March 24, 2023
Throwing a wrench into any season preview right now for the Phillies is the news that Rhys Hoskins tore his ACL on Thursday and that the injury will require surgery. Even with Hoskins in the lineup, the National League East was poised to be the best division in the sport and will likely send three teams to the postseason yet again.
The road back to meaningful October baseball has only gotten tougher for the Phils in the last 24 hours.
The top three teams in the NL East are filled with star power. The Mets rotation has aging aces Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer who are still as good as ever. The Braves have great homegrown talent with Michael Harris II and Ronald Acuña Jr. The Phillies still sport a stacked batting order even with Hoskins sidelined due to the presence of Team USA players Trea Turner, Kyle Schwarber and J.T. Realmuto. That's even before reigning NLCS MVP Bryce Harper returns to the lineup this summer.
The Marlins should be feisty and hang tough, especially with Sandy Alcantara, the 2022 NL Cy Young Award winner who posted a 2.28 ERA in an MLB-leading 228.2 innings pitched. Anytime the Phils can avoid Alcantara when they play a series against Miami is a win.
Down in the nation's capital, the Nationals look to be bottom-feeders. Since this infamous tweet on Aug. 25, 2020 that's been ratio'd into oblivion, Washington is 135-217, including a 107-loss campaign in 2022:
Beating Philadelphia isn't as hard as Philadelphians say it is.#NATITUDE pic.twitter.com/sDhhsCSnAG— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) August 25, 2020
As the New Radicals once said, "You get what you give," and the Nationals have given their fan base (if one exists?) absolutely nothing in a few years.
As for projections, here are the playoffs odds for all five teams in the division via Fangraphs:
|Team||Win Div.||Clinch Wild Card||Win WS|
"Poor Nationals!" said no one.
So, where will the Fightins finish in a crowded NL East race? I won't have them winning the division, as manager Rob Thomson will need to weather the storm of early season injuries and the front office needs to pull off some moves to reestablish depth on this roster, but I'll say they make it the playoffs again.
My projected finishes:
1st: Braves (97-65) [Playoff seed No. 1]
2nd: Phillies (90-62) [Playoff seed No. 5]
3rd: Mets (88-64) [Playoff seed No. 6]
4th: Marlins (79-83)
5th: Nationals (61-101)
Here are a couple of awards I'll predict, too:
NL East MVP: Trea Turner, SS, Phillies
NL East Cy Young: Justin Verlander, RHP, Mets
NL East Rookie of the Year: Kodai Senga, RHP, Mets
NL East Manager of the Year: Rob Thomson, Phillies
Next Thursday can't come soon enough.
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