Strengths and Weaknesses: What to expect from each National League East team this season

Photo credit:© Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports
Veronica Chung
2 months ago
The National League (NL) East has been a mixed bag for several years but is definitely rising as one of the stronger divisions with interesting teams to watch for. Much like the NL West in the past, the NL East also has two teams who are seriously contending for a World Series while the other three teams are trying to solidify their identity. 
As we get into the full swing of the 2024 season, the NL East will be a battleground between the Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies for the division title. The New York Mets and Miami Marlins could vie for the third place in the division but the Washington Nationals could be a wild card in that somewhat fierce third-place race. 
Overall, this division doesn’t have many contenders compared to others but absolutely has powerhouse players to watch out for. Below are the notable strengths and weaknesses of each NL East team, and all teams are in alphabetical order.

Atlanta Braves (PECOTA Projection: 96.9 – 65.1)

Strength: Strong and consistent offence
If there’s anything the Atlanta Braves have dominated, it’s their explosive offensive performance. Last season was proof that the team has an extremely high ceiling for offence and has the ability to score as many runs as possible in more than 100 games by winning a total of 104 games and handily running away with the division title. It will be hard to replicate that exact same success, but that doesn’t mean that the offence will perform significantly worse than the last season either. With young, proven talents like Matt Olson, Ronald Acuña Jr., Austin Riley, Sean Murphy, Ozzie Albies and Michael Harris II, this team has the potential to win the division again as long as they are able to score enough runs at least 90 games. 
Weakness: Pitching depth
The Braves have engaged in multiple trades this offseason to address some of their depth, including pitching since that was the main weakness from 2023. Atlanta has decent pitching talents throughout the roster since Spencer Strider is already being discussed as a possible Cy Young contender while pitchers like Max Fried and Charlie Morton also earned the respect of the league. However, their pitching is still mostly injury-prone. The Braves did trade for Chris Sale to address some of this issue, but Sale also suffered from many injuries when he was with the Boston Red Sox. The best the Braves can hope for now is for their pitching staff to stay healthy most of the season or trade for backups during the trade deadline to reinforce it further. 

Miami Marlins (PECOTA Projection: 75.4 – 86.6)

Strength: Pitching
The Miami Marlins have never lacked pitching talents in their system. The team successfully traded for and developed pitchers like Sandy Alcantara, Eury Perez, Jesus Luzardo, Trevor Rogers, and more. They did trade some of the better and hopeful pitchers like Zac Gallen in trades previously but Miami doesn’t have much to worry about when it comes to addressing its pitching depth since it’s proven that there is a solid system that helps pitchers to work on their strengths so that they can dominate in the majors. Miami will most likely find answers internally if they need to fill in rotation or bullpen throughout this season. 
Weakness: Weaker offence 
Miami hasn’t been able to escape its curse when it comes to developing its offensive core. If they did have a core, they traded away these players a long time ago and are essentially starting from scratch. Jazz Chisholm Jr. and Jake Burger can be keys to addressing this offensive woe, but those two players can’t carry Miami’s offence always, either. The Marlins haven’t been able to find all the offensive pieces that will help them to become a consistent offensive powerhouse and that will be something the team will have to address either through trades or through overhauling their development system. 

New York Mets (PECOTA Projection: 81.7 – 80.3)

Strength: Younger talents in the system
The New York Mets may not have gotten close to the World Series after an upsetting Wild Card series elimination in 2022, but they finally have chosen to take a step back. This decision helped them to bring in more young talents and give younger players a chance to learn the game at a higher level. Francisco Alvarez looks like a star, Brett Baty looks promising, and Rony Mauricio could make a difference much later on, even if he is out with an injury. The Mets also received a star prospect, Luisangel Acuña, from a trade with the Texas Rangers, and he could help the team become much more competitive in a couple of years. New York may not look all that scary this season, but they have the potential to scare their rivals in the years to come – hopefully, it won’t take too long though. 
Weakness: Lack of direction 
While the Mets have chosen a direction to briefly rebuild, the team doesn’t have much direction as it stands. There are younger players on the roster and the freedom to try different things, but the team still employs some veteran players and has a roster that could potentially be competing for something. In short, the Mets are in a weird place where they are not fully tearing things down to start a complete rebuild but they also aren’t playing all young players either just yet. It could be just a quick retooling phase before New York plans for a full rebound, but for now, it’s hard for the Mets fans to understand what they can expect from this team. 

Oct 12, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Phillies bench and fans react after right fielder Nick Castellanos (8) hits a solo home run against the Atlanta Braves during the sixth inning during game four of the NLDS for the 2023 MLB playoffs at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Phillies (PECOTA Projection: 83.6 – 78.4)

Strength: Offence
The Philadelphia Phillies are quite literally built to hit bombs and rely on their lineups for most games. That was a clear intention behind this roster construction when president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski went all in to sign all the offensive powerhouse free agents each offseason. The team’s key offensive players are Kyle Schwarber, Nick Castellanos, Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Alec Bohm who are familiar with producing runs. The team has defied expectations and reached the World Series stages in 2022, which shows that this type of roster construction is crazy enough to work. This season, the Phillies are hoping their position players are able to get productive hits again to carry the team forward in playoff contention. 
Weakness: Defence
With an offence-first roster construction, the Phillies did put the defence on the back burner and it showed for a while. The team’s defence did improve a bit, but it’s not Philadelphia’s forte either. Having Trea Turner in the infield does help to reinforce the defence there, but the outfield defence can be shaky, too. If the team wants to be successful in the long run and in the playoffs, they will have to enhance their defence a little more at the very least. The team was still somewhat successful without elite defence, but we’ll have to see if their luck runs out in the 2024 season on defensive metrics. 

Washington Nationals (PECOTA Projection: 61.7 – 100.3)

Strength: Young players coming into form 
The Washington Nationals have collected a great deal with younger talents through trades and drafts after their teardown in 2021. The team is nowhere near contending even after that but there are some promising names like Dylan Crews, James Wood and Cade Cavalli who are in the system. They already have some interesting young players in the majors, like CJ Abrams, MacKenzie Gore and Josiah Gray, who could propel the team either this season or in the future seasons if the team isn’t able to perform to its potential this year. All in all, the Nationals have something to look forward to in the next few years. 
Weakness: Stalled growth 
The biggest problem the Nationals have dealt with is the sluggish growth after 2021. The team made a hard decision to tear down a World Series-winning team three years ago, but Washington is still years away from contending for a division title, let alone a playoff spot. The Nationals also employ a curious amount of veteran players at the moment, which doesn’t give other younger talents much playing time. Maybe this is Washington’s efforts in trying to help veteran players bounce back to turn them into trades that will bring in even younger talents who can contribute in the future. But one thing is for sure: the Nationals will be stalled again and will most likely occupy the bottom rung of the division. The best they can hope for right now is becoming the pesky team that everyone gets annoyed with.


Check out these posts...