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Breaking down the National League

Last Wednesday, we took a look at the American League and gauged how likely it is that the 2014 division champions are to repeat. This time around, the National League gets our attention.

With Spring Training only a few weeks away, a handful of teams have made major moves to contend while others have stayed with the status quo. So without further preamble, here is how the National League appears going into 2015:

NL East: Washington Nationals
Chance to repeat: 85 percent

It is very difficult to see Washington failing to repeat in the East. The Nationals have perhaps the deepest rotation we have seen since the Atlanta Braves of the 1990’s, featuring Max Scherzer, Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister and Gio Gonzalez. Speaking of Atlanta, the Braves will not be a factor after dealing away Justin Upton, Jason Heyward and Evan Gattis. The New York Mets have a young, talented pitching staff and could make a run, depending on their shaky lineup. Down south, the Miami Marlins are a darkhorse to make a run with ample ability both in the lineup and staff, featuring Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Fernandez, Mat Latos, Marcell Ozuna and more. The Philadelphia Philles will finish last, perhaps losing 100 games.

NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals
Chance to repeat: 40 percent

The Cardinals remain the standard in this division, but they have some competition. St. Louis is returning the same team along with adding Heyward to the mix. The Cincinnati Reds have potential but could be sunk if Johnny Cueto reverts back to the injury-plagued pitcher he always was prior to 2014. Few teams are being hyped more than the Chicago Cubs, but it feels premature. Chicago did well to add Jon Lester, Jason Hammel, Dexter Fowler and Miguel Montero, but that won’t win the Central. The Pittsburgh Pirates are coming off consecutive trips to the postseason as a wild card, and appear solid again. Pittsburgh has an excellent lineup, with Gerrit Cole being the lynchpin to the rotation. It’s hard not to love the Milwaukee Brewers lineup, but they won’t make the postseason with a 1-2 punch of Matt Garza and Kyle Lohse headlining the rotation.

NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers
Chance to repeat: 50 percent

The West has been Dodgers territory in recent years. Between Los Angeles being very talented and the division being otherwise awful outside of the San Francisco Giants, the Dodgers have enjoyed a cakewalk to the playoffs. This year, Los Angeles will once again be excellent after acquiring Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick, but also face more competition. The San Diego Padres made a bevy of moves, adding Wil Myers, Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, and Derek Norris to a once-pathetic lineup. The Giants are defending world champs and will contend again despite the departure of Pablo Sandoval. The Colorado Rockies continue to lack pitching, and the Arizona Diamondbacks are terrible. Both could lose more than 90 games.

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