The NL East race is the tightest in baseball and has not seen a team pull ahead or fall too far behind. Six games are all that separates the first and last place teams. While the Atlanta Braves are atop the division and were preseason favorites by many, the Miami Marlins are surprisingly in second place followed by the other favorites, the Washington Nationals. The New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies are bringing up the rear, but are still within striking distance with the All-Star break still over a month away.
Atlanta is in first place with a record of 31-25. They have a winning record at home and a .500 record on the road. The Braves rebounded after being swept by the Boston Red Sox in a home and home series (two home/two away) to sweep the Marlins on the road. Beating the Marlins at home has not been easy for opponents this season, and it was a much needed three victories to get Atlanta back on the right track.
It will be a short week for the Braves as they have Monday and Thursday off. They host the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday and Wednesday and then head to the west coast for a weekend series against the last-place Arizona Diamondbacks. Atlanta could very well be riding an eight-game winning streak heading into next week.
Justin Upton leads all qualified players with a .301 batting average and has a team-leading 13 home runs and 33 RBI. He also leads the team with 65 strikeouts, a number that is okay as long as he keeps his average up and power soaring high.
Newcomer Tommy La Stella has filled the offensive woes at second base so far. He is hitting .400 (6-15) through five games. His defense has looked iffy as he is getting used to his new teammates, but as long as he hits he will continue to be the present and future of the Braves at second base.
Julio Teheran (1.83), Ervin Santana (4.10), and Alex Wood (3.32) all have five wins under their belt so far. Aaron Harang (3.24) is right behind them with four. The starters have done a great job thus far and made up for the losses in spring training to Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy who both underwent Tommy John surgery. Craig Kimbrel is tied for sixth in the MLB with 15 saves on the season.