2023 NL East Preview

March 16, 2023

Atlanta Braves – The defending NL East champs lost Kenley Jansen, but Raisel Iglesias proved to be one of 2022’s the best deadline acquisitions at any position and figures to get a chance to turn his extend his absurd stretch run (0.34 ERA after the trade to Atlanta) into 2023. Joe Jimenez (20 career saves) is in town now, too, fresh off his best season, and lefties AJ Minter and Tyler Matzek have both had runs of brilliance in recent years, and Dylan Lee and Collin McHugh were rock solid last year as well. So the Braves have lots of options should Iglesias falter.

Starting 2023 hierarchy: Iglesias | Jimenez | Minter.
Holds candidates: Jimenez, Minter, Matzek, Lee, McHugh.

Miami Marlins – Manager Skip Schumaker said earlier this year that he was going to play matchups in the late innings, with “Our best guys are going… against their best hitters.” The ‘best guys’ in Miami are likely to be new acquisitions Matt Barnes and AJ Puk, along with holdovers Tanner Scott, Dylan Floro, and JT Chargois. Barnes has had a slightly shaky start to his spring, but we’d expect that he and Puk would likely be the go-to guys in the late innings. Scott proved last year that he could be effective across multiple innings, so he could also be in the mix if they’re looking for someone to get more than 3 outs.

Starting 2023 hierarchy: *Barnes | Puk | Scott.
* = closer-by-committee
Holds candidates: Barnes, Puk, Scott, Floro, Chargois.

New York Mets – With Edwin Diaz out for the sesaon, so look for Adam Ottavino and David Robertson to get the save opps, at least in the early going. (We’d rank them in that order, though things could change quickly.) Brooks Raley and Drew Smith are also likely to get some key innings, and while he’s currently nursing an injury, keep an eye on 6’7″ Bryce Montes de Oca, who can do things like this.

Starting 2023 hierarchy: *Ottavino | Robertson | Raley.
* = closer-by-committee
Holds candidates: Robertson, Raley, Smith.

Philadelphia Phillies – Rob Thomson said early in 2023 that he preferred a “floating closer, if you will” and the Phillies appear headed for a closer-by-committee to start the season. There’s no shortage of options with offseason acquisitions Craig Kimbrel and Gregory Soto having both closed last season. Jose Alvarado will join Soto in matching up with tough lefties, while Seranthony Dominguez has had stretches where he’s looked unhittable — though he’s never really put together a full season of dominance. It’s hard to pick a favorite here, and Spring Training has offered few clues thus far, as the Philadelphia saves have been scattered amongst players who are all unlikely to make the team. Stay tuned for updates as the preseason slate rolls on; we’ll put Kimbrel in the lead for now given his solid preseason so far.

Starting 2023 hierarchy: *Kimbrel | Dominguez | Alvarado.
* = closer-by-committee
Holds candidates: Dominguez, Alvarado, Soto, Bellatti.

Washington Nationals – Kyle Finnegan is the guy this year in Washington… except that Davey Martinez has already told him that sometimes he’ll be used as a fireman rather than traditional closer. So while he’s definitely the best National reliever to own, that could mean a handful of save chances for Hunter Harvey, CJ Edwards, and perhaps even Sean Doolittle. We’ll keep an eye on this early on to see if Martinez keeps his word, or whether he just defaults to Finnegan as his regular 9th inning guy.

Starting 2023 hierarchy: *Finnegan | Harvey | Edwards.
* = closer-by-committee
Holds candidates: Harvey, Edwards, Doolittle.