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Monday, April 22, 2019

National League East Report: 4/15 - 4/21

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Reliever Tayron Guerrero has been a bright spot for Marlins

The Philadelphia Phillies went just 3-4 over this past week. And yet following a tough week of results for each of the five teams in the National League East Division, the Fightin’ Phils find themselves still on top of the division standings by a full game.
The Phillies opened the week by capturing two of three from the division-rival New York Mets. Then over the weekend the club dropped three of four at Coors Field in Denver against the host Colorado Rockies.
That lost weekend included perhaps the most disheartening defeat this season when the Rockies walked-off Saturday night’s game after the Phillies held a two-out, two-strike lead in the 12th inning.
The early season schedule has included mostly intra-divisional battles to this point, with 14 of the Phillies first 21 games coming against those NL East rivals. That will continue this coming week as the club visits Citi Field in New York for a three-game set with the host Mets. Then they will return home to Citizens Bank Park for a four-game long weekend series with the Miami Marlins beginning on Thursday night.
As always, my NL East Beat report reveals how each of those Phillies divisional rivals fared over the course of the past week: games scores, pivotal performers, key injuries, and other important updates on each team are included.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST DIVISION STANDINGS
EAST DIVISION
East Division
TeamWLW-L%GB
New York Mets1311.542--
Philadelphia Phillies1312.5200.5
Atlanta Braves1212.5001.0
Washington Nationals1112.4781.5
Miami Marlins817.3205.5

ATLANTA BRAVES (2 – 4)

Summary: The Braves salvaged what began as a disastrous week by capturing the final two games. They began things by getting swept in a three-game series at home against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Atlanta then moved on to Cleveland for a weekend set with the host Indians at Progressive Field. The opener was rained out on Friday night and re-scheduled for a Saturday split doubleheader. The Tribe took the first game by 8-4 and then took a 7-3 lead into the top of the 9th in the nightcap. The Braves pulled off a stunning comeback, scoring five times with two outs in that last chance to rally for an 8-7 victory.
Third baseman Josh Donaldson, struggling in the early going, led the way to an 11-5 victory in the finale by slamming a pair of home runs. Ronald Acuna slashed .318/.423/.500 and Nick Markakis hit .368 with a .458 OBP, but neither provided much run production last week. Freddie Freeman both knocked in and scored five runs.
On the mound, Kevin Gausman provided Atlanta with an outstanding start on Wednesday in which he struck out 10 while walking one and allowing just three hits against Arizona. It went to waste as the offense let him down, the Braves eventually losing by 3-2 in 10 innings.
Atlanta is tied for fourth in the National League with 114 runs scored. Their cumulative .815 OPS is second in the league. The Braves pitching staff has an overall .251 Batting Average Against (BAA) which his just 10th in the NL and their 4.69 ERA is 11th in the league.
Key injuries: Starting pitcher Mike Foltynewicz, expected to be the ace of the rotation, had to begin the season on the IL with elbow soreness. The righty has now completed three rehab starts in the minors and could be activated this week if all continues well for him. The club has three key relievers on the IL: righties Arodys Vizcaino and Darren O’Day and lefty Johnny Venters. Vizcaino is done for the season following right shoulder surgery. There is no timetable on the other two.
Upcoming: Following an off-day on Monday the Braves are in Cincinnati for a three-game set with the host Reds. That will be followed by a three-game series with the Colorado Rockies next weekend at the opening of a seven-game home stand.

MIAMI MARLINS (2 – 4)

Summary: The Fish have slipped out of the running in the division here in the early going, much as expected. Despite all of the front-runners stumbling, this past week didn’t help them make up any ground. The Marlins began the week by getting swept at home by the Chicago Cubs in a three-game series. The club rebounded to capture two of three over the weekend against the Nationals to wrap a nine-game home stand.
In five of the games, Miami scored just a total of five runs. That included being shut out three times. In their lone offensive outburst, they scored nine in dumping Washington by 9-3 on Saturday. That seems to be their favorite day of the week, as the Marlins scored 10 against the Phillies the previous Saturday night. The week before that, Miami beat the Braves by 4-2 on Saturday. And on March 30 it was a seven-run burst for a 7-3 Saturday win over Colorado. Moral of the story: don’t play the Marlins on Saturday.
38-year-old veteran Curtis Granderson is slashing just .155/.261/.328, but is tied for the club lead with three homers and leads the Marlins with seven RBIs. 35-year-old veteran Martin Prado began to see more action this week at both first and third base but failed to produce, slashing just .118/.167/118 over 18 plate appearances.
The Marlins continued to receive strong pitching from lefty Caleb Smith, who beat Washington with his third straight Quality Start on Friday night. Righty reliever Nick Anderson gave up runs in each of his appearances last week. He also struck out four batters and is up to 20 strikeouts over 9.2 innings. Righty Tayron Guerrero has yet to surrender a run this year over 10 appearances and 9.2 innings.
Miami is last in the National League in runs scored. Their 60 to date are more than half what the league-leading LA Dodgers have put up and leaves them far behind the other four teams in the NL East. Only one club, the San Francisco Giants, has a lower OPS than Miami’s .606 mark. On the bright side, the Marlins pitching staff is fourth in the league in strikeouts.
Key injuries: It has been a nice first month of the season for Miami on the injury front as the club continues to remain fairly healthy to this point. They have yet to suffer any significant injuries.
Upcoming: Following a Monday off-day in the schedule the Marlins head to the road for two in Cleveland and then their four-game series at Citizens Bank Park beginning on Thursday. The Phillies took two of three from Miami in their first meeting last weekend.

NEW YORK METS (2 – 4)

Summary: The Mets dropped two of three to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park to open last week and then did the same in Saint Louis, dropping two of three to the Cardinals over the weekend. Going further back, New York split a four-game set with the Braves and a two-gamer with the Twins. They have not won a series since sweeping the lowly Marlins to open the month of April.
After eking out an 11th inning victory over the Phillies on an unearned run last Monday, New York dropped four of five the rest of the week. They were blown out once in each series: 14-3 by the Phillies and 10-2 by the Cards. Adding injury to insult, the Mets have lost both Jacob deGrom and Robinson Cano at least for the short-term to injuries.
Rookie first baseman Pete Alonso continues to pace the New York offensive attack. The 24-year-old is slashing .325/.416/.727 and banged two more home runs last week. His eight homers, 19 RBIs, and 15 extra-base hits all lead the club. His 17 runs scored are second to Michael Conforto, who banged three homers this week to double his own season total. Conforto has a dozen RBIs and is slashing .300/.417/.613 thus far.
The Mets are tied with the Braves for fourth in the NL in runs scored, just two behind the Phillies who are second in the league. The pitching staff BAA of .273 is the league’s worst, with the Phillies not much better at the .270 mark.
Noah Syndergaard has struck out 34 over 29 innings but has also allowed 30 hits and 19 earned runs. New closer Edwin Diaz has been a bright spot on the mound. The young righty who came over as part of the Cano deal with Seattle this past off-season has seven Saves to this point with a 14/2 K:BB ratio over his first 7.2 innings pitched.
Key injuries: Losing deGrom for a lengthy stretch could be disastrous to the Mets chances at keeping up in a division with three other legitimate contenders. However, he engaged in a long-toss session that went well and may not even require an MRI. At last report he anticipates making his next start this coming Friday when his 10-day IL stint is up. This will be a situation to watch for any further developments. Cano was in a soft cast on Monday after being hit by a pitch on Sunday. X-rays were negative and he is day-to-day for now, likely to miss some of the early-week action against the Phillies. Veteran infielder Todd Frazier is expected back for the Phillies series and will likely serve as an infield backup at any position.
Upcoming: This early-week three-game set with the Phillies is the start of a 10-game home stand at Citi Field for the Mets. The Phillies will be followed in by the Milwaukee Brewers over the weekend and then the Cincinnati Reds to open next week.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS (3 – 3)

Summary: The Nats were the lone team from the division to not suffer through a losing week. However, their 3-3 mark of last week is reflective of their overall 10-10 record on this up-and-down season. Washington opened the week by taking two of three from the San Francisco Giants at home, but then dropped two of three at Marlins Park in Miami over the weekend.
Third baseman Anthony Rendon continues to pace the Washington attack with a .371/.451/.711 slash line, six home runs, and 18 RBIs. However, Rendon missed much of the weekend after being hit by a pitch on his elbow on Saturday. The x-rays came back negative and he hopes to be back in the lineup to open this week. The pending free agent has been by far the club’s most consistent offensive performer to date.
20-year-old left fielder Juan Soto, runner-up in last season’s NL Rookie of the Year voting, is second to Rendon with 14 RBIs and leads the Nationals with 15 walks. The righty bat of Ryan Zimmerman and lefty stick of Matt Adams have provided the club with 11 and 10 RBIs respectively in what is basically a first base platoon.
The Nationals .802 OPS is third in the league and tops in the division. They are tied for the lead in the National League with a dozen stolen bases and are tied for third in doubles. However, the club is just ninth in the NL in runs scored.
On the mound the trio made up of righties Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg and left-hander Patrick Corbin have mostly been strong. They have combined to strike out 116 opposing batters over 89.2 innings while allowing 78 hits. Closer Sean Doolittle and righty setup man Kyle Barraclough have also come through for second-year manager Dave Martinez.
Key injuries: Starting shortstop Trea Turner remains out of the lineup after breaking a finger while trying to bunt against the Phillies early in the month. He began fielding grounders last week and is still expected to be out another three or four weeks, though the Nationals have no clear timetable on him at this time. Rendon sat out Sunday’s game and is day-to-day for now.
Upcoming: The Nats are now going where the Phillies just left, opening a three-game series at Coors Field on Monday with the Colorado Rockies. Then they return home to Nationals Park for a seven-game home stand with the San Diego Padres coming in over the weekend. That will be followed by a four-game set with the Saint Louis Cardinals to open next week.

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