Analysis, Baseball

A Midterm Report: MLB Predictions after the All-Star Break (Part 2: The National League)

The All-Star Break is coming to an end, and the MLB trade deadline is fast approaching. Every team is in the process of figuring out whether they should be a buyer or a seller.

With that in mind, here are predictions and scouting reports for each NL team for the second half of the season.


Philadelphia Phillies (Record at the All-Star Break: 53-42, Standing at the All-Star Break: 1st in the NL East, Projected Season-End Standing: 2nd in the NL East, 2nd NL Wild Card)

Very few expected the Phillies to be sitting in first place in the NL East at this point in the season. They only had one All-Star—the minimum allowed for any team—starting pitcher Aaron Nola. But due to the unexpected mediocrity of their division, they are in a position to win on the backs of a young, rebuilding team. The team could benefit from a big bat or two and some more starting pitching debt. They have a lot of salary cap space, so these dreams could easily become realities.

Atlanta Braves (Record at the All-Star Break: 52-42, Standing at the All-Star Break: 2nd in the NL East, 0.5 GB, Projected Season-End Standing: 1st in the NL East)

Like the Phillies, the Braves are far ahead of schedule on their rebuild. But now the NL East crown is well within their reach, and they will spend just enough at the deadline to seize it. Ultimately, the Braves’ deep farm system will give them the prospects they need to pull off those moves and surpass the Phillies for 1st. Having Freddie Freeman doesn’t hurt either.

Washington Nationals (Record at the All-Star Break: 48-48, Standing at the All-Star Break: 3rd in the NL East, 5.5 GB, Projected Season-End Standing: 3rd in the NL East)

The Nationals have wildly underperformed. With Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy, and Max Scherzer, they seemed the sure favorite for winning their division and contending for a spot in the World Series. But despite a .500 record at the All-Star Break, the Nationals are still in contention and will look to buy. But the Phillies and Braves are doing that too, and they have a cushion to lean on if needed. The Nationals will rebound in the second half, but still barely miss a Wild Card berth.

New York Mets (Record at the All-Star Break: 39-55, Standing at the All-Star Break: 4th in the NL East, 13.5 GB, Projected Season-End Standing: 4th in the NL East)

The Mets had the best start in baseball, but since then it’s been disappointment after disappointment. They should look to send off their talented starters Jacob DeGrom and Noah Syndergaard, if offered a juicy enough return package. Yet it’s not quite time for a fire sale or a complete rebuild. The Mets have the potential to contend in the next few years, but this season is not for them.

Miami Marlins (Record at the All-Star Break: 41-57, Standing at the All-Star Break: 5th in the NL East, 13.5 GB, Projected Season-End Standing: 5th in the NL East)

Derek Jeter’s Marlins have not recovered from trading Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna, and Dee Gordon in the offseason. Nor were they intended to. But the Marlins didn’t reap as many prospects as they would have liked from those deals, so it’s time to capitalize on J.T. Realmuto, Justin Bour, and Starlin Castro. There’s no reason they shouldn’t complete the rebuild.

Chicago Cubs (Record at the All-Star Break: 55-38, Standing at the All-Star Break: 1st in the NL Central, Projected Season-End Standing: 1st in the NL Central)

The Cubs have mixed feelings about their record at the halfway point of the season. They underperformed their pre-season expectations and their on-paper potential with a loaded lineup and a still-potent rotation. Replacing their number five starter Tyler Chatwood is priority number one, and fending off complacency just below it. They will do just enough to hold off the Brewers, but it will take more if they want to go far again in the postseason.

Milwaukee Brewers (Record at the All-Star Break: 55-43, Standing at the All-Star Break: 2nd in the NL Central, 2.5 GB, Projected Season-End Standing: 2nd in the NL Central, 1st NL Wild Card)

The Brewers spent much of this season 1stin the NL Central. Yet their opportunity to avoid a Wild Card game has likely passed. The Cubs are improving, and every aspect of Milwaukee is declining in performance. The Brewers’ front office recognizes this, and will make a few splashy purchases to get them the 1stNL Wild Card.

St. Louis Cardinals (Record at the All-Star Break: 48-46, Standing at the All-Star Break: 3rd in the NL Central, 7.5 GB, Projected Season-End Standing: 3rd in the NL Central)

The Cardinals have a way of hanging around playoff contention every year, even after firing their manager Mike Matheny. After the All-Star Break, some essential players will be coming back from the DL, and the Cardinals will be tempted to reach deep into their pockets and bid for the NL Central. But if they’re smart, they will recognize the reality of their situation and stay put, even if it disappoint some fans.

Pittsburg Pirates (Record at the All-Star Break: 48-49, Standing at the All-Star Break: 4th in the NL Central, 9 GB, Projected Season-End Standing: 4th in the NL Central)

The Pirates, like the Cardinals, are another team that could go for the playoffs or completely sell off. They have enough young talent, though, to be competitive next year, and hanging on to some expensive veterans (highlighted by Corey Dickerson, Francisco Cervelli, David Freese, and Ivan Nova) will allow them to do just that.

Cincinnati Reds (Record at the All-Star Break: 43-53, Standing at the All-Star Break: 5th in the NL Central, 13.5 GB, Projected Season-End Standing: 5th in the NL Central)

The Reds have overcome a poor start to the season to end up at a mediocre record. They are in the midst of a rebuild, and would do best by finding buyers for speedster Billy Hamilton, former (and rehabilitated) Mets ace Matt Harvey, and ace closer Raisel Iglesias. Improving their farm system, at any cost, should be their top priority.


Los Angeles Dodgers (Record at the All-Star Break: 53-43, Standing at the All-Star Break: 1st in the NL West, Projected Season-End Standing: 1st in the NL West)

The Dodgers overcame a slow start to the season with 33 wins in the 48 games before the All-Star Break. And with the addition of Manny Machado, the Dodgers are the leading contender to become this season’s NL superteam. Whether they have enough depth to contend with their AL counterparts or even make the World Series is unclear, but their grip on 1stplace in the NL West is not.

Arizona Diamondbacks (Record at the All-Star Break: 53-44, Standing at the All-Star Break: 2nd in the NL West, 0.5 GB, Projected Season-End Standing: 2nd in the NL West)

For the Diamondbacks, the time is now. Their team is the healthiest it has been all season, with A.J. Pollock, Robby Ray, Shelby Miller, and Steven Souza Jr. recently returned off the DL. They still have potent stars in Zack Greinke and Paul Goldschmidt, but in general the franchise’s contracts are expiring soon, and with them, their championship hopes. The Diamondbacks have some money to spare and should aggressively go after trades, but ultimately their lack of depth will leave them in 2ndin the NL West and out of a Wild Card berth.

Colorado Rockies (Record at the All-Star Break: 51-45, Standing at the All-Star Break: 3rd in the NL West, 2 GB, Projected Season-End Standing: 4th in the NL West)

At Coors Field, there will always be a lot of offense. And with Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, and Trevor Story, that is especially true. But with mediocre pitching (at best) and subpar defense, the Rockies certainly have an opportunity to improve at the trade deadline. Yet the team has too many holes to stay in contention for the entire season, or even to hold onto 3rd place in the division.

San Francisco Giants (Record at the All-Star Break: 50-48, Standing at the All-Star Break: 4th in the NL West, 4 GB, Projected Season-End Standing: 3rd in the NL West)

The Giants are dangerously close to the luxury tax threshold, which means they can’t go out and spend at the trade deadline. And with the three teams ahead of them in the standings spending as much as they can in a wide-open NL, the Giants are limited in how successful they can be this season. They’re only four games back from the Dodgers, but that will prove to be an unsurmountable deficit.

San Diego Padres (Record at the All-Star Break: 40-59, Standing at the All-Star Break: 5th in the NL West, 14.5 GB, Projected Season-End Standing: 5th in the NL West)

In an otherwise close division, the Padres are the only team out of contention. They are looking to sell at the deadline to bolster a small crop of talented young players. But after dealing Brad Hand to the Indians, the Padres don’t have many other top assets to offer up. Tyson Ross, Freddy Galvis, and A.J. Ellis are probably the next players to go. The Padres have their sights firmly set on next season.


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