Things started well and ended poorly but all throughout the week were positive signs for the future. After a couple wins to start the week, the week ended losing 4 of the next 5, including the last 3 in Washington. The youth movement in the bullpen took center stage throughout the course of the week and after a couple of disappointing playoff runs in the minors, the youth have now arrived on offense. As the final 19 games of the season loom, expect to see a lot of the youth as they audition for the 2017 season.
After the first 2 games of the week, it was nearly invisible. The offense put up a 10 spot in the first 2 games then 10 more the remaining 5 games. 2 of their 4 losses did come by just one run and one could possibly have been avoided if Pete Mackanin hadn’t outsmarted himself on Friday night. During a tie game, Mackanin elected to allow reliever Frank Hermann to bat for himself with runners on base instead of going to his extended bench so as not to have to use his depleted back end. Either way, had the offense shown up it may never had come to that. As the season winds down, expect more Tommy Joseph than Ryan Howard. Expect newly recalled Roman Quinn to get a few starts to see what he can do. Expect Jorge Alfaro to get a few starts but more likely, soak in whatever he can from A.J. Ellis.
With the exception of Jeremy Hellickson on Wednesday night, the rotation were the stars of the week. Taking wins and losses out of the equation, the Hamels Bunch looked good. Jake Thompson went 5.1, 2 runs. Jerad Eickhoff- 12 innings, 2 runs. Adam Morgan- 12 innings, 3 runs and Alec Asher- 6 innings, 0 runs. The 12 runs allowed by the bullpen is what caused the majority of trouble this week. While we’d still love to see the starters going a little longer, the extended bullpen has got to be able to eat up meaningful innings.
Around the N.L. East
Nationals– After a 6-1 week, the Nationals all but wrapped up the division. They started the week off with a sweep of the Braves. After the Phils took the opener of their series, the Nats stormed back and took the next 3. With a 9 game lead over the Mets and 19 to go (only 3 against the Mets) the Nats have some breathing room to rest some of the more important names in the sake of keeping them fresh. The possible exception to that rule would be Daniel Murphy as he tries to lock in some more MVP caliber stats. They’ll start the week with their final series against the Mets at home, attempting to put the final nail in their division race coffin. After that, they’ll head on the road to Atlanta for 3.
Mets– The Mets may have given up hopes of catching the Nationals but they’ve made a run at the Wild Card. After a 5-1 week of their own, the Mets have vaulted into the 2nd WC spot, a game and a half behind the Giants. After sweeping the Reds in a 3 game set in Cincy, they went into Atlanta and took 2 of 3 from the Braves. The Mets have a 3 game set with the Nationals to start the week and can use that as a stepping stone but anything short of a sweep, wipes out any remaining NL East hopes. A trip out to Minnesota for 3 could help them continue their WC run though.
Marlins– As the Marlins season has progressed, the injuries have piled up and they’ve fallen off fast. As they’ve slowly dropped over the last few weeks, 3-3 weeks are not what they are looking for but that’s what they got this week. After the Phils took the first 2 games of their 3 game set, the Dodgers came into Miami and took 2 of 3. With 3 game sets in both Atlanta and Philly this week, the Fish could make some headway in the WC chase, where they currently sit 5 back. Anything short of 4 wins, probably takes them out of that race as well.
Braves– A 1-5 week against the Nats and Mets got the Braves to that magical number of 30 games back. They have lost their stranglehold on the #1 pick in the draft though, so as bad as they’ve been, they may have nothing to show for it. With 3 game sets with the Marlins, who are battling for their playoff lives, and the Nats, who are just a much better team, the Braves may not be as intent on playing spoiler this week as they may normally be.
The Phils kick off their final extended homestand with a 4 game set against the Pirates. Looking at this series a few months back, most expected it to have some significance for the Buccos but that is not the case as they are on the outside looking in at the playoffs. The Marlins come in for 3 after that hoping to make one final push. The 2 main things to watch this week will be if the starters can continue what they’ve been doing of late and if Mackanin gives some of the recent call-ups (and future stars?) an opportunity to get some playing time and get a look before Spring Training. Let the offensive youth movement begin.