Forecast: National League preview

2. Atlanta Braves

Jayson Stark @jaysonst: The Braves led the league this spring in two categories nobody saw coming: 1) Tommy John surgeries (for ace Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy) and 2) megamillion extensions for almost their entire young core ($270.7 million's worth). So the future is now as bright as ever, with a youthful, star-studded nucleus all locked up for years. But the present? That wouldn't seem quite so bright. Not with Medlen and Beachy gone for the year and reliable Mike Minor still a few weeks from being ready after offseason urinary-tract surgery. So even with Ervin Santana galloping to the rescue and fellow free-agent signee Gavin Floyd a potential option down the road, there are worries about this rotation. Not to mention about the defensive capabilities of Evan Gattis behind the plate. And about the ongoing struggles of Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton, who last year turned the Braves into the first team in history to make the postseason with two regulars who hit under .185. With it all, this is still a really talented team. But another 96-win season feels a little too optimistic.

Christina Kahrl: Unless you think innings-eater Ervin Santana will single-handedly repair a rotation devastated by injuries, the Braves' contender status is in jeopardy. You can add in concern over whether B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla can come back. Hope resides in what Justin Upton and Jason Heyward can do at full speed.

3. New York Mets

Jim Bowden @JimBowdenESPNxm: The Mets have to deal with not having their ace, Matt Harvey, for the season after he underwent Tommy John surgery last year and with Jon Niese, who continues to have shoulder and elbow problems. The rest of the rotation is strong, led by Bartolo Colon, Zack Wheeler and Dillon Gee. Noah Syndergaard will start the season in the minors, but he most assuredly will affect this rotation in the second half. The Mets should be able to finish in third place for a second straight season as newly acquired Curtis Granderson will give David Wright much-needed lineup support. The Mets still need to get an every-day shortstop and an impact cleanup hitter to contend.

Christina Kahrl: Absent Matt Harvey, the Mets go from must-see to must-be. Sure, watching them will teach us whether Chris Young and Ike Davis can return to stardom, and Travis d'Arnaud should be a treat behind the plate. Mostly, just like Bartolo Colon, all the Mets will do is fill a lot of space ? on the schedule, that is.

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