NL East

NL East: 3 Things to Watch In 2024

Did you know that since the strike in 1994, the NL East has the most World Series titles of any National League division? In fact, the six titles that have come out of the National League East since ‘94 are second only to their counterparts in the American League. And, when you consider that the AL East has the dynastic Yankees of the late ’90s to thank for over half of the division’s titles, the NL East begins to present a strong case for one of the long-time competitive divisions in the sport.

Last season was really no different as this division saw three of the five teams make the playoffs and is primed for yet another year of premier talent. So here are, in no particular order, five topics to watch out for out of the NL East in 2024.

NL East: 3 Things To Watch In 2024

1) A Heavyweight Bout

There is an obvious buzz around the Los Angeles Dodgers this year for valid reasons. But there are two teams in the NL East who, at least on paper, can make waves this year and possibly capsize the Dodgers boat. However, before they can try to overthrow the World Series favorites, the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies must first do battle against each other. Somewhere, Bruce Buffer is giving his classic fight night battle cry because this heavyweight bout will be must-watch television throughout the summer.

In Atlanta, the Braves are trying to avoid becoming what they were in the 1990s. Back then, the talent was immeasurable. Yet, a team with names like Chipper Jones, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, and Andruw Jones was only able to win one World Series ring. Fast forward to 2024, and the core of this current roster already has one ring and is hungry for more.

It is easy to stare in awe at what Ronald Acuna Jr. now does year in and year out. Bigger bases or not, the power-speed combo that he possesses is generational. And sure, it is unfair to expect someone to repeat a 40-40 season (let alone a 40-70 season). But, if anyone can do it, Acuna can. While he alone would be enough to sit people in front of their television sets this summer, this lineup has much more to offer the baseball fan. Matt Olson is going for back-to-back 50 home run seasons, Michael Harris will look to continue developing, and perhaps the most underrated hitter in the league, Austin Riley, is primed for another 30+ homer, 90+ RBI season at third base.

On the opposite side of the ball, Atlanta is as strong as any. Their starting rotation is like the Mariana Trench. Deep. Spencer Strider made a run at 300 strikeouts last year while winning 20 games. Max Fried is as good a lefty in the league as any. Chris Sale, although not the dominant force he once was, still boasts a career 3.10 ERA. Charlie Morton has started at least 30 games in every season (outside of the Covid year) dating back to 2018. And as it sits right now, the depth chart has Bryce Elder as the fifth starter. A fifth starter who started 31 games last year, only lost four of them, and pitched to a very respectable 3.81 ERA in his first full season. They say that momentum is only as good as the next day’s starting pitcher. Well, in that case, Atlanta has five momentum crushers.

All of this makes it difficult to see any alternative to the Atlanta Braves not only winning the division but also making a run at ring number two in the last four years. Unfortunately for Braves fans (but fortunately, perhaps, for the casual baseball follower) there is a real threat to Atlanta’s hopes and dreams within the division itself. It lies 775 miles North of Atlanta, Georgia.

The Philadelphia Phillies look like a real juggernaut on paper this year. One that could deliver a strong enough uppercut to turn off the lights in Atlanta. There is a really strong argument to be made that the lineup comparisons between these two powerhouses actually favor Philadelphia.

The obvious names are easy to predict. The Bryce Harper’s of the world will no doubt produce as they do perennially. The move to first base could very well yield even better results at the plate as the corner infield position will undoubtedly put less wear and tear on his body throughout the summer. Trea Turner scored 100 runs in what everybody understands was a down year for the star shortstop. J.T. Realmuto is still considered to be a top-three catcher in the sport. Kyle Schwarber will hit his homers, and Alec Bohm will continue to produce at a high clip under the radar. But even beyond the household star names, Philly can swing it. Who honestly had Brandon Marsh with a .372 OBP on their bingo card last year?

Yes, on paper, the rotations between these two clubs favor Atlanta. However, that is not to say that what the Phillies are planning to run out to the mound over any five days this summer is bad. It’s not. Although, there are some definite questions.

Zack Wheeler “secured the bag” and will have to deliver on the expectation. Because, although some big potential is there in the Philly rotation, there is also a lot to prove behind his number-one spot. Aaron Nola can absolutely return to dominance and become another ace in the rotation. However, he needs to prove it since the last few seasons for him have been a see-saw in which his ERA has fluctuated pretty drastically.

While names like Ranger Suarez have been serviceable, and guys like Cristopher Sanchez have the potential to blossom into solid back-end arms, the reality is that the Phillies will need a bounce-back year from lefty reliever Gregory Soto and the continued success of Jose Alvarado to turn late leads into victories. They should produce runs at a high enough clip to have late leads. But can the pitching convert them into wins?

The answer to which one of these juggernauts takes the division title lies at the end of the 162-game marathon that begins in a couple of weeks. But whoever ends up at the top of the NL East, this 13-round title fight between these two heavyweights will be exciting to watch all summer long.

2) Deal Or No Deal

Every season, there are two discussions surrounding contracts. One discussion is always about who received big money; Will they perform? Was the contract a good one or one that the team will regret for years to come?

The other discussion is around players who have not yet been able to reach an agreement; Will they leave? Will they sign during the season? Are they worth extending now? Or is it not a big deal if they reach free agency? This upcoming season, the NL East has one of each discussion taking place regarding contracts.

Staying in Philidelphia for a moment, all of the spotlight will be firmly on Zack Wheeler. After the soon-to-be 34-year-old locked up a new contract that will run through his age 37 season for a whopping $126 million, the heat was undoubtedly turned up. Philadelphia has put their faith in him being the number-one starter for years to come. But should they be so confident? Yes, they should.

The price tag will, of course, bring in some negative comments. After all, $126 million for a guy who only touches the ball once every five days is quite a hefty number to stare at. However, if anybody has proven their worth recently in the red pinstripes, it’s Wheeler. Advanced analytics aren’t your thing? Fine. Just a glance at some of the surface stats around Wheeler recently proves his worth and shows that even Howie Mandel is calling this a good deal.

Excluding the Covid-shortened season, Wheeler has made at least 26 starts in each of his seasons with the Phillies. He represented the team at the 2021 All-Star game, has two 200+ strikeout seasons (one of those seasons leading the league with 247), and led the league in innings pitched once, complete games once, and complete game shutouts once. In a sport where a pitcher is lucky to make it past the fifth inning of a game, these numbers classify Zack Wheeler as a “horse.”

In all honesty, considering the fragility of the modern-day starting pitcher, these numbers make Zack Wheeler the pitching equivalent of Seabiscuit. Good deal, Philly, good deal!

On the other side of the deal or no deal coin is Pete Alonso and the New York Mets. The fan base in Queens is nervous as to what might happen (or not happen) throughout this summer. Will the Mets sign him long term? Or will he become the next name in a long list of Mets who slipped away? A list, by the way, that Zack Wheeler also belongs to.

The hope among many Mets fans is that the “polar bear” signs a deal that will have him and his 50+ home run a season bat stay in New York. The reality is that there is some real skepticism about what the organization will end up doing. And why shouldn’t there be? Last year, the Mets punted on the season by the all-star break. So the idea that new owner Steve Cohen will just throw money against the wall to see what sticks has been debunked.

It is now clear that “Uncle Steve” will take a bit of a more thought-out approach to spending his money. This might not bode well for Alonso. Yes, his power numbers are elite and the league still emphasizes pop. However, it is hard to ignore that he hit just .217 with a .318 OBP last season. Considering he isn’t exactly Keith Hernandez at first base either, is it really that difficult to imagine the Mets letting Alonso walk into free agency? Fans seriously need to reconcile with the fact that ownership may very well slam the case closed on Pete Alonso and scream “No Deal!”

Regardless of what ends up happening. It is something that any fan of baseball, let alone teams in the NL East, will need to pay attention to as the summer progresses.

3) Al(CAN)tara

What happened to Sandy Alcantara last year? Can he return to form or was 2023 a sign of what’s to come? A quick look at some of Sandy’s recent trends suggests that the Marlins should not worry too much and last year was simply a bump in the road.

Since becoming a full-time starter in 2019, many of Alcantara’s stats have improved. His ERA has consistently lowered from 3.88 in 2019 down to 2.28 in 2022. He has started at least 28 games in each full season since 2019. He has logged 200+ innings twice, leading the league with 228.2 innings pitched just before the down year in 2023.

When comparing last year’s “down” year to 2022’s Cy Young season, it is not easy to understand what caused the drop in production. In both seasons he led the league in complete games. He gave up only two more hits in 2023 compared to 2022 and walked two fewer batters.

So why all the extra runs? Why the 7-12 record? While there may be answers lying somewhere deep in analytical statistics, the “glass half full” approach looks at this as a good thing. Perhaps some bad luck attributed to the bloated ERA and poor record.

In the end, Alcantara CAN and should get back on track this season. Why is that something to watch throughout the summer? Well, the Miami Marlins were 84-78 last year despite the Cy-Young winner having his worst season on record. Him returning to form would only help boost Miami’s chances of trying to take down the two behemoths at the top of the pecking order in the NL East. In many ways, if Alcantara goes, then so do the Marlins.

Time Will Tell

Only a look back at the season in October will be able to provide definitive answers to a lot of the questions posed. Who will win the division? Can guys like Acuna go 40-40 two years in a row? Did Philly make a good deal with Zack Wheeler and will the Mets get something done with Pete Alonso? Will the Marlins become perennial post-season contenders on the back of pitchers like Alcantara? Time will certainly tell. After all, “Father Time” is undefeated.

Main Image: Rob Schumacher / USA TODAY NETWORK

4.9 13 votes
Do you agree with this article? Let's see your vote!
4.9 13 votes
Do you agree with this article? Let's see your vote!
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Fye article


Great article!

bob martin

i love the article keep it up!


this is so fire bro 🥶🥶🔥👌

kevin alavadro

love this keep doin it


I love this article.


i love this .

Mike Summa

Cohen can’t let Alonso go somewhere else…or can he? Time will tell. LGM!

geidy marte

I love this article!!! This was so fun to read.

Victoria Bilinska

Amazing Article!! I would love to watch everything that is listed here!


great i love this im gonna spread this all over all the internet


Very useful article!!

Cristiono Ronaldo

Great article keep it up suii

Adam Medina

Wow these recommendations are awesome man keep it up, I wanna see more of these articles! 🔥🔥🔥


w curto but i know nothing about baseball

BOT 123

Nice Article!


Great article, this website has really good articles and writers. These 3 things to watch are really a one in a million chances, especially the Zach Wheeler and Philadelphia deal. Really hope I see more of this amazing articles.

Ben Wiley

Just letting you know that Sandy Alcantara may miss all or almost all of the season recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Justin Portente

Awesome article! Hoping the Mets use this year to transition and get ready for 2025

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x