National League East Preview Capsules

New York Mets starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) throws during the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Houston Astros, Friday, March 10, 2023, in Port St. Lucie, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Capsules of National League East teams, listed in order of finish last year:

___

ATLANTA BRAVES

2022: 101-61, first place, lost to Philadelphia in Division Series.

Manager: Brian Snitker (eighth season).

Opening Day: March 30 at Washington.

He’s Here: C Sean Murphy, RHP Joe Jiménez, RHP Nick Anderson, OF Kevin Pillar, OF Jordan Luplow, OF Eli White, OF Sam Hilliard, 1B Lewin Díaz

He’s Outta Here: SS Dansby Swanson, C William Contreras, RHP Kenley Jansen, OF Adam Duvall, RHP Darren O’Day.

Top Hitters: RF Ronald Acuña Jr. (.266, 15 HRs, 50 RBIs, .764 OPS, 29 SBs in 119 games), 3B Austin Riley (.273, 38, 93, .878 OPS), 1B Matt Olson (.240, 34, 103, .802 OPS, 44 doubles), CF Michael Harris II (.297, 19, 64, .853 OPS), C Travis d’Arnaud (.268, 18, 60, .791 OPS).

Projected Rotation: LH Max Fried (14-7, 2.48 ERA), RH Kyle Wright (21-5, 3.19), RH Spencer Strider (11-5, 2.67, 202 Ks in 131 2/3 innings), RH Charlie Morton (9-6, 4.34, 205 Ks), LH Jared Shuster (7-10, 3.29 in minors) or LH Dylan Dodd (12-9, 3.36 in minors).

Key Relievers: RH Raisel Iglesias (2-6, 2.47 ERA, 17/21 saves with Angels and Braves), LH A.J. Minter (5-4, 2.46, 5 saves, 75 games), RH Joe Jiménez (3-2, 3.49, 2 saves with Detroit).

Outlook: The Braves are looking to extend their streak of five consecutive NL East titles, a run that includes their 2021 World Series championship. For the second straight season, Atlanta must replace a fan favorite and clubhouse leader. After losing first baseman Freddie Freeman to the Dodgers following the 2021 season, Swanson signed with the Cubs this offseason. While Freeman was immediately replaced with a trade for Olson, the shortstop competition between Vaughn Grissom and Braden Shewmake ended with both being sent to Triple-A Gwinnett. Orlando Arcia will open the season as the surprise starting shortstop. Strong pitching by rookies Shuster and Dodd led to the unexpected demotions of Ian Anderson and Bryce Elder to the minors. Murphy’s strong arm behind the plate is a boost in a season when rules changes are expected to put a renewed emphasis on stolen bases.

___

NEW YORK METS

2022: 101-61, second place, lost to San Diego in wild-card round.

Manager: Buck Showalter (second season).

Opening Day: March 30 at Miami.

He’s Here: RHP Justin Verlander, RHP Kodai Senga, LHP José Quintana, RHP David Robertson, LHP Brooks Raley, C Omar Narváez, OF Tommy Pham, INF Danny Mendick, RHP Jeff Brigham, RHP Elieser Hernández, RHP Sam Coonrod, RHP Dennis Santana, RHP Stephen Ridings.

He’s Outta Here: RHP Jacob deGrom, RHP Chris Bassitt, RHP Taijuan Walker, RHP Seth Lugo, RHP Trevor May, C James McCann, RHP Mychal Givens, RHP Trevor Williams, LHP Joely Rodríguez, OF Tyler Naquin, DH/1B Dominic Smith.

Top Hitters: 1B Pete Alonso (.271, 40 HRs, 131 RBIs, tied for MLB lead, .869 OPS in 160 games), 2B Jeff McNeil (MLB-best .326, 9, 62, .836 OPS, 39 doubles), SS Francisco Lindor (.270, 26, 107, .788 OPS, 16 SBs in 161 games), RF Starling Marte (.292, 16, 63, .814 OPS, 18 SBs in 118 games), CF Brandon Nimmo (.274, 16, 64, .800 OPS, 102 runs in 151 games).

Projected Rotation: RH Max Scherzer (11-5, 2.29 ERA, 23 starts), RH Justin Verlander (AL-best 18-4, MLB-low 1.75, 28 starts, 185 Ks, 29 BBs in 175 innings for Houston, won 3rd AL Cy Young Award), RH Kodai Senga (11-6, 1.94, 22 starts for Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in Japan), RH Carlos Carrasco (15-7, 3.97), LH David Peterson (7-5, 3.83) or RH Tylor Megill (4-2, 5.13).

Key Relievers: RH David Robertson (4-3, 2.40 ERA, 20 saves, 81 Ks, 62 2/3 IP with Cubs and Phillies), RH Adam Ottavino (6-3, 2.06, 3 saves, 79 Ks, 16 BBs, 65 2/3 IP in 66 games), LH Brooks Raley (1-2, 2.68, 6 saves with Rays), RH Drew Smith (3-3, 3.33).

Outlook: New York won 101 games last year — second-most in franchise history — and led the NL East for all but six days. But the Mets were unable to hold off rival Atlanta for the division crown, losing the season-series tiebreaker, and their first playoff appearance since 2016 lasted only three days as they went down quietly at home against San Diego. Needing to rebuild a pitching staff ravaged by free agency, owner Steve Cohen spent nearly $500 million on free agents himself to remain competitive in a top-heavy division that features the past two National League champions. The headliners were Senga and Verlander, who rejoins Scherzer (they were teammates in Detroit from 2010-14) to give the Mets a pair of three-time Cy Young Award winners atop the rotation. Verlander is 40, and Scherzer is 38. They must hold up physically. The payroll is a projected $370 million, which would shatter the previous MLB record of $298 million by the 2015 Los Angeles Dodgers. On the field, spring training was painful. Edwin Díaz, baseball's most dominant closer last year, injured his knee celebrating a victory with Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic and is expected to miss the entire season. Quintana had bone graft surgery to repair a stress fracture in his rib and won't return until at least July. Nimmo (ankle, knee) and Raley (hamstring) got nicked up, too, but could be ready by opening day. Most of the lineup returns intact for a team that tied for fifth in the majors in runs, and promising young hitting prospects like third baseman Brett Baty and catcher Francisco Álvarez could provide a boost at some point, too. Robertson and Ottavino, both experienced late-inning relievers, will try to replace Díaz — but the bullpen is a question mark now.

___

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

2022: 87-75, lost to Houston in World Series.

Manager: Rob Thomson (second season).

Opening Day: May 30 at Texas.

He’s Here: SS Trea Turner, RHP Taijuan Walker, LHP Gregory Soto, RHP Craig Kimbrel, LHP Matt Strahm, INF Josh Harrison.

He’s Outta Here: RHP Kyle Gibson, RHP Noah Syndergaard, RHP David Robertson, OF Matt Vierling, INF Nick Maton.

Top Hitters: SS Trea Turner (.298, 21 HRs, 100 RBIs, 101 runs, 27/30 SBs, .809 OPS in 160 games with Dodgers), LF Kyle Schwarber (.218, NL-best 46, 94, 100 runs, .827 OPS, NL-worst 200 Ks in 155 games), DH Bryce Harper (.286, 18, 65 in 99 games), C J.T. Realmuto (.276, 22, 74).

Projected Rotation: RH Aaron Nola (11-13, 3.25 ERA, 235 Ks), LH Ranger Suárez (10-7, 3.65), RH Zack Wheeler (12-7, 2.82, 163 Ks), RH Taijuan Walker (12-5, 3.49 with Mets), LH Bailey Falter (6-4, 3.86).

Key Relievers: LH José Alvarado (4-2, 3.18 ERA, 2 saves,) RH Seranthony Domínguez (6-5, 3.00, 9 saves).

Outlook: The defending NL champions signed Turner away from the Dodgers to an 11-year, $300 million contract and expect him to solidify the leadoff spot. Schwarber led the NL in home runs last season from the top of the order but also struck out 200 times and doesn't provide the speed and baserunning Turner can from that slot. Turner gives the offense a needed boost with Harper, a two-time NL MVP, sidelined for at least two months and perhaps until around the All-Star break following offseason elbow surgery. And the lineup took another huge hit when first baseman Rhys Hoskins tore the ACL in his left knee late in spring training. He needs surgery and figures to miss the entire season. Hoskins had 30 homers and 79 RBIs last year, plus six homers and 12 RBIs during the postseason. The Phillies won only 87 games last year before making a surprise run to the World Series, where they lost to Houston in six games. They hope the addition of Walker can give the rotation the depth and innings it needed last October and push them closer to an NL East title.

___

MIAMI MARLINS

2022: 69-93, fourth place.

Manager: Skip Schumaker (first season).

Opening Day: March 30 vs. New York Mets.

He’s Here: 2B Luis Arraez, RHP Johnny Cueto, SS Jean Segura, LHP A.J. Puk, RHP Matt Barnes, SS Jacob Amaya, INF Yuli Gurriel, INF José Iglesias, RHP Johan Quezada.

He’s Outta Here: Manager Don Mattingly, RHP Pablo López, SS Miguel Rojas, OF JJ Bleday, LHP Richard Bleier, SS Jose Salas, OF Byron Chourio.

Top Hitters: 2B Luis Arraez (AL-best .316, 8 HRs, 49 RBIs, .795 OPS with Minnesota), CF Jazz Chisolm Jr. (,254, 14, 45, .860 OPS in 60 games), 3B Jean Segura (.277, 10, 33, .723 OPS with Philadelphia), LF Bryan De La Cruz (.252, 13, 43, .726 OPS).

Projected Rotation: RH Sandy Alcantara (14-9, 2.28 ERA, NL Cy Young Award), LH Jesus Luzardo (4-7, 3.32), RH Johnny Cueto (8-10, 3.35 with White Sox), LH Braxton Garrett (3-7, 3.58), LH Trevor Rogers (4-11, 5.47), RH Edward Cabrera (6-4, 3.01)

Key Relievers: RH Dylan Floro (1-3, 3.02 ERA, 10 saves), LH A.J. Puk (4-3, 3.12, 4 saves with Oakland), RH Matt Barnes (0-4, 4.31, 8 saves with Boston).

Outlook: After finishing with their 12th losing record in the last 13 years, the Marlins made big changes to the roster and staff, including bringing in a new manager in Schumaker. The biggest question will be if they can turn their offseason moves into better offense after they had the fifth-worst team batting average in 2022. Miami added Arraez, the reigning AL batting champion, and Segura, a two-time All-Star, to help with that. The Marlins traded away López, a dependable starter, to get Arraez, but their pitching staff should remain their strength in 2023.

___

WASHINGTON NATIONALS

2022: 55-107, fifth place.

Manager: Dave Martinez (sixth season).

Opening Day: March 30 vs. Atlanta.

He’s Here: 1B Dominic Smith, 3B Jeimer Candelario, RHP Trevor Williams, RHP Chad Kuhl, OF Corey Dickerson.

He’s Outta Here: DH Nelson Cruz, DH/1B Luke Voit, RHP Erick Fedde, RHP Steve Cishek, RHP Joe Ross, RHP Aníbal Sánchez, INF/OF César Hernández.

Top Hitters: DH Joey Meneses (.324, 13 HRs, 34 RBIs, .930 OPS in 56 games as a 30-year-old rookie), C Keibert Ruiz (.251, 7, 36, .673 OPS), 3B Jeimer Candelario (.217, 13, 50, .633 OPS with Tigers), SS CJ Abrams (.246, 2, 21, .604 OPS with Padres and Nationals).

Projected Rotation: LH Patrick Corbin (6-19, 6.31 ERA, 210 hits allowed in 152 2/3 IP), RH Trevor Williams (3-5, 3.75, 1 save in 89 2/3 IP over 30 games, 9 starts with Mets), LH MacKenzie Gore (4-4, 4.50 with Padres), RH Josiah Gray (7-10, 5.02), RH Chad Kuhl (6-11, 5.72 with Rockies).

Key Relievers: RH Kyle Finnegan (6-4, 3.51 ERA, 11/15 saves, 70 Ks in 66 2/3 IP), RH Carl Edwards Jr. (6-3, 2.76, 2 saves), RH Hunter Harvey (2-1, 2.52), RH Erasmo Ramirez (4-2, 2.92).

Outlook: Washington is still hoping to develop young talent during a rebuild that already has produced three consecutive last-place finishes — and the worst record in the majors last season — amid the departures of stars such as Juan Soto, Trea Turner and Max Scherzer since the 2019 World Series championship. No one knows when, or whether, Stephen Strasburg will return from a series of injuries. One of the anticipated pieces for the future, pitcher Cade Cavalli, is out for 2023 because of Tommy John surgery. Hanging over all of it is the uncertain situation with ownership: It’s been about a year since the Lerner family began exploring a sale; patriarch Ted Lerner passed away in February.

___

AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports