Vol. 2: NL East Weekly Wrap-Up
The best team in the National League is… the New York Mets?
Week two has come to a close in the National League East, and while the Atlanta Braves are still surprising people with their team of outcasts, the New York Mets have taken the league by storm. Eight consecutive wins have the Mets sitting atop the NL East in dominating fashion. While they seemingly lose a player to injury every other day, they aren’t blowing opposing teams out of the water, but they are gritty and finding ways to win.
Elsewhere around the NL East, the Braves continue to to stay well above .500, while the Washington Nationals, originally thought to be the team to beat in the division, are simply trying to hover around the even mark. The Miami Marlins, who many saw as a dark horse in 2015, have not gotten out to the start they had hoped to, while the Phillies are doing pretty much what was expected of them.
Without further ado, here was the week that was.
NEW YORK METS
The Mets have lost Captain David Wright, closer Bobby Parnell, catcher Travis d’Arnaud and relievers Jenrry Mejia and Jerry Blevins either to injury or suspension and seemingly are prepared to continue steamrolling the competition. The key thus far has been the pitching staff as the swept the Phillies and Marlins this past week.
When Matt Harvey has the highest ERA out of a rotation’s big four starters, said team is in good shape. Jacob deGrom continues to roll sitting at 2-1 with a 0.93 ERA. Ageless wonder Bartolo Colon not only refuses to lose, sitting at 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA, but is chipping in with the bat with 2 RBI. Jon Niese has been shaky, but is still reliable, going 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA. The aforementioned Matt Harvey has been everything the Mets hoped for in his return, sitting at 3-0 with a 3.50 ER and 24 strikeouts over 18 innings.
The Mets’ secret weapon has been Jeurys Familia. All Familia did this past week was hurl 5 innings of one run baseball, striking out five, and going a perfect 5-for-5 in save opportunities. A shut down closer can be a difference maker for a championship ball club, and while it’s a small sample size, Familia is showing he may be that difference.
With both d’Arnaud and Blevins fracturing bones on Sunday, Mets’ fans can expect to see the big league 2015 debut of top catching prospect Kevin Plawecki.
The Braves returned to reality after a stunning 5-1 start, but still were able to stay in the hunt for the top record in the National League. Their week consisted of losing a series to the struggling Marlins and taking 2 of 3 from the Toronto Blue Jays in Toronto.
The Braves could have swept the Blue Jays, but let a 4-0 lead get away from them in the seventh inning only to succumb to a walk off Josh Donaldson home run in extra innings. These are the kind of games that the Braves need to close out if they want to be considered legitimate contenders.
That being said, offseason acquisitions Nick Markakis, A.J. Pierzynski, Jason Grilli and Shelby Miller are impressing. Markakis is leading the Braves with a .375 batting average while Pierzynski has belted three homers thus far. Grilli is a perfect 6-for-6 in save opportunities and Miller continues to look sharp, closing out Sunday with a victory to bring him to 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA on the season.
The good news is that the Nats won their first series of the season. The bad news is that they still sit well behind the big guns in the NL East.
Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg got in the win column this week with dominating performances, as the Nationals lost 2 of 3 to the Red Sox and took 3 of 4 from the Phillies. Scherzer allowed just one run over 8 innings while striking out 9 Phillies on Friday. Strasburg provided the encore to the week on Sunday, going 7.1 innings, allowing just one run and striking out seven.
Bryce Harper continues to crush home runs, with four now on the young season, while Ian Desmond continues to boot balls away, with 8 errors already. Top offensive prospect Michael Taylor who was hitting .271 with 2 home runs, was optioned to Syracuse on Sunday as Denard Span returned much sooner than expected.
It’s hard to find a high point in a week that saw the Phillies drop their first five contests before getting their lone win of the week. That makes Aaron Harang their star of the week, as he was responsible for their win. Harang hurled six innings on Saturday against the Nationals en route to his second win of the season.
Keep an eye on Phillies’ rookie Odubel Herrera. The 23-year old outfielder is starting to really heat up as he had 10 hits over the past week. He currently is sitting on a three game hitting streak with 6 hits, an RBI and 4 runs scored over that span.
It looked like the Marlins were ready to break out of their early slump, starting the week by taking two of three from the Braves. They closed the series by outscoring the Braves 14-4 in back-to-back contests. They would close the week, however, getting swept by the red hot Mets.
The week started with the bad news that Henderson Alvarez was heading to the DL, leaving the Marlins looking for a current ace. Could it be 34-year old journey man, Dan Haren? Haren has been impressive thus far, going 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA over two starts.
Outside of Dee Gordon, they lineup is struggling. Giancarlo Stanton may have gotten it going this past week belting his first two home runs in consecutive games, and has hit safely in three of his last four. Last years breakout stars, Christian Yelich (.200, 0 home runs) and Marcell Ozuna (.263, 0 home runs) have yet to get it going.
J.T. Realmuto, one of the top catching prospects in baseball, made his 2015 debut when Jeff Mathis hit the DL. He seems to have taken over the starting job and has looked good at the plate, picking up his first two RBI on Sunday.
Position Player of the Week: Freddie Freeman — Freeman had 6 hits this week, 3 of which went yard. He drove in 5 and scored 5 more as he raised his average from .250 to .283 on the year.
Pitcher of the Week: Jeurys Familia — 5-for-5 in saves. Question my pick for a reliever as pitcher of the week, but the Mets are looking to make a statement and Familia has been a big part of that.
POWER RANKINGS/ SEASON STANDINGS
1. New York Mets 10-3
2. Atlanta Braves 8-4
3. Washington Nationals 6-7
4. Miami Marlins 3-10
5. Philadelphia Phillies 4-9
Don’t forget to check back every Monday for updates on your favorite division! The BHC writers will bring you a summary of EVERY division each week!