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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Report: Steven Matz has been pitching through pain, may need elbow surgery

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Newsday’s Marc Carig reports that Mets starter Steven Matz has been pitching through pain for most of the season. He may need surgery to fix a nerve issue in his elbow. Matz was sidelined in spring training with an elbow injury and made his regular season debut on June 10.

Matz, 26, has struggled over 13 starts, posting a 6.08 ERA with a 48/19 K/BB ratio in 66 2/3 innings. Many were scrambling for explanations for his pitching woes and now they have it.

According to Carig, the Mets let Matz skip his bullpen sessions to help him pitch through the pain. Given the Mets’ shoddy history of dealing with injuries, that’s not a good look for the club.

Carig noted on Twitter that Jacob deGrom offers some optimism for Matz’s case. deGrom underwent right elbow surgery to repair ulnar nerve damage last September and bounced back to have a great season this year.

Clayton Kershaw’s simulated game went so well he threw an extra inning

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Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw was scheduled to throw three innings in a simulated game on Monday. That simulated game went so well, he threw an extra inning, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports. Kershaw will make a minor league rehab start next and could be activated towards the end of next week.

Kershaw, 29, has been on the disabled list since July 24 with a lower back strain. That put the pause button on another outstanding season. He’s carrying a 15-2 record with a 2.04 ERA and a 168/24 K/BB ratio in 141 1/3 innings.

The 87-35 Dodgers have run away with the NL West, needing some combination of 20 wins and 20 Rockies losses (19 for the third-place Diamondbacks) to officially clinch the division. While the Dodgers are all but mathematically assured of reaching postseason baseball, the club would still like to get Kershaw as ready as possible over the next month-plus.