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Chan: National League East betting preview

Welcome to the National League East, a.k.a. Downtown Abby, where three teams (Nationals, Braves, Phillies) will live upstairs, and the other two (Mets, Marlins) occupy the lower quarters.
 
WASHINGTON NATIONALS

World Series futures: 7/1
Season win total: 92.5
Division odds: 10/11

Washington has added a few key ingredients to the mix that produced 98 wins last season. Denard Span gives the Nats the legit leadoff hitter they’ve been seeking for years, and Rafael Soriano could be the lights-out closer that’s been missing. Bryce Harper may move to the three-hole in a lineup that should score plenty. But the strength of the team is its starting pitching. Stephen Strasburg will no longer be wearing a 160-inning choke chain, and Dan Haren is an upgrade in the back of a rotation that also includes Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmerman.
 
ATLANTA BRAVES

World Series futures: 14/1
Season win total: 87
Division odds: 8/5

Atlanta is now flush with Uptons (BJ and Justin) in the outfield and appears to have enough pitching depth to hang with Washington at the top of the division, especially if Kris Medlen and Mike Minor come close to replicating their 2012 second-half success. Jason Heyward joins the Uptons in giving Atlanta a better-than-decent offensive outfield, but will they be a huge upgrade from the departed Martin Prado and Michael Bourn? Andrelton Simmons looks like the real deal at SS, but he’s still a kid.
 
PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

World Series futures: 20/1
Season win total: 84
Division odds: 7/2
 
Philadelphia had a boatload of injuries last season (Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Roy Halladay) and it certainly impacted the bottom line (81-81, 17 games behind the Nats). But do the Phillies have to bitch about it all the time? The Phillies will have pretty much the same cast this season, with Michael Young taking over at 3B. Three of the five expected starters (Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Nats castoff John Lannan) are lefties, and if the staff has a good season, wacko closer Jonathan Papelbon will have a ton of saves.
 
NEW YORK METS

World Series futures: 100/1
Season win total: 74.5
Division odds: 25/1

Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey was traded, leaving David Wright to turn chicken droppings into chicken salad. It won’t be easy, as the Mets don’t look appreciably better than last year’s 74-win team. Johan Santana will anchor the staff, but with his aching arm there are no guarantees he can get to 25 starts. Frank Francisco had 19 saves last season, but with this weak lineup there won’t be a lot of closing opportunities.
 
MIAMI MARLINS


World Series futures: 300/1
Season win total: 63.5
Division odds: 100/1

Salary dumps never go over well with the fan base, especially right after public funds are used to help build a new stadium. Clueless owner Jeffrey Loria, who gutted the Expos like a bluefish and forced the team to move to D.C., is in retrench mode after sending the core his roster (Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, John Buck and Emilio Bonifacio) to the Blue Jays for some kids. Pretty much all that’s left from an offense that was 29th in the league last year is slugger Giancarlo Stanton, and even if Stanton hits 120 homers it won’t come close to making up for a no-name pitching staff that will give up a lot of runs.

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