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NL East Preview For April 29 – May 5

Jason Szenes, Getty Images

In honor of it being the end of the semester and with my final graduate school papers taking advantage of what’s left of the spare time, this week’s NL East Preview will take the form of a nice series of limericks regarding each team. So far, the predictions have all been a little too generous, but don’t look for that to change. These teams (with the exception of Miami) are all capable of getting hot at any time. With that, let’s have some fun…

Atlanta Braves:
Current 2013: 15-9
Estimated 2013: 16-8
This Week: 4-3

Sometimes you win, and sometimes you hit a four game losing streak against the Colorado Rockies and the Detroit Tigers; that’s just how the cookie crumbles. But, in the case of the Braves this isn’t going to be a defining moment. Remember that streak they were on a couple week ago? You might not, but that’s also part of the game, since memories tend to be quite short.

Leon Halip, Getty Images

Washington will look for revenge after being swept by the Braves early on, while the Mets will continue to try and keep pace with the resurgent Phillies. I suspect the Braves will rely on Justin Upton to provide offense, while his Brother, B.J., works to get his batting average up to a respectable .200. I’m seeing a split with Washington and a series win against New York, though not a sweep.

At the first of the year they were hot.
But, a hard week of baseball is not.
They’ll split with the Nats
Beat the Mets with their bats.
A four and three record, they’ve got.

 

Miami Marlins:
Current 2013: 6-19
Estimated 2013: 8-17
This Week: 2-5

The Marlins are bad, maybe even Houston Astros bad. I know it’s been said a million times that the ‘stros are in a rebuilding mode, so they get a break, but what’s the deal with the Marlins? They pick up a star-studded cast in 2012, trade them in 2013, and then demand respect from the fans because they show up on the field every day. Showing up doesn’t score runs.

In happier news, Giancarlo Stanton finally joined the homer club after blasting a ball over the scoreboard in what was deemed by major sports networks as a “monster shot.” A great hit is nice, but you need a little more than that to be a useful player on a sub-par team.

The road isn’t getting any easier for the Marlins, either. The Mets are set for a sweep and Philadelphia is hitting their stride at a perfect time. If they escape the week with a 2-5 week, I’ll be pleased.

The Marlins were waiting for Stanton.
Fans were rabid, raving and rantin’.
Get swept by New York
Split Philly with a little more torque.
Hopefully, Giancarlo remembers his plantin’.

 

New York Mets:
Current 2013: 10-13
Estimated 2013: 14-11
This Week: 4-2

The Mets are a conundrum. There’s so much young talent and veteran leadership on that team, yet they seem to remain in the doldrums. John Buck hit a slump earlier this month, but has returned with yet another home run performance in a losing effort. Matt Harvey is also maintaining his strong start to the season. What shocks me is the quiet season Captain America is putting together. David Wright is a smart player and is doing all the right things this year. Still, he’s getting shadowed by the unbelievable beginnings of other players. As the season wears on, I’ll definitely talk more about him.

As for the week ahead, Miami will be a pushover and the Braves will not. It’s a tale of two teams, as one clearly a contender while the other is a never-was. The current slump in Atlanta could work for the Mets perhaps propelling them to one win out of three games.

The Mets have done well with John Buck
Hitting home runs with all his luck.
The Marlins and Braves
Helping them make some waves.
But with a 4 and 2 week they are stuck.

 

Philadelphia Phillies:
Current 2013: 12-14
Estimated 2013: 13-13
This Week: 4-2

I hate to say it, but the Phillies look like the team that used to whomp on the rest of the division a couple years back. Could it be a flash in the pan? Who knows? It’ll be fun to find out in the coming month or so. It makes you wonder what it was that made the team so potent up until 2010, though I can tell you it wasn’t the presence of one Jayson Werth.

Elsa, Getty Images

Cleveland is a great match-up for the Phils as it will show how the team reacts to both strength and speed. Mark Reynolds is a man beast whose numbers prove to be strong even if he strikes out as much as Adam Dunn. Those home runs prove useful in a low scoring game. Meanwhile, Swisher hasn’t lost a step and could sneak in for some runs if he isn’t treated carefully. As for Miami, just put the wins in the bag and move along. A split could happen, but I’m playing it conservatively this week… especially with Stanton on the board.

I’ll cut the Phillies some slack.
The hitting and pitching are back.
There won’t be a sweep.
Marlins games making you sleep.
Still, the Phillies won’t be the lead of the pack.

 

Washington Nationals:
Current: 13-12
Estimated: 17-8
This Week: 4-3

I have severely overestimated this team so far, but continue to look optimistically on their future, based on the fact that the season is still young. Two one hit performances in a row from Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann give the team some hope that its two and three spot pitchers can hold their own. As for Dan Haren, a slipping Ross Detwiler and a shockingly mortal Stephen Strasburg, give them a few more starts before you throw in the towel.

The week won’t be easy, but a four game stint with Atlanta is going to gauge perfectly how well this team does against real competition. Can we see the old Strasburg of 2012? Can Gonzalez perform an encore of his performance last week? Those answers will be learned by Wednesday. Bryce Harper can also prove he has outgrown his rookie growing pains, too. Result could be a 2-2 split.

Pittsburgh is also going to be a fun match-up  mainly because the Pirates aren’t as embarrassingly awful as they were a mere five years ago. It might be Andrew McCutchen or the addition of A.J. Burnett last year, but the team has become fun again. Nats will take this series, 2-1.

Been overestimating them all this season.
But maybe it’s been with good reason.
Won the division last year.
Baseball’s least cheapest beer.
Rooting against them is treason.

And there you have it! Another week is in the books and an entire month of baseball has flown past. Let’s see how the teams are treated once the weather starts warming up.

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