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THE PAYOFF PITCH ...
TED KEITH
April 04, 2011
BEST CASE
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April 04, 2011

The Payoff Pitch ...

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WORST CASE

The young players are unreliable, Hanley Ramirez gets into another spat with his manager, and hurricane season delays construction on their new ballpark so it can't open in April '12.

BEST CASE

Jayson Werth proves he can be the man in the middle of a lineup, and the Nats get out of the basement. Most important: Stephen Strasburg returns in September with his stuff intact.

WORST CASE

Veteran starters Livan Hernandez and Jason Marquis run out of gas, and Werth fails to become a lineup cornerstone. Worse: Bryce Harper gets hurt, delaying his D.C. arrival by a year.

BEST CASE

Carlos Beltran and Jason Bay return to form and give the Mets a potent middle of the order, and the ragtag pitching staff keeps them in the race until Johan Santana returns in June.

WORST CASE

Santana isn't himself when he returns, Reyes (free agent in '12) is dealt, players revolt against Terry Collins's intense style, and the Wilpons' financial woes handcuff the front office.

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