Things started and ended pretty well for the Phightin’s but all in all it wasn’t a very good week. After starting the week off with a big win in the Friendly Confines of Wrigley, the Phils dropped 3 straight to the Cubs before coming home and losing the first 2 in the series to the Nats. Freddy Galvis managed to salvage a win on Sunday as the Phils walked off with a Sunday afternoon win. After putting up a 10 spot on Monday, the Phils managed just 15 in their 5 consecutive losses. Sundays win along with other results have created a bit of a logjam in the East. With the Nats leading the way, the remaining 4 teams are all separated by just 2.5 games. It’s still early and we may see a lot of separation as things really start to warm up.
Tommy Joseph has finally started showing signs of life. After hitting an early 3 run HR in the Cubs opener, Joseph has gone on to get hits in 5 of his last 7 games raising his average to .216. They offense showed up in the remaining Cubs games as well but not enough as they lost some close ones. Until Sunday, it was virtually non-existent in the Nats series. Aaron Altherr and Cesar Hernandez are continuing to rake but the middle of the order is still hitting a combined .220. Getting on base does no good if there is no one to get you in. Until they get some additional help, there is no way for this team to compete.
Jeremy Hellickson got hit around for the first time this season and suffered his first loss. He got a no decision on Sunday after throwing 98 pitches in just 4.2 innings. In 2 starts this week, he saw his ERA balloon from 1.80 to 3.49. His first opportunity to rebound will be against the Nats later this week. He wasn’t the only starter to have issues. 4 of the 5 current starters took a loss this week. The bullpen was not as overtly bad this week as they have been of late. They did take one loss in extras (Joely Rodriguez) but they also got an extra inning win (Hector Neris). The pen kept the team in games this week but it wasn’t enough to get any additional wins. Nick Pivetta’s first 2 starts have not been optimal. He has surrendered 18 hits in just 10 innings of work. Three HR’s did him in during his first outing. He allowed just one in his 2nd but Jeanmar Gomez ensured that the Phils wouldn’t be making a comeback by giving up a 3-spot as soon as Pivetta left the game. All in all, much like the offense, the rotation and pen need to start working together or things will begin to get away from them quickly.
Around the N.L. East
Nationals– As things went one way for the Phils, they went just the opposite for the Nats. After losing the opener in their series with the D-Backs, they went on to win the next 2 and then 2 more against the Phils. Sunday’s loss created their own bookend. The 4-2 week keeps them comfortable at the top of the standings. With a 6.5 game lead over the Mets, they aren’t overly concerned and once things start to warm up (consistently) the offensive talent should start to catch up with the pitching. The Nats won’t have to do much moving around this week. After a short 2 game set in Baltimore, they’ll come home to take on the Orioles for 2 more in D.C. Then the Phils will come into town for their 4th series of the season. The Nats have taken 5 of 9 so far against the Phils. After this week, the two teams won’t play again until after the All-Star break.
Mets– The Mets had a strong week, taking 4 of 6 from the Braves and Marlins. After taking 2 of 3 from the Braves in Atlanta(game 4 PPD), the Mets came home and took 2 more from the Fish before getting shutout on Sunday. The offense was clicking all week scoring 49 runs in the first 5 games which made Sunday that much more surprising. After a stretch where they lost 10 of 11, the Mets seem to have turned things around a bit and have jumped back up to get a visual of the Nats. This week could help. The bottom-dwelling Giants will come into New York for 3 to start before the Mets head into Milwaukee for 3 more with the .500 Brewers. If their offense can keep up their current pace, things might look a little tighter next week.
Marlins– While the Mets were raking and picking up wins, the Marlins were…floundering. The Rays took 3 of 4 in a home and home series before the Marlins made their trip into New York. Once all was said and done, the Marlins had dropped 5 of 7 and are sitting with a much closer view of the Braves than they have of the Nationals. The Fish will get to stay in South Florida this week as the Cards and Braves will come in for 3 each. The Cards are not quite their usually formidable selves so that could give the Marlins an opportunity to get a head start on the winning before the Braves come into town and do their best to pretend they are a Major League baseball team.
Braves– While the Braves did get a win this week, the highlight was probably their postponed game against the Mets as it meant they had no chance of losing that game since their odds seem to be more than 50% in that regard most days. The Braves stole one from the Mets before getting swept out by the Cardinals over the weekend. The braves are tied for the 2nd fewest wins in the majors and don’t seem to be getting better. They will get a bit of a reprieve (of sorts) only having to play 5 games this week. The week will start with a 2 game set in Houston before heading to Miami for 3 against the Marlins who will be looking to create some added space at the bottom of the standings.
The Phils, too will have a short week. The Mariners will come into Philly for a quick 2 game set before the Phils go to Washington and face the Nats for the last time over the next few months. After what seems like weekly battles, they won’t face off again until after the All Star break. The Phils should have an opportunity against a middle of the pack Seattle club and we’ve seen that they can at least compete with the Nats. If they can get 3 or 4 wins this week, they might be able to hang around a bit longer. As mentioned however, that’s going to require a lot more balance. Offense, rotation and bullpen…when one fails, they all go down together. Let’s see what they can do with a little extra rest.