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2023 Know Your Enemy: NL East

Braves look for their sixth straight division title

New York Mets v Atlanta Braves Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Today is surprisingly just the second off day of the spring for the Jays. To fill the need for baseball content (aside from tonight’s World Baseball Classic finale), here is the preview for the National League East.

Atlanta Braves (2022: 101-61, First Place via tiebreaker)

Braves @ Blue Jays May 12-14

The Braves won their fifth consecutive division title in 2022, although they took this one in a tie with the Mets but took the tiebreaker with 10-9 head to head victory. Unlike when they won the World Series in 2021, the 2022 postseason ended for them with just a single win in the NLDS before being knocked out by the Phillies.

Sustaining a top team over the long term takes some big moves, and the Braves definitely made one of those this winter, with one of the biggest trades of the offseason that sent William Contreras and a few others away in return for Sean Murphy. As the Braves are wont to do, they promptly signed Murphy to a 6 year extension.

Murphy wasn’t the only one to sign a big extension over the winter either, as young fireballer Spencer Strider also signed a 6 year deal. With Murphy and Strider locked up long term, the Braves now have seven players currently playing on contracts at least 6 years in length, all for very team friendly terms. In total for 2023, they are just above the luxury tax line of $233m at roughly $239m.

In addition to Sean Murphy being added, the Braves also brough in Kevin Pillar, Sam Hilliard, Joe Jiménez and Lucas Luetge. They also lost some key contributors from their roster, with the most notable being long time shortstop Dansby Swanson. Other notable names headed out were Adam Duvall, Luke Jackson and Kenley Jansen.

Projected Lineup

Ronald Acuña Jr., RF
Matt Olson, 1B
Austin Riley, 3B
Sean Murphy, C
Michael Harris II, CF
Ozzie Albies, 2B
Marcell Ozuna, DH
Eddie Rosario, LF
Orlando Arcia, SS

Projected Rotation

Max Fried
Charlie Morton
Spencer Strider
Kyle Wright
Jared Shuster (although Canadian Michael Soroka will be making his Spring Training debut tomorrow, coming back from multiple injuries over the last few years).

Notable Bullpen Arms

Raisel Iglesias
A.J. Minter
Joe Jiménez
Collin McHugh
Dylan Lee
Kirby Yates
Lucas Luetge

Fangraphs projects the Braves to be the best team in baseball at the moment, with a 93-69 record. PECOTA is a little less optimistic, with a second place finish and a 90.4-71.6 finish.

New York Mets (2022: 101-61, Second Place due to tiebreaker)

Blue Jays @ Mets June 2-4

The Mets spent a record high $283m last year, only to come out as the first wild card team, ultimately losing to the Padres in the wild card round. Not satisfied with that result, stupidly rich owner Steve Cohen has upped their payroll to an Earth shattering $353m for 2023.

The Mets brought in reigning AL Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, Japanese star Kodai Senga and veteran José Quintana to bolster a rotation that saw the departure of Jacob deGrom, Chris Bassit and Taijuan Walker. Quintana is already on the IL, but Verlander and Senga are set to join Max Scherzer at the top of the rotation.

Big money was also spent on locking up Brandon Nimmo and Jeff McNeil, while signing free agents Omar Narváez, Tommy Pham and David Robertson. Notable names headed out the door, aside from deGrom, Bassit and Walker, are Mychal Givens, Trevor Williams, Trevor May, James McCann and Tyler Naquin.

The Mets were dealt a very significant blow as Edwin Díaz unfortunately went down for most of the season with an injury at the WBC this past week, taking away baseball’s best closer from a bullpen that is pretty thin otherwise. Without Díaz, who likely pushes as hard as possible to be back for the playoffs, the Mets’ bullpen is middle of the pack at best, and a liability if they face more injuries or ineffectiveness from a few relievers on the wrong side of 35.

Projected Lineup

Brandon Nimmo, CF
Starling Marte, RF
Francisco Lindor, SS
Pete Alonso, 1B
Jeff McNeil, 2B
Daniel Vogelbach, DH
Mark Canha, LF
Eduardo Escobar, 3B
Omar Narváez, C

Projected Rotation

Justin Verlander
Max Scherzer
Kodai Senga
Carlos Carrasco
David Peterson

Notable Bullpen Arms

David Robertson
Adam Ottavino
Brooks Raley
Drew Smith
John Curtiss

Fangraphs projects them to the same 89-73 record as the Blue Jays, good enough for a second place finish and the top wild card spot again. PECOTA is a lot more optimistic, giving them the second best projection in all of baseball, taking the division with a 94.5-67.5 projection.

Philadelphia Phillies (2022: 87-75, Third Place, Third Wild Card, NL Pennant)

Blue Jays @ Phillies May 9-10; Phillies @ Blue Jays August 15-16

The 2022 season saw the Phillies eek into the playoffs, then push their way through to the World Series, exceeding all expectations along the way. They ultimately fell just short to the Houston Astros in the World Series, but nobody should be upset about the success the Phillies had last season.

Repeating that success is going to be tough, but that’s more of a testament to the division they’re playing in and chances of making the playoffs as opposed to their own ability. They’re still a good team, arguably the best third best team in baseball.

Jean Segura is the only notable position player who left the team, and his production and more was replaced by Trea Turner, who is currently lighting the world on fire in the World Baseball Classic. They also added Josh Harrison and Jake Cave to bolster the bench, while Taijuan Walker was the big add to the rotation.

The bullpen is where the Phillies really focused over the winter, completing a pretty big overhaul. Headed out was Brad Hand, David Robertson and Corey Knebel, while they added Craig Kimbrel, Gregory Soto and Matt Strahm.

Following their World Series run, Bryce Harper went for Tommy John surgery, and is likely to miss roughly the first half of the season. He’ll be back for the stretch run though, and will be a huge boost for the team in the second half.

Projected Lineup

Trea Turner, SS
Kyle Schwarber, LF
Rhys Hoskins, 1B
J.T. Realmuto, C
Nick Castellanos, RF
Darick Hall, DH
Alec Bohm, 3B
Bryson Stott, 2B
Brandon Marsh, CF

Projected Rotation

Aaron Nola
Zack Wheeler
Taijuan Walker
Ranger Suárez
Bailey Falter

Notable Bullpen Arms

Seranthony Domínguez
José Alvarado
Craig Kimbrel
Gregory Soto
Andrew Bellatti
Matt Strahm

Fangraphs believes in the Phillies enough to project them to an 86-76 record, which would get them the third and final wild card spot. PECOTA also has them as the third best team in the NL East and third wild card, but with a 90.2-71.8 record, coming in barely behind the Mets.

Miami Marlins (2022: 69-93, Fourth Place)

Blue Jays @ Marlins June 19-21

The Marlins put up their best full season since 2017 last year, only losing 93 games this time. They have had success recently though thanks to the short 2020 season, where they went 31-29 and swept the Cubs in the first round, only to lose in 3 games to the Braves in the NLDS.

The future of the Marlins is looking bright, as they have a solid young core with one of the best groups of young pitchers in baseball. While the pitching will win them some games this year, the horribly named loanDepot Park will in all likelihood see its final high stakes game of the year tonight.

The Marlins attempted to bolster their offense by bringing in Luis Arraez and Jean Segura over the winter, while also adding Yuli Gurriel and José Iglesias on minor league contracts. The cost of trading for Arraez was Pablo López, and they replaced him in the rotation with Johnny Cueto. To improve the bullpen, they added Matt Barnes, A.J. Puk and JT Chargois.

Projected Lineup

Jazz Chisholm Jr., CF
Jorge Soler, DH
Luis Arraez, 2B
Garrett Cooper, 1B
Avisail García, RF
Jean Segura, 3B
Joey Wendle, SS
Jacob Stallings, C
Jesús Sánchez, LF

Projected Rotation

Sandy Alcantara
Jesús Luzardo
Johnny Cueto
Trevor Rogers
Edward Cabrera

Notable Bullpen Arms

Dylan Floro
Tanner Scott
Matt Barnes
A.J. Puk
JT Chargois
Steven Okert

The Marlins should win more this year than they’ve won in years, but they’re very clearly the fourth best team in the division again this year, although they’re going to be a lot closer to the top teams in the division than to the bottom this year. Fangraphs sees as nearly a .500 team this year, with an 80-82 projected record. PECOTA is right behind that at 79.2-82.8.

Washington Nationals (2022: 55-107, Last Place, worst record in baseball)

Nationals @ Blue Jays August 28-30

I checked, and the Nationals are playing games against Major League Baseball teams this year, which technically also makes them a Major League Baseball team. The league needs a worst team and Nationals have taken that challenge to heart.

To make matters worse, what was supposed to be an exciting part of the season for Nationals’ fans was watching the growth of prospect Cade Cavalli. But Cavalli is scheduled to undergo Tommy John surgery tomorrow.

The one thing that Nationals fans can be happy about is that their World Series trophy has a lot less dust than most other fanbases. But with the exceptions of Victor Robles, an ever-injured Stephen Strasburg, and an unfortunately not-forgettable Patrick Corbin, this is a completely different group of guys from that magical 2019 team. But flags fly forever.

The Nationals did add some notable names to their roster this year, taking from the bottom of the free agency pile the following: Corey Dickerson, Jeimer Candelario, Dominic Smith, Trevor Williams, Chad Kuhl and Alex Colomé.

Their biggest move of the winter was locking up Keibert Ruiz, the key piece coming back from the Dodgers in the trade that sent out Trea Turner and Max Scherzer in July 2021. Ruiz signed an 8 year, $50m extension that could potentially keep him around through the 2032 season.

Projected Lineup

Lane Thomas, RF
Corey Dickerson, LF
Joey Meneses, DH
Jeimer Candelario, 3B
Keibert Ruiz, C
Dominic Smith, 1B
CJ Abrams, SS
Victor Robles, CF
Luis García, 2B

Projected Rotation

Patrick Corbin
Josiah Gray
Trevor Williams
MacKenzie Gore
Chad Kuhl

Notable Bullpen Arms

Kyle Finnegan
Carl Edwards Jr.
Hunter Harvey
Erasmo Ramírez
Alex Colomé

Fangraphs somehow has them as just the second worst team in baseball with a 65-97 projection, 1 win ahead of the Rockies. PECOTA views them as clearly the worst though with their projection at 61.7-100.3.


Who will win the NL East?

This poll is closed

  • 52%
    (64 votes)
  • 24%
    (30 votes)
  • 9%
    (11 votes)
  • 0%
    (0 votes)
  • 7%
    A different team brought in via sudden realignment
    (9 votes)
  • 5%
    (7 votes)
121 votes total Vote Now


How many of the 16 games will the Jays win?

This poll is closed

  • 22%
    11 or more
    (27 votes)
  • 45%
    (55 votes)
  • 24%
    (29 votes)
  • 5%
    (7 votes)
  • 1%
    5 or fewer
    (2 votes)
120 votes total Vote Now