MLB.com Picks Washington Nationals As Team To Beat In NL East

Nationals Have The Proven Pitchers

Monday, March 24, 2014
Stephen Strasburg
Stephen Strasburg
- photo by Tim Evearitt
A year ago, you might recall, Washington was also the consensus pick to take the division. But the Nats didn't gel until it was too late and missed the playoffs entirely despite winning 26 of their last 38 games.

There are plenty of reasons to suspect that the Nationals will bounce back strong this season. While four of the five teams in the division have to consider starting pitching their greatest asset, the Nats took a rotation that already included Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann and added Doug Fister to it. On paper, that's pretty imposing.

They've amassed enough talent that the focus is just on staying healthy and having each player do what he's supposed to do.
They don't need anybody to overachieve to win.

And winning the division is important. In the last 10 years, only two of 12 Wild Card playoff teams have come from the NL East.

The Braves finished 10 games ahead of the Nationals last season, but they will be without right-handers Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy for the entire season due to reconstructive elbow surgery. While Atlanta can't be counted out, any team would be devastated by losing two top starters.

The Marlins appear to be on the rise once again with oodles of talented young players. The only question is how many of the top prospects will reach their potential and how quickly. But if Miami can find a way to score more runs, they'll be a tough opponent this season.

Mets fans can look ahead and imagine what a rotation with Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard will look like in a year or two, especially after all three young arms get a little big league experience. But it shouldn't be overlooked that New York finished third last season, so they can't be written off entirely.

The Phillies still have big names and players who know how to win, but many of the stars have been nagged by injuries in recent years. As a result, good health is even more crucial than normal. If everything falls into place, though, the aging nucleus could have a last hurrah.

Of course, with so much good pitching and so many questions about the offense, there could be a lot of close, low-scoring games in the NL East this season. And that creates a climate in which almost anything is possible.The Marlins appear to be on the rise once again with oodles of talented young players. The only question is how many of the top prospects will reach their potential and how quickly. But if Miami can find a way to score more runs, they'll be a tough opponent this season.

Mets fans can look ahead and imagine what a rotation with Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard will look like in a year or two, especially after all three young arms get a little big league experience. But it shouldn't be overlooked that New York finished third last season, so they can't be written off entirely.

The Phillies still have big names and players who know how to win, but many of the stars have been nagged by injuries in recent years. As a result, good health is even more crucial than normal. If everything falls into place, though, the aging nucleus could have a last hurrah.

Of course, with so much good pitching and so many questions about the offense, there could be a lot of close, low-scoring games in the NL East this season. And that creates a climate in which almost anything is possible.

--- Source: MLB.com

Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has hit 25, 26 homers the past two seasons.
Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has hit 25, 26 homers the past two seasons.
- Photo2 by Tim Evearitt

Dalton State 83, College Of Coastal Georgia 59

Coastal Georgia hit 8 three point shots in the first half and Dalton State star center Ladaris Green, who had been sick and had not practiced this week, played just over five minutes... the result was a close score at the half with DS leading 38-36. Green played around minutes in the second half as the Roadrunners outscored the Mariners 45-22.  Green ... (click for more)

Covenant Men Finish Season In USA South Quarterfinals

The No. 8 seeded Covenant men's basketball team gave No. 1 seed, and tournament host, Averett all it could handle in the quarterfinal round of the USA South tournament, but the host Cougars rallied in the second half for a 67-61 win on Thursday night. Covenant ends its season with a 9-17 overall record. Averett advances to the semifinals and will face No. 4 seed Maryville on ... (click for more)

FCC Votes 3-2 To Approve EPB's Request To Expand Its Broadband Offerings

The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 on Thursday to allow EPB to expand its broadband offerings to neighboring communities. Chairman Tom Wheeler and two other Democrats were in favor, while the two Republican members said the agency was acting illegally in overriding state law. EPB's phone, Internet and TV offerings have been far more successful than expected and ... (click for more)

Hamilton County Schools, UTC To Close Friday; Other Closings Announced

Due to remaining snow on some of the roadways and the potential for black ice overnight and into the morning, Hamilton County Schools will be closed on  Friday . School Age Child Care will also be closed. Employees who accrue vacation will report by  10 a.m.  and maintenance employees will report on regular schedule.  All classes are being ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Has Always Been A Battleground Between Good And Evil

From the thousands slain in nearby Chickamauga Battlefield during the Civil War…  To the launching point of the Cherokee Indian’s Trail of Tears…  To the lunch counter sit-ins led by Howard School students — the only high school student sit-ins in the nation — during the Civil Rights Movement…  To Walter Cronkite calling the polluted Southern industrial town ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Our 92-Year-Old Victim

It is with great pride, and far greater relief, that I can report a “caretaker” is far different than a “boyfriend.” A story out of Memphis earlier this week morphed into a virtual fireball that had such power it appeared on the front page on a London newspaper and other news outlets all around the world when it was reported by the Associated Press a 28-year-old man had assaulted ... (click for more)