2013 Preview: The National League East

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For the past few days we’ve been previewing the 2013 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League East.

The Washington Nationals; 2012 season ended with a fall-from-ahead playoff loss, but let’s not forget that they won more games than anyone last year and seem loaded for bear once again. Are they the best team in baseball right now?

The Braves got the Upton brothers but they lost Chipper Jones and Martin Prado. Does that translate to the playoffs once again?

The squad the Phillies assembled a couple of years ago seemed like it’d be poised to compete for a good long while. But last year injury and age caught up with them. Was that a bump in the road or the beginning of the end of the Halladay-Lee-Hamels-Howard-Utley-Rollins core?

The Mets are coming out of years of financial misery. How long until their on-the-field fortunes turn as well?

The Marlins introduced a whole new look in 2012 then, in gutting payroll and trading away half the roster, they reverted to old form rather abruptly. What, if anything, is worth watching in Miami?

Below are our team-by-team previews for the NL East as well as our HBT Extra feature on the division. Enjoy.

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Battle of the Aces: Max Scherzer takes on Clayton Kershaw tonight

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I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.

Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.

This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.

Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.