Baseball Status Report-National League East
Baseball is ready to go and if you wager on the sport, you have to know all the ins and outs. Some teams have lost key players who are either injured, compromised or have family members who are compromised and don't want to take a chance. Let's take a look at the status of those teams and their odds, along with some betting tips for each squad.
I'll take a look at the National League and check on who will not be available due to personal reasons, injuries or illness.
Last year's record: 97-65
Odds to Win the World Series: +1200
Key questions: How will Freddie Freeman fare after coming off symptoms of the coronavirus?
Key injuries/illness: 1B Freddie Freeman (COVID-19) is ? for the opener. P Felix Hernandez (personal) is out for the season. OF Nick Markakis (personal) is out for the season.
Atlanta could be a darkhorse pick for the World Series, but they have a few issues before the start of the season that makes them a tough selection. Freddie Freeman (.295, 35HR, 121RBI) is a pure pull hitter who wears out right handers. He's coming off some tough symptoms of the coronavirus and might not be ready for the start of the season. In left field, Nick Markakis is a steady hitter and fielder, but chose not to return. They tried to bring in Yasiel Puig, but that didn't work out as he tested positive. Adam Duvall is a utility man who will get the nod. They don't need great numbers, but for him to just be steady. That's because Ronald Acuna Jr. (.280, 41, 101, 37sbs) is coming off a monster season. At third base, Austin Riley is a youngster with good power and size, but will have a tough job replacing Josh Donaldson. Hitting may be down some, but they have a ton of good hitters, so losing Donaldson and Markakis may be felt more in the field, than in the lineup. As far as the mound goes, Atlanta finished with a 4.19 ERA last season and a 1.36 WHIP. That's not bad, but more is expected. They lose Julio Teheran and Dallas Keuchel in free agency, but added another veteran in Cole Hamels. Fortunately, they have some young talent led by 22-year old Mike Soroka (13-4, 2.68 ERA), who had a great rookie season. Max Fried (17-6, 4.02) and Mike Foltynewicz (8-6, 4.54 ERA) will need to step up their game some for the Braves to go far. The bullpen is led by Mark Melancon, who is a solid closer, but they could use an upgrade there. Atlanta is a strong team in a very tough division, with Philadelphia and Washington pushing them. This is a team that you should bet on if you can get good value.
Last year's record: 57-105
Odds to Win the World Series: +35000
Key questions: Can the Marlins ever get out of rebuilding mode?
Key injuries/illness: RP Ryne Stanek (back) is ? RP Jeff Brigham (bicep) is ?
It's going to be another long year in Miami. However, the Marlins did add some talent (finally) led by 1B Jesus Aguilar and OF Corey Dickerson. They'll try and add some punch to a lineup that produced a .241 average and just 146 home runs (last in baseball). Aguilar (35 homers two years ago) was basically given up on by the Brewers. Dickerson (.304, 12, 59 RBI) is a good hitter when healthy and spent time with the Pirates and Phillies. They also brought in speedy OF/INF Jonathan Villar (.274, 24, 73, 40 sbs) who is a productive leadoff player, if you can find a position for him. So, the additions should at least make the lineup serviceable. The pitching has been a bit better than the hitting (4.74 ERA). The big issue is in the bullpen, where Ryne Stanek, the former "opener" for Tampa Bay, is dealing with a back injury. Brandon Kintzler was added and he's a veteran closer, who can get the job done, but he's a band-aid. In the starting rotation, there's not a lot of proven players. RHP Sandy Alcantara (3.88 ERA) is a tall, think fireballer, who is the team's best pitcher. Caleb Smith (10-11, 4.52) is a tough lefty with good movement, but struggles with consistency. There are so many questions after the first two starters, though Jose Urena could be very effective if he is healthy. I like the changes overall, but they still need a few more hitters and starters. The under appears to be a good play with the first three starters.
New York Mets
Last year's record: 86-76
Odds to Win the World Series: +1800
Key questions: Can Jacob deGrom carry this rotation without Noah Syndergaard?
Key injuries/illness: 2B Jed Lowrie (knee) is out indefinitely. SP Noah Syndergaard (elbow) is out for the season.
The Mets could be a slight surprise in the NL East. They have a pretty good lineup led by Pete Alonso (53 homers) They hit .257 as a team last season and 242 home runs. They added hard-throwing Dellin Betances to set up Edwin Diaz (26 saves). Diaz struggled at times last season and if Betances is healthy, he could get his share of saves. OF J.D. Davis (.307, 22, 57) and 3B Jeff McNeil (.318, 23, 75) showed some potential last season. Davis was a former Houston Astros cast-off, who showed he could be a full-time player. But it’s all about the starting staff. Despite having the best pitcher in the game in Jacob deGrom(11-8, 2.43 ERA), the Mets “only” ranked 11th in ERA at 4.24 and had a 1.30 WHIP. After deGrom, there are big question marks with Syndergaard (10-8, 4.28) out for the season. Steven Matz (11-10, 4.21) and Rick Porcello (14-12, 5.52) are capable starters who can eat up innings. But they may not be enough to get by the Braves, Nationals and Phillies, who have better staffs. Go under when deGrom is pitching and consider going over for the rest.
Last year's record: 81-81
Odds to Win the World Series: +2000
Key questions: Do the Phillies have enough pitching to overtake the Braves and Nats?
Key injuries/illness: SP Zack Elfin (back) and SP Zack Wheeler (personal) are ?
Gabe Kapler couldn’t get the job done and was replaced by a well-respected manager in Joe Girardi. That can’t hurt, but everything is about the pitching staff. Good news is that they added Zack Wheeler from the Mets, who is a hard-thrower, who recorded a 3.96 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. Aaron Nola (12-7, 3.87 ERA) is the ace and is hoping to rebound after a disappointing 2019 campaign. Jake Arrieta is 18-19 with a 4.26 ERA over his last two seasons. There is some potential, but it’s all about Wheeler and and Nola. They ranked 17th in ERA last season (4.53) and the bullpen didn’t help matters. Injuries crushed them and the hope is that Hector Neris (2.93 ERA, 28 svs) can get some help. The lineup produced just 215 homers and a .246 batting average. That’s disappointing considering the talent. Bryce Harper (.260, 35, 114, 15sbs) is the heart of the lineup, who gets help from OF Jay Bruce (.216, 26, 59), who can crush the ball, but doesn’t do much else. C J.T. Realmuto (.275, 25, 83) and OF Rhys Hoskins (.226, 29, 85) also provide power. They hope is that 33-year old LF Andrew McCutchen (.56, 10, 29) can stay healthy. The Phillies don’t hit for average, but they can produce runs. Whether that’s enough to win the NL East, is another matter. Under Girardi, they should be better than last season. This is a team to bet on if you can find a decent pitching matchup and go over with Arrieta and Zach Elfin (10-13, 4.13 ERA).
Last year's record: 93-69
Odds to Win the World Series: +1600
Key questions: Can the Nats replace Anthony Rendon in the lineup?
Key injuries/illness: SP Joe Ross (personal) and 1B Ryan Zimmerman (personal) are out.
This still should be a competitive team due to a strong pitching staff. But you have to wonder how they can get back to the World Series without 3B Anthony Rendon (.319, 34, 126). Third base is a major issue as the Nats failed to sign another player. They’ll go with rookie Carter Kieboom or veteran Asdrubal Cabrera. That will put more pressure on OF Juan Soto (.282, 34, 110), a 21-year old phenom. The good news is with a universal DH, Howie Kendrick (.344, 17, 62) can play every day. The 37-year old is still a very good hitter, but can’t play the field full time. SS Trae Turner (.298, 19, 57, 35sbs) is an emerging star, though he needs to be more patient. The starting pitching is as good as it gets with Max Scherzer (11-7, 2.92 ERA), Stephen Strasburg (18-6, 3.32) and Patrick Corbin (14-7, 3.25) leading the way. The team ERA of 4.27 last season was due to a terrible bullpen. That got a little better with the addition of Will Harris from Houston. Sean Doolittle (29svs) is likely to be a co-closer with Daniel Hudson, though Doolittle’s velocity dropped in the preseason and that’s a concern. The Nats should be an under team, but with pitchers going just 5 to 6 innings in the early going at the most, they have to rely on a shaky bullpen. If the bullpen is still a concern, the Nats may miss out on the playoffs. They just can’t afford a slow start. I’d still go under in most of their games, considering their shaky lineup.
(some info from rosterresource.com)