The National League East division got closer as the All-Star break came upon us and I think its about to get a lot closer. The Phillies won their last four series and inched closer to the Nationals and Braves as both of those teams kind of floated where they are. I think both the Phillies and Nationals are going to come out of the All-Star break hot and attempt to catch the front-running Braves, and one of them will. The Braves are struggling with some injuries while other teams are heating up. Here’s my predictions:
5th Place – Miami Marlins: The Marlins struggle to win games on a daily basis and are going to find themselves in the basement of the division at the end of the season. The Marlins ended the first half 23 games under .500 with a 35-58 record which puts them 7 games behind the struggling 4th place Mets. They did get some bright spots in Stanton coming back and Ruggiano chips in as much as he can. The Marlins just don’t have winning potential and its going to take them some time to rebuild. They might as well get used to the basement of the division.
4th Place – New York Mets: Like the Miami Marlins, the New York Mets struggle to win games. At the All-Star break, they are nine games under .500 with a 41-50 record. Unlike the Marlins however, the Mets do have some potential and can steal some wins. With leadership from All-Star Third baseman David Wright and great pitching from up and coming Matt Harvey they are a team on the rise. They are about two players away from maybe being able to make a run for one of the top spots in the division. However, until they get those players, they are still rebuilding and will stay in 4th place for another year or two.
3rd Place – Washington Nationals: I think the Nationals are going to drop a spot in the standings by the end of the year. At the break, they are one game over .500 at 48-47 but they are struggling to get wins. This is the team that people were expecting to run away with the division and be in first place the whole season and they just haven’t been able to do it. They are currently six games behind the Atlanta Braves in second place but they are only a half a game in front of Philadelphia. The Nationals have some talent in Strasburg, both Zimmermans, and Bryce Harper but they just haven’t played up to their full potential.
2nd Place – Atlanta Braves: This is where you might be surprised. I think the Braves fall back to 2nd place by the end of the season. They’ve been bitten by the injury bug and have a lot of players landing on the bench, or even the disabled list when they are hurt or experiencing discomfort. Plus, even when they are healthy a lot of players have not been playing to there full potential. Atlanta went out and got both Upton brothers, and neither are producing right now. The Atlanta Braves have some serious talent this year, but everyone is either hurt, or not producing as much as they should.
1st Place – Philadelphia Phillies: That leaves the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies currently sit at the .500 mark with a 48-48 record. By the end of the year, I think the Phillies overtake both the Nationals and the Braves and finish in first place in the division. Right now the Phillies are only a half a game behind the Nationals and 6.5 games behind the Braves after winning their last four series against teams that were better than them in the standings. With players like Dominic Brown and Cliff Lee who are both All-Stars and then add Chase Utley you have some talented players, and then Cole Hamels and Kyle Kendrick are starting to produce they should be able to make a run.
At the end of the season, I think the National League East division standings aren’t going to look like they do right now. I think The Marlins, Mets, and Nationals records will stay right about where they are now. Then I think the Phillies are going to continue to heat up as the season moves on and will eventually overtake the Braves who continue to get hit with injuries and players who fail to produce as much as they should. People may think the NL East is a bad division, but its going to get interesting before the season is over.