The All-Star Break is over and the second half has started. With the July 31st trade deadline on the horizon, now is the time for teams to decide if they are going to buy or sell. The NL East will be very active around the deadline. Atlanta, Washington and Philadelphia are vying for the playoffs and will be buying. New York has to make a decision fast while Miami will be selling. Now without further ado, here is this week’s NL East Rundown. For those that missed last week, click here.
1) Atlanta Braves (59-41) (5-4 in the past week) (Sunday’s game went late) (Last week ranked 1)
Atlanta has been able to keep their NL East lead as they started the week off by sweeping the Padres. They then lost two of three to the Milwaukee Brewers and Washington. Sunday’s finale against Washington went late.
With Max Fried on the IL and the bottom of Atlanta’s starting rotation struggling, the Braves will be looking to trade for another starter. Madison Bumgarner and Marcus Stroman are the two top pitchers on the trade block and both could help put the Braves over the top. Atlanta has the second-best farm system in baseball and will need to ask about both pitchers.
Stroman is 6-10 with a 3.06 ERA with 93 strikeouts, while Bumgarner is 5-7 with a 3.65 ERA and 127 strikeouts. Bumgarner would be a rental, butStroman has one more year on his contract. Bumgarner however always takes it to another level once October hits. Both pitchers would help Atlanta win the NL East for a second straight year.
2) Washington Nationals (52-45) (5-2 in the past week) (Sunday’s game went late) (Last week ranked 2)
Washington’s hot streak has continued as they took two of three from the Phillies to start the second half. Then split a two-game series with the Baltimore Orioles before taking two of three from the Braves. The series finale on Sunday went late.
Washington will need ace Max Scherzer back, who is on the IL, if they want to catch the Braves. Scherzer is 9-5 with a 2.30 ERA and 181 strikeouts. Scherzer’s start was pushed back multiple times as he has been suffering from back problems. He threw a 15 pitch bullpen session on July 20. He is expected to throw another bullpen session on Monday. Hopefully for Washington, if he is feeling well after he will be put back in the rotation.
3) Philadelphia Phillies (52-48) (5-5 in the past week) (Last week ranked 3)
The Phillies struggled to gain ground on the Braves as they went 5-5 since the All-Star Break. They lost two of three to Washington, split a four-game series with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and then took two of three from the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Philly was able to produce multiple walk-offs over the stretch. First Maikel Franco hit a solo shot to walk off the Nationals on July 14. Then Bryce Harper hit a two-run double off of Kenley Jensen to beat the Dodgers on Wednesday. Lastly, on Sunday, Rhys Hoskins hit a solo shot in the top of the 11th to beat to Pirates. While this wasn’t a walk-off, it just showcased how the Phillies have been able to come back to win games. If they continue to bounce back when it matters, they should make it to October.
4) New York Mets (45-54) (5-4 in the past week) (Last week ranked 4)
The Mets started the second half off by taking two of three from the Marlins. They then swept the Minnesota Twins in a two-game series before they lost three of four to the surging San Fransisco Giants.
Shortstop Amed Rosario has been key to the team’s success since the break. In the last week, Rosario is hitting .455 with 10 hits, three doubles, a triple, a homer and three RBIs in 22 at bats. New York has high expectations for Rosario and if he can continue his hot streak, then New York might be able to claim a wild card spot.
5) Miami Marlins (36-61) (3-6 in the past week) (Last week ranked 5)
The Marlins continue to struggle as they started the second half off the season by losing two of three to the Mets. They then took two of three from the San Diego Padres before being swept by the Dodgers.
With the trade deadline approaching, Miami will need to gauge interest on their young starting pitchers.
All-Star Sandy Alcantara who has four years left on his contract, could be a possible trade candidate. The 23-year-old is 4-9 with a 4.25 ERA and has shown glimpses of excellence this season. He could help restock the Marlins farm system as they are still a few years away from competing.
NL East Player of the week
Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals- On Thursday Strasburg went 5.1/3 as he gave up three runs, walked two and struck out seven. While he did not have his best outing on the mound, Strasburg had the best hitting performance of his career. He went 3-3 with five RBIs, a home run and also had two hits in the same inning. He led off the top of the third with a single and later scored the first run for the Nats. Strasburg then later came up in the same inning and hit a three-run homer, his fourth of his career. Washington went on to win 13-4.
Atlanta Braves- Max Fried was placed on the 10 day IL on July 16 with a blister on his left index finger.
Miami Marlins- JT Riddle was placed on the day IL on July 18 with a right forearm strain.
New York Mets- Zack Wheeler was placed on the 10 day IL July 15, retroactive to July 12. He is suffering from a right shoulder impingement.
Philadelphia Phillies- Jay Bruce was placed on the 10 day IL on July 17 with a right oblique strain.
Washington Nationals- Max Scherzer was placed on the 10 day IL on July 13, retroactive to July 10. He is suffering from a right scapulothoracic bursitis
The trade deadline is on July 31. Atlanta, Washington, and Philadelphia will all be in the market for pitching, mainly relief help. New York has not decided if they are going to be buying or selling yet. Miami will be selling and will contemplate trading their young starting pitchers.
Feature Image From Bleacher Report
“From Our Haus to Yours”