In less than a week, the 2017 Major League Baseball season will officially get underway when the Tampa Bay Rays host the New York Yankees at 1:10 p.m. ET at Tropicana Field.

With an assortment of teams looking much differently heading into a new season, there is much anticipation and excitement around baseball to see if any club can take down the reigning and defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs.

During the week leading up to the beginning of the regular season, theScore’s MLB staff will give our readers an inside look at each respective division and some nuances and projections for each club.

Today, we start with the National League East.

Atlanta Braves

2016 record: 68-93 (5th in NL East)
2017 payroll: $114,388,542
Over/Under win total for 2017: 71.5
Odds to win World Series: 100/1
3-year trend: 2014 (79); 2015 (67); 2016 (68)
Highest projected WAR: Freddie Freeman (3.8)
X-factor: Dansby Swanson
Prospect to watch: Ozzie Albies (MLB.com: 10; Baseball America: 11; Baseball Prospectus: 35)
Winter report card: B

Projected Lineup

ORDER PLAYER POSITION
1 Ender Inciarte CF
2 Dansby Swanson SS
3 Freddie Freeman 1B
4 Matt Kemp LF
5 Nick Markakis RF
6 Brandon Phillips 2B
7 Adonis Garcia 3B
8 Tyler Flowers C

Projected Rotation

Pitcher Throws Projected ERA
Julio Teheran R 3.90
Bartolo Colon R 4.20
Jaime Garcia L 3.81
R.A. Dickey R 4.38
Mike Foltynewicz R 4.26

Braves win the division if …

The Braves may surprise people and turn some heads thanks to their outstanding combination of youth and wisdom. Their lineup is anchored by Freddie Freeman and Matt Kemp, along with budding star Dansby Swanson, but the additions of vets Brandon Phillips, Bartolo Colon, et al. really shows Atlanta is at least going to try and compete in the division and isn’t in full-on rebuild mode. If the Braves play like they did to finish last season (37-35 in the second half) they’re going to make things exciting in their first season at SunTrust Park.

Miami Marlins

2016 record: 79-82 (3rd in NL East)
2017 payroll: $110,087,500
Over/Under win total for 2017: 76.5
Odds to win World Series: 80/1
3-year trend: 2014 (77); 2015 (71); 2016 (79)
Highest projected WAR: Christian Yelich (4.0)
X-factor: Giancarlo Stanton
Prospect to watch: Braxton Garrett (MLB.com: 43; Baseball America: 76; Baseball Prospectus: 71)
Winter report card: B

Projected Lineup

ORDER PLAYER POSITION
1 Dee Gordon 2B
2 Marcell Ozuna LF
3 Christian Yelich CF
4 Giancarlo Stanton RF
5 Justin Bour 1B
6 J.T. Realmuto C
7 Derek Dietrich 3B
8 Adeiny Hechavarria SS

Projected Rotation

Pitcher Throws Projected ERA
Wei-Yin Chen L 3.83
Edinson Volquez R 4.20
Adam Conley L 4.13
Dan Straily R 4.42
Tom Koehler R 4.46

Marlins win the division if …

Even without Martin Prado to begin the season, the Marlins will offer up a deadly lineup to their opponents on a nightly basis. If Giancarlo Stanton can stay healthy and Christian Yelich continues on his upward climb, Miami’s got a shot to do some damage in the NL East. Their bullpen is an obvious strength with the additions of Brad Ziegler and Junichi Tazawa, but the performance of their rotation, which added Edinson Volquez and Dan Straily, will also be a big indicator of where the team may end up at season’s end.

New York Mets

2016 record: 87-75 (2nd in NL East)
2017 payroll: $148,990,500
Over/Under win total for 2017: 90.5
Odds to win World Series: 12/1
3-year trend: 2014 (79); 2015 (90); 2016 (87)
Highest projected WAR: Noah Syndergaard (5.6)
X-factor: Matt Harvey
Prospect to watch: Amed Rosario (MLB.com: 5; Baseball America: 8; Baseball Prospectus: 8)
Winter report card: B+

Projected Lineup

ORDER PLAYER POSITION
1 Jose Reyes 3B
2 Asdrubal Cabrera SS
3 Yoenis Cespedes LF
4 Curtis Granderson CF
5 Neil Walker 2B
6 Jay Bruce RF
7 Lucas Duda 1B
8 Travis d’Arnaud C

Projected Rotation

Pitcher Throws Projected ERA
Noah Syndergaard R 3.01
Jacob deGrom R 3.44
Matt Harvey R 3.79
Steven Matz L 3.50
Robert Gsellman R 4.20

Mets win the division if …

The Mets possess one of the best rotations in baseball and there isn’t much concern in the power department of the orange and blue’s everyday lineup. They are one of the favorites in the division, but full seasons from Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Steven Matz (who combined to make 63 starts in 2016) must occur if they stand a chance at dethroning the Nationals for the NL East crown. Not having closer Jeurys Familia for a chunk of the season because of a potential suspension linked to a domestic incident involving his wife will hurt, but Addison Reed should suffice as an early-season replacement.

Philadelphia Phillies

2016 record: 71-91 (4th in NL East)
2017 payroll: $92,160,000 (Cot’s contracts)
Over/Under win total for 2017: 72.5
Odds to win World Series: 100/1
3-year trend: 2014 (73); 2015 (63); 2016 (71)
Highest projected WAR: Aaron Nola (3.3)
X-factor: Jeremy Hellickson
Prospect to watch: J.P. Crawford (MLB.com: 6; Baseball America: 12; Baseball Prospectus: 4)
Winter report card: B

Projected Lineup

ORDER PLAYER POSITION
1 Cesar Hernandez 2B
2 Howie Kendrick LF
3 Odubel Herrera CF
4 Maikel Franco 3B
5 Michael Saunders RF
6 Tommy Joseph 1B
7 Freddy Galvis SS
8 Cameron Rupp C

Projected Rotation

Pitcher Throws Projected ERA
Jeremy Hellickson R 4.32
Jerad Eickhoff R 4.08
Clay Buchholz R 4.25
Vince Velasquez R 3.88
Aaron Nola R 3.64

Phillies win the division if …

It’s going to take a lot for the Phillies to win the division. While their lineup, rotation, and bullpen were all upgraded in the offseason by their front office, it doesn’t appear to be better than any of the other teams in the division on paper. That being said, Odubel Herrera is electric and can take over a game by himself, and the additions of veterans Howie Kendrick, Michael Saunders, Clay Buchholz, and Joaquin Benoit should help them increase their win total (71) from a season prior.

Washington Nationals

2016 record: 95-67 (1st in NL East)
2017 payroll: $160,506,044
Over/Under win total for 2017: 90.5
Odds to win World Series: 10/1
3-year trend: 2014 (96); 2015 (83); 2016 (95)
Highest projected WAR: Max Scherzer (5.7)
X-factor: Trea Turner
Prospect to watch: Victor Robles (MLB.com: 7; Baseball America: 13; Baseball Prospectus: 7)
Winter report card: B

Projected Lineup

ORDER PLAYER POSITION
1 Trea Turner SS
2 Adam Eaton CF
3 Daniel Murphy 2B
4 Bryce Harper RF
5 Anthony Rendon 3B
6 Jayson Werth LF
7 Matt Wieters C
8 Ryan Zimmerman 1B

Projected Rotation

Pitcher Throws Projected ERA
Stephen Strasburg R 3.20
Tanner Roark R 4.05
Gio Gonzalez L 3.80
Joe Ross R 3.79
Max Scherzer R 3.08

Nationals win the division if …

The defending NL East champions didn’t have many holes in their lineup last season, and the additions of Adam Eaton and Matt Wieters only make them more dangerous. Add in one of baseball’s best rotations featuring two-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, and Washington appears primed for another division title. The only potential area of concern the Nationals appear to have is who will fill the closer’s job when the season begins. Shawn Kelley, Blake Treinen, and Koda Glover have all been mentioned as candidates by manager Dusty Baker.

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