The NL East Starting to Heat Up – One thing that sticks out in this particular MLB season is the lack of competitiveness within each division. In recent years, teams have been much more tight and neck in neck for the duration of the entire MLB season. With the second half officially underway, perhaps things are destined to change.
The White Sox possess a 9.5 game lead over the Indians in the AL Central while the Astros hold a 3.5 game lead over the A’s in the AL West. Transitioning to the National League, it seems things are much tighter with the exception of the NL Central and the Brewers comfortably leading the Reds by 6.5 games.
One thing throughout the season has been consistent and that’s the high caliber baseball being put on display night after night in the NL West. To a lot of people’s surprise, the Giants have made a case to be the best team in baseball while leading the defending World Series champs by just one game. The exhilarating Padres trail the Giants by just 5.5 games and have maintained pace with some of the best teams around the league.
The NL West isn’t the only division in baseball where things may get a little more interesting within the second half of the season. The NL East possesses some of the game’s most elite names and teams that can turn around their season in the blink of an eye. Let’s take a look at the current standings and where each team currently sits in their division.
NL East Standings
- New York Mets (49-33, .533%)
- Philadelphia Phillies (47-46, .505%) 2.5 GB
- Atlanta Braves (46-47, .495%) 3.5 GB
- Washington Nationals (45-49, .479%) 5 GB
- Miami Marlins (40-55, .421%) 10.5 GB
Looking at the standings, this is any team’s division to claim. Several teams being hit hard with injuries has been a huge setback, but each one of these teams has a strong group of players that can pick up the slack for those not playing.
Realistically, this is the Mets division to win, and lose. They have the best record out of the five, and reasonably so when you look at what’s been working for them. Their ability to play in close games and get outs when they need them is unmatched.
They hold a +8 run differential which honestly isn’t too decent for a leader of a division; however, they have done a tremendous job of improving on recent years mistakes. It seems the Mets have finally gained a grasp on understanding the big picture. Historically, the Mets may have pushed their ace Jacob deGrom beyond his limits, but perhaps with new management things have changed for the better. Let him heal and then allow him to deliver.
In the month of July, the Phillies have won 10 out of their last 15 games. Heading into the All-Star break with a head full of steam the Phillies earned a series win against high caliber teams in defeating the Padres, Cubs, and then Red Sox. Since returning from the break, the Phillies have handled the Marlins taking three games out of a four-game series.
Phillies fans don’t have many players to thank for the recent run they’ve been able to put together, but they do have a couple. Jean Segura is one of those guys as he’s been a consistent lead off hitter with a batting average of .314 in just 66 games played.
Obviously, you can’t talk about the Phillies and not mention their worldwide superstar in right field, Bryce Harper. Historically known for his slugging ability, Harper has found a groove in managing to get on base. With 15 home runs and .286 batting average, Harper has the ability to take the race in the NL East in his own hands.
It’s no secret that the biggest weakness surrounding the Phillies organization is their lack of depth for their starting pitching rotation. Zack Wheeler has been sensational providing the Phillies with 13 quality starts out of the 19 games started. Boasting a 2.44 ERA along with seven earned wins is a big part of the reason as to why the Phillies even have a chance to climb atop the NL East standings.
It’s anybody’s division to claim. The Mets have control for now. Will they be able to possess the top spot throughout the second half of the season? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.