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National League East Roundup

Here’s a quick look at what’s going on around the NL East

Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Atlanta Braves (14-11)

For another week, the Braves lead the division in run differential and it still isn’t particularly close. Atlanta is at +13, which translates to an expected win-loss total of, you guessed it, 14-11.

Earlier in the season, Braves’ slugging first baseman Freddie Freeman was diagnosed with COVID-19 and reported a temperature of 104 degrees. Since his recovery, he’s returned to form on the diamond, commanding a 147 wRC+, four home runs, and 0.7 fWAR.

The Braves are mostly winning games off the strength of their hitting because the pitching staff as a whole has been entirely average. When sorting by FIP, the Braves come in at 15th, right in the middle of baseball, with a 4.40. When switched to ERA, that number doesn’t change much, clocking in at 4.42, still 15th.

Miami Marlins (9-9)

Miami has lost five straight and are 2-8 over their last 10. We can’t say that we didn’t see this coming, as I recently predicted them to be pulling up the rear by the end of the month. They still have a few games to fall before they get to that point, but the end is in sight.

30 different Marlins have taken the mound for the team so far this season, due in part to the COVID outbreak at the onset of their year. Surprisingly, however, their pitching staff hasn’t been as bad as about one-third of staffs in the league — at least in terms of actual results. They come into play with a 4.61 ERA, but the team’s FIP tells a different story. At 5.59, the Marlins have been the worst staff in baseball. That’s more like what I expected to see.

New York Mets (12-14)

As I mentioned in the Phillies’ portion of this update, the Mets have a strong offense by numbers like wRC+ (122). The team’s wOBA is .345, third to the big brother Yankees and division rival Phillies, and has generated a top-10 (8th) slugging percentage (.443).

Suffering from similar fortunes as the Phillies, the Mets’ pitching hasn’t done them a ton of favors. The starters have a 5.23 ERA, tied with the Nationals for seventh worst in baseball, despite Jacob deGrom’s 1.93. The relievers have been better with a 4.56 ERA, 16th in baseball. Perhaps brighter days are ahead, however, as the team’s 4.11 FIP is 10th in baseball.

After members of the organization tested positive for COVID-19, the final game of the series against the Marlins, as well as at least the first game of the series against the Yankees, was postponed.

Philadelphia Phillies (9-12)

Ah, the Phillies. After Thursday, their run differential dropped from +1 to -1 after back to back one-run losses to Toronto. Their vacillating run differential, when positive, isn’t because of their pitching staff. While the offense’s wRC+ is a strong 118, which is good for third in baseball, trailing only those two teams from New York: Yankees and Mets, in that order, the Phillies’ pitching — and more particularly, its bullpen — has been atrocious.

Philly’s ‘pen takes the top spot for worst in baseball by nearly two runs, with an 8.11 ERA. Now, their FIP (5.39) suggests they shouldn’t be that bad, but still not very good. It doesn’t help that opponents are hitting .340 against them, which is also worst in baseball — by 60 points. The team’s 4.01 starting pitchers’ ERA is trying to pull down the bullpen’s sky high numbers — a futile effort.

Washington Nationals (9-12)

I’m not sure we saw this coming. The Nats have a wRC+ above average, but not by much, coming in at 104. That sandwiches them in between the Toronto Blue Jays and the division leading Braves. The team’s failure to generate walks (7.6 percent BB% — fifth worst in baseball) is concerning, especially in today’s walk/strikeout/home run game.

Speaking of three true outcomes baseball, the team’s home run output isn’t strong, either, at 27 long balls — ninth worst in baseball. While we’re at it, let’s take a look at the third outcome: The strikeout. Washington strikes out 20 percent of the time, fifth lowest in baseball. But I have a hunch fans and players alike would trade that to be better off in one of those other categories, especially home runs.

The bad news doesn’t end there. The team’s 4.83 FIP is 23rd in baseball, while its 4.72 ERA is 19th in baseball.

But alas, I am not one to end things on a down note. While the Nationals still command a negative run differential (-2), they’re close to breaking even in that department, which means their record should be marginally better than it is. According to MLB.com’s x/W-L metric, they should be 10-11. Hurray for one game better!