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National League East Roundup

A lot is happening within baseball. Here’s a quick recap of the NL East.

Washington Nationals and the Toronto Blue Jays

As the first week of baseball wraps up, it has been one wild week. We’ve seen the new runner on second rule to begin extras, plenty of big name pitchers go down with injuries, and, of course, an entire team have to shut down because of COVID-19 spread within the clubhouse. Let’s jump into what’s been going on in the National League East.

Miami Marlins (2-1, .667)

This week has been a rough one for the Fish. The team started the season by taking a series against the Phillies and beginning the year on the right foot. But that pandemic we’ve been talking about so much reared its ugly head.

According to Bob Nightengale, “at least one” Marlin went out in Atlanta before the season began. It’s possible that’s how it started. Regardless of how, it did start. The team is up to 18 players who’ve tested positive since this situation first began. This points to the issues we thought could spring up during this odd and tenuous season: Can we rely on players to be responsible enough to make this work?

In large part, I think they have been. When you watch broadcasts, players are mostly wearing masks – some even wear them in the field, especially after news of the Marlins’ issues. For a prominent example of mask-wearing during traditional baseball activities, let’s turn to St. Louis when Pirates’ manager Derek Shelton came out with his mask on to argue balls and strikes with umpire Jordan Baker. Baker, as he approached Shelton, pulled out a mask of his own and put it on. The two kept their distance, as well.

But as conscientious as players and personnel seem during the games, who can say what their behaviors are like outside of the diamond? The Marlins showed us we might not be able to trust them as much as we thought. Miami had their games postponed for a week. Hopefully this spurs teams to take precautions even more seriously.

Atlanta Braves (4-3, .571)

Through the first six games of the season, the Braves have been the best team in the east by run differential, posting a +6 early on.

Ronald Acuña, Jr. has had a sluggish start to his season. Through six games, the young Acuña is striking out nearly 50 percent of the time, he’s yet to hit a home run, and carries a wRC+ of 52. It’s more than likely that he’ll heat up as the shortened season presses on, but it is something to note early on.

Atlanta also gave up on 28-year-old Mike Foltynewicz. This move comes two years removed from his strong 2018 campaign in which he was worth 3.8 fWAR. That was by far his best season to date; he then suffered setbacks in 2019, seeing his FIP rise from 3.37 to 4.97, an upward move that his ERA mimicked.

The Braves host the Mets this weekend.

New York Mets (3-4, .429)

The Mets are perennially liked by pundits based on the strength of their pitching staff which never seems to be healthy. This year is no different with Noah Syndergaard out. On the other hand, Jacob deGrom has come out strong in his first two starts. In his age 32 season, deGrom has maintained a 1.64 ERA early (1.43 FIP). He’s in search for run support – something that’s been out of his grasp the last few years – and over his first two starts, he’s received two no-decisions.

Coming off a strong rookie campaign, many Mets’ fans – among other fans around the league – were curious to see how Pete Alonso would perform in 2020. The polar bear has one home run through his first six games, while striking out 30 percent of the time and only walking four percent of the time. Still, he carries an above average wRC+ (112) early in the season.

The Mets are in Atlanta over the weekend.

Washington Nationals (3-4, .429)

It was a slow start to the 2020 campaign for the Nationals after dropping two out of three to open the season against the Yankees. Then, the Nats dropped the first two against Toronto before managing to take the second two as the “road” team. Over this coming weekend, Washington was supposed to be in Miami to take on the Marlins, but those games have been postponed. Therefore, the Nationals will be inactive this weekend.

By the numbers, Adam Eaton has been the strongest asset in Washington’s arsenal. Through six games, Eaton is slashing .318/.400/.500 with a wRC+ of 153, which includes an opening night home run against Gerrit Cole.

Early on, Max Scherzer has looked strong on the mound. He’s tossed 12.2 innings over two starts, while commanding a 2.44 FIP and amassing a 0.4 fWAR through those starts. He’s also striking out opposing batters at a 40 percent clip. All of this in the face of his .333 opponent BABIP, which suggests he might even be suffering from a bit of bad luck. If his luck improves, Scherzer may be on the hook for another incredible season, even at age 36.

Philadelphia Phillies (1-2, .333)

The Phillies had the misfortune of drawing the Marlins in the first series of the year. The team was set to host the New York Yankees for two games at the beginning of the week before going to the Bronx for two more against the Yankees. Those games were all postponed. Philadelphia was also supposed to meet Toronto for a series, but after two Phillies’ staffers have tested positive for COVID-19, those games have been postponed. The Phillies and Marlins are set to play a series in Miami, but time will tell if that series gets off the ground.