By: Ethan May, KCOU Sports
Division strength tends to go in cycles; the NL East is trending upwards.
The Washington Nationals have been steadily building a core of talent the last half decade. Anchored by Bryce Harper and some impressive young arms, the Nationals have been challenging the top of the National League for a few seasons.
With arms like Jordan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburg starting and a potent bullpen, I don’t see the Nationals going anywhere.
The Atlanta Braves are a perennial contender who always finds a way to compete. Much like their rivals in Washington D.C., the Braves should continue to play well with arms like Craig Kimbrel and Julio Teheran.
Philadelphia is currently a franchise in rebuilding stage. While they are currently weighed down by big contracts (Ryan Howard & Jonathon Papelbon) and aging pitchers (Cole Hamels & Cliff Lee), the Phillies organization has been respectable.
Many experts believe the Phillies will unload Hamels this offseason to bring in more youth. This team has a solid outfield with Ben Revere and Domonic Brown. I expect the Phillies to only continue to grow as they free themselves of burdensome contracts.
The final two teams are the reason I think this division are the ones to watch in 2015.
The Miami Marlins have not been good in recent years, each year competing with the Astros at the bottom of MLB.
These poor seasons have brought in some impressive youngsters. Giancarlo Stanton is one of the best power hitters in baseball today and Jose Fernandez has been nothing short of impressive to this point.
When Fernandez returns from injury the Marlins will have an impressive staff with other young starters Henderson Alvarez and Nathan Eovaldi.
They also mix in veteran infielder Casey McGehee to a talented young group including Derek Dietrich, Adeiny Hechavarria, and Enrique Hernandez.
If the pitching lives up to its impressive beginnings, the Marlins will compete this season.
The team I expect to turn the most heads? The New York Mets.
Impressive starter Matt Harvey, is on schedule to return from injury. He will join NL Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom, in the starting rotation. Dillon Gee and Jonathon Niese are expected to round out a solid rotation. Pitching wins games.
David Wright is still a top player and is the cornerstone and leader of this team.
The outfield was supplemented last season by the signing of Curtis Granderson to a large contract. Lucas Duda and Eric Young Jr. also manned the outfield last season; however, the Mets recently signed Michael Cuddyer from Colorado to add to their depth.
This base of players is enough for Mets fans to get excited, but there is even more excitement because they have more money to spend.
Players like Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki have been linked to the Mets already as the team seems to be ready to spend to compete now.
For years it was the Braves and Phillies competing for the division title year in and year out, but now it seems as though the Mets, Marlins, and Nationals will be the ones fighting for the crown.
It will be an interesting offseason in the NL East and I expect an even more exciting season on the east coast.