in the door in that division. If they can trade for hitting like they did last year, they will win the division again. I couldn’t NOT pick the Mets this year to win the East after they went to the World Series but I’m definitely not shocked the Nationals are in 1st. They are healthy, they can hit, they can pitch, they have a guy on their team by the name of Bryce Harper. This is a whole new team and a better one at that. If they just stick to their guns and stay consistent and Harper’s average improves, this team will be dangerous.
NL Central: Two things people shouldn’t be surprised about in the NL Central: The Cubs are dominating, the Reds are suffering. The Cubs are not a surprise. They can hit, pitch, and they are young! They have a surprisingly great combo of youth and talent. Easy favorites to go to the World Series. When Anthony Rizzo (26) is your “veteran” and leader in the clubhouse, then you’re in good hands. The Pirates are where I thought they’d be. I don’t think they’d keep their winning ways from last year even now with how great the Cubs are doing to start the year so they may miss out on the Wild Card this year since there is too much talent to go around in the NL. The Cardinals on the other hand, have shocked me this year. Untimely hitting and inconsistent pitching have them just a couple games above .500 and 10.5 games back. This team can definitely turn their season around but I don’t know if a Wild Card spot is the cards for them since the National League has an insane amount of talent throughout. There are currently three teams, that aren’t in first place, that have better records or close to their record (Mets, Marlins, Dodgers). “What about the Reds and Brewers?” Yeah what about them? No talent. No big names putting up big numbers. No surprises here.
NL West: The preseason favorites, the San Francisco Giants, are putting a smile on my face because they were an easy pick to win that division that actually as an ongoing fight for 2nd place. The Giants have pitching besides Bumgarner for the first time in, well, two years, when they won the World Series. The off-season acquisition of SP Jeff Samardzija was crucial if they wanted to keep themselves around in ballgames this season. Young studs are stepping big on defense and hitting making the Giants an easy favorite to challenge the Cubs in the NL. Besides Kershaw, how much is there REALLY in that Dodger rotation? Puig has stepped up more this year than he did last year but still hasn’t really been at his best and Joc Pederson is still an average hitter and is slowly showing signs of his rookie year. At best this LA team is fighting for a Wild Card spot but the end of the year. Colorado and Arizona are very similar teams this year if you really look at them. They’re pitching has improved and the hitting is still inconsistent but still potentially really good. They still technically have a chance but at best, both of these teams are long shots to steal a Wild Card spot in the closing weeks of the season. Finally, the Padres. Again not much to say about the caboose of the division. They can be a spoiler to another team at best.
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