National League East

Mets: NL East Shaping Up To Be A Full-Blown War

There’s something wrong with the National League standings as play begins on Friday. Only a game-and-a-half separate three teams at the top and none of those teams are the Nationals as the Mets seek to hold off the Phillies and Braves. It looks like an all-out war in what used to be called the NL Least.

What goes up must come down (Mets) and what goes down must come up (Nationals). Right? If you had to bet your last dollar, that’s what the odds say the safe bet is, even though the first 25 games of the 2018 season say otherwise. Do you trust what you see in the MLB standings which reflect real games as they’ve played on the field?

NL East Standings 4/28/18
Source: MLB.com

One thing we can trust is your team had better win their Division, lest they get caught up in a brawl for the two Wild Card spots, of which there are now six teams within two games of qualifying. These teams include the two up and comers in the NL East, Philadelphia, and Atlanta.

The New York Mets, thanks to their torrid 10-1 start to the season have garnered most of the yea-yah attention, while the Washington Nationals have drawn the boo-hiss crowd. In between, the young, athletic, and scrappy Phillies and Braves are busy writing their own stories.

Trying yet again to find a manager with the Midas Touch, the Nationals hired David Martinez, who has 30 years in the baseball business but no experience as a manager. On paper, the Nationals were supposed to win 100+ games and walk away with the Division. Their only test would come in October in the playoffs, or so said the believers.

The numbers for the Nationals are already in dire circumstances having dug themselves a hole in which to finish the season now with 100 wins, the Nats will need to go 89-48, or 51 games over .500., a mighty task for any team in this league.

With Bryce Harper in his walk year and hardly ever being pitched to, Daniel Murphy still waiting for his first at-bat of the season, Tanner Roark with only one win in five tries, and Ryan Zimmerman hitting just .188, the Nationals are looking more and more like a paper tiger. And make that an old tiger as well.

Meanwhile, the duo of Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom, assuming both stays healthy, automatically put the Mets in contention all the way through the season. Plus two more caveats, both of which fall under the umbrella of distractions.

Yeonis Cespedes, who we know is a genius, has decided the reason for his lack of production so far is he’s given up his golf game for the season. This was either encouraged or insisted on by the Mets, depending on who you believe. Having given it all of his thinking power, Cespedes now says:

“One of the things that I did before, years ago, when I was in a slump, was playing golf and trying to get out of my slump,” Cespedes told reporters through an interpreter. “I said this season I wouldn’t go to play golf. So one of the things that I’m doing now, that I didn’t do before, is watching the videos. That’s something different I’m doing right now. But unfortunately, it’s not going too well so far.”Christopher Powers, Golf Digest

You can’t make this stuff up. The other distraction facing the Mets is more serious and something that can’t be poked fun at. As I wrote in a piece titled, “And Now The End Is Near, The Final Curtain”, newly designated Mets reliever, Matt Harvey is not a happy camper and has risen to the top of the challenges facing rookie manager, Mickey Callaway.

It’s not likely this situation will end well, and the Mets can only hope that cancer doesn’t spread into their clubhouse. Oh, and by the way, the Mets still need a bonafide major league catcher.

The Braves and Phillies are loaded with young talent, in the case of the Braves, there’s plenty more on the way. Philadelphia was thought to be looking more at next season with a boatload of money to spend in the offseason (think Bryce Harper). But everything changed when they won the Jake Arrieta sweepstakes. Arrieta, with no Spring Training, is already 3-0 with a 1.82 ERA

As for the rest of the team, see if you are familiar with any of these standout Phillies players:

Phillies Top Offensive Players
Source: MLB.com

Highlighted, those are batting averages, and all three blew by me as in the who are these guys category.

For what it’s worth, if I had to bet my last dollar, the standings at the end of the 2018 season will be precisely in the order they are today. The Mets will be holding on for dear life throughout all of September, fending off a newly fueled Phillies team, who will make a big splash at the trade deadline in July.

The Nationals are a dead team with an emphasis on the word team. They are beyond repair, no matter how heroic Max Scherzer is, and no matter how hard Harper tries to make it look like he isn’t doing anything but playing out the season and looking ahead to his release from purgatory in Washington.

No team is built to run away with the Division and we can expect a dogfight to the bitter end.

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