Three Burning Questions: National League East 

As spring training begins to get underway, here are my three burning questions for the National League East

Atlanta Braves

Three-Peat? The division winner the last two seasons, the Braves are looking for their third consecutive title.

A new ace in the hole? Cole Hamels signed with Atlanta this off-season. Even if he’s still three quarters of his former self he should add quality innings for this rotation.

Best under the radar move? Catcher Travis d’Arnaud was another Braves acquisition. The seven-year vet is a quality bat and catcher. He could be the best signing in the division and league that nobody’s talking about.

Washington Nationals.

Do all roads run through the Nation’s capital? The Cinderella defending World Series champs will be the team to beat this season. A few pieces are no longer here. Can they handle the pressure?

Could they let him get away? Their first priority when the off-season started was to resign Stephen Strasburg. They wasted very little time before bringing him back.

Is this the best infield in the National League? The Nationals infield consists of Ryan Zimmerman at first, Starlin Castro at second and Asdrubal Cabrera at third. Offensively and defensively, they could be the top trio in the league.

New York Mets

Sophomore Slump? Last season’s breakout star, Pete Alonso, will be under the microscope. He may not hit 53 home runs again but he’ll flirt with 50 and drive in 100 plus RBIs.

Did they add the right guy? The Mets signed former 22-game and Cy Young winner Rick Porcello. He joins Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz and Marcus Stroman in the rotation. This could be the best rotation top to bottom in baseball.

Did they do enough in the bullpen? Dellin Betances who missed last season with a torn Achilles. He also had a shoulder injury the year before. If healthy the Mets found a diamond in the rough.

Philadelphia Phillies

Who will help Harper? Bryce Harper had a solid 35 home run and 114 rbi first season in Philly. If Didi Gregorius can succeed in NL, the way he did with the Yankees in the AL, along with J.T. Realmuto and Andrew McCutchen this is one potent offense.

Is that so? The new manager in Philadelphia is Joe Girardi. His success in the Bronx should translate to this team, as he knows what it takes.

Bumgarner, no. Strasburg, no. Cole, no. Then who? The Phillies signed Zack Wheeler to a $118 million contract. He joins Jake Arrieta and Aaron Nola in the starting rotation.

Miami Marlins

Is he on the hot seat? Manager Don Mattingly, in his four seasons in Miami, has seen the team season win total decrease year to year. It dropped to a dismal 57 last season.

How do you help a young pitching staff? The Marlins signed veteran catcher Francisco Cervelli. He should help the young staff be effective and successful.

Who else do they have? Miami signed left fielder Corey Dickerson has hit .290 or better in five of his seven major league seasons.

This is the toughest division to call. I think the Nationals will win the division. The Mets, Braves, and Phillies will be battling each other for a wildcard spot. I think the Mets steal that spot.

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