Bouncing Back in 2015: NL East
The Atlanta Braves have a lot of pitchers that were injured last year and players they rely upon who underperformed, so to choose one isn’t easy, but I’m a huge Mike Minor fan so that’s where I start. He had an awful season last year. His 4.77 era was the worst on the staff, while his 20 more hits than innings pitched didn’t seem fitting either. I look for him to have a bounce back season. Offensively, I don’t see Andrelton Simmons as a great hitter, but if he can bring his average up to .280’s level he will be without a doubt the best SS in baseball for the total package.
In Miami it’s even easier… this team will go as far as Giancarlo Stanton’s bat and Jose Fernandez’s arm will lead them. When healthy those two are spectacular. Mike Redmond did an amazing job last year as the manager, and he could be the next big deal manager. I also want to send a shout out to Chaska’s own Brad Hand who had an excellent season with the Marlins last year, but this team’s unsung hero will be Christian Yelich… he has a batting title in him in the near future, and if the Marlins contend in 2015 like I think they will the future starts now.
The Mets have always been the NY little sister that had to get crazy to get the tabloid love that the Yankees generate by just being the Yankees. My hope is that they stop that silliness and decide to just ride this pitching staff of young aces all the way to the World Series in the not so distant future. Matt Harvey is healthy, and Zack Wheeler looks solid. Jacob DeGrom was beyond outstanding last year, and phenom Noah Syndergaard might be as good if not better than any of them. However, this team will not go anywhere until David Wright is 100% healthy and puts up the big numbers that he used to be capable of. Now you have idiot Daniel Murphy causing issues with his homophobic rhetoric, and as a result you have more tabloids crap and less focus on the field. The guy I pick to be the bounce back player of the Mets overall is Matt Harvey as I don’t trust this offense or defense. The Mets could lead the NL in strikeouts and ERA in 2015 while having the Rookie of the Year, and still finish 7-10 games under .500.
The Phillies are a mess, and Philly fans aren’t exactly forgiving. They need a full scale rebuild but are unable to trade Howard, and no one wants to just dump 60 million dollars by cutting him. Keeping him is going to hinder the future a great deal as prize minor leaguer Maikel Franco will most likely have to start the season in AAA. Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels could and should replenish a mostly blah minor league system. A lot of people here in Minnesota believe the Twins should never have given up Ben Revere, and he didn’t make their argument less powerful with the yea he had last year, but if the Phillies are to have a future the guy that needs to bounce back is Ryan Howard. The guy who will however is not Howard. I believe it will be a healthy Cliff Lee who will then be traded in June or July for a small ransom with Hamels bringing in the lottery load.
The Nation’s Capital is sitting pretty with an excellent team that improved dramatically in the offseason by picking up Max Scherzer in free agency with the most unique contract in a long time. This team is set up for the long haul and right now. I don’t need to blow smoke for a team that already proved how good it is last season, and should be even better this year if healthy. The person that stands to be the biggest problem child is also the guy I expect to bounce back and show that the early career comparisons to Mike Trout weren’t a waste of our time. That is Bryce Harper, who was mostly boring and sometimes terrible last season when he was healthy. His attitude sucks, and his bat hasn’t done what it’s capable of. I think it does this year, but it may only further enhance his reputation as the next Barry Bonds (without a hint of crème, clear, or HGH).