NL East

Jason Bishop Show w Kipp Branch February 8

Jason Bishop Show w Kipp Branch February 8


Chopping October

By: Jason Bishop news services

October baseball will take place once again in Atlanta.

The Atlanta Braves defended their 2018 NL East Crown by clinching the division this past weekend.

Most experts did not have the Braves winning the division in 2019, mostly taking into account all the money the Philadelphia Phillies spent in the offseason. Those Phillies most likely will not make the playoffs at all.

As October approaches, there is still the business of Atlanta setting their playoff roster. The Braves roster suffered a ton of injuries in the last two months of the season. Nick Markakis, Ender Inciarte, Austin Riley, Charlie Culberson and Johan Camargo all spent time in the Injured List and Atlanta will be without Culberson and Camargo in the first round and maybe throughout the playoffs.

The Braves will likely be matched up with the St. Louis Cardinals in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.  The Cardinals likely will win the NL Central.

St. Louis, once again, put together a second half run to put themselves into the mix.

The Cardinals will bring with them into a postseason a young starting rotation, headed by Dakota Hudson. Hudson currently has notched 16 wins for the Red Birds with a 3.35 ERA.

Outside of Hudson, the Cardinals will have Jack Flaherty, Miles Mikolas, and Adam Wainwright.

Paul Goldschmidt hit 31 homeruns for St. Louis and led the team.

Meanwhile, the Braves will bring an offense that has carried the team all year long and a decent rotation.

Mike Soroka had a breakout season for Atlanta and along with Dallas Keuchel, Max Fried and either Julio Teheran or Mike Foltynewicz in the rotation.

Realistically, the Braves will be huge favorites to beat the Cardinals in the 3 of 5 series. If that happens, the Braves will get the winner of the NL West Champion Los Angeles Dodgers and the winner of the Wild Card Game.

I believe the Dodgers will get the Washington Nationals in the first round. That series have the potential to go all 5 games.

Last season the Dodgers bombed Atlanta in the NLDS, but the Braves pitching is far better than last season and so is the offense.

The Dodgers will be favored to beat the Braves if that is the matchup but Atlanta would be favored against any other team they may play in the NLCS if they get past St, Louis.

In my opinion, the Braves will do no worse than an NLCS appearance and will give LA all they want in the NLCS. On paper, the Dodgers are deeper and better.

The most exciting thing is the Braves will be making plenty of playoff appearances moving forward. They are good and young.

If not this season, a World Series Championship should be on the horizon for the Braves.

Beasts From The East

By: Mike Anthony news services

From beginning to end, the 2018 Major League Baseball season went mostly as the experts predicted.

High payroll teams that fattened up even more before April got the returns on investment that were expected as the Red Sox, Yankees and Dodgers all lit up scoreboards throughout the season, with Boston ultimately topping Los Angeles in the World Series as the Dodgers came up just short for the second consecutive season.

Other teams that entered 2018 with rosters that were mostly the same as their winning counterparts from 2017 also excelled.

The defending world champs from Houston made it to another American League Championship Series, Cleveland once again dominated the AL Central and the Chicago Cubs looked like a World Series contender until hitting a late snag.

The one division that played against type last season was the National League East. The division was supposed to be the Nationals’ for the taking, but Washington spun its wheels for two-thirds of the season and never looked like a playoff team. The Mets once again had all the pitching in the world and once again watched as all of those pitchers went down with injuries.

In the end, it was Atlanta and Philadelphia. They were picked fourth and fifth in most preseason predictions. The Braves ultimately claimed the lone playoff spot out of the division, only to bow out in the divisional series.

That left an interesting question heading into the offseason and the always-exciting winter meetings. Would the Nationals and Mets take advantage of windows to win that were allegedly still open, or was the standings flip-flop a sign of big changes coming?

The NL East seems to have chosen option ‘C’, in which just about everyone is making moves as if they expect to be making noise in October.

Washington had a busy December, picking up former Braves Kurt Suzuki and Matt Adams for bench depth before signing arguably the best left-handed pitcher on the free agent market in Patrick Corbin.

The Mets were involved in one of the biggest trades of the offseason so far, as they shipped veteran Jay Bruce and some prospects to Seattle in return for eight-time All-Star Robinson Cano and ace closer Edwin Diaz.

The Braves signed former American League MVP Josh Donaldson to upgrade at third base. Another former All-Star – and fan favorite – will return to town as Brian McCann returns to the club where he cut his teeth in Major League Baseball.

Philadelphia traded for an All-Star shortstop in Jean Segura, signed former NL MVP Andrew McCutchen and remain as a team constantly linked to free agent crown jewels Manny Machado and Bryce Harper.

And in much less interesting news, the Marlins will still be the Marlins.

Regardless of the myriad moves sure to be made between now and Opening Day, gauging the National League East will be a tough task.

The recent bullies on the block (Washington and New York) have been too inconsistent to believe that the division will be one of the best in the league. Yet, the quick turnarounds and evident investment into continued improvement of Atlanta and Philadelphia will make it tough to write off any team in the division that isn’t playing its home games in Miami.

Injuries, a brutally long season and the notoriously quirky ups and downs of baseball make it impossible to make a call on the division as the final days of 2018 tick away, but anyone paying attention to the offseason hot stove will agree that the NL East should provide plenty of drama next season.