2014 Previews: The National League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2014 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League East.

The Nats were supposed to win it all last year. Will they this year? The Braves have punched at least three holes on their Dr.JamesAnderews SuperSaver Card. Will they punch two more and get a free labrum surgery? The Mets signed a couple of free agents for once. Does that mean anything? The Marlins were a laughingstock last year, will they surprise this year? And will the Phillies be a laughingstock this year?

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

Washington Nationals
Atlanta Braves
New York Mets
Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies

Zack Wheeler will miss at least two starts when his wife gives birth

Zack Wheeler miss starts
Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Per The Athletic’s Matt Gelb, Phillies starter Zack Wheeler will miss at least two starts when his wife goes into labor and gives birth to their first child, expected to be later this month. Wheeler, in fact, is not sure if he will return to play at all once their child is born.

Wheeler said, “We just have to see how things are here at the field and at the stadium. I’m happy with what I see so far. But things could change, especially once our baby’s born. I always think about what’s going on around me. Is it safe? Is it OK? Literally every single day. I have to just ask myself that. I’m going to continue to keep asking myself that every day.”

Wheeler, 30, inked a five-year, $118 million contract with the Phillies in December. He is slated for the No. 2 spot in the rotation behind Aaron Nola. Last season, with the Mets, Wheeler posted a 3.96 ERA with 195 strikeouts and 50 walks over 195 1/3 innings.

The No. 5 spot in the Phillies’ rotation is currently up for grabs between Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, Ranger Suárez, and prospect Spencer Howard. One of the remaining three could fill in for Wheeler when he needs time off, temporarily or otherwise.