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NL East Rundown: Week 24

NL East

Congrats to the Atlanta Braves, as they became the first team from the NL East this year to clinch a playoff spot. After taking five of seven from the Washington Nationals in the past week, the Braves have all but locked up the division. Washington still has the first wild card spot, but their lead is dwindling. The Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets are battling for the second wild-card spot, but both are on the outside looking in. Miami is on the verge of another 100 loss season as the rebuild continues.  Without further ado here is this week’s NL East Rundown. Last week the NL East Rundown was on hiatus, but click here for week 22.

Power Rankings

1) Atlanta Braves (93-58) ( in the past week) (Last week ranked 1)

Atlanta split a four-game series with the Phillies before taking two of three from Washington. The Braves are on the verge of winning their second straight NL East title and are only three and a half games behind the Dodgers for the best record in the National League. Once Atlanta wins the division, the question becomes if they should decide to rest their starters heading into the playoffs. In years past, playoff teams have seen key pieces go down with less than a month left in the season. Atlanta should not risk essential players such as Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuna Jr. suffering freak accidents.

Examples of key players going down include Christian Yelich this year and Wilson Ramos in 2016. Yelich was on the verge of a second MVP and his injury may have cost the Brewers a chance at making the playoffs. Ramos was the starting catcher for Washington and was in the midst of a career year that saw him hit over .300 for the first time in his career. But at the same time, Atlanta does not want their starters sitting for too long that they become restless and a bit rusty. Brian Sniker has tough decisions to make as he gets his team ready for October.

2) Washington Nationals (82-66) in the past week) (Last week ranked 2)

Washington had an inconsistent week as they took two of three from the first-place Minnesota Twins before losing two of three to the Braves. The Nationals have lost six of their lost ten and have seen their lead in the wild card drop to one and a half games. Despite their recent slump, ESPN still gives Washington a 95.4 percent chance of making the playoffs.

While Max Scherzer hasn’t looked like his old self, Washington is in luck thanks to their co-ace Stephen Strasburg. This season Strasburg is 17-6, with a 3.49 ERA, and 229 strikeouts. Washington fans should rest easy knowing Strasburg can pitch in the wild card game if Scherzer isn’t ready.

3) New York Mets (77-71) (5-1 in the past week) (Last week ranked 4) Sunday game ended late

The Mets swept the Arizona Diamondbacks in a four-game series before splitting a two-game series with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The rubber match on Sunday ended late.

The Mets are three and a half games behind the Cubs for the second wild-card spot. ESPN has given them 13.3 percent chance of making the playoffs. Ace Jacob deGrom looks like his old self which is good news for the Mets, and bad news for everyone else. The Mets have arguably the best pitcher to start in a winner takes all game. Luckily for the Mets, their next ten games are against teams with losing records. They do finish the season against the Braves which might make or break their season.

4) Philadelphia Phillies (76-72) (2-4 in the past week) (Last week ranked 3)

The Phillies split a four-game series with the Braves before losing two straight to the Boston Red Sox. Philly is in a similar position to the Mets as they are still in the hunt for the second wild-card spot, but are facing a tough remaining schedule. While the Phillies are only four and a half games behind the Chicago Cubs for the second wild-card spot, ESPN gives them a 0.01% chance of making the playoffs.

This is not what the fans were expecting after they had a very busy offseason that saw the team sign Bryce Harper to a monster contract. While Harper is not having an MVP season, he has been the teams best hitter. In year one with the Phillies, Harper is hitting .253, with 31 homers, 102 RBIs and he has an OPS of .864. Harper will have to perform closer to his 2015 season when he won MVP if he wants to lead the Phillies back to the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

5) Miami Marlins (52-97) (1-5 in the past week) (Last week ranked 5)

NL East
Image courtesy of NBC Sports.

The Marlins were swept by the Milwaukee Brewers before losing two of three to the San Fransisco Giants. Miami is in the midst of a rebuild while the rest of the division is fighting to make the playoffs. While another 100 loss season isn’t ideal, the Marlins have the fourth-best farm system according to MLB.com.

The headliner of the group is Sixto Sanchez, who the Marlins acquired in the J.T. Realmuto trade. This season at Double-A, Sanchez is 8-4, with a 2.53 ERA, and 97 strikeouts in 103 innings. Opponents are hitting a mere .234 against the 21-year-old. Sanchez will eventually join a pitching staff with plenty of upside that includes Jordan Yamamoto and Sandy Alcantara.

NL East Player of the week

NL East
Image courtesy of Newsday.

Jacob deGrom has been crucial to the Mets recent surge. He had two starts this past week and went 1-0 with no-decision. In 14 innings he had a .64 ERA, as he gave up six hits, walked one, allowed one run, and struck out 19. After battling injuries and inconsistency early on in the season, deGrom looks like the 2018 Cy Young winner. This season he is 9-8 with a 2.61 ERA, and 239 strikeouts.

Injuries

Atlanta Braves- Alex Jackson was placed on the 60 day IL September 5 with a left knee sprain.

Miami Marlins- Brian Anderson is out for the season with fractured fifth metacarpal in left hand

New York Mets- N/A

Philadelphia Phillies- Juan Nicasio was placed on the 10 day IL August 24 with right shoulder tendinitis.

Washington Nationals- Spencer Kieboom was placed on the 60 day IL September 8th with right shoulder inflammation.

Feature Image From Bleacher Report

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