Now an early look at the NL East.
1. Will Tommy Hanson lead the Braves in Wins?
There is a decent chance he does. Jair Jurrjens pitched about as well as you can imagine last year and only managed to win 14 games. Tim Hudson always has question marks. Derek Lowe hasn’t won 16 games since 2006. That leave Hanson who won 11 in 21 starts. He stumbled a bit in July (1-2, 3.94 ERA), but rebounded nicely to finish the year off.
2. Can Billy Wagner hold up?
He sure looked good for Boston last year. He had good velocity. He’s getting up there in age, but I believe the lefty could put together a 30 save season.
3. Will Ricky Nolasco bounce back?
Nolasco was high on everyone’s list going into last year after his 15-8, 3.52 ERA, 1.10 WHIP in 2008. Sure, his ERA bloated to 5.06, but his WHIP was a very respectable 1.25. What’s more is he had a better strikeout ratio (9.49 K/9 compared to 7.88). Plus, he was 11-4 with a 4.13 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP from June through the end of the year. Hopefully his first half struggles and overall numbers let him slide in your drafts making him a great value in 2010.
4. Will Leo Nunez hold on to the Closer gig?
It’s his job to lose, but do note that he blew seven of his 33 save opportunities (21 percent). He was even worse in December with three blown saves in 11 chances with a 6.10 ERA.
5. Is Citi Field cursed?
I can’t recall a team going through as many injuries at the Mets did last year. Reyes, Wright, Johan, Beltran, the list goes on and on. Seriously though, I think the offense will be fine. Jason Bay adds his big bat to an already impressive lineup (when healthy). The trouble is their pitching. I don’t see them having enough starting pitching to compete with Atlanta or Philadelphia.
6. Will Cole Hamels return to form?
I can’t think of a more important question for the Phillies. I think the role of Superman in the postseason may have got to his head a bit. He received a lot of negative attention when he said he couldn’t wait until the season was over. I didn’t take it as him quitting rather the year took a toll on him. I think he’ll work hard to get back to the level he and his fantasy owners have grown accustomed to. Despite his struggles, he did manage to produce a decent ERA (4.32) and a solid WHIP (1.29). He doesn’t have the pressure of being the ace of the staff anymore either.
7. Will Jayson Werth continue to be a fantasy beast?
After a solid 2008 season, Werth’s numbers exploded last year as he scored 98 runs, hit 36 HRs, and had 99 RBIs. He matched his 2008 SB total with 20. He’ll turn 31 early in the year, and I see no reason he can’t continue to produce at a high level, especially in that lineup.
8. Should you draft Stephen Strasburg?
Only in deep keeper leagues. He means too much to the future of the Nationals for them to rush him along. If you’re in a league with three or four keepers, he won’t be worth hanging onto just yet. Be patient with him, like the Nationals will be.
9. Will Nyjer Morgan continue to produce?
I don’t see why not. He was solid for Pittsburgh before being dealt to Washington, where he was even better. He hit .351 with 35 runs and 24 SBs in 49 games with the Nationals.