Every team in the NL East made at least one significant addition on the free-agent market prior to this season. The Phillies, looking to bludgeon opponents to death, signed Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos. The Marlins picked up Cuban outfielder and 2021 World Series MVP Jorge Soler. Soler’s former team, the Braves, added longtime Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen to the back of their bullpen.
The Nationals brought on designated hitter Nelson Cruz to offer some protection behind Juan Soto. And the Mets, for whom money is no obstacle, pulled off a handful of high-profile signings, but none more so than adding Max Scherzer to give them the most formidable 1-2 combo of starting pitchers in MLB.
Who will be left standing at the end? We will see. Here are each team’s odds to win the NL East this season, according to DraftKings Sportsbook.
2022 NL East odds
Favorites: Atlanta Braves
Braves fans are probably still sulking after seeing their franchise cornerstone for a decade, Freddie Freeman, sign with the team the Braves have met in the playoffs in three of the past four seasons: the Los Angeles Dodgers. But they will in time realize that they traded for a pretty great replacement in Matt Olson, a 27-year-old bona fide slugger who cut his strikeout rate nearly in half from 2020 to 2021.
The Braves’ success will hinge greatly on two players returning from injury. First is outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr., one of the best players in the sport when healthy, is expected to return in early May after tearing his right ACL last summer (It’s still amazing that the Braves won it all without him last year).
Second is starting pitcher Mike Soroka. An ace-level hurler in 2019, he hasn’t thrown a pitch since August 2020 after tearing his Achilles tendon twice. He is on track to rejoin the team around midseason.
Darkhorse: Philadelphia Phillies
The Braves and Mets are basically co-favorites, according to the odds, leaving the Phillies as the only team with a truly realistic chance of claiming this division. And it’s not difficult to diagnose how they are going to try to do it. When you’ve got Schwarber, Castellanos, Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto and Rhys Hoskins topping your lineup, you are looking to bash your way to victory. How’s the Phillies’ defense going to be? Well ... hey, how about that lineup though?
Philadelphia’s rotation is fronted by a pair of workhorses in Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler. Wheeler, who led the Majors in innings pitched last year, is still feeling some effects from shoulder ailment this past winter, so that bears watching. Even with Nola and above-average rotation options like Ranger Suarez and Kyle Gibson, the Phillies can’t afford to lose Wheeler for an extended stretch.
The bullpen, a source of consternation in Philly since seemingly forever, is now anchored by Corey Knebel, a stellar closer for the Brewers in 2017 who is coming off of a great 2021 with the Dodgers. Philadelphia keeps changing the look of its relief corps, but with Jose Alvarado, Brad Hand and Jeurys Familia likely the top options behind Knebel, there’s still a lot of gasoline coming out of this ‘pen. But again, if the offense scores enough, that will cut down on the amount of high-leverage innings.
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