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MLB 2020 Season Preview: National League

By Cole Paveglio
Sports Reporter

For a time it looked like the nation’s pastime, which has withstood wars, recessions and much more, might not happen. A year like no other will indeed have a MLB season like no other.

A season consisting of 66 games compared to the normal 162 in which normally would last 7 to 8 months will now be played in just over two. Players who were waiting for their chance to show off their skills may just be getting their wish.

Let’s break down what you need to know in the National League ahead of the very unique 2020 MLB season.

NL West

Colorado Rockies, 2019 Record: 71-91 (4th in NL West)

The Rockies will be looking to have a bounce-back year after losing 20 more games than the year prior. As every year, offense will be what is on course for the Rockies.

Players such as David Dahl and Ryan McMahon look to make key contributions alongside youngster Brendan Rogers. With plenty of power in Colorado, the pitching staff will not have to be perfect.

The Rockies need to look for the keys of success found in 2018 if Colorado has any hopes of returning to the playoffs.

Player to Watch: ​David Dahl
Prospect to Watch: ​Brendan Rogers
Key Addition: ​Matt Kemp
Key Subtraction: ​Ian Desmond

Los Angeles Dodgers, 2019 Record: 106-56 (1st in NL West)

Chasing the ever-elusive World Series title is what is in store for the Dodgers. Los Angeles has clinched the playoffs every year since 2013 but have yet to reach the top and win a title.

Dodgers added star Mookie Betts in a trade and have now signed him to a 12-year contract worth upwards of $380 million. Along with Betts, the Dodgers have young infielder Gavin Lux who adds even more depth to an already formidable Dodgers team.

If Los Angeles plans on winning a title, ace Clayton Kershaw will need to be in his peak form in the playoffs which is something he has yet to show the ability to do.

Player to Watch: ​Mookie Betts
Prospect to Watch: ​Gavin Lux
Key Addition: ​Mookie Betts
Key Subtraction: ​Hyun-Jin Ryu

San Diego Padres, 2019 Record: 70-92 (5th in NL West)

With a young core of Fernando Tatis Jr, Manny Machado and Chris Paddack, the Padres will be looking to return to the playoffs for the first time in over a decade.

With a young lineup, the Padres will be looking to the veterans on the team such as Eric Hosmer who has been on a championship team and knows what it takes to win in the majors. However, in the unprecedented season that is 2020, the Padres are amongst many teams looking to prospects.

The prospect that San Diego brings to the table is Taylor Trammel who has shown off his athleticism in summer camp and in spring training.

Player to Watch: ​Chris Paddack
Prospect to Watch: ​Taylor Trammel
Key Addition:​Tommy Pham
Key Subtraction: ​Hunter Renfroe

San Francisco Giants, 2019 Record: 77-85 (3rd in NL West)

Champions of years past, the Giants are an aging team in a game that is getting younger every season. San Francisco lost starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner to their division rival Arizona Diamondbacks in the offseason.

To make matters worse, former MVP Buster Posey is sitting out the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns.

Without two stars that led them to three World Series titles in the last decade, the Giants will be looking to new faces to help them finish above .500 for the first time since 2017.

New faces such as Joey Bart will likely replace Buster Posey at catcher in the coming years. Not-so-new Hunter Pence who spent a year with the Rangers before returning to San Francisco is also a key ingredient in the Giants’ recipe for success.

Player to Watch: ​Johnny Cueto
Prospect to Watch: ​Joey Bart
Key Addition: ​Hunter Pence
Key Subtraction: ​Buster Posey/ Madison Bumgarner

Arizona Diamondbacks, 2019 Record: 85-77 (2nd in NL West)

The Diamondbacks will be looking to bring a second title to Arizona. In the offseason, the D-Backs made moves that beefed up the rotation and the starting lineup.

With the addition of Madison Bumgarner, Starling Marte and Kole Calhoun, Arizona looks to bring another title to their city. Prospect Daulton Varsho will have more strain in a condensed season.

Player to Watch: ​Madison Bumgarner
Prospect to Watch:​ Daulton Varsho
Key Addition: ​Madison Bumgarner
Key Subtraction: ​Adam Jones

NL Central

Chicago Cubs, 2019 Record: 84-78 (3rd in NL Central)

The window has seemingly closed in on a core that brought Chicago their first World Series title in 2016, ending a 108-year title drought. In a division that has seemingly gotten tougher since the 2016 season, the Cubs will be looking to familiar faces such as Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo.

The Cubs are not going to just rely on familiar faces as they have prospect Nico Hoerner who is likely joining the team for his complete season in the majors. Chicago has a familiar face in David Ross rejoining the squad on the bench as the new manager and will look to bring the team back to postseason glory.

Player to Watch: ​Kris Bryant
Prospect to Watch: ​Nico Hoerner
Key Addition: ​David Ross
Key Subtraction: ​Nic Castellanos

Cincinnati Reds, 2019 Record: 75-87 (4th in NL Central)

The Reds are looking to make a playoff push with added talent in a “win-now” mentality to bring a championship back to Cincinnati for the first time in 30 years.

The Reds team will be looking to veterans such as Trevor Bauer who was on the Indians team which made it to the 2016 World Series.

Cincinnati also acquired Mike Moustakas, a key player on the Kansas City Royals during their 2015 World Series victory. The Reds relief pitchers are not a group that on paper looks like one that can bring a title to Cincinnati.

Player to Watch: ​Trevor Bauer
Prospect to Watch: ​Tyler Stephenson
Key Addition: ​Mike Moustakas
Key Subtraction: ​Derek Dietrich

Milwaukee Brewers, 2019 Record: 89-73 (2nd in NL Central)

A team without a good rotation is unlikely to win many games, as is the case in Milwaukee. The Brewers have one frontline starter in Brandon Woodruff who must be next to perfect to help a team with a very shallow rotation to the playoffs.

Along with this shallow rotation, the Brewers have perennial MVP candidate Christian Yelich and a relief group that may see more work than the starting rotation. Milwaukee’s relief group is anchored by Josh Hader who has shown to be a valuable pitcher coming out of the bullpen.

Player to Watch:​ Josh Hader
Prospect to Watch: ​Drew Rasmussen
Key Addition: ​Avisail Garcia
Key Subtraction:​ Yasmani Grandal

St. Louis Cardinals, 2019 Record: 91-71 (1st in NL Central)

No margin for error for the Cardinals this year. The Cardinals failed to retain power bat Marcell Ozuna who signed with the Braves in the offseason.

The Cardinals look towards veteran catcher Yadier Molina in his attempt to return to his younger self in the final year of his contract. Alongside Molina is former Texas State Bobcat Paul Goldschmidt who will be looking to have a better 2020 season as compared to his last season where he did not show to be the player we know him to be.

Player to Watch: ​Yadier Molina
Prospect to Watch: ​Dylan Carlson
Key Addition: ​Kwang-hyun Kim
Key Subtraction: ​Marcell Ozuna

Pittsburgh Pirates, 2019 Record: 69-93 (5th in NL Central)

The rebuild is here for Pittsburgh. As a team that has seen stars such as Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole all departed in recent years, the Pirates are officially in rebuild mode in hopes of one day returning to the playoffs.

A bright spot in the rebuild is current star Josh Bell, who is a known home run hitter and may soon be getting help from pitchers such as Chris Archer and Ke’Bryan Hayes who will likely be joining the team in the near future.

Player to Watch: ​Chris Archer
Prospect to Watch: ​Ke’Bryan Hayes
Key Addition: ​Guillermo Heredia
Key Subtraction: ​Starling Marte

NL East

Miami Marlins, 2019 Record: 57-105 (5th in NL East)

The second toughest schedule for a team that is in rebuild mode still. The floundering Marlins have some upside as they have some prospects which may just get their chance to make a splash in an otherwise bleak season in Miami.

The Marlins added veterans Cored Dickerson and Francisco Cervelli to inject some much needed leadership in a team looking to get back to winning. Sixto Sanchez, the Marlins top pitching prospect, will likely be in the starting rotation sooner than later.

Player to Watch: ​Corey Dickerson
Prospect to Watch: ​Sixto Sanchez
Key Addition: ​Jonathan Villar
Key Subtraction: ​Starlin Castro

Washington Nationals, 2019 Record: 93-69 (2nd in NL East)

The Nationals are on the hunt for back-to-back championships. This year will be no easy feat as last year at the 60-game mark Washington was not even in playoff contention.

Trea Turner will likely be looking to have a career season as he enters the last year of his contract. In an unprecedented season, the Nationals will be facing unprecedented challenges such as being without “Mr. National” Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman has been the cornerstone of the Nationals since he joined the team in 2005.

The starting rotation spearheaded by Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg will likely be the brightest star in the nation’s capital once again.

Player to Watch:​ Trea Turner
Prospect to Watch: ​Carter Kieboom
Key Addition: Will Harris
Key Subtraction:​ Anthony Rendon

New York Mets, 2019 Record: 86-76 (3rd in NL East)

In a normal year, this would be a team that you could write off easily. With a lineup of aging veterans and a pitching staff without any depth, the few stars they have will be the only bright spots.

Jacob deGrom will have to bear the brunt of a team that otherwise does not have anywhere to go but up in the coming years. Noah Syndergaard is number two in the starting rotation but is on the shelf this season with Tommy John Surgery.

Adding to the woes in the offseason they failed to sign starting pitcher Zack Wheeler.

Player to Watch: ​Jacob deGrom
Prospect to Watch:​ Andres Gimenez
Key Addition: ​Rick Porcello
Key Subtraction:​ Zack Wheeler

Atlanta Braves, 2019 Record: 97-65 (1st in NL East)

Back-to-back division champions are looking to add one more to that tally. As a team that has had division supremacy for the past two years, Atlanta will have a harder time this year as star third baseman Josh Donaldson signed with Minnesota in the offseason.

It is not all woes in Atlanta however, with a young core that is looking to win a title. Ronald Acuna Jr, Ozzie Albies, and Dansby Swanson all look to have career seasons. Swanson more than others as he is entering the final year in his contract.

Adding to a young core is Drew Waters, who will be looking to make a name for himself in Atlanta and start an illustrious career.

Player to Watch: ​Dansby Swanson
Prospect to Watch: ​Drew Waters
Key Addition: ​Marcell Ozuna
Key Subtraction: ​Josh Donaldson

Philadelphia Phillies, 2019 Record: 81-81 (4th in NL East)

In the first season in the Bryce Harper era in Philadelphia, the team did not manage to achieve a winning record. They will be looking to change that this year as the Phillies added manager Joe Girardi to the team as well as starter Zack Wheeler.

In this star-studded lineup is catcher JT Realmuto, who is in his final contract year with the Phillies. As of now, contract talks have halted between Realmuto and the front office.

Alex Bohm will also be fighting for a starting spot in a lineup that already has a full infield.

Player to Watch:​ Bryce Harper
Prospect to Watch: ​Alex Bohm
Key Addition: ​Joe Girardi
Key Subtraction: ​Cesar Hernandez

Featured image by Cole Paveglio.

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