The New York Mets lost pitcher Noah Syndergaard to Tommy John surgery and he won’t return until 2021. So who is the favorite to win the NL East in 2020?
The New York Mets have lost starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard for the season, devastating news for a Mets club that expected to contend in the deep National League East this year.
Syndergaard will undergo Tommy John surgery to fix his elbow in his throwing arm. Given that it is a year-long recovery period, he can’t be expected back until April 2021. Though the Mets still might compete, it’s going to be hard for them to do so without their strong right-hander on the mound.
So who are the favorites to win the NL East now that Syndergaard is firmly out of the picture?
Let’s immediately cross off the Miami Marlins because they’re the Marlins. That leaves three teams vying for that coveted NL East crown outside of the Mets: The Atlanta Braves, the Philadelphia Phillies and the Washington Nationals.
Atlanta has won the NL East the last two years. Under manager Brian Snitker, the Braves have emerged as one of the better and more talented teams in the Senior Circuit in recent years. While advancing in the postseason still evades this southeastern franchise, not having to face an elite arm from their biggest rival certainly helps their cause to three-peat in the NL East.
Philadelphia had a down year last season, despite winning the Bryce Harper sweepstakes. We should expect better than a fourth-place finish out of the Phillies next year, but do they have enough pitching to contend with the defending NL East champions, as well as the defending World Series champions firmly above them in the same divisional pecking order?
Washington is coming off its first World Series title in franchise history. The Nationals won it all despite being a Wild Card team. They knocked off the Milwaukee Brewers, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Houston Astros to hoist the Commissioners Trophy. Though a candidate to repeat, it’ll be hard for them to recreate the same magic from last year, especially after losing Anthony Rendon.
Overall, you can make the case for either Atlanta to three-peat or Washington to assert its divisional dominance after winning a World Series crown. Philadelphia is a dark horse contender and nothing more.
Ultimately, Atlanta should be the favorite because the Braves have won the division the last two years and will have more of a crashing sense of urgency to get it done than Washington. We should expect both rivals back in the NL postseason with one as the division winner and the other as a dangerous team in the Wild Card Game. 2020 could be once again be Atlanta’s year to win the pennant.