The Phillies and Braves got worse, and the Mets, Nationals and Marlins got better. This season the NL East could finish with the first place team being less than 15 games ahead of the last place team. Last year the Marlins finished 30 games behind the Phillies.
The top of the division shapes up to win a few less games, and the bottom of the division will win a few more. This will bridge the gap between them and bunch everyone up in the middle. Injuries and other things can affect this of course, but the Mets and the Marlins figure to be falling in the middle somewhere. Maybe there’s some doubt that some of the bottom teams can win the division or that the Phillies will finish last, but it’s definitely going to be a tighter race this season.
These teams play each other in half the season’s games. The head to head matchups are going to play a huge role in determining who wins the division this year. The margin of error this year may be that much less that a good record against teams within the division make up the different between winning and falling short. Even just an 11-7 record against the Phillies would make up four games in the standings. If I’m right about the division being bunched up, it’s really going to intensify the rivalries between some of these teams. That can only be a good thing that leads to teams setting up their rotations so we get more pitching duel matchups. All five teams will go into September with a lot of games to play against each, meaning most of the NL East teams may still control their own destiny in terms of making the playoffs.
It’s going to be a fun season.