NL East Pitching Preview

For the NL East outfield preview, click here.

Starting Rotation:

Atlanta Braves:

Braves right handed pitcher Mark Appel

RHP | Mark Appel | Age 25 | 9 – 14 | 186.0 IP | 4.50 | 121 K |

Appel comes to Atlanta in a trade for 3 top 100 prospects, and a young LHP, but that could be nothing compared to the talent that Appel brings. He led the league in games started last season, with 52, because.. Well we’re not too sure what Houston was thinking. He’s played 3 full seasons, and the stats have never shown how good he could be, but part of it was the terrible teams he played on. He also recently added a cutter, which should help him in his first season in Atlanta. If he turns that talent into results, this is a Cy Young candidate.

RHP | Zack Greinke | Age 33 | 16 – 11 | 224.0 IP | 3.13 | 217 K |

Greinke comes over in a big trade with Cleveland, and if he can have another season with an ERA near 3.00, Atlanta will have acquired their #1 and #2 starters this offseason. He’s been excellent for years, and nothing is pointing towards him starting to decline. Even if he doesn’t have as great of a season, he has put up over 220 IP every season in MLB Pro, including leading the league twice.

RHP | Tyler Pill | Age 26 | 15 – 5 | 188.1 IP | 2.63 | 177 K |

Pill had the best 2016 season of any of the Braves starters, and he’ll be the third starter. In his first season as a full time starter, he showed the Braves management they were right to give him the chance.

RHP | Matt Barnes | Age 26 | 15 – 5 | 200.2 IP | 3.63 | 208 K |

Barnes has the stuff to be an ace, but the 2nd year starting pitcher didn’t put it together in his first full season. With 45 starts under his belt now, he looks poised to either showcase his stuff and breakout, or to sit back and be content with being a 3rd or 4th option.

Braves left handed pitcher Martires Cadet

LHP | Martires Cadet | Age 25 | 14 – 5 | 170.1 IP | 3.80 | 162 K |

Cadet is the only lefty in this rotation, and in his rookie season, he performed well, even winning the May Rookie of the Month award. He also had 3 games of 10+ strikeouts, and tossed a complete game. He shows the potential to be a top flight starter, but in this stacked rotation, he’ll get the ball 5th.

Miami Marlins:

RHP | Michael Pineda | Age 27 | 14 – 11 | 215.1 IP | 3.39 | 206 K |

Pineda came off of a season in which he led the league in ERA, and was just okay. It’s not reasonable to expect him to go back to a league best ERA type season, but the level of success that Pineda has will directly correlate to the Marlins playoff chances. He can’t perform average and expect them to contend for a spot in October.

LHP | Manny Banuelos | Age 25 | 12 – 13 | 221.2 IP | 3.74 | 173 K |

Banuelos is another pitcher that Miami acquired from the Yankees. In 2016, he led the league in innings pitched, but he too, saw his production drop from 2015. His ERA raised by close to a full point, and, similar to Pineda, he’ll have to get that down some if the Marlins expect to play October baseball.

Marlins right handed pitcher Jeff Niemann

RHP | Jeff Niemann | Age 33 | 3 – 13 | 150.0 IP | 4.62 | 123 K |

The Marlins signed the 33 year old this offseason in hopes that he’ll help them take the next step forward. He certainly won’t be as good as last years number three starter (Jordan Zimmermann), but hopefully will be better than he was in 2016. For $5 million, and a player option, he’s worth the chance, but don’t expect anything amazing.

RHP | Jered Weaver | Age 34 | 12 – 10 | 199.1 IP | 4.06 | 163 K |

The free agent to be had a halfway decent season, but nothing to write home about. The Marlins can only hope that he decides he wants one last pay day, and pitches out of his mind. If not, they can expect much of the same, 200 IP, a 4.00 ERA and a chance to win each game.

LHP | Matt Moore | Age 27 | 14 – 6 | 153.1 IP | 3.64 | 138 K |

Moore was brought to the team in the Votto trade, and if the lefty returns to the form he had with the Rays and the Nationals, then he’ll be a steal. Either way, he’ll be a good pickup for the team, and should have another season of mid-3 ERA and hopefully will can return to the 200 inning mark.

New York Mets:

Mets left handed pitcher Jonathon Niese

LHP | Jonathon Niese | Age 30 | 14 – 7 | 211.2 IP | 2.85 | 172 K |

The 30 year old is the only lefty in this stacked Mets rotation, and was the top pitcher in the last two seasons for the team. With a career ERA under 3.00, he’s been an ace and will be handed the ball on Opening Day once again, expected to lead this team to October.

RHP | Simon Castro | Age 28 | 5 – 8 | 141.1 IP | 4.27 | 101 K |

In 2015, when the Mets acquired Castro from Seattle, he made 11 starts and had a 1.53 ERA in that time. He rode that success all the way until now, as he’ll still be a starter despite his struggles in 2016. His lifetime ERA of 4.15 is what you’d expect out of him, but there is the off chance that he finds that form of 2015 again.

RHP | Max Scherzer | Age 32 | 9 – 14 | 189.2 IP | 3.23 | 180 K |

Predicting a 3.23 ERA out of Scherzer in 2017. Why? Because it’s been 2 seasons in a row that he posted a 3.23 ERA. If he can do that again, it’ll be great for the Mets. In his walk year, the 9 year veteran will look to benefit from a career year.

Mets right handed pitcher Alberto Vega

RHP | Alberto Vega | Age 26 | 15 – 4 | 166.0 IP | 3.09 | 174 K |

Vega could be the best of this group, and he’s still not even at his full potential according to most scouts. He only has a three pitch repertoire, but his cutter and two changeup mix is as good as anyone’s in the league. He also has superb command, with a 2.1 BB/9. Look for Vega to breakout sophomore season, and be the top starter for a great Mets staff.

RHP | Matt Harvey | Age 27 | 10 – 8 | 183.1 IP | 3.68 | 111 K |

Harvey is a very suitable 5th man in this rotation. Yes, he’s good, most teams would love to have someone with his success, and on his team friendly contract. But he’s not electric, he’s more of a find-a-way kind of guy. He’ll keep you in the game, and he’ll win some, lose some, and get a bunch of no decisions.

Philadelphia Phillies:

Phillies left handed pitcher Sean Gilmartin

LHP | Sean Gilmartin | Age 26 | 16 – 7 | 212.2 IP | 2.37 | 229 K |

Gilmartin won the Cy Young in 2016, and did he deserve it. He won the NL Pitching Triple Crown, and it was all on the back of his deadly changeup. The pitch has been what Gilmartin built his entire career on, and will likely do the same in 2017. There’s no reason to expect him to regress, as he’s finally figured it all out.

RHP | Brandon Beachy | Age 30 | 15 – 10 | 221.2 IP | 2.96 | 229 K |

Beachy has been a great pitcher in MLB Pro for years, and last year was nothing different. He uses 5 plus pitches to keep hitters constantly on their toes, and has led the league in strikeouts 3 different times, with last year being one of those years. Look for something similar, and another season with well over 200 IP, and another top 5 showing in Cy Young voting.

LHP | Mike Montgomery | Age 27 | 11 – 7 | 150.1 IP | 3.05 | 158 K |

Montgomery put together a very nice season in 2016, and if he can do something similar and get his inning count up, he’ll be a big part of any success that the Phillies have. The likelihood of him getting his innings up is low, as he’s never thrown more than 180 innings. This is partly due to his lower number of starts, and also that a majority of his starts are 5 innings. This is despite his dominating stats in innings 7 through 9.

RHP | Brad Peacock | Age 28 | 8 – 14 | 182.2 IP | 4.19 | 154 K |

Peacock has been a solid member of the Phillies staff for 5 seasons, and this is about to be the sixth. He’s never going to be the guy that they hand the ball to in a must-win game, but they’ll gladly hand it to him every 5th day, and ask him to give them a chance to win. And a majority of the time, he is able to do that.

RHP | Phil Hughes | Age 30 | 7 – 16 | 169.2 IP | 4.24 | 135 K |

Hughes is a career 5th starter, with a lifetime 4.20 ERA. There’s very little to expect out of him, and the Phillies will proceed forward expecting nothing different from him. Anything better than this for the entirety of the season would be a pleasant surprise.

Washington Nationals:

RHP | Raynel Velette | Age 25 | 14 – 10 | 210.0 IP | 2.66 | 223 K |

Velette was a secondary piece in the Strasburg trade in 2015, but he quickly blossomed into a front of the line starter. In his first full season as a starter, he was superb, with over 200 IP, over 200 strikeouts, and a sub 2.70 ERA. In his second full season, he’ll likely put himself in the running for the Cy Young again. Velette has a major chip on his shoulder, as back in 2013 he was cut by the Boston Red Sox. For him to go on to win a Cy Young would help to heal that chip, but that could be just the beginning for Velette.

Nationals left handed pitcher Gio Gonzalez

LHP | Gio Gonzalez | Age 31 | 11 – 12 | 200.1 IP | 4.04 | 188 K |

Gio may not have the prettiest looking stats in the world, but he’s put up 9.0 WAR in the last 2 seasons. This is due to his ERA being much higher than his FIP, which the FIP is a much better indication of how he’s actually pitching. A continuation of this type of performance will keep Nats fans and management happy.

RHP | Tyson Ross | Age 29 | 10 – 11 | 167.1 IP | 4.41 | 147 K |

Well, we know one thing for sure. Ross’ worst season is behind him. In 2015, he led the league in losses, something you don’t want to be known for. Luckily, 2016 was better, and Ross can only hope to improve upon that. If he can lower his ERA down towards what his lifetime ERA is, this will be a great start towards helping lead the Nats to the playoffs.

Nationals right handed pitcher Miguel Pineda

RHP | Miguel Pineda | Age 22 | 14 – 6 | 161.2 IP | 3.23 | 106 K |

Pineda also came over from the Tigers in the Strasburg trade, and he had a fantastic rookie season. As a sinkerballer, he relies on strong movement to get ground balls, and he mixes in a curveball to keep hitters off balance, but it’s his 99 MPH sinker that gets the job done.

RHP | J.R. Graham | Age 26 | 9 – 11 | 173.2 IP | 3.68 | 108 K |

Graham is another sinkerballer, but also boasts a fastball that touches triple digits. If he had any sort of an off speed, then he’d be a top flight pitcher. But his slider is equivalent to that of Little Leaguers and his change up is simply him slowing his arm down.

Bullpens:

Since most teams keep either seven or eight relievers on their teams, we’ll only cover the closer and the other top 2 relievers for each team.

Atlanta Braves:

RHP | Carlos Marmol | Age 34 | 46 SV | 79.0 IP | 1.82 | 102 K |

Marmol came over to Atlanta in 2014 as a free agent, and was given more and more opportunities as the closer each season, and in 2016 he led the league in saves. This and his 1.82 ERA helped him claim his first every Reliever of the Year award. The 34 year old is poised to have another league leading number of saves in 2017.

Braves left handed pitcher Daniel Schlereth

LHP | Daniel Schlereth | Age 30 | 5 SV | 72.2 IP | 2.60 | 83 K |

Schlereth came to the team from Cleveland via trade, and will slide into the setup role. The 30 year old has become an elite reliever in the last 2 seasons, and Atlanta hopes that he can continue his success. He relies on a superb curveball and also uses a sinker to try and keep the ball in the park.

RHP | Casey Kelly | Age 27 | 12 – 9 | 186.0 IP | 3.53 | 116 K |

Casey Kelly was a starter last season, and pitched well, but now with the talent acquired he’ll become a reliever. His strong changeup will be used even more now that most of his outings will be just one or two innings, and will likely be named the spot starter and long term reliever.

Miami Marlins:

LHP | Antonio Bastardo | Age 31 | 3 SV | 57.0 IP | 2.37 | 73 K |

Bastardo was brought in as a free agent, and will be given his first chance as a closer and looks ready to have a 40+ save season. In the last 3 seasons, he’s had a 2.44 ERA, with just over 200 IP. The lefty should bring stability to a horrid Miami bullpen, and on a team friendly 2 year deal.

RHP | Vinnie Pestano | Age 31 | 12 SV | 81.0 IP | 2.78 | 87 K |

Pestano is another free agent that the team brought in this offseason, on a huge 3 year, $36 million deal, that includes a no trade clause. He looks like he could be even better than Bastardo, despite the stats never being as good. He utilizes four pitches, the best of which is a power slider. Hopefully he can live up to his contract.

Marlins right handed pitcher Branden Kline

RHP | Branden Kline | Age 25 | 3 SV | 70.0 IP | 3.21 | 65 K |

Kline could one day be the best reliever in this group, but with just 1 season under his belt already, he’s not quite ready to take that honor on. His fastball-slider combination is deadly, and if for some reason he can’t get a batter out with them, he messes with a changeup that will get the job done. His good feel for the pitches leads to great command, which has led to his ability to get outs.

New York Mets

LHP | Boone Logan | Age 32 | 5 SV | 72.0 IP | 3.50 | 92 K |

The 32 year old will get his first chance as a closer this season, taking over the role for 2016’s best bullpen. This is because Jonathan Papelbon is a shell of what he once was, so Logan will become the 9th inning man. He’s not as good as he was back when he first came to the Mets in 2014, but he should still be a good last inning man.

Mets right handed pitcher Fernando Salas

RHP | Fernando Salas | Age 31 | 2 SV | 60.0 IP | 1.65 | 62 K |

Salas is the main reason that the Mets had such a dominant bullpen last season. A sub 1.00 WHIP and just 11 ER allowed, the 31 year old looks to put a 3rd dominating season in a row. Either way, he may be the most value for his contract in the league, and he’s signed to a very team friendly extension as well.

RHP | Alex Rivers | Age 28 | 4 SV | 75.2 IP | 2.26 | 78 K |

Rivers was once a highly touted relief pitching prospect, seen to have 3 pitches that could all be considered 80 on the 20/80 scale. Now, he is a pitcher picked off of waivers. That being said, he showed that the Mets management and scouting department were right. In 2016, he pitched in 61 games, totaling 75.2 innings, and averaged over a strikeout per inning, while posting a sub 2.3 ERA. Rivers hopes to continue this showing in 2017.

Philadelphia Phillies:

Phillies right handed pitcher Brandon Creath

RHP | Brandon Creath | Age 27 | 30 SV | 75.2 IP | 2.50 | 91 K |

Creath became a closer in his second MLB Pro season, his first full season with the Phillies, and he did not disappoint. He’s mainly a fastball and changeup pitcher, but his ball has so much sink that it’s often called a sinker. His upper 90’s sinker and changeup on a string keeps hitters off balance, causing tons of ground balls, close to 66% of the balls in play off of him. He’s also used to closing out games, as he finished 121 games in the minors, with 60 saves.

RHP | Fautino de los Santos | Age 30 | 1 SV | 94.1 IP | 3.05 | 100 K |

Good enough for 5th in innings pitched by qualified relievers, de los Santos was turned to often, and 33 of his appearances were more than 1 inning. The career 2.95 ERA is a good indication of what you’ll get from the 30 year old, and he hopes to join the elite 100 strikeout group once again.

RHP | Chen Lee | Age 30 | 1 SV | 79.1 IP | 2.38 | 75 K |

Chen Lee had a career year in 2016, posting his best ERA and most innings in any one season. This was his lowest ERA by over a point, and the free agent to be may have an even better season in his contract year. The Taiwanese reliever hopes to use his 4 pitch mix to continue his success, but either way he’s a likable and smart player, who works hard to help his team win.

Washington Nationals

Nationals left handed pitcher Josh Spence

LHP | Josh Spence | Age 28 | 40 SV | 78.0 IP | 3.23 | 74 K |

Spence has been a solid reliever in Washington for several seasons, but in 2016 he was named the closer for the Nationals and showcased well, saving 40 games. The left handed Australian uses a 90 MPH cutter and filthy changeup to finish out games.

RHP | Ryan Doolittle | Age 28 | 1 SV | 27.0 IP | 3.00 | 15 K |

This was the worst bullpen in the league by over 0.40 ERA. Their second best returning reliever is a 28 year old with 17 appearances in MLB Pro. He uses a subpar knuckle curve to get some batters out, but still allows close to 1.5 runners per inning. He also has little command of the strike zone, walking 14, nearly the same number that he struck out.

RHP | Bryan Shaw | Age 29 | 1 SV | 88.2 IP | 4.36 | 67 K |

This again goes to show how desperate Washington was. He appeared in 92 games, pitching 88.2 innings. And let’s be honest, he sucked. He allowed over a hit per inning, and walked 4 batters per 9 innings. He barely kept the team in the games he pitched in, the Nationals lost close to half of the games he pitched in. The one nice thing about Shaw? His curveball is a little bit better than what you see when position players pretend to pitch.