Monday, April 3, 2017

Signor Baseball's 2017 NL Preview

So, the Chicago Cubs are World Champions and Donald J. Trump befouls the White House. 2016 was a year of extremely unlikely events.

Of course, the Cubs did it without the help of Vladimir Putin, the FBI, and millions of really stupid people.

But enough of this talk of treason, on to more important matters. In the NL East, Washington is once again the team to beat. Their everyday lineup is second only to the Cubs in the NL and they have, when everybody is healthy--I'm looking at you Stephen Strasburg--very good pitching. Keep this in  mind, though: if there is any way for the Nationals to blow it, they will. The Mets have even better pitching, and the bats to score some runs. However, nearly every one of their starters has had injury issues in the past. And like they say, past is prologue. However, barring multiple injuries to their staff, New York should still be in the running for a Wild Card. Atlanta is in the middle of a major rebuild and Miami is in the middle of being sold. Jeffrey Loria will now have to look for something else he can screw up. Hey, maybe there's a place for him in the Trump administration! The Braves have some good young hitters and can beat anyone when their ace is on the mound. Unfortunately that's only every fifth game. The rest of the time....? The Marlins will hype every single one of Giancarlo Stanton's massive home runs. Can you blame them? I mean, what else do they have to cheer about, other than Loria leaving? Try to name one Phillie. Go on. I dare you. Another long, miserable summer in Philadelphia.

In the Central, Pittsburgh's window of opportunity has just about closed. Having no dependable starting pitching will do that to a team. Oh, they'll score runs, but so will every team they play. The really interesting question for the Pirates is whether or not Andrew McCutcheon will bounce back from an off year, or has begun the inevitable descent to nothingness...The Cubs, on the other hand, are loaded from top to bottom and probably the only thing that can stop them is the pressure of being expected to defend their championship. On the banks of the mighty Mississippi, the Cardinals are always competitive, but on paper at least they just don't match up with the Cubs. Look for Chicago to walk away with this one and St. Louis to be chasing the Mets and the Giants for a Wild Card. The Brewers and Reds just aren't very good. Both are rebuilding. Both have one superstar surrounded by young players who may or may not pan out eventually. Both have pitching staffs patched together with retreads, busts, other teams' back of the rotation guys, and unproven kids. Good luck with that.

Out West, the Diamondbacks should be better, but still not good enough to compete with the Dodgers and the Giants.  Arizona's starting pitching still looks shake-y and their closer is well past whatever prime he had. But they will score a lot of runs and, who knows, maybe some of their perennial young pitching prospects will actually start to pan out. Los Angeles has spent mucho dinero putting together a team that just cannot get to the World Series. They should win the division again, but until Clayton Kershaw starts pitching like, well, Clayton Kershaw, in the playoffs, they still will come up short, Series wise. The Giants have solid pitching, but when you look at their everyday lineup you wonder how they'll score runs. However, they don't beat themselves very often, they have one of the best managers in the majors, and a Wild Card berth is almost a given. Colorado and San Diego will, once again, pull up the rear. Wait until next year, you Padre and Rockies fans. Or the year after that, or the year after that, or...ya know, why don't you just pick another team to root for? Save yourselves a lot of heartache.

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