After a pair of sweeps against Washington and Cleveland, the Cards brought the Phillies back down to Earth. After that, they decided to show a new side of themselves with back to back comeback wins against the Marlins. This team keeps showing us something new but the question is how long can they keep it up? Despite a -27 run differential, there are still only 4 teams with more wins than their 18. Unfortunately, the Mets and Nats are two of them.
When all is said and done, this will likely be what eventually does in the Phils. With the exception of Odubel Herrera and Andres Blanco (who is likely to start seeing more starts), the offense is amazingly stagnant. With the exception of some scattered home runs, there is nothing coming from your corner infielders. Maikel Franco has dropped to .239 and the first base platoon of Ryan Howard and Darin Ruf are hitting a combined average that Mario Mendoza would make fun of. The corner outfield platoon is equally as (insert your own adjective here). While there was hope for Cameron Rupp, Carlos Ruiz has actually been the more productive. That said, I believe the only expectations for those two was to guide the young pitching staff which they’ve done a great job of so far. Speaking of…
These guys continue to impress. While Aaron Nola had his scoreless streak halted at 23 on Sunday, he then came back and started another one, shutting down the fish for the next two innings before being pulled by Mackanin (maybe an inning early?). Jeanmar Gomez continues to surprise as well. After blowing his first save of the season earlier in the week, he then proceeded to shut down the Marlins in back to back 1 run games to put himself in a tie for the MLB lead at 11 saves. The ability of this team to keep close games close, as evidenced by their 11-3 record in one run games, shows that this team is pitching well beyond their years and more importantly, learning as they go. Both of these are prime examples of what’s going on. How long they can hold out before they realize their youth will be the key figure. You have to imaging that if they can keep this up for a while longer, it may force the teams hand in calling up or going out to get some offensive reinforcements.
Around the N.L. East
Mets– There’s a new horse at the front of the pack. While it wasn’t an overwhelming week in any regard, the Mets 4-3 run against the Braves and Padres was enough to give them a 1/2 game lead over the Nats. Their offense is getting it done, especially Yoenis Cespedes but ultimately, it will be the pitching that carries this team as far as they may go. Other than Matt Harvey, none of the Mets starters has an ERA above 2.83. Their highest bullpen ERA is 3.12. If the pitching staff can continue to carry them, they could make yet another run this year. With 4 at the Dodgers and 3 at the Rockies this week, the Mets will have to keep up their pace in order to hold their spot in the standings next week.
Nationals– After starting the week taking 2 of 3 from the defending Work Champion Royals, the Nationals went into Chicago and were shown who the real favorites are in the National League. The Cubs swept all 4 games to extend their MLB best record to 24-6 while the Nats fell a 1/2 game behind the Mets. Daniel Murphy has been the offensive catalyst with a .395 average while Bryce Harper continues to mash the ball although with a little less frequency. As the weather warms up, expect him to as well. The Nats have a week at home against the Tigers and Marlins. Both teams could allow the m to retake their spot at the top as long as they don’t play down to their opponents.
Marlins– The Fish swept the D-Backs to start the week and then took game one against the Phils but couldn’t hold the lead late in their next 2 as the Phils came back to win on Saturday and Sunday. Sitting only 3 games out in the East, like almost everyone else, they aren’t out of anything. With 3 at home against the Brewers and 4 in Washington this week, the latter half of the week may just show where they really stand.
Braves– Are these guys still actually playing? Just 7 wins and already 12 games out of first. Yikes! That’s all you can say. Yikes! While they did win #7 this week sandwiched around 5 more losses to the Mets and D-Backs, things don’t get much better. This week they get 3 at home against he Phils before going into Kansas City for 3 more. This is a team on teh verge of setting some major futility records. So, they have that going for them, I guess.
After a tough week in STL and MIA, the Phils could get a chance to make some inroads facing 2 of the bottom dwellers in the league. After 3 in Atlanta, they’ll come home for 3 more against the Reds. A strong week could keep them in the running or possibly take a new view of the East…from above?