If 2020 was any indication, the NL East could shape up as a highly competitive division this season. The Atlanta Braves ultimately won the East last year, but they had to hold off a surprising challenge from the Miami Marlins. Meanwhile, the New York Mets, Washington Nationals, and Philadelphia Phillies all have the talent to compete for playoff spots.
The Mets figure to provide the toughest challenge to Atlanta’s reign, but does New York have enough to win the NL East? Let’s take a closer look at each team’s prospects heading into the 2021 season.
Atlanta Braves (+115 to Win NL East)
The Braves come into the year as the three-time defending NL East champions, and will remain the favorites until someone clearly takes that mantle from them. Atlanta nearly made the World Series last year, taking a 3-1 lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS before dropping the final three games of the series.
|NL East Odds (via PointsBet)|
|Atlanta Braves: +115|
|New York Mets: +150|
|Washington Nationals: +650|
|Philadelphia Phillies: +1000|
|Miami Marlins: +1800|
Both Marcell Ozuna and Ronald Acuna Jr. will look to continue their outrageous production over the course of a full 162-game season, and the return of a healthy Mike Soroka will bolster a rotation that adds Charlie Morton to the mix. Atlanta has more than enough talent to win the division; the only question is whether any of the other teams on this list may have surpassed them.
New York Mets (+150)
The Mets have hung around as a fringe playoff team over the past few seasons, relying on brilliant top of the rotation pitching to cover for weak offensive production. But with the addition of Francisco Lindor and James McCann, among others, this could be the year where New York provides Jacob deGrom and others with much needed run support.
— New York Mets (@Mets) March 26, 2021
But the rotation will need to stay healthy, something that has been a big question mark in recent years. Noah Syndergaard could return at some point in the middle of the season, which could provide the Mets with a fearsome postseason rotation – if they manage to avoid the typical rash of injuries that have plagued them in the recent past.
Washington Nationals (+650)
The Nationals slumped to a tie for last place in the NL East in 2020, a year after the team won the World Series. While that’s a worrisome sign for Washington, there are signs that the club could rebound to be a contender yet again in 2021.
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) March 25, 2021
For one, Stephen Strasburg should be back in action after making just two starts for the team last year. Juan Soto leads an offense that has plenty of potential, but also plenty to prove. And with no huge additions in the offseason – reliever Brad Hand may have been the biggest signing – there are worries that other teams may have left them behind.
Philadelphia Phillies (+1000)
The Phillies made one of the biggest moves of the offseason, retaining the services of catcher JT Realmuto on a five-year, $115.5 million contract. That, and the resigning of Didi Gregorius, should be enough to keep Philadelphia in the mix.
One swing, three runs.
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) March 25, 2021
But the team didn’t make any big offseason splashes to improve the current roster. That might only be enough to make the Phillies into an average team that struggles to compete with the above contenders over a 162-game season. If Bryce Harper, Realmuto, and Gregorius put up big numbers, if the rotation lives up to its potential, and if the bullpen improves, Philadelphia can win the NL East – but that’s a lot of ifs.
Miami Marlins (+1800)
The Miami Marlins suffered through an early season COVID-19 outbreak to become the surprise team of the shortened 2020 season, making the playoffs and reaching the second round before the Braves swept them from the postseason.
who called it 'going to the beach with a metal detector and finding coins' instead of Sandy change ??? pic.twitter.com/QbXXQS4YdZ
— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) March 22, 2021
Nobody expected the Marlins to compete last year, and few expect them to do so over the course of a full season in 2021. But if Miami’s fantastic young rotation – led by Sandy Alcantara, Pablo Lopez, and Sixto Sanchez – repeats its 2020 performance, and the offense contributes just enough, a second surprise playoff run isn’t out the question, which is why the Marlins boast relatively short odds for the fifth-best team in their division.