So, who is the beast of the east? This is the number one question about the National League East. It has easily been the wildest, craziest, most unpredictable division in baseball. This week however, things returned to some sense of normalcy, well at least for the division.
Atlanta Braves (21-15, 4-2, 1st in NL East)
This week, the Braves took back the top spot of the division. While they lost their first series of the week to St. Louis, they bounced back with an impressive sweep over the Chicago Cubs. While Justin Upton is starting to get going offensively, the rest of the line up is still struggling overall. Dan Uggla is still awful offensively, but he is the only option the Braves have at 2nd base. He almost had the play of the week until he slipped and threw the ball to his feet. Craig Kimbrel has also been out of sync recently, especially in the series against the Cubs.
Still, the Braves are the team to beat in the east as of now. They have the line up and pitching to last well into the season. If they start to produce offensively, the Braves will be very difficult to beat.
Miami Marlins (20-18, 4-3, 2nd in NL East)
Again, who would have guessed the Marlins would be in this position. They have been nearly unbeatable at home, posting a 17-5 record at Marlins Park. Outside of the park, their record is far from stellar. The Marlins’ road struggles continues after they were swept by the San Diego Padres over the weekend. If the Marlins want to stay in the race, they have to get their winning percentage up on the road. The Marlins current record away from home is 3-13, far below where they need to be if they want to keep up with the Braves and Nationals.
Washington Nationals (19-18, 2-4, 3rd in NL East)
There were such high expectations for this team at the beginning of the year. Such high, high, HIGH expectations. The Nationals, like always, look good on paper. Unfortunately, they have been bitten by the injury bug in the last week. The Nationals already lost Bryce Harper and could not afford to lose anymore players. This week, they lost first baseman Adam LaRoche to the 15 day DL due to a quad strain. This is in addition to Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Denard Span, Wilson Ramos, and Doug Fister.
There were a few glimmers of hope for the Nationals this week. Steven Strasburg pitched a phenomenal game against the Los Angeles Dodgers to start the week. The Nationals won that series, before being swept by the Oakland A’s.
The Nationals have shown that they are capable of playing up to those lofty expectations at times. If they want to avoid missing the playoffs for the second season in the row, they have to stay healthy.
New York Mets (17-19, 1-5, tied for 4th in NL East)
At least New York still has the Yankees.
It was a dismal week for the Mets, only winning one game and being swept by the Marlins. If there is a bright side, at least all of the games were decided by three runs or less. In fact, the Marlins lost four of their games by only one run, meaning they were competitive against both the Marlins and Phillies.
There is very little chance the Mets will make the playoffs. Matt Harvey is coming back next season so the Mets could become a threat in the future. Maybe not near future, but the future as in “down the line.”
Philadelphia Phillies (17-19, 2-5, tied for 4th in NL East)
The Phillies did not start May as well as they ended April. This week, they went 2-5 with their only victories coming over the New York Mets. Despite these two victories, the theme of the week for the Phillies were their offensive woes. They scored 23 runs this week and gave up 42. That is not exactly a good sign for any team. Their offense is not producing, while their pitching is not exactly keeping them in the games.
One thing is certain: The Phillies are not the playoff team of old. In fact, the team is just plain old. Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Ryan Howard are not the same players from the late 2000s. It is time for the team to start looking to the future and preparing for life post Utley, Rollins, and Howard.