National League East Monthly Recap

National League East Monthly Recap

by May 2, 2021 2 comments

What was looking like the deepest division going into the season has turned into a general disappointment. Through April, the National League East was led by the Philadelphia Phillies at 13-13. Every other division leader in Major League Baseball was at least five games over .500. Let’s break down how the teams got off to a less-than-stellar start.

Check out our other divisional recaps: AL East

Philadelphia Phillies, 13-13, 1st Place

The Phillies offense overall has been sluggish. They are 12th in the NL in runs scored with just 97. Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto have been keeping the offense afloat for the most part with a 1.063 and .932 OPS respectively. Rhys Hoskins leads the team in HRs (8), runs (19), RBI (14), and has played every game. Jean Segura was looking great until he went down on April 20. Nick Maton stepped in and has done a bang-up job and carries an .802 OPS with solid defense. The outfield has dragged down the offense, aside from Harper of course. They just can’t get anyone to hit above their weight.

While the top three in the rotation have been very good, the Phillies have struggled in any start made by someone other than Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, or Zach Eflin. The bullpen has been surprisingly solid. The main trio of Hector Neris, Jose Alvarado, and Sam Coonrod has a wonderful 40/8 K/BB rate in 31.2 innings with a 1.42 ERA and has accounted for all seven of the team’s saves.

Team MVP: Bryce Harper, .321/.448/.615, six HRs, 10 RBI

Team Cy Young: Aaron Nola, 3.11 ERA, 0.956 WHIP, 39/5 K/BB rate

Atlanta Braves, 12-14, 2nd Place

The lineup has picked up where it left off last year. In the NL, they are fourth in runs scored (122), second in OPS (.722), and lead the league in HRs (38). Ronald Acuna Jr. is a top-5 player in the league and continues to prove it, playing again at an MVP level. Despite batting .237, the reigning MVP, Freddie Freeman, has an .866 OPS with seven HRs and 18 RBI along with an impressive 19/15 BB/K rate. Youngster Austin Riley finally seems comfortable at the plate with an .850 OPS and an 11.8 percent walk rate. When Marcell Ozuna and Ozzie Albies get going, this offense will be downright scary.

Now to the reason that the Braves have a losing record. As a staff, Atlanta’s pitching has given up the most HRs in the NL (39) and has an awful 1.406 WHIP. That has led to, yep, you guessed it, the worst ERA in the NL at 4.97. Ian Anderson and Huascar Ynoa have done their best to hold down the rotation until Max Fried returns next week and Mike Soroka works on a June return. The Drew Smyly experiment has been a disaster as he’s given up nine bombs in 19 innings.

Team MVP: Ronald Acuna Jr., .341/.443/.705, eight HRs, three SBs, 25 runs, 18 RBI

Team Cy Young: Huascar Ynoa, 2.96 ERA, 0.915 WHIP, 34/6 K/BB rate

Washington Nationals, 10-12, 3rd Place

Even though the Nats make a ton of contact, they are last in walks (57) and strike out second-least (181), they don’t score runs. Washington is hoping to get Juan Soto back soon from a shoulder injury that landed him on the IL 11 days ago. Trea Turner has been great, leading the team in HRs (6) and SBs (5). Veterans Josh Harrison and Ryan Zimmerman have been the only other bright spots in the lineup.

The pitching, of course, has been led by Max Scherzer. He has an even 3.00 ERA and has struck out 38 in 30 innings. Mad Max is 178 away from 3,000 strikeouts for his career and barring injury should get to that milestone later this season. The Nats get Jon Lester back today and are hoping to get Stephen Strasburg back in another week depending on how his bullpen session goes this week. Brad Hand has anchored the bullpen and has yet to allow an earned run in nine innings of work.

Team MVP: Trea Turner, .302/.348/.558, six HRs, five SBs, 11 runs, 10 RBI

Team Cy Young: Max Scherzer, 3.00 ERA, 0.933 WHIP, 38/6 K/BB rate

New York Mets, 9-11, 4th Place

If you thought the Nats had a bad offense, you haven’t watched the Mets this season. They are scoring just under three runs per game. Brandon Nimmo and J.D Davis have been great combining to slash .360/.467/.530. Pete Alonso has also been solid, leading the team in HRs (5), runs (10), and RBI (12). Francisco Lindor has yet to get acclimated to New York and has a paltry.542 OPS. Jeff McNeil has also disappointed so far with a .636 OPS and Dominic Smith has yet to build on last year checking in with at .549.

The pitching, especially the starters, has been the only reason the Mets aren’t in last. Jacob deGrom is simply the best pitcher in baseball. Marcus Stroman and Taijuan Walker have been excellent combining for a 1.98 ERA allowing just a single homer across nine starts. The bullpen has been excellent as well. Edwin Diaz seems to have gotten back to his dominant ways. Combined with the group of Miguel Castro, Trevor May, Jeurys Familia, and Aaron Loup, the five-deep pen has a 1.69 ERA with a 53/12 K/BB rate and has yet to allow a long ball.

Team MVP: Brandon Nimmo, .339/.453/.468, 5 doubles, one HR, two SBs 

Team Cy Young: Jacob deGrom, 0.51 ERA, 0.571 WHIP, 59/4 K/BB rate

Miami Marlins, 11-14, 5th Place

The Marlins haven’t been great offensively but they do have a few players who have been raking in the month of April. Jesus Aguilar has a .958 OPS with a team-leading six HRs and 23 RBI. After a down year in 2020, Corey Dickerson has had a resurgence slashing .316/.395/.447. Chad Wallach and Sandy Leon have filled in wonderfully for the injured Jorge Alfaro. Right now the Marlins are without Jazz Chisolm, Brian Anderson, and Starling Marte. Anderson (oblique) could be back next week, Chisolm (hamstring) will likely be out the next two weeks, and Marte (rib) has no timetable just yet.

The pitching has been solid with Sandy Alcantara (3.19 ERA), Pablo Lopez (2.34 ERA), and the young phenom Trevor Rogers (1.29 ERA). Miami has tried to piece together the rest of the starts after those three without much success. The bullpen is solid with Yimi Garcia taking over the closer duties when Anthony Bass struggled early. Dylan Floro and John Curtiss have been reliable setup men and veteran lefty Ross Detwiler has done his thing.

Team MVP: Jesus Aguilar, .298/.398/.560, six HRs, 23 RBI

Team Cy Young: Trevor Rogers, 1.29 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, 38/10 K/BB rate

A Look Ahead

We all knew this division was going to be a dogfight, and April has validated that with first and last separated by just a game and a half. No team is going to break away in May. Expect a return to normalcy a bit as the Mets, Nats, and Phillies all get their offenses going. The Braves should figure out their pitching situation especially if Fried comes back healthy. The Marlins have the most balanced squad right now and just need the return of a couple of their players to stay in the mix.

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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images

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