On this Mother’s Day edition of the what’s going on around the National League East, the standings shake up, the division tries to find its footing, and pitchers can hit. Let’s get to it.
New York Mets (15-13)
One big thing: Clubhouse turmoil?
On Friday night, the Mets were locked in a battle with the Arizona Diamondbacks; it was “Mr. Met as Wonder Woman bobblehead night” (promotions haven’t seemed as great this year). After the conclusion of the seventh inning, there seemed to be a commotion down in the Mets’ tunnel. Whatever was going on down there drew the attention of basically the whole team, as everybody poured towards the tunnel’s entrance.
Postgame, we were told that Lindor had seen his first New York City rat, or maybe a raccoon? Of course, nobody’s buying that story. When questioned, Mets’ manager Luis Rojas didn’t specify anything, but said, “Yesterday made us better as a family and as a team,” according to ESPN.
Whatever the case was, some kind of turmoil struck the Mets that night. Whether it will make their bond stronger or weaker is yet to be seen. Those types of incidents have a way of either crumbling a club, or carrying them to the end.
Philadelphia Phillies (18-16)
One big thing: Home heroes
In terms of home/away splits, the Phillies are somewhat of an anomaly thus far in the National League East. Philadelphia sports a 13-6 home record early, while carrying a lousy 5-10 road record, making them the opposite of road warriors. By comparison, the Braves, Marlins, and Nationals are all 8-8 at home, while the Mets are 8-4.
Reasoning dictates that a team worthy of the playoffs should, on average, take two-out-of-three at home, and draw an overall split of road games. The Phillies aren’t matching that pace, but if you can destroy your opponent at home, who needs road games?
Regardless, the Phillies spend a decent portion of the rest of the month on the road, with stops in Washington, Dunedin (Blue Jays), Miami, Tampa Bay, and a series in Cincinnati which carries the club into June. If past performance is any indication, expect the Phillies to begin to slip in the standings.
Atlanta Braves (16-17)
One big thing: Huascar Ynoa
While the world clamors for Shohei Ohtani and what he’s able to do on the mound and at the plate, the Braves’ Ynoa is casually mashing homers and carving up hitters. Ynoa, the nearly-23-year-old starting pitcher is making waves in the baseball world, sporting a 58 ERA- and 3.18 SIERA to go along with a 0.90 WHIP; meanwhile, he’s got an OPS of 1.308 through 13 plate appearances. In that time, he’s launched two homers, one of which was a grand slam, and sports a cool 248 wRC+. While it’s unlikely that Ynoa keeps this pace up, he’s done enough to garner the attention of everyone outside of just the Atlanta area.
Miami Marlins (15-17)
One big thing: Run differential
While the East hasn’t fared as well as many of us thought it would thus far, one of the funniest metrics coming out of the division is the miserable run differentials. Although some clubs have gotten on a better pace since last week, the only team with a positive run differential is Miami. At +21, the Marlins easily eclipse the next best differential in the division, the Phillies at -3.
For comparison, the fourth place Marlins share the same run differential as the St. Louis Cardinals, who boast a 20-14 record and lead the National League Central by two games. The xW/L metric for Miami says the should be 18-14 which, same as last week, would put them first place in the division.
Washington Nationals (13-16)
One big thing: Holy Scherzer...
I hope you got a chance to watch Max Scherzer absolutely annihilate the New York Yankees Saturday afternoon. A game that was supposed to start a shade after 1:00 pm yesterday didn’t get underway until nearly two-and-a-half hours later, thanks to a storm system moving through the Bronx.
As Bob Carpenter and Dan Kolko discussed as Scherzer’s day was just beginning, they wondered, as did I, how this type of development would affect Scherzer. They noted how intense he is and once he gets close to game time that intensity heightens and he’s no longer looking to pal around in the clubhouse. Does Scherzer carry that intensity during a two hour rain delay in which the guys around him are probably playing cards or video games?
Coming off a complete game effort against the Marlins last Sunday (9 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 9 K), Scherzer emerged from the rain delay in dominating fashion, ultimately tossing 7.1 innings, allowing a pair of hits, giving up one run on a Kyle Higashioka home run, walking only a single batter, and striking out a whopping 14 hitters.
Scherzer, drawing near to age 37, continues his journey to the Hall of Fame in stunning fashion. On the season, the veteran pitcher carries a 2.33 ERA, 2.59 SIERA, and an ERA- of 57. Last year I made the argument that we shouldn’t expect Scherzer to slow down as his time in DC draws to a close. So far this season, Scherzer appears to be continuing his dominance to the very end.
Towards the end of their careers, fireballers Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens were able to maintain much of what they’d done as younger pitchers, with the former picking up four consecutive Cy Young Awards during his ages 35-38 seasons, and the latter winning the award when he was 38 and 41. Perhaps Scherzer will be able to mimic that success as the next few years tick by.