The ups-and-downs of the National League East persist for another week. One thing that’s stayed pat over the last seven days are the East’s standings.
While it’s still difficult to make out the full picture of the East, this National League East roundup persists for another round. Here we go...
New York Mets (18-15)
One big thing: Patrick Mazeika
Here’s an oddity: Mazeika has appeared in five games and has five plate appearances. He doesn’t have a base hit, but he does have three RBIs, including two walk-off appearances. That’s right, the Mets’ 27-year-old rookie has found himself in the right place at the time, doing just the right thing. The first instance came against the Diamondbacks when a batted ball was softly rolled up the first base line that Stefan Crichton couldn’t get to in time to make the play before the winning run scored. Against the Orioles, a wacky swing and a fielder’s choice netted the winning run in Jonathan Villar, cementing the Mets’ comeback. He also has a bases loaded walk.
Philadelphia Phillies (21-19)
One big thing: Injuries
As the Phillies compete for first place in the division here in mid-May, a small round — albeit to significant players — of the injury bug has bitten the City of Brotherly Love’s pinstripe-clad baseball club. According to NBC Sports Philadelphia, Didi Gregorious has missed three games with elbow problems, and Bryce Harper and JT Realmuto exited a game against the Blue Jays. The former for soreness in the shoulder; the latter for soreness around his catching wrist. While it’s unknown the severity of the injuries, it’s projected that the Phillies won’t be able to trot out any three of those players Sunday afternoon.
Atlanta Braves (19-20)
One big thing: Streaky
The Braves had won five of six games heading into their road series with the Blue Jays. But Atlanta would be swept in that series, abandoning leads each time. The Braves were up 2-0 Tuesday night before Toronto plated three in the eighth to take game one, 5-3; after scoring first in the fifth, Atlanta would fail to score the rest of the way, dropping the contest, 4-1; in a tied game, the finale of the three-game set would see the Blue Jays score four runs in the ninth inning, salting away a series sweep. Fast-forward to today and the Braves are looking for a sweep of their own after taking the first two games in Milwaukee against the NL Central’s second-place Brewers club.
Miami Marlins (17-22)
One big thing: This team is the BEST team
While this “one big thing” is a bit hyperbolic, the truth is that, six weeks into the season, the Marlins remain the East’s best club by expected output. Miami (+4 run differential) has an expected win-loss mark of 20-19, which, if those expected records were followed, would net them the only >.500 record in the NL East. Baseball being what it is, I expect things to reverse in some corners as the season progresses. The Mets, who currently lead the division, won’t win it with a negative run differential, just as the Marlins likely won’t finish fourth with a positive one. At some point, something has to give. Either the Marlins climb in the standings, teams like the Mets fall, or their differentials change and more accurately reflect what’s going on in the win-loss column.
Washington Nationals (15-20)
One big thing: Looking for the right track
The Nationals lost Saturday night in the desert, dropping an 11-4 contest to the Diamondbacks. This loss comes after a 17-2 trouncing of Arizona. Washington is 3-8 in their last 11 tries, which includes a pair of series losses (Phillies, Yankees) and a sweep (Braves). Washington will look for its first series win since they swept the Marlins to kick off May. Perhaps some relief is in the offing, as the Nationals will switch gears and head to Chicago to take on the Cubs (18-20) before meeting the Orioles, Reds, and Brewers at home to wrap up most of the month.