National League Second Half Predictions
After demolishing the American League in the MLB All Star games, many National League players are going to be in deep playoff races. Here are my predictions for each division for the rest of the season.
National League East
Overview: The National League East seems to have its standings upside down. Arguably the biggest first half disappointment, the Philadelphia Phillies are 14 games behind the division leaders, whereas one of the biggest surprises of the first half, the Washington Nationals, are in first place. The Phillies will finally be healthy getting back Howard and Utley, however it might not be enough to get back in the race. The Nationals with their 4 game lead, can win the division, but will need to continue playing good baseball. The Braves and Mets are both 4 and 4.5 games behind the Nats. Not to be forgotten, the Miami Marlins, with the newly acquired Carlos Lee, have the firepower to make a comeback. Will the Braves or Mets be able to catch the Nationals? If not will the Marlins or Phillies be able to ride the new bats entering their lineups in the second half, to a division title? Will any of the non-division winning teams be good enough to earn a Wild Card berth?
National League East Division Winner Prediction: Washington Nationals.
Reason: I do not buy the Nationals Front Office when they say they will keep Strasburg at an Innings Limit. When the time reaches closer, they will decide to go with their ace, and try to win the division. With Strasburg, and hopefully a healthy Werth, along with the strong play of Ian Desmond and Bryce Harper, the Nats should be able to pull away and win the NL East.
National League Central
Overview: The National League Central is host to an even bigger surprise than the Nats. The Central is led by the Pittsburgh Pirates. That’s correct. No typo. To say I am shocked is an understatement. The MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen, as well as the strong pitching by both James McDonald and A.J. Burnett, has led the Pirates. The Buccos are ahead of the Reds by just 1 game. The Reds have a stacked lineup, and a lights out closer. They have played some pretty good baseball, and are probably stunned that the Buccos have a better record then they do. The Cardinals are next in the division, just 1.5 games behind the Reds. The hot bat of Carlos Beltran as well as the surprise pitching performance of Lance Lynn, has led the Cards strong play in the first half. 8 games out are the Milwaukee Brewers, who have 3 weeks to decide if they are going for the playoffs. The Brewers will likely shop Zack Grienke, if they fall out of the race before the July 31st trade deadline. The Cubs are 15 games back and will be shopping pitchers Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster, as well as first baseman/outfielder Bryan LaHair and outfielder Alfonso Soriano, in an attempt to acquire more prospects for rebuilding purposes. Lastly my hometown Houston Astros are 15.5 games behind the division lead and own the MLB’s worst record. The Astros will shop veterans Wandy Rodriguez, Brandon Lyon, and Brett Myers, as well as other serviceable players as part of their rebuilding process.
National League Central Division Winner Prediction: St. Louis Cardinals
Reason: The Cardinals have not stopped hitting despite the removal of Albert Pujols in the lineup. Led by Beltran and Holliday, their hitting has not missed a beat. The arrival of Lance Berkman later in the year, as well as John Jay and Allen Craig, should help them continue their strong play. Their pitching has been pretty strong all year, even with ace, Chris Carpenter’s injury. St. Louis could acquire more pitching help, or bullpen help, should injuries occur, and have a strong chip in Shelby Miller, who has been possibly mentioned as someone St. Louis would be willing to trade, to help with their chances to make the playoffs.
National League West
Overview: The National League West seems to be a 3-team race. The Dodgers have the lead by just .5 games. Right behind the Dodgers, are San Francisco Giants. Just 3.5 games behind the Giants are the Arizona Diamondbacks. The bats of Matt Kemp, and Andre Ethier led the Dodgers for the beginning of the first half. After both got injured, the bats stalled a bit, and the pitching staff, led by Cy Young Clayton Kershaw, helped them out. Entering the second half the Dodgers will have a healthy Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. The Giants, have been a strange team. Their ace, Tim Lincecum, has had an awful season (that is an understatement). Lincecum has a putrid 6.42 ERA as well as a 1.58 WHIP. “The Freak” has tried different things to get back on track but has yet to succeed. The Giants have been led by the hitting machine, Melky Cabrera, as well as the strong pitching of Bumgarner, Cain, and Vogelsong. The Dbacks will also have 3 weeks to decide if they should buy or sell. They are within reaching distance, but could falter and decide to trade their most valuable piece, Justin Upton. The Padres and Rockies are both 13 games out of the lead, and will likely be selling their veterans for prospects that could help in the future.
National League West Winner Prediction: San Francisco Giants
Reason: The Giants have always been known for their pitching. This year, their main ace, Tim Lincecum has been a huge disappointment. I believe, he will turn it around somewhat, and help the Giants defeat the Dodgers in the race for the West. The pitching of the Giants (other than Lincecum) has been very impressive and it should continue through the second half. Their hitters led by Pablo Sandoval, and Melky Cabrera, should continue to get on base and score enough runs to win games.
NL Playoff Predictions:
NL Wild Card Predictions (Remember the new playoff system): Reds over Dodgers
NLDS: Giants over Cardinals (In 5), Reds over Nationals (In 4).
NLCS: Giants over Reds (In 5).
NL MVP: Andrew McCutchen (Pirates)
NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers)
NL Rookie of the year: Bryce Harper (Nationals)
NL Manager of the year: Davey Johnson (Nationals)
Stay tuned for the AL predictions of the second half, coming within the next 24 hours!