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National League East Betting Preview: Mets Bullpen Could Be Key

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New York Mets ace Johan Santana should feel like he has had something stolen from him. His second half performance was brilliant as usual last year, posting an under two ERA, yet he did not win the Cy Young award.

The reason for that was a dismal Mets bullpen that made a habit out of blowing leads not only for Santana, but for the rest of the pitching staff as well. This winter, General Manager Omar Minaya hopes to have corrected that problem by signing Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz.

Thanks to those additions the Mets come into the new season as the betting favorites over the defending champion Philadelphia Phillies. New York has odds of 7/5.

Philadelphia is still the second choice at 8/5. The Phillies return most of the team that won the World Series a year ago. The Atlanta Braves have moved back into the picture at least as far as the sportsbooks go.

The Braves are a 3/1 choice, but if they win it will be with almost an entirely new team than the one that Atlanta was used to winning with. John Smoltz is gone, but the good news for Braves fans is he was replaced with Derek Lowe.

In Florida, the Marlins have as good a young pitching staff as there is in the league. Florida overachieved a bit last year and odds makers are expecting them to regress this season. They are only a 8/1 choice to win the division title.

The Washington Nationals have not been relevant in the division since they left Montreal, and it looks as though things will remain the same with the team. They are a long shot in a division where the other four teams are clearly better than they are. Washington's odds are 25/1.

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