The NL East is slated to be one of the most competitive divisions in baseball this season. The Atlanta Braves and New York Mets both won 101 games last year and then there’s the reigning National League champion Philadelphia Phillies.
All three teams are in a position to have a successful season in 2023 with a deep playoff run potentially in the cards. But it’s a long season and many things can change.
Last year, the Mets were in first place for 175 days before the Braves swooped in and stole the NL East. The Phillies were in the mix for a playoff spot in the second half but never really threatened for the division with 87 wins.
That could change this season.
WFAN’s Sal Licata and Evan Roberts of the Audacy Original Podcast “Rico Brogna” both predicted that the Mets will win over 90 games and make the playoffs, but they think the Phillies will build on last season’s success.
“I think the Phillies are going to win the division and even though I was criticizing their lineup, a big part of why I think the Phillies are going to win the division is I love their rotation,” Roberts said (15:20 in player above). “I think Zack Wheeler wins the Cy Young this season. Aaron Nola’s in a contract year. Ranger Suarez is real good. Their bullpen is intriguing to me. It has a chance to be really good with the Soto trade – I don’t know if Kimbrel has much left but Dominguez – I think the Phillies kind of build off of last year and win the division.”
Wheeler is a pitcher that Roberts and Licata know very well. He started his career in New York and had a 3.77 ERA in five seasons there. Since joining the Phillies in 2020, he’s had an ERA under 3.00 in all three seasons and finished second in Cy Young voting in 2021.
While Roberts has the Phillies winning the division, he sees more success for the Mets in the playoffs after last year’s early exit.
“But here’s where I think things change: I think we go on a run. I don’t think we’re winning the World Series – I never have the balls to predict that I’m sorry – but I think we’re actually going to get to the NLCS,” he said. “I think we go on like a little Padre kinda run where I wouldn’t even be surprised if we beat the Phillies. You go win the division, we go take them out, and I think we end up in the National League Championship Series and I think we lose. 90 wins. No division. But a surprising playoff run.”
Licata, who infamously claimed that the NL East was over on May 31st last year when the Mets had a season-high 10.5-game lead, actually agreed with Roberts’ take on the Phillies.
“I agree with you with the Phillies because as I said I don’t think the Braves are going to win the division this year so by default if I’m not feeling great about the Mets – as much as I want them to and I want to pick it, especially after last year,” he said. “Because believe me, even with the ‘NL East is over’ stuff from last year I would be singing and dancing if they won it this year. But I don’t envision that being the case.”
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