How do the Phillies stack up against their divisional foes? This week at CSNPhilly.com, we've been breaking down the NL East, which has experienced a lot of movement this offseason.
Atlanta Braves: The Bravos have seen the most changeover from last year, losing guys like Chipper Jones (retirement), Michael Bourn (free agency), Martin Prado (trade) and Tommy Hanson (trade). They notably brought on board the Upton brothers B.J. (free agency) and Justin (trade) and added Jordan Walden (trade) to their already stacked bullpen.
Yet, for all of the movement on the roster, Atlanta seems to have gone par for the course. The departure of Chipper, who batted .287/.377/.455 last season and Bourn, who stole 42 bases and slapped 45 extra-base hits, can't be overstated. Prado, another get-on-base guy, hit .301 with 10 homers and 70 RBIs. Sure, the Uptons will provide power (45 homers in 2012), but it will come at a cost (290 K's).
The rotation is good, not great, and dependent largely upon whether or not Kris Medlen and Mike Minor can come close to replicating their 2012 second halves. But where the Braves have everyone beat is their bullpen. Lefties Jonny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty and righties Walden and Craig Kimbrel last season fanned 279 batters in 217.2 frames (11.6 K/9). If they get ahead, forget about it.
Miami Marlins: Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle are gone; Juan Pierre, Placido Polanco and Henderson Alvarez are in. Sound good to you? It should if you're the Phillies, or any other NL East club.
The Fish's sole redeeming asset is Giancarlo Stanton, who parked 37 homers and topped the league with a .608 slugging percentage last year. The problem is: Why would any opponent pitch to the budding 23-year-old superstar? His 46 walks in 123 games are almost sure to go up, and if he's impatient, his 143 strikeouts could, too.
On the mound, Phillie-killer and $11.5-million man Ricky Nolasco will trot out as the ace. In 2012 he went 12-13 with a 4.48 ERA — his best posting since 2008. Alvarez, Wade LeBlanc, Nate Eovaldi and Jacob Turner round out the rotation. Steve Cishek (15 saves, 2.69 ERA) will close when the rare opportunity arises. Expect the Phillies to improve upon their 10-8 mark against Miami this season.