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Previewing The National League: Can The Dodgers Get Over The Hump?

Jackson Safon |
April 5, 2015 | 7:38 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

The Nationals are the favorite. Can anyone take them down? (@dodgers_fanly/Twitter)
The Nationals are the favorite. Can anyone take them down? (@dodgers_fanly/Twitter)

The National League is as strong as ever, with an influx of young talent and free agents leading the way. The Cubs, Marlins, and Padres should be much improved and will battle against the Dodgers, always-strong Cardinals, and absolutely loaded Nationals. The great thing about the NL this year however is the parity. While the Nationals are the consensus pick to represent the National League in the World Series, there are arguably six or seven teams with the potential to do so. 

NL East

The Nationals are the odds-on favorite to win the division, as they added Max Scherzer to an already great pitching staff. Their rotation has three guys with the potential to win the Cy Young, and two other guys—in Doug Fister and Gio Gonzalez—that would be second or third starters on many other teams. The Marlins have the lowest payroll in the majors, but definitely have the talent to win the National League. Giancarlo Stanton is one of the best players in the league, and the Marlins have youth and potential at seemingly every position. Gaining Jose Fernandez back in June will be big, as he was arguably the best pitcher in the league last year before getting hurt. Fernandez will be the lynchpin, and if he can come back strong, this team will surely contend. The Mets are also on their own rise, and the leaders of this division will welcome a ton of games against the rebuilding Braves and Phillies. 

Prediction: 1. Nationals 2. Marlins 3. Mets 4. Braves 5. Phillies

NL Central

The St. Louis Cardinals are like the San Antonio Spurs, consistently good but always seemingly under the radar. Once again, they have the talent to reign supreme in their division and to contend for a championship. Bringing in Jason Heyward will provide a new dimension for them on both offense and defense. The Pirates, led by Andrew McCutchen, have hitters at every position and a couple of very strong pitchers at the top of their rotation. For a team that was perennially a bottom-dweller, the Pirates have come on strong and there’s no doubt they’re  here to stay. Another perennial bottom-dweller, the Chicago Cubs might finally be on the rise. With young talent all over the diamond led by Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, Jorge Soler, and the soon-to-be-called-up Kris Bryant, the offense is there. Bringing in Jon Lester to lead the staff alongside Jake Arrieta and Jason Hammel gives the Cubbies three quality starters as well. This division could end up with three teams in the playoffs. 

Prediction: 1. Cardinals 2. Cubs 3. Pirates 4. Reds 5. Brewers

NL East

While the Giants won the World Series last year, it is an odd-numbered year, so some will count them out. While that won’t happen at Neon Tommy, they do have some serious competition in the Dodgers and Padres. The Dodgers are led by Clayton Kershaw and have young, potential star outfielders in Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson. Some forget about Adrian Gonzalez who is still producing and producing well, plus, the Dodgers brought in Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick in the offseason. The Padres made the biggest offseason splash out of anyone, bringing in an entire new outfield in Justin Upton, Wil Myers and Matt Kemp. That’s a scary trio that could win games for the Padres on their own. Bringing in James Shields to anchor the rotation means the NL West is another division that will be competing to have three teams in the playoffs. 

Prediction: 1. Dodgers 2. Padres 3. Giants 4. Rockies 5. Diamondbacks

Wild Card

The National League is stacked, and with the added second wild card spot, the finish to the season could be a wild one. The Marlins, Cubs, Pirates, Padres, Giants, and possibly even Mets will all want a piece of the action, but there is only enough room for two. 

Prediction: 1. Marlins 2. Cubs 3. Padres 4. Pirates 5. Giants 6. Mets


Giancarlo Stanton will launch over 40 home runs and his team will finally be good enough to garner him some votes. Stanton will win it, but Yasiel Puig and Andrew McCutchen will put up a strong fight. 

Cy Young

Clayton Kershaw has won the award three of the past four years, but the Nationals staff has three guys with the stuff to win it. Matt Harvey is also back and has looked great in spring training, but the award goes to Kershaw once again. 

Rookie of the Year

All the hype is about Kris Bryant, but there’s a chance he isn’t even the best rookie on his own team this year. Jorge Soler is a beast and could win this award, but he will finish a close second to Joc Pederson of the Dodgers. Pederson will finally get the playing time he has been vying for, and could finish the year in the 20-20 club in homers and steals. 

NL Champ

It’s finally the Dodgers’ year to get over the hump. Led by two aces, offense from everywhere, and an MVP candidate in Yasiel Puig, the Dodgers make it to the World Series this season. 

Reach Staff Reporter Jackson Safon here.



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