NL East Betting Preview
The National League East has been in the sole possession of the Philadelphia Phillies for the last five years ans they are favored to win it again this year.
But the Miami Marlins might have something to say about that, as well as the Atlanta Braves and maybe even the Washington Nationals.
In other words, we might get a good race in the NL East this year.
Here's a look at the upcoming season in the NL East, and divisional futures odds courtesy of TopBet.com.
Philadelphia enters this season as a -300 favorite at TopBet to win the NL East again. Last year the Phillies won 102 games before falling to St. Louis in the NLDS.
ADVERTISEMENT: Philly is a huge NL East odds favorite in 2012 - see how big at TopBet.
This season Philly still boasts that great starting rotation, led by the righty-lefty Cy Young combo of Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee. And they've added one of the best ninth-inning men in baseball in Jonathan Papelbon.
But Philadelphia also begins this season with a couple of vacancies in the everyday lineup, with both Ryan Howard and Chase Utley on the DL. Which raises some concern about Philly's ability to score runs.
Atlanta, the second choice at TopBet to win the East at +400, is trying to bounce back after a Boston-like collapse last fall cost them a playoff spot.
The Braves are still paced by their pitching, anchored by one of the best bullpens in baseball. But there are weak spots in the lineup and the rotation, and they're still waiting for Jason Heyward to break out.
Miami is the third pick on TopBet's NL East odds board at +450. The Marlins finished 18 games under .500 last year, but have since added veteran talent in SS Jose Reyes, SPs Mark Buehrle and Carlos Zambrano and RP Heath Bell.
And they get back staff ace Josh Johnson. Also, a full season from Hanley Ramirez can't hurt. Throw in new manager Ozzie Guillen and things might get interesting down in South Beach this summer.
Washington is an interesting +600 choice to win the East this year. Last year, without Stephen Strasburg and while ranking near the bottom of the league in scoring, the Nationals still almost went .500.
This year the Nats have a healthy Strasburg at the top of the rotation, and newcomers Gio Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson backing him up. So playoff contention is expected.
And finally, the New York Mets are getting +4000 at TopBet to win the NL East this season. The Mets have posted three straight losing seasons, and seem destined to extend that run.
The starting rotation might be OK, if Johan Santana is healthy, and the bullpen might not be too bad. But New York will miss Reyes, and will have to work to scratch out runs.