As we approach the end of June, the race to the playoffs is becoming more palpable. While some teams around baseball have fallen off the wagon and have already been written off to history, many teams still have an opportunity to gain entrance into the postseason. Unless the Mets run away with the division in the end, the NL East continues to be one of the most parity-driven divisions in all of baseball. Also: Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there.
New York Mets (36-28)
One big thing: deGrom injury train
It’s no secret that the Mets have had trouble keeping players on the field in recent years, with some major names being no exception. With Noah Syndergaard courting his usual series of injuries for the season (which never got going for him), Jacob deGrom has had to carry the Mets’ rotation all season.
He’s obviously done a stellar job, controlling a 0.54 ERA (0.80 FIP) and manhandling all who he comes across. But recently, deGrom has been snakebitten by the injury bug. Fortunately, for New York, all forays with missed time haven’t been remarkably detrimental — yet.
Having exited early in his last two outings, the Mets are optimistic deGrom will make his next start.
But the worry-warts among us might start to balk at the idea of deGrom making another scheduled start after being removed in his previous two.
Call it being overly cautious if you’d like, but a playoff destined team like the Mets should perhaps consider skipping his spot in the rotation this one time.
Philadelphia Phillies (34-34)
One big thing: Andrew McCutchen
Being a Pirates’ writer, this one might be a tad for my own edification in a way, but McCutchen has been the preeminent player of the Phillies (for the last week). When I checked up on Phillies’ trends a week ago, McCutchen was right up there just as he is this week. Despite that, I opted to talk about Philadelphia’s bullpen. Not so this week.
Since last Sunday, McCutchen carries a 245 wRC+, .536 wOBA, and 1.309 OPS. This level of production is not likely to be sustained by the nearly 35 year old, but he’s having a decent year, all things considered. His 117 wRC+ on the season is 17 percent above average, but what’s more important, perhaps, is this: His .258 BABIP suggests he could very well be hitting into some bad luck. Maybe those gaudy numbers will linger around for a bit longer.
Atlanta Braves (32-35)
One big thing: Time to play catch-up
At three games under .500, the Braves are 5.5 games back of the division-leading Mets. Perhaps to a lesser extent than the Nationals, the Braves are entering a pivotal part of their schedule leading up to the All-Star break.
With series against the New York Mets (7), Cincinnati (4), Miami (6), and Pittsburgh (3), Atlanta has an opportunity to gain ground not only by beating its direct opposition (the Mets), but also by beating up on teams that are under or right around .500 in 13 games.
If the Braves could reel off a string of wins and make good over this stretch of games, they could very well find themselves entrenched in the playoff battle post-All-Star festivities.
Washington Nationals (32-36)
One big thing: 7-3
Over their last 10 games, the Nationals are 7-3. Earlier in the week, I wrote about how Washington is embarking on a series of games that will either potentially make or definitively break its season.
A final date with the Mets, then two with the Phillies, and four with the Marlins will parlay itself into a daunting stretch of Tampa Bay (2, home), Los Angeles Dodgers (4, home), San Diego (4, road), San Francisco (3, road), and San Diego (3, home).
The Nats will look to ride their recent momentum through the All-Star break and hopefully set themselves up for a shot at the division.
Miami Marlins (31-39)
One big thing: You guessed it, run differential!
The Marlins continue to do their best impression of one of the most confusing teams of all time. I guess I shouldn’t say that they’re that confusing, but it should be noted just how odd their current record is (eight games under .500) versus what their run differential suggests it should be.
Run differential isn’t perfect, but it usually paints a pretty accurate picture long-term. Miami’s run differential is currently +20, giving them an x/W-L of 37-33, a fairly large swing in the other direction. As I’ve noted in recent entries, this will likely even out over the course of a full season. We’ll continue to keep an eye on it.