Today, I thought it would be interesting to look at the schedules for the month of March of the 3 teams who could win the NL East: the Braves, Marlins and Phillies. No offense to the Muts or Natinals, but neither really have much of a chance to win the NL East in 2010.
Obviously, a lot has changed since 2009. Teams have new hitters, pitchers and drunk fans in the stands. But I'm pretty sure anyone who follows baseball knows which teams are likely to improve, regress or stay the same from their 2009 campaign. This post is simply to project how each team is likely to play in the first month of the season.
Graphs after the jump:
The first month of the season will be anything but easy for the Bravos. The Braves will face 3 of the 4 teams who represented the National League in last year's playoffs and 5 of the top 7. In other words, the Braves need to get their crap together and continue to play strong baseball from day 1. A look at the teams they'll play:
Not easy at all. We always struggle when we travel to San Francisco and hosting the Rockies, Phillies and Cubs will be no easy task either. It looks like they (might) get a bit of a break when we travel to San Diego and host Houston, but again, anything can happen.
My Prediction: 13-12
The Phillies, last season's defending NL Champions, likely face a much easier start to their season. They won't face a single playoff team from 2009 and face the ML worst Nationals 6 times. In other words, the injuries to Lidge, Romero and Blanton won't hurt them nearly as much as they would later in the season. A look at the teams they'll play:
Don't get me wrong, we obviously don't know how teams will play in 2010, but if 2009 was even a very basic outline for 2010's results, the Phillies should have a pretty easy time in April.
My Prediction: 15-9
The Fish, similar to the Braves, will face 3 of the 4 teams who represented the National League in the 2009 playoffs. They also get 4 of the middle-of-the-pack teams in the month of April, facing the Mets, Reds, Astros and Padres. Despite the budget of basically nothing, the Marlins always put a strong team on the field and always factor in the playoff races come August and September. A look at the teams they'll play:
So in comparison to the Braves' and Phillies' schedule in April, it looks to be near the middle, with some tough games towards the middle of the month.
My Prediction: 14-11
As you've seen, it looks like the Braves and Marlins will have a much more difficult time in April 2010 than the Phillies will. Obviously, these graphs have no representation of injuries, clutch AB's, rainouts, slumps, etc. etc. but they are a general outline of what is to (probably) come. Here are how the schedules match up:
It's been said before and it'll be said again, "You can't win the division in April, but you can probably lose it." I don't think any of the frontrunners in the NL East will lose it in April, and certainly none of them will win it in April either. It should be a tight race throughout the entire season.
If you've made it this far, thanks for reading. And like always, Go Braves.