NL East Weekly Review: 9/6-9/12

Standings

  1. Atlanta Braves 76-66
  2. Philadelphia Phillies 72-71 (4.5 back)
  3. New York Mets 72-72 (5 back)
  4. Miami Marlins 60-83 (16.5 back)
  5. Washington Nationals 59-84 (17.5 back)

Week in Review

1. Atlanta Braves 

The Braves have taken a comfortable lead atop the NL East and had another successful week to maintain their place as the clear favorite. They got a good draw as they started off the week taking on the Washington Nationals at home where they took two out of three games in that series. The Braves took the first game behind homers from Ozzie Albies and Adam Duvall, lost the second game, and won the final game on a walk-off single by Joc Pederson. Most people in that dugout would probably tell you they expect a sweep there, but a series win is a series win. They have to be feeling good overall about their chances.

The Braves then welcomed in another NL East foe as the Miami Marlins came to town. Just as they did with Washington, the Braves took the first game, lost the second, and won the final game. Jorge Soler had a big knock to help them win the opener, and homers by Freddie Freeman and Ozzie Albies carried them in the final game. Atlanta has opened up a 4.5 game lead in the division and will host the Colorado Rockies for a three game series to open the week before heading to San Francisco for a date with the league leading Giants.

2. Philadelphia Phillies

The week started off on a good note for Philadelphia, as they hit six home runs in a 12-0 blowout against the NL Central leading Milwaukee Brewers. The script was flipped in game two with the Brewers having their own blowout win, before Milwaukee closed out a series win in the final game. Winning one game in Milwaukee isn’t anything to hang your head over, but after the way the opening game went it is understandable to be frustrated at the rest. Bryce Harper continued his MVP campaign with two homers in the series, while Freddy Galvis and Brad Miller swung a hot bat as well. Zack Wheeler also had a much-needed bounce back start.

Philadelphia then returned home for a four-game set with the Colorado Rockies, who have been abysmal on the road this season. We’ve seen it happen against Arizona, Pittsburgh, and Miami, and it happened again this week as the Phillies played down to their competition and lost three out of four games against Colorado. Zack Wheeler and Bryce Harper were once again fantastic, but they did not get much help whatsoever by the pitching staff and rest of the lineup at all. Time is running out for Philadelphia in the division as they are 4.5 games back, but they are only 2.5 games out of the second NL Wild Card spot. That said, if they continue to play the way they have been, it’s not going to matter. The Chicago Cubs will be coming to town for three games, and on paper this should be an easy series for the Phillies. As we have seen so far this season though, that doesn’t matter once you get out there. The Phillies will wrap up the weekend with a series in New York against the Mets, and that could be the end of the road for one of those teams depending on how it goes.

3. New York Mets

The focus in the divisional race has primarily been between Atlanta and Philadelphia, but New York is quietly hanging on in the race. Ever since the “thumbs down” incident, Javier Baez has been on fire for the Mets, and has helped them stay alive in the process. They began their week by traveling to Miami, and it started off on the right note with a nine-run outburst to win the first game. After that, it went about as bad as it could have with two losses and a combined three runs. It’s been a common theme for this Mets offense all year, and all their problems were on full display in this series. Miami seems to have that effect.

The Mets welcomed in their cross-town rival Yankees into Citi Field this weekend, a poetic tribute for the 20th anniversary of 9/11. The Mets wore gorgeous white uniforms with the “New York” name plate as opposed to the traditional “Mets” in the first meeting. The Mets blew the doors off the Yankees in the first game before losing a heartbreaker in game two. They would wrap up the series in an emotional way after a late inning win on Sunday Night Baseball that saw the benches clear, and Francisco Lindor hit 3 homers, including the game winner. They have an interesting matchup to start the week with the St. Louis Cardinals, who are quietly only a game back for the final NL Wild Card spot. New York will then host Philadelphia, as one of these teams needs to make a statement if they want to catch up to Atlanta.

 

4. Miami Marlins

Miami is already looking forward to 2022, but they do like to hang around and play spoiler while they still can in the process and have a little fun. Edward Cabrera has made his long-awaited debut on the mound, and has flashed some signs of his potential for a Miami rotation that will be very strong in the future. His sinker has become infamous on MLB The Show ’21 for being nearly unhittable, and he has a blistering fastball to go with. For now, Miami is just trying to see what potential pieces they have going forward. As mentioned, they started off the week by taking two out of three games against the Mets at home. “Tanking” isn’t really a thing in baseball as much, so these guys are out here playing hard and playing for their jobs. They love the chaos as well. 

Miami took on the Atlanta Braves after that and were able to take one of the games after back to back homers by Bryan De La Cruz and Jesús Sánchez. Every win Miami gets against an NL East rival in contention matters to the rest of the race, and it’s something to keep an eye on. For now, they have a lighter week with two teams out of contention in the Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates. 

5. Washington Nationals

It’s a rough time to be a Washington Nationals fan. Somehow only two years removed from a title, the Nationals have absolutely gutted their core and are starting their team over outside of poor Juan Soto. Keibert Ruiz, the main piece in the Trea Turner/Max Scherzer trade, made his debut, giving Nationals fans a glimpse at their future. The Nationals were able to steal a game on a home run by Juan Soto, and we’re likely going to be seeing that a lot in Nationals wins going forward due to the lack of lineup around him. There’s a reason he leads the league in walks by 30. 

Washington welcomed in another team going nowhere fast in the Pittsburgh Pirates for a three-game set, where they would drop the first two before winning the final game. There really isn’t all too much going on in Washington worth noting right now, as they are headed towards a dark couple of years while they reset their core. They’ll host the Miami Marlins for three games before a three-game set with the Colorado Rockies.