The NL (National League) East has been a tour de force over the last few seasons. The key word of that sentence? “Seasons.” No NL East team, despite all of the talent in that division, has been able to put it all together to win a World Series. So, let’s take a look at how they’re doing thus far in the 2017 season.
Washington Nationals 45-30: The Nats have been the team to beat in the NL East over the last few seasons. They have made the playoffs in all but two seasons since Bryce Harper began his hairstylists already illustrious career. As of today, the Nats are the only NL East team with a record above .500. They also have potential NL MVP’s in Harper (.315 average, 18 home runs, 56 RBIs) and first baseman Ryan Zimmerman (.350 average, 19 home runs, 59 RBIs). As for their pitching, they also have a potential Cy Young award winner in their rotation that goes by the name of Max Scherzer (8-5, 2.09 ERA, 0.81 WHIP), and this little known guy named Stephen Strasburg (8-2, 3.57 ERA, 1.13 WHIP) right behind him in the rotation. As a team, the Nats are 2nd in all of baseball with a .278 average, which places them 1st in the NL. Their team ERA is good enough for 9th in baseball at 4.14, which is 5th in the NL. Needless to say, the Nats are well on their way to another NL East title.
Atlanta Braves 36-39: Wow. The Braves are so much better than last season. That’s not saying much seeing as they were 68-93 in 2016. And they still aren’t above .500. But hey! They’re getting better! Just you wait! Next season they might even be an okay team! That’s pretty unlikely though, seeing as the only reason that they’re in 2nd is because the three teams behind them in the standings have a history of being worse. The Braves are in a unique position seeing as they are within striking distance of .500. However, they have no chance of catching the superpower that is the Washington Nationals, but they could still pull off a Wild Card win since their main competition for those two spots are the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies, two teams that could collapse at any point in the season. However, if the Braves are to do this, they must improve their 4.60 team ERA, which sits at 20th in all of baseball, and 10th in the NL. A possible solution would be to acquire a top-tier starting pitcher as soon as possible, since their starters 4.87 ERA (25th in baseball) is dragging the team ERA down. However, the Braves are also 3rd in the NL with a .268 average, so the potential for a big playoff run is there. In the end, the Braves only hope is in a Wild Card spot, and even then their work is cut out for them.
Miami Marlins 34-40: The Marlins have had some great seasons. They’ve won two World Series championships since they entered the league. However, those days are long gone as they are once again having another season where they’re just missing one or two major pieces. With Marcell Ozuna (.319 average, 20 home runs, 54 RBIs) and Giancarlo Stanton (.274 average, 20 home runs, 49 RBIs), one would think that the Marlins would have a premier offense, and while they are 5th in the NL with a .262 team average, they are also only 10th with 341 runs, which means they are not capitalizing. And with only two starters with ERAs under 4.00 in Dan Straily and José Ureña, the Marlins are sorely lacking star players. The Marlins need one more big time hitter in their lineup to compliment Stanton and Ozuna, and they need a clear ace in their rotation. Their strongest point, which needs little to no work, is their bullpen. With only one blown save by closer AJ Ramos, the Marlins pen is one of the most consistent in the league. They’re also having another strong season out of the pen from former starter, and former injury, Dustin McGowan (4-0, 2.70 ERA, 1.13 WHIP). If the Marlins hope to be able to compete, they need an undisputed number 1 starter at the head of their rotation, and they need another hitter who can not only hit for power, but also consistently knock in runs to compliment their two big guns in the lineup: Stanton and Ozuna.
New York Mets 34-41: What is up with the Mets? With that rotation, they should be contending with the Nats for first place. Well, with ace Noah “Thor” Syndergaard on the 60-day-DL (disabled list), and starter Matt Harvey’s career imploding before our very eyes, the would-be-stars of the rotation are gone. Jacob deGrom (7-3, 3.71 ERA, 1.27 WHIP) is doing admirably, but he is no Syndergaard. DeGrom simply does not pack the same punch as the almighty Thor. Aside from outfielders Jay Bruce (.270 average, 20 home runs, 52 RBIs) and Michael Conforto (.285 average, 14 home runs, 41 RBIs), the Mets don’t have too much going for them offensively these days. Once again, the Mets cannot expect much help from third baseman David Wright, as he has spent all season on the DL. What the Mets need, much like the Marlins, is a superstar hitter to compliment what they already have. As for pitching, they need Syndergaard to come back, which won’t be happening anytime soon, and they need Harvey to come off the 10-day-DL and immediately live up to his potential. The Mets have a lot of needs, some of which will come with time, and others by sticking their necks out and going after what they need.
Philadelphia Phillies 24-51: Coming into 2017 everyone knew the Phillies would be bad, they’re in the middle of a heavy rebuild after all. But wow. Who knew it could be this bad? The Phillies can’t hit (team average of .243), they can’t score (284 runs), and they can’t pitch (team ERA of 4.87). They’re in the bottom 5 of virtually every category in the NL. There is no way that the Phillies can turn it around at this point in the season. They need to improve in every possible category. Sorry Phillies fans, there’s always next year!