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NL East fantasy division preview

We're spinning around every division in baseball for their biggest fantasy baseball stories and players.

AL East  | Central | West ... NL East | Central | West


OF Adam Eaton, Nationals: Debate over the trade aside, his power-speed combo, though not great, complements his path to nearly 700 plate appearances and helpful batting average. He's a safe middle-rounds piece.

OF Michael Saunders, Phillies: Sure, he came back to earth in the second half, but Saunders enjoyed one of his better offensive years, despite another decline in steals. This is a platoon spot, though, so he's best deployed in deeper games.

C Derek Norris, Nationals: Coming off a horrendous .186 batting average, he's sure to rebound just a little. His 34.4 hard-contact rate was his highest, after all. Norris remains relevant in two-catcher formats.

2B/3B/OF Howie Kendrick, Phillies: A safe pick for plate appearances, it's still difficult to get too excited over him unless a fantasy team desperately needs infield coverage.

SP Dan Straily and Edinson Volquez, Marlins: Jose Fernandez's death has forced Miami to welcome arms that simply chew up innings. Following Straily's breakout 2016, his homer issues and likely negative regression could find a softer landing at Marlins Park. Volquez, too, but he's as volatile as usual.

SP Jaime Garcia, Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey, Braves: Another NL East club inking innings eaters, though maybe they'll have value in shallow mixed leagues at times. See how the new park plays before diving in.


2B/SS/OF Trea Turner, Nationals: Borderline first-round pick? Not a safe statement, but a power and mostly speed combination that could pay off as a top-30 grab.

SP Stephen Strasburg, Nationals: Will throwing his slider less in 2017 stave off more health issues? He's so far going through his normal routine after bouts with elbow soreness and discomfort down the stretch. One of the trademark "if he stays healthy" aces….

SP Matt Harvey, Mets: Thoracic outlet syndrome has ruined many a career, but Harvey at least was throwing without tingling in his fingertips this offseason. Watch how his spring goes. Don't pay for ace-like numbers, but he's eventually worth a gamble farther down the board if he has little or no restrictions and shows normal velocity and movement.

SS Dansby Swanson, Braves: The polished prospect may not wow in any category yet, but across the board, he boasts plenty to like for a middle- to late-rounds shortstop.


1B Tommy Joseph, Phillies: His homer binge in a partial season is enough to make him the next Ryan Howard. That's worth something in the late stages of drafts.

SP Vince Velasquez, Phillies: Velasquez's long-ball and walk allowance, along with another innings limit, may temper his progress. A no-strings-attached stab at K's doesn't hurt, though.

OF Michael Conforto, Mets: Will the Mets trade Jay Bruce or Curtis Granderson? If so, Conforto should see quality reps, perhaps even against southpaws. A batting average increase may come at cost of some fly balls, but at age 24, he still has immediate 20-homer, .280 potential.


SP Zack Wheeler, Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo, Mets: For Wheeler, it's the first rational year to expect a contribution after his 2015 Tommy John surgery. That high-strikeout, high-walk approach will need time to recover, though he could look like his tantalizing former self sometime in the second half. 

The litany of rehabbing starters may leave at least one space open throughout 2017. Gsellman and Lugo have enough teachable skills, in an organization that can mold pitching, to remain relevant.

SP Mike Foltynewicz, Braves: Forget the 4.31 ERA, though even that was an improvement. Last year, Folty delivered an 8.10 K/9, a 2.55 BB/9 and continued mid-90s velocity. Limiting homers may be the only step needed for a coming-out party.

SP (?) David Phelps, Marlins: Could just as easily return to the bullpen, but he has the skills to run with a rotation spot.


3B Maikel Franco, Phillies: His young pop is getting lost in a stacked position. Patient drafters can steal him in the middle rounds.

SP Julio Teheran, Braves: Lefty bats still give him trouble, but his strong 2016 rebound effort was simply a former top prospect putting his tantalizing pieces back together. Buy low.

OF Ender Inciarte, Braves: Hope his drafters don't need home runs. Still, here's some cheeeeeaaaap speed.


SP Tanner Roark, Nationals: Control slipped in the second half to complicate an already cloudy strikeout outlook. Sure, the sinker/two-seamer is stellar, but the 2.83 ERA set too high a bar that he won't reach again. A No. 4, not a No. 3.

C J.T. Realmuto, Marlins: Be wary of his ability to reproduce that .303 clip from last year, but across the board, he's an acceptable first and excellent second catcher.

On the rebound

OF Bryce Harper, Nationals: His down year in batting average was likely health-related. Still worth a buy in the late first round.

OF Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins: 2016 was quite like 2015, but with more at-bats. Still, what's the injury-prone, power-packed, polarizing name worth? Many will pay a second-round price. This author is more comfortable with a third or fourth.

SP Aaron Nola, Phillies: 9.81 K/9, 2.35 BB/9 were too good to believe that 4.78 ERA. Huge candidate for positive regression, assuming health.

Position battles to watch

Nationals closer: Shawn Kelley has the skills but not the track record for health. Blake Treinen, Sammy Solis and Koda Glover (hip) remain in the discussion unless Washington signs a polished alternative.

Phillies closer: Hector Neris, Joaquin Benoit, Edubray Ramos and, to a lesser degree, last year's surprise, Jeanmar Gomez, will battle it out.

Prospects for 2017

Early in season

SS J.P. Crawford, Phillies

OF Roman Quinn, Phillies

Midseason or later

SS Amed Rosario, Mets

2B Ozzie Albies, Braves

1B Dominic Smith, Mets.

OF Victor Robles, Nationals

Closer chronicles

Even without the two positional battles, this is quite the uncertain division. A possible Jeurys Familia suspension could open up about a month of save chances for Addison Reed.

Unless the Braves compete and he does well, Jim Johnson will keep the seat warm until Mauricio Cabrera, Jose Ramirez or injury-prone Arodys Vizcaino (shoulder) is ready.

A.J. Ramos' control-challenged approach has a shorter leash after Miami brought in Brad Ziegler, who ranks just ahead of other solid speculations Kyle Barraclough and Junichi Tazawa. Barraclough is the best pitcher of these four, though, and easily could leapfrog Ziegler.

Injury watch

Ready for spring training/start of season

SP Max Scherzer, Nationals (finger)

SP Stephen Strasburg, Nationals (elbow)

SP Matt Harvey, Mets (shoulder)

SP Steven Matz, Mets (elbow)

2B Neil Walker, Mets (back)

1B Tommy Joseph, Phillies (wrist)

SS Asdrubal Cabera, Mets (knee)


3B David Wright, Mets (neck)