NL Playoff Picture
After making my predictions for my American League playoffs team, today’s post will be about the National League. I really respect the National League managers because they have to manage the game a lot more than American League. They have to decide whether or not to keep a pitcher in if he is pitching well and take an out or to pull him and have a pinch hitter. I do think that next year the DH rule will be enforced over all of baseball which is saddening because of the tradition of the NL but with everyday interleague play there needs to be a level playing field. It will also provide more jobs to players and keep bigger names in the game for longer. Here are my picks for the NL Playoff Picture.
The Washington Nationals are one of my favorite teams in the NL. I love the way that Bryce Harper plays and even though people such as Ozzie Guillen and Cole Hamels were trying to get into the youngsters head, he wouldn’t let it happen. I think that he will get better this year than last; he had 22 home runs and a .270 average. He is moving from the 2nd batter in the lineup to 3rd where he should get more opportunities for RBI’s. The addition of Denard Span adds a true leadoff, a base stealer, and a very rangy centerfielder that will give the Nationals the option to have Harper play LF. Their pitching staff with Gio Gonzalez, a full year from Stephen Strasburg and the newcomer Rafeal Soriano as their closer, this team could make history in the fall. The Atlanta Braves are going to be the first Wild Card team that makes the playoffs. They have a good team especially when they added the Upton brothers to play in the same outfield but have some weak spots in their lineup, most notably catcher and 3rd base. Gerald Laird is a very good defensive catcher but he lacks at the plate. They have Chris Johnson and Juan Francisco as their 3rd base options to fill Chipper Jones shoes. Hopefully for their sake Brian McCann comes back quickly because Laird is definitely a backup catcher at this point in his career. The Phillies pitching staff is very good and with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard back in the lineup they will do better this year than last but will ultimately come up short.
In the NL Central I think that the Cincinnati Reds are the clear favorite. They have very good relief pitching with Chapman, Broxton and Marshall and good starting pitching to with Cueto, Latos, Bailey and Arroyo. The addition of Shin-Soo Choo alongside Phillips, Votto, and Bruce will give the Reds a very good lineup. I think the Pittsburgh Pirates are going to get the final WC spot and make it to the playoffs for the first time since 1992. The St. Louis Cardinals have been the Wild Card the past two seasons but will fail to make it this year with the loss of Lohse and Furcal. The Mets and Marlins will be terrible this year.
The San Francisco Giants won the World Series in four games last year against the Detroit Tigers. The Los Angeles Dodgers were purchased for 2.125 billion dollars, the highest price tag for a team in the history of sports. The Giants have an MVP in Buster Posey and Cy Young Award Winners in Barry Zito and Tim Lincecum. The Dodgers have 7 Silver Slugger Awards and 7 Gold Gloves among Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp and Andre Eithier; and two Cy Young Awards in their pitching staff. With all that being said, the Arizona Diamondbacks are going to win the NL West. As good as Justin Upton was he needed a change of scenery and the DBacks got Martin Prado in return plus good prospects especially in Randall Delgado. The trade also levels out their outfield and gives Parra, Kubel and Ross more consistent playing time. They also have two young prospects in Adam Eaton and AJ Pollock that will finally get a chance to prove themselves in a full season. Their pitching staff is very good with Kennedy, McCarthy, Miley among the others. JJ Putz, who I have played “catch” with, is a veteran guy who has 77 saves and a sub 3 ERA over the past two seasons as their closer. Paul Goldschmidt, Miguel Montero and Aaron Hill are not the biggest names in the Major Leagues but they will definitely be the spark plug that gets the Diamondbacks to the postseason. This was my toughest decision but I think that none of these teams will be the Wild Card because they will be beating up on each even though they have 3 very good teams.
NLWC – Braves vs. Pirates
NLDS – Reds vs. Braves/Pirates
NLDS – Nationals vs. Diamondbacks
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