I woke up on this gorgeous spring morning, poured myself a cup of coffee, flipped on the MLB Network and browsed the standings, much like I do every morning.
As I looked at the standings, one thing jumped out at me like a cold slap in the face: the NL East is not only the tightest division in baseball, but it’s been the most entertaining so far to watch, and it’s not even really close. Well….aside from Derek Jeter’s Marlins…
The division is lead by the New York Mets, who currently hold a 16-8 record. They have struggled as of late, going only 4-6 in their last 10. Matt Harvey has been causing the typical disruption that has reared it’s ugly head every season, with his latest move to the bullpen. (Can you really blame them at this point?) The Mets feel like they’re in a bit of a cool off mode and they can’t afford to coast at all, given how tight this division will be for the rest of the season.
Tied for first place, but with one more loss, are the Philadelphia Phillies, who hold a 16-9 record but are 7-3 in their last 10. Philly has had good pitching so far this season, with a staff lead by newly minted ace Aaron Nola. Nola holds a 3-1 record with a 2.58 ERA on the season, over an entire point better than his career average. As a team Philly is slashing .237/.328/.381. There is certainly some consistency throughout the lineup. There are also signs that the team is hot right now and due to cool off, which could very well be the case, since they are about to embark on a 6 game road trip filled with divisional opponents.
The Atlanta Braves slip in to the 3rd spot in the division at 14-11 and a lot of surprise has revolved around how much more fluid their lineup has been from top to bottom. The Braves are still a year or two away from being a true consistent threat but they are no longer the bottom dwellers that Atlanta fans have gotten accustomed to over the past few seasons.
The most shocking team in this division so far has been the 11-15 Washington Nationals. There has not been a great feel to this team this season, I have to admit. Bryce Harper is in pursuit of being baseball’s first $400 million player, and is certainly playing as such, but boy, the team around him really stinks. Harper is slashing .250/.458/.563 with 8 HRs and 19 RBIs on the season. Those are incredible numbers for a guy on a team with 11 wins, that was lauded as an early World Series favorite. It will be fascinating to see if they can make sense of this mess before Harper walks out the door to get paid. And rest assured, he will.
The Marlins stink.