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NL East: What’s Been Good and Bad?

Despite Covid-19 causing some alterations on the year, we are a good chunk into the season. The NL East division is in full swing in the 2020 MLB season, and along with it, there has been good and the bad. Currently, the Miami Marlins sit atop the division with a winning percentage. of .700. Behind them, the Braves are a close second. Even further down the division, you have the teams that have yet to get going; Mets in third, Phillies in fourth, and Nationals in a close race for last. 

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Atlanta Braves

Yeah, yeah, I watched the Braves get stomped by the Phillies on Monday, but for the most part, the Atlanta offense has been solid. The usual contributors which include Ronald Acuna Jr and Freddie Freeman, have continued their success. However, the Braves had some somewhat surprising bats come alive to start the 2020 campaign. Dansby Swanson (SS) and Travis d’Arnaud (Catcher), each have an OBP higher than .330. d’Arnaud is boasting a .385 BA, while Swanson is .281. Also earned his keep in Atlanta, Marcell Ozuna, who has hit .276/3/7 with a .391 OBP. 

The Braves’ pitching has been inconsistent this season, to say the least. Atlanta DFA’d Mike Foltynewicz to start out the year and lost their ace Mike Soroka with a season-ending Achilles injury. The lone bright light in the rotation has been Max Fried, 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA. Besides that, there hasn’t been an ERA below 6.00 to start out. Sean Newcomb was the most recent example of that against Philadelphia. In that game, Newcomb surrendered eight runs in a little over an inning. That’s definitely not what the Braves wanted to see out of the 27-year-old lefty.

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Miami Marlins

A team that has certainly taken advantage of this modified season has been the Marlins. They have been off to a great start with their record sitting at 7-3. Some of their starters have been tearing it up, and they have propelled them this year. Pablo Lopez (1.80 ERA), has pitched well throughout the year. Alongside him, the young pitcher Sandy Alcantara has equally matched his output. These two have shown their strength in the past, but have never had any sort of consistency. This season could prove different, and could also build their confidence for the future.

Well, the bad for Miami has been a common occurrence, unfortunately. The offense has been inconsistent and too many times they haven’t repaid their pitching staff. They, like all other teams, do have their top guys. Brian Anderson the always consistent 3B, along with Jesus Aguilar, has been the rock for the Marlin offense. Hopefully, for them, this solid play can be contagious. As the Marlins have for now overcame the COVID-19 outbreak.

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New York Mets

The Mets have derailed and are yet to get their team back on the tracks. Looking at their season thus far, frankly, it’s tough to find good. With the slim pickings, however, there is a pair of ripe berries. Let’s start with Jacob deGrom who has been his usual self for New York. He’s pitched well and one would argue he should be 4-0 if it wasn’t for the disastrous bullpen. Switching over to the offensive, veteran second baseman Robinson Cano has been a sight for sore eyes. The 37-year-old has only played 11 games but is tied for third on RBI knocks. He also has passed the majority of his teammates in total hits. 

Now for the bad. Where do we start? How about the pitching? More specifically, the bullpen. As mentioned earlier, games have gotten away from the Mets thanks to their pen. Their starters haven’t been the best either. Aside from deGrom, the rotation is rocky. Three New York starters have an ERA above 6.00, and it shows. Then there’s the cold starts from Pete Alonso, Wilson Ramos, and Jeff McNeil. These three are usually the drive for this team. If they can find any sort of consistency, look for the Mets to rise out of the depths.

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Washington Nationals

The pitching staff has been inconsistent if you put aside Max Scherzer and second-year man Patrick Corbin. Stephen Strasburg’s absence has definitely been a struggle, as the World Series MVP is out due to injury. The bullpen has been slightly better, with veteran Sam Freeman leading the way. For each situation they have been put in, they have made the best of it.

We have seen this with other teams, however, the Nats are a notable one on the list. The lack of offense is quite concerning, albeit still the beginning of the season. The defending champions didn’t get the jump start they were hoping for, with Juan Soto out due to COVID-19. Soto is just now logging his sixth game this year. As for his teammates, the majority have been healthy, but haven’t logged the stats they were hoping for. The pair of bright spots include Asdrubal Cabrera and Starlin Castro. The Nationals, as well as others, will be looking to get their offense dialed in.

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Philadelphia Phillies

This Phillies offense is something to behold if it’s on key. Early on we’ve seen plenty of teams have dry spells at the plate. Philadelphia is no different. I view the Phillies as a team similar to the Nationals. You see the offensive threat, but for whatever reason, it’s not producing as well as hoped. There are questions among the Phillies lineup, and they include Rhys Hoskins and Didi Gregorius. Hoskins has always been known as a streaky power hitter, and that hasn’t worked in Philadelphia’s favor. Gregorius just came over via free agency from the New York Yankees. His production hasn’t been as good the team had hoped. 

On the flip side Zach Wheeler, who came via free agency from the Mets, has already begun to prove his worth. The 30-year-old has a 2.08 ERA, and while the strikeouts haven’t come, he is still enjoying early success.

Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta have had mirroring seasons thus far. Each has been good to start, and you have to love it if you’re a fan. This pitching staff could very well be on the rise. And in the current situation, they could soon be the best starting staff in the division.

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