NL East Preview: Full Forecast for Braves, Phillies, Nationals, Mets and Marlins

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NL East Preview: Full Forecast for Braves, Phillies, Nationals, Mets and Marlins
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Without an innings limit this season, Stephen Strasburg should be in the middle of the NL Cy Young picture.

There was a changing of the guard in the National League East in 2012. After owning the division for the previous five years, the Philadelphia Phillies battled injuries and age en route to a .500 finish. 

With the door wide open for some new blood, the Washington Nationals' rebuilding efforts yielded results a year or two sooner than expected. They posted a 98-64 record (the best in baseball) before losing in heartbreaking fashion to St. Louis in the division series round. 

All of that is in the past, however, as the division begins anew.

There were plenty of changes in the division over the winter, leaving the top of the division up for grabs between at least two teams. 

The Nationals didn't rest on their laurels, signing Dan Haren to a one-year contract in hopes that he can bounce back. They also traded for Denard Span to fill the hole at the top of the lineup and in center field and re-signed Adam LaRoche to provide some power in the middle of the order. 

The Atlanta Braves lost Chipper Jones to retirement, but turned a fading Tommy Hanson into Jordan Walden, who has a great arm and could be just another weapon in an already-loaded bullpen. B.J. and Justin Upton will join Jason Heyward to form one of the best outfields in baseball. 

The Phillies, Miami Marlins and New York Mets all appear to be at least one rung below the Nationals and Braves in the division—but stranger things have happened in baseball. 

Here is a look ahead at what to expect from the National League East in 2013. It will include what teams need to happen, what could go wrong and final predicted standings. 

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