Click here for the 2020 American League Season Preview
National League Season Preview and Predictions:
- Braves 38-22: Atlanta enters 2020 as the second best team in the National League behind LA. With a young and exciting lineup of Ozzie Albies, Ronald Acuña Jr., and Freddie Freeman as well as other impact bats, runs won’t be hard to come by. The pitching staff is interesting as young stud Mike Soroka and a decent Max Fried return as well as the benefits from a full season from Sean Newcomb and the veteran prescence of Cole Hamels. The bullpen looks to be very strong as new closer and 2019 breakout Will Smith along with effective set up guys make the Braves very well rounded. It’s assumed the Braves will make the playoffs in 2020 but after going out in the last two seasons in the NLDS and with not many big changes to the roster, the pressure is on Atlanta to make noise this October.
- Mets 36-24: The squad in Queens is one of the more interesting teams to watch this season. After years of struggling on offense the Mets finally have guys like the 2019 Rookie of the Year and home run leader Pete Alonso, 2019 breakouts Jeff McNeil, JD Davis and Amed Rosario as well as the steady bats of Wilson Ramos and Michael Conforto to give them run support. The rotation does take a hit with the loss of Noah Syndergaard to injury but they still have the best pitcher in the world in Jacob deGrom, former all star Marcus Stroman and an innings eater in Rick Porcello to keep games tight. The bullpen was atrocious in 2019 but with how bad guys like Edwin Diaz and and Jeurys Familia were, it’s hard to imagine them being able to be any worse this year. And with the signing of Dellin Betances and the emergence of Seth Lugo, the Mets have the potential to be a very complete team in 2020. If they live up to the hype which looks more likely than not, New York will be the home of two playoff teams this shortened season.
- Nationals 33-27: The defending champions come into 2020 with eyes set on the playoffs despite losing franchise third baseman Anthony Rendon to free agency. However, young phenom Juan Soto will easily anchor the lineup this year and with the help of the consistency in Trea Turner and Adam Eaton will still make Washington’s bats formidable. But if Washington is going to return to October, pitching will be a big reason why. This is arguably the best staff in baseball featuring former Cy Young and top-3 pitcher in the game in Max Scherzer, World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg and All-Star Patrick Corbin, all of which are still pitching at their best. The bullpen is decent with closer Sean Doolittle and Daniel Hudson but beyond that, Washington could have some trouble in the later innings. But with the championship experience now with the team, the Nationals will do just enough to defend their title in October as they get the second wild card spot.
- Phillies 27-33: More money, more problems for Philly in 2020. The Phillies have MLB’s 6th highest payroll this season and still have massive holes on the team, despite popular belief that they are contenders. The lineup is still full of hitters in Bryce Harper, Jean Segura, JT Realmuto and more. But the problem with the Phillies is their pitching. The rotation does start out good with Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler but beyond them are regressing guys especially Jake Arrieta that will hold them back. Philly’s bullpen isn’t much better as their most “reliable” reliever Hector Neris had a near 3.00 ERA last year which is not great for a closer. Pitching is even more important in a shortened season and with the lack of it in Philadelphia, the Phillies miss the playoffs yet again.
- Marlins 16-44: Miami is starting out another season on a weak note. The Marlins rebuild still has a long way to go, and shouldn’t expect them to content for a while. But on the bright side, the hitters don’t look like a total embarrassment like they have been showing that maybe in a few years, with their improving farm system, they might not be a joke anymore. But that’s if Derek Jeter actually figures out how to properly own a team.
- Reds 36-24: After years of struggle, the Reds have put together an intriguing team that can be very competitive in 2020. The lineup looks to be dangerous as breakout slugger Eugenio Suarez joins veteran hitters Mike Moustakas and Nick Castellanos along with other young bats like Aristedes Aquino. The rotation seems like it can be very effective with the trio of Luis Castillo, Trevor Bauer and Sonny Gray, all of whom are former all stars. The bullpen though is a little suspect as two of their main guys in Raisel Iglesias and Pedro Strop are coming off of down years. While there still are some pieces left to be added, Cincinnati finally has a competitive team on its hands and that will make them baseball’s most surprising team in 2020 as they come from the bottom of the division to the top in 2020 and make the playoffs for the first time since 2012 as champions of the NL Central.
- Cubs 32-28: With 2020 comes a fresh start on the North Side as David Ross replaces Joe Maddon as manager. The former catcher leads a very talented group into the new season, especially in the hitting department with all stars Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo as well as former MVP Kris Bryant. And with a young stud in Willson Contreras going along with the big power of Kyle Schwarber, the Cubbies can hit. But their success will be determined by pitching. They have 4 veteran starters in Kyle Hendricks, Yu Darvish, Jon Lester and Jose Quintana as well as the closer Craig Kimbrel whom have all had success in the past. But all of those guys did not have their best stuff in 2019 which they will need to have this year for the Cubs to win. But with so many unknowns on this team and being so reliant on several players to bounce back, it will be very difficult for everything to go right in Chicago. As a result, they just barely miss out on a wild card spot and for the second straight year end their season in disappointing fashion.
- Cardinals 32-28: An unexpected late season push by St. Louis shot them from NL pretender to an NLCS appearance last year and much of that team returns in 2020. Paul Goldschmidt is bound to bounce back from a down 2019 and adding him to all star Paul DeJong and emerging bats in Kolten Wong and Tommy Edman, St. Louis will also get their licks in at the plate. On the mound, the emergence of Jack Flaherty finally gives the Cardinals a true ace to headline a solid rotation. The bullpen should be decent enough to keep St. Louis in the hunt deep into September but at the end of the day, the Cardinals don’t have the superstar power other teams do outside of Goldschmidt and Flaherty. With multiple teams in the Central having that kind of talent more than the Cardinals, they will miss out on the playoffs narrowly but they surely won’t be out of October for long.
- Brewers 25-35: Milwaukee this year is putting all of their hopes into two guys, Christian Yelich and Josh Hader. In a – team – sport like baseball, that isn’t going to suit you well. The Brewers still have a solid lineup built around the 2018 NL MVP and established hitters in Lorenzo Cain, Keston Hiura and Ryan Braun. But they lost a lot of offensive production from Mike Moustakas and Yasmani Grandal who both left in free agency. With the starting pitching not looking very convincing other than an injury prone Brandon Woodruff and the bullpen being totally reliant on one guy, the Brewers take a big step back and fall way short of the playoffs.
- Pirates 18-42: After a late summer stretch last season in which Pittsburgh lost 24 times in 28 games, rebuild mode was activated. The most notable thing the Pirates do this season will probably be the returns they get for trading Josh Bell and maybe Bryan Reynolds at the deadline. It’s the start of a long rebuild in the Steel City and this year will show where things are headed in the future.
- Dodgers 42-18: This is as simple as it gets in terms of team expectations. For the Dodgers, it’s World Series or bust in 2020. They are the undisputed best team in not only the NL West, but the entire National League. Last year’s team that won 106 games and was eliminated by the eventual champions is still in tact and only got better through the addition of former MVP Mookie Betts and past Cy Young winner David Price. Add these guys to reigning NL MVP Cody Bellinger, rock steady Justin Turner, slugger Max Muncy, breakout ace Walker Buehler and veteran Clayton Kershaw and LA is loaded. Along with an elite bullpen, this is the most complete team in the NL and are the favorite to return to the World Series for the 3rd time in 4 years and maybe even win it for the first time since 1988.
- Diamondbacks 30-30: Arizona after seemingly deciding to blow it up after trading Zack Greinke last year flipped the switch with a red hot second half in 2019. Despite falling short of the playoffs, the D-Backs added two high quality experience players in former All-Star Starling Marte and playoff legend Madison Bumgarner. Starling will only improve an Arizona lineup that already features star hitter Ketel Marte, the underrated Eduardo Escobar and a very solid David Peralta. Adding Bumgarner to pair with Robbie Ray in the rotation along with a sneaky good Zac Gallen makes the starters seem quite good. An effective Archie Bradley will likely be the closer in 2020 along with decent set up stuff in Andrew Chafin. Arizona is a very solid team coming into this year but in such a competitive wild card race, the Diamondbacks will be just a few pieces away from a playoff spot and end up finishing .500 and head into an interesting offseason for the team.
- Padres 28-32: A long dead period of Padres baseball seems to finally be coming to an end as their bounty of top prospects begin to showcase their skills in the majors. These young guys include the impressive sophomore shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., solid backstop Francisco Mejia, and a plethora of young pitching talent in Chris Paddack as well as top pitching prospects in the minors. There is a big prescence in impactful veterans starting with a still elite, all around player in Manny Machado, the underrated bat of Tommy Pham and the experience of Eric Hosmer. In the rotation, average guys like Joey Lucchesi and Garrett Richards should be able to have decent production. With standout closer Kirby Yates owning the ninth, the Padres have a decent team. However, they are still too young to make a legitimate run at the playoffs and will come up short. But the signs of major progress, some serious talent moving up the system and the potential to make a big trade or signing this winter will have the Padres back in the playoff hunt in 2021.
- Rockies 24-36: You can hit the ball all you want, but if you can’t pitch just as good, you are in trouble. That will be Colorado’s main problem this year, just as it was in 2019. The hitting advantage in Coors Field will aid their lineup which is filled with hitters like Charlie Blackmon, David Dahl, Trevor Story and obviously, Nolan Arenado. But last year, 1 of their 5 starters had an ERA under 4.00. Jon Gray can’t pitch everyday and there are no signs guys like Kyle Freeland or German Marquez can rebound enough to be effective. Without any reliable relievers, Colorado is going to have massive issues keeping scores down. The prime aspect of pitching being so important in a shortened season, Colorado will more likely than not, underperform again this year.
- Giants 21-39: It’s the end of an era in San Francisco as franchise legends Bruce Bochy and Madison Bumgarner are both out of town. This year will be the beginning of a rebuild for the Giants as mostly role players fill the 2020 roster. There is some promise towards the future with prospects like Joey Bart, but even with some young talent, hiring Gabe Kapler to lead the rebuild does not look good at all and could very well prolong a period of struggle in San Francisco even after a decade of 3 championships.
1 seed: Dodgers
2 seed: Braves
3 seed: Reds
Wild Cards (Best to Worst): Mets, Nationals
Image: The Game