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New York Mets biggest competition for a playoff spot this season

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PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - MARCH 05: Ball and gloves of the New York Mets sit in the dugout before a game against the Washington Nationals at Digital Domain Park on March 5, 2012 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. The Nationals defeated the Mets 3-1. (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - MARCH 05: Ball and gloves of the New York Mets sit in the dugout before a game against the Washington Nationals at Digital Domain Park on March 5, 2012 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. The Nationals defeated the Mets 3-1. (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
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CLEARWATER, FLORIDA – MARCH 03: Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies works out at Spectrum Field on March 03, 2019 in Clearwater, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Philadelphia Phillies

Lineup

  1. Andrew McCutchen LF
  2. Jean Segura SS
  3. Rhys Hoskins 1B
  4. Bryce Harper RF
  5. J.T. Realmuto C
  6. Odubel Herrera CF
  7. Maikel Franco 3B
  8. Cesar Hernandez 2B

Rotation

  1. Aaron Nola
  2. Jake Arrieta
  3. Nick Pivetta
  4. Vince Velasquez
  5. Zach Eflin

The Phillies chaotic offseason has resulted in a completely different club with much more talent than the previous. The lineup is resultantly much more balanced, however, their rotation remains the same.

The key acquisitions were Andrew McCutchen, Bryce Harper, Jean Segura, J.T. Realmuto, and David Robertson. All of which project to have a significant impact on the Phillies 2019 season. Yet, none of these names stands out more than Bryce Harper.

Harper is a force in the middle of any lineup, but he is especially important for the Phillies because he provides the left-handed balance in between the right-handed Hoskins and Realmuto. The lineup stability is further strengthened by the additions of Segura and McCutchen at the top of it. They can use their proficient skill in the art of reaching base to provide a substantial amount of opportunities for their power hitters to bat with men on base.

Odubel Herrera, Maikel Franco, and Cesar Hernandez have been pushed down in the order, as they were featured players last season. They will remain productive and therefore the Phillies seem to have a complete lineup that will produce on all fronts.

Thus the conversation turns to the pitching, especially the starting rotation, where the greatest hindrance to much success for this team lies. Overall, it is a very young group with very high potential, yet much uncertainty.

Aaron Nola is a bona fide ace that can compete with any other pitcher in the league. He can match the Mets in aces with deGrom or the Nats with Scherzer on any day. Although he averages a four-seamer below 93 mph, his curveball is purely dynamic and the main source for the majority of his strikeouts.

The rest of the rotation is highlighted by Nick Pivetta and Zach Eflin, both of whom are young pitchers that have the ability to greatly improve this year. Pivetta has a high swing and miss rate, around 10%, and a devastating curveball added into the mix creates a tough matchup for opposing batters.

Eflin does not have this potential but has the potential to be more than a serviceable fifth starter. As insurance, the Phillies have Jared Eickhoff, a pitcher who had some success in 2016, but injuries have hampered his last two seasons.

Overall, the rotation is reliable enough, but there are a number of uncertainties that the Mets and Nationals do not have. Some of these questions are the lack of overall experience of the rotation and the inconsistency of Jake Arrieta, as he looses some of his velocity.

The final area under analysis is the Philadelphia bullpen, which is composed of many parts including Seranthony Dominguez, Tommy Hunter, Pat Neshek, and David Robertson as the closer. This bullpen may not possess the most notable of names, but it is productive and reliable all the same.

The Mets face a real threat from the Phillies, as they do from Washington, however, the discrepancy between the rotations of the Phillies and Nationals is severe. The Mets are the only team in the division that can match starters with the Nats and thus it makes them their largest threat. Philadelphia will not be easy to deal with either if the Nats claim the NL East and a wild car race ensues.

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