Tag Archives: Michael Conforto

NL East Division position comparison: right field

The National League East Division position-by-position evaluation and ranking of the starting eight position players comes to an end today with a look at right field.

The Philadephia Phillies had the top catcher in my rankings. The club’s projected starter ranked second in center field, and third in the division at each of first basesecond baseshortstopthird base, and in left field.

The defending World Series champion Washington Nationals had the top-ranked player at shortstop as well as in left field and center field. The two-time defending NL East champion Atlanta Braves came out on top at first base, second base, and now again in right field.

On Thursday, I’ll take a look at the backups and pinch-hitters for each team and rank each of those projected bench groups. Over the weekend the projected starting pitching rotations, bullpens, and finally the managers will be covered.

Once this evaluation process is complete, Phillies fans should have a better idea as February arrives of where the team stands as spring training opens. Pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater on February 11, less than two weeks from now.

NL EAST – 2020 RIGHT FIELD RANKINGS

1) Ronald Acuna Jr. Atlanta Braves: There are two particularly frightening things to consider regarding Acuna for the rest of the National League East. First, he turned just 22 years of age this past December. Second, the Braves got him to a sign a contract paying him $17 million through 2026 with team options at the same salary for two more years beyond that. Acuna is likely to be terrorizing opponents for many years. He won the 2018 NL Rookie of the Year Award after slashing .293/.366/.552 with 26 home runs, 56 extra-base hits, 64 RBIs, 78 runs scored, and 16 steals in just 111 games that year. In his first full season a year ago, Acuna made his first NL All-Star team and won a Silver Slugger Award. He slashed .280/.365/.518 with 41 homers, 65 extra-base hits, 101 RBIs, 127 runs scored, and 37 stolen bases. For that performance, Acuna finished fifth in 2019 NL Most Valuable Player voting. On top of all that offensive production, Acuna is an outstanding defender in right with the ability to handle center field as well. He has the talent to win multiple MVP’s going forward.

2) Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies: After starring with the Nationals for seven seasons during which he was an NL All-Star six times and the 2015 NL MVP, Harper signed with the Phillies as a free agent prior to last season. He did not disappoint, producing a season in which he slashed .260/.372/.510 with 35 homers, 114 RBIs, 72 extra-base hits, 98 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases. Harper also elevated his defensive game enough that he was a Gold Glove Award finalist. He improved as the season wore on, slashing .290/.374/.621 starting August 5, also cutting down his strikeout rate from that point. With an improved Phillies lineup around him, a year of comfort in the environment, and that strong finish, Harper could be poised for another All-Star campaign in which he is a leading NL MVP contender in 2020. He plays at still just age 27 for the entire season.

3) Michael Conforto, New York Mets: Turning 27-years-old on March 1, Conforto is under control with the Mets for just two more seasons. He can become a free agent after 2021, and the Mets are going to have to try to get him signed long-term before that point, because this is a player they cannot afford to lose. Conforto has a .253/.353/.481 career slash line over his first five seasons, and that is about the level at which he performed last year. If the 33 homers, 63 extra-base hits, 92 RBIs, and 90 runs scored is his peak production during his prime, that’s pretty good in these non-PED years. While Conforto will never win a Gold Glove Award, neither is he a poor defender. He ranked seventh in 2019 Fangraphs UZR among all big-league right fielders.

4) Brian Anderson, Miami Marlins: Anderson, who ranked second on my third base list, is the only player who I ranked at two different positions. In 2018, Anderson played 91 games in right and 71 at third. Last season he appeared in 67 games at third base and in 55 games in right field. While he is a better defender in right field than at the hot corner, the fact is that the Fish have a group of strong prospects coming in the outfield and no better options coming at third base. In 2020 when Anderson is in right field, newcomer Jonathan Villar could see action at third with young Isan Diaz playing second. It is not likely that manager Don Mattingly is going to really commit to a regular position for Anderson until he sees how his players look in spring training.

5) Adam Eaton, Washington Nationals: Having turned 31 years of age back in December, Eaton is the oldest starting right fielder in the division. He is also the weakest overall defender, though he does possess a solid arm. In his return from two injury-marred seasons a year ago, Eaton slashed .279/.365/.428 with 15 homers, 47 extra-base hits, 49 RBIs, 103 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases. That is about his offensive upside at this stage of his career. The Nationals have the top left and center fielders in the division. But while both are talented, they are also young. Washington is happy to live with Eaton’s modest production and defense at this point in exchange for a veteran presence that he brings to the group. But don’t be surprised to see them bring in a more dynamic option via an in-season trade during the coming summer if they are contending again in 2020 as expected.

 

MORE RECENT PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES CONTENT:

Slumping Phillies visit struggling Mets prior to MLB All-Star break

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Phillies visit Citi Field just prior to the 2019 All-Star break

It was just 10 days ago that the Philadelphia Phillies (45-42) season was on life support. Seven straight defeats and losses in nine of their previous 10 games had dropped the club to just a game over the .500 mark.

Turned out the temporary cure at that time was arriving at Citizens Bank Park in the form of the New York Mets, a club perhaps struggling even more than the Phillies.
Now here we are, a week and a half later, and the Phillies season appears to once again have relapsed. Since that visit to South Philly by the Mets, the Phillies have dropped two of three games to both the last-place Miami Marlins and first-place Atlanta Braves.
The Phillies are not only looking up at the Braves in the NL East standings, they are also now trailing behind the Washington Nationals by a game in the loss column. This marks the first time all season that the Phillies have fallen below second place in the division. In fact, they have now also slipped out of even an NL Wildcard playoff slot.
Could the Mets once again prove to be just what the Phillies need to feel a bit rejuvenated heading into next week’s four-day MLB All-Star Game break? As this weekend before that Mid-Summer Classic break begins, the Phillies will visit Flushing, Queens for three games at Citi Field.
The Mets slipped to fourth place in the division back on June 19 and have been stuck there ever since. They are coming off a split in their two-game Subway Series match-up with the New York Yankees and had the day off on Independence Day. Losers of eight of their last 10, the Mets have not won three games in a row since mid-May.

NEW YORK METS

TOP LINEUP THREATS

Michael Conforto: 26-year-old right fielder slashing .247/.361/.477 with 16 homers, 32 extra-base hits, 43 RBIs, 47 runs.
Jeff McNeil: 27-year-old left fielder slashing .349/.411/.516 with 7 homers, 31 extra-base hits, 35 RBIs, 38 runs.
Amed Rosario: 23-year-old shortstop with 9 homers, 42 RBIs, 36 runs.
Todd Frazier: 33-year-old third baseman with 11 homers, 34 RBIs, 27 runs over just 236 plate appearances.
Wilson Ramos: 31-year-old catcher slashing .275/.348/.414 with 9 homers and 41 RBIs played with Phillies in late 2018.

SPOTLIGHT PLAYER

Pete Alonso: 24-year-old rookie first baseman slashing .278/.372/.623 with 28 homers, 50 extra-base hits, 64 RBIs, 55 runs. The Tampa, Florida native was the Mets second round choice at 64th overall in the 2016 MLB Draft out of the University of Florida.
Phillies pitchers have proven to be among the few who have been able to keep Alonso under control. The 6’3″, 240 pounder has slashed just .229/.357/.286 with no home runs and two doubles in the 10 games (9 starts) in which he has played between the two teams this season.
In a recent poll of five MLB scouts, three chose Alonso as having a better long-term career outlook than Yankees young slugging phenom Aaron Judge. “Right now, I’d take Alonso,” one scout told Matthew Cerone of SNY. “Like most of the league’s power hitters, they both use the popular ferris wheel swing, inside out style, but Alonso tends to square up better and often faster.
The Phillies offense has to face three tough pitchers this weekend. Continuing to find a way to keep Alonso under control will prove a major challenge, but one that will be vital to picking up more wins against the struggling Mets.

SCHEDULED STARTING PITCHERS

FRIDAY – Jacob deGrom (31/RH): 4-7, 3.32 ERA, 1.107 WHIP, 92 hits over 103 IP across 17 starts with a 128/22 K:BB. After winning the 2018 NL Cy Young Award, deGrom struggled a bit in the early going. But over his last eight starts, deGrom has allowed as many as three earned runs just once, and has a 2.65 ERA and .235 batting average against. This will be his first start of the year against the Phillies.
SATURDAY – Noah Syndergaard (26/RH): 5-4, 4.56 ERA, 1.242 WHIP, 98 hits over 100.2 IP across 16 starts with a 98/27 K:BB. After spending two weeks on the IL in late June, “Thor” returned to the Mets rotation last week. Just seven of his 16 outings have resulted in Quality Start efforts. The Phillies got to him for five earned runs on nine hits back on April 15 at Citizens Bank Park.
SUNDAY – Zack Wheeler (29/RH): 6-5, 4.42 ERA, 1.246 WHIP, 110 hits over 114 IP across 18 starts with a 123/32 K:BB. Wheeler, set to become a free agent after this season, has been the subject of trade speculation for over a year now. If the Mets don’t spurt back into the race in the next couple of weeks, he is likely to be dealt. He is making the price go up of late, as over his last three starts the righty has allowed just 12 hits and four earned runs over 19.1 IP with a 20/4 K:BB. Wheeler has already made three starts against the Phillies on April 17 and 23, and June 27. The Mets lost the first and last, but on April 23 he tossed a gem, striking out 11 over seven shutout frames.

THE SKIPPER

Mickey Callaway: There was intense speculation that Callaway could be canned after the Phillies swept his club at the start of last week. But the second-year skipper has survived to this point.
The 44-year-old native of Memphis, Tennessee has a 116-133 record at the helm of the Mets. He was recently involved in a high-profile altercation with a member of the New York media and has come under much negative scrutiny in the press over the last two weeks.
Just a week ago, Callaway even seemed to throw in the towel on his team’s 2019 chances. His club sat 6.5 out of a Wildcard berth with seven teams standing between them and the second NL Wildcard slot at the time. “We’re in a tough spot. It’s gonna take a miracle,” The Mets manager told WFAN’s Mike Francesa. ‘I’ve seen miracles before … We’re down in the win-loss column. That’s the bottom line.

THE BALLPARK

Citi Field is located in the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park area of New York City in the borough of Queens. It was built adjacent to the former Shea Stadium, which had been home to the Mets since 1964, and opened to replace that old ballpark for the 2009 season.
There is a normal seating capacity of 41,922 and can fit up to 45,000 when taking standing room into account. The dimensions are 335 and 330 down the left and right field lines. Left-center is a close 358 feet, it is then 385 to deep-left center and 408 to straightaway center field. The deep-right center field fence is 398 feet away, and right-center is at 375 feet.
As homage to a tradition from Shea Stadium, the Home Run Apple, a giant apple which has a Mets logo on the front that lights up, rises from its housing in the center field batter’s eye whenever a Mets player hits a home run.
There is a Mets Hall of Fame & Museum located adjacent to the Jackie Robinson Rotunda at the front entrance to the ball park on the first base side. The museum includes plaques honoring inductees to the team’s Hall of Fame, replicas of the two World Series trophies won by the organziation, and other memorabilia.
An extreme pitcher’s park in it’s first few years, changes to the fences for the 2012 season were made to allow the park to play much more fairly. However, Citi Field still ranks just 22nd in all of Major League Baseball in the ESPN Park Factor rankings for runs scored.

Mets are a mess under manager Mickey Callaway as they open series with Phillies

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Mets skipper Mickey Callaway is under serious fire in New York

The Philadelphia Phillies (39-38) and New York Mets (37-41) both entered the 2019 season with high hopes. Each team was considered by most evaluators to be a genuine contender for a division crown and a postseason berth. Neither has seen their season play out as they would have hoped to this point.

The Phillies situation is well known by now to the frustrated and nearly mutinous fan base. The Phillies were 33-22 and riding high in first place in the division on May 29. They have gone just 6-16 since that time, and just three and a half weeks later are on a seven-game losing streak and have fallen out of even an NL Wildcard spot.

For the Mets, injuries and inconsistencies, their usual two bugaboos, have ganged up to derail what was their own promising start to the 2019 season. On April 24, nearly a month into the season, they were in first place following a 9-0 white-washing of the Phillies. But they went 13-15 in May, and are now 9-12 in June to this point.
The Mets have now lost star pitcher Noah Syndergaard to the IL for at least a couple of weeks. With Jacob deGrom not scheduled to pitch in this series, the Phillies hitters should feel fortunate to be missing their two best starters. However, as inconsistent as they have been performing of late, anyone appears capable of shutting down the Phillies bats.
Following this series, the Phillies will head out on the road for nine games within the division, three each in Miami, Atlanta, and New York. To say they are desperate at this point would be an understatement. The Phillies really need to win this series with the Mets in order to head out on the road feeling better about themselves and their chances of turning things around.

Our division rivals from New York are in town for four games at Citizens Bank Park.

Here’s the Ballpark Buzz: https://atmlb.com/2ZMDoqe 

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NEW YORK METS

TOP LINEUP THREATS

Pete Alonso: 24-year-old rookie first baseman is slashing .276/.366/.642 with 27 homers, 46 extra-base hits and 61 RBIs
Jeff McNeil: 27-year old Phillies killer is settling in as the starting LF and is slashing .342/.407/.494 with 25 extra-base hits
Michael Conforto: 26-year-old right fielder slashing .256/.374/.496 with 15 homers and 38 RBIs
Amed Rosario: 23-year-old shortstop has 26 extra-base hits and leads the club with nine steals
Wilson Ramos: 31-year-old catcher slashing .271/.347/.413 is second on the club with 40 RBIs, third with 34 runs scored
Dominic Smith: 24-year-old is slashing .320/.421/.515 in just 114 plate appearances backing up first base and left field
J.D. Davis: 26-year-old utility player hitting .272 with eight homers, 17 extra-base hits and 22 RBIs in just 202 plate apps

SPOTLIGHT PLAYER

Robinson Cano: The 36-year-old former superstar has not been anything like what the Mets hoped when they swung a big off-season trade with the Seattle Mariners, taking on Cano’s massive contract that still owes him $96 million more over the next four years.
An 8x American League All-Star who has two Gold Gloves and five Silver Sluggers in his trophy case mostly from his play with the Yankees in the prior decade, Cano won a World Series with the Bronx Bombers, helping defeat the Phillies back in the 2009 Fall Classic.
Cano is slashing just .228/.276/371 in 210 plate appearances. He has produced just four homers and 20 extra-base hits, scoring 18 runs and driving in 16, for the $24 million that the Mets are paying him this year. He seems to wake up against the Phillies, however. Cano has gone 7-15 (.467) in six games between the two NL East rivals this year.

SCHEDULED STARTING PITCHERS

MONDAY – Steven Matz: 5-5, 4.28 ERA, 1.371 WHIP, 75 hits over 73.2 IP across 14 starts with a 74/26 K:BB
TUESDAY – Walker Lockett: 25-year-old RH making just his second start this season, fourth of his career. Was traded twice this past off-season, from San Diego to Cleveland, and then the Tribe to the Mets in January.
WEDNESDAY – Jason Vargas: 3-3, 3.75 ERA, 1.333 WHIP, 54 hits over 60 IP across 13 appearances (12 starts) with a 47/26 K:BB

THE SKIPPER

To say that Mickey Callaway is under fire might be an understatement. Callaway is now in his second season at the helm with the Mets and has a cumulative 114-126 record to date.
In his playing days, Callaway was a right-handed pitcher who appeared in parts of five big-league seasons, making 20 starts and 20 relief appearances spread across three organizations between 199-2004.
Callaway recently had what can only be described as a full meltdown during an incident involving a New York reporter. Per Brian Fonseca of NJ.com, Callaway allegedly cursed out the reporter, Tim Healey of Newsday, and had him removed from the locker room following his postgame press conference on Sunday after Healey questioned his use of the bullpen:
“Callaway, wearing a black shirt, emerged from his office and walked past a reporter, who told him “see you tomorrow, Mickey.”
Callaway, still on edge from the loss, turned around and yell “Don’t be a smarta–, motherf—–.”
He later returned and engaged the reporter about the comment, which was not made maliciously, and Callaway raised his voice while he hurled expletives, telling a team public relations official to remove the reporter.
“Get the f—– out of here,” Callaway said. “We don’t need that s— here.”

SERIES WEATHER REPORT

Monday will be a partly cloudy, warm and humid evening with temps mid-80’s and light winds and only a low chance or rain. Tuesday and Wednesday are more of the same, except a bit more sun and a little less humid. All-in-all it will be good typical summer-time baseball weather. Report from The Weather Channel forecast.

Phillies down Mets as Rhys Hoskins books Jacob Rhame

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Rhys Hoskins homer highlights Phillies win over rival Mets

The Philadelphia Phillies (13-11) avoided a sweep at the hands of the New York Mets (13-11) with a 6-0 victory on Wednesday night at Citi Field in the series finale. The two National League East Division rivals will not see one another again until late June.

Veteran left-hander Jason Vargas started on the mound for New York and had not pitched well here in the early going of the 2019 season. The Phillies hoped to jump him early and did just that, scoring a run in the top of the 1st inning. However, it was also a missed opportunity as it could have been more.
With one out, J.T. Realmuto and Bryce Harper laced back-to-back doubles. Realmuto’s split the gap in right-center field and went to the wall. Harper’s went to the right field corner, scoring Realmuto with the game’s first run. When Rhys Hoskins worked a full-count walk the Phillies appeared to be in business against Vargas.
However, both Maikel Franco and Cesar Hernandez helped out the struggling Mets hurler, swinging at first pitch offerings. Franco nearly dropped one into short right field, but Michael Conforto saved Vargas a ton of trouble with a fine running, sliding grab. Hernandez then grounded into a force to end the threat.
The early innings moved along slowly after that, with both Vargas and Phillies starter Vince Velasquez wriggling their way out of repeated trouble. The Phillies left runners in scoring position with less than two outs in both the 1st and 2nd innings, then put the leadoff man on in the top of the 3rd but could not get him home. The Mets left the bases loaded in both the 1st and 3rd innings.
Velasquez hit veteran Todd Frazier to lead off the home 4th inning, prompting a warning to both dugouts after Tuesday night’s excitement. Frazier would eventually reach second base, but was stranded in scoring position. With one out in the top of the 5th, Vargas hit Realmuto and was not tossed. It was fairly obvious that it wasn’t intentional, but then so was the Velasquez pitch to Frazier.
Mets manager Mickey Callaway lifted Vargas after he struck out Harper in the top of the 5th inning, bringing on right-hander Seth Lugo, who coaxed Hoskins to sky out to center field as the Phillies again left a runner in scoring position with less than two outs. Lugo would keep it a 1-0 game until two out in the 7th inning, and lefty Daniel Zamora ensured it would remain that way.
Velasquez lasted through 5 innings before Kapler lifted him for a pinch-hitter in the top of the 6th. He would be followed to the mound by Pat NeshekSeranthony Dominguez, and Adam Morgan each tossing a shutout frame apiece.
In the top of the 8th inning the Phillies would finally break through to extend their lead. Hoskins led off by lining an opposite-field triple that Conforto dove for but could not reach. Maikel Franco followed with a base hit to score Hoskins and up the lead to 2-0.
After Hernandez also singled, Sean Rodriguez bunted the two runners over to second and third. Phil Gosselin then came through as a pinch-hitter for Dominguez, singling to score Franco and make it a 3-0 game. Roman Quinn then rolled a perfect bunt single with Hernandez racing home to score the run that made it a 4-0 lead.
The Phillies took that 4-0 lead into the top of the 9th inning, and then came the sweet revenge of Rhys Hoskins.
The Phillies and Hoskins exacted some sweet revenge with the first baseman facing the man who threw at his head twice the prior night. Hoskins drove a two-run homer over the wall in left field to give the Phillies a final margin of 6-0. To punctuate his feelings, Hoskins took about a year-and-a-half (only slight exaggeration) to round the bases. Juan Nicasio came on to close it out with a 1-2-3 bottom of the 9th, and the Phillies avoided the sweep in the Big Apple.

SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING PERFORMANCE

  • Vince Velasquez, Phillies: 5 IP, 0 runs, 3 hits, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts. 97 pitches (53 strikes)
  • Jason Vargas, New York: 4.2 IP, 1 run, 3 hits, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts, 89 pitches (53 strikes)

PHILLIES NUGGETS PLAYER OF THE GAME: RHYS HOSKINS

Hoskins went 2-4 with a walk and two runs scored. Big triple to start the three-run rally in the top of the 8th inning. And, of course, highlighted by the revenge two-run bomb in the top of the 9th inning off Jacob Rhame.

NEXT GAME

  • Thursday April 25 at 7:05 pm vs. the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park
  • TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia
  • Radio: SportsRadio 94 WIP, WTTM 1680 (Spanish)
  • This will be the opener of a nine-game home stand in which the Phillies will host the Marlins (4), Detroit Tigers (2), and Washington Nationals (3)

National League East Report: 4/15 – 4/21

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Reliever Tayron Guerrero has been a bright spot for Marlins

The Philadelphia Phillies went just 3-4 over this past week. And yet following a tough week of results for each of the five teams in the National League East Division, the Fightin’ Phils find themselves still on top of the division standings by a full game.

The Phillies opened the week by capturing two of three from the division-rival New York Mets. Then over the weekend the club dropped three of four at Coors Field in Denver against the host Colorado Rockies.
That lost weekend included perhaps the most disheartening defeat this season when the Rockies walked-off Saturday night’s game after the Phillies held a two-out, two-strike lead in the 12th inning.
The early season schedule has included mostly intra-divisional battles to this point, with 14 of the Phillies first 21 games coming against those NL East rivals. That will continue this coming week as the club visits Citi Field in New York for a three-game set with the host Mets. Then they will return home to Citizens Bank Park for a four-game long weekend series with the Miami Marlins beginning on Thursday night.
As always, my NL East Beat report reveals how each of those Phillies divisional rivals fared over the course of the past week: games scores, pivotal performers, key injuries, and other important updates on each team are included.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST DIVISION STANDINGS

EAST DIVISION

<th aria-label="Win-Loss %" class=" poptip hide_non_quals center" data-filter="1" data-name="Win-Loss %" data-stat="win_loss_perc" data-tip="Win-Loss Percentage
W / (W + L)
For players, leaders need one decision for every ten team games.
For managers, minimum to qualify for leading is 320 games.” scope=”col” style=”background-color: #dadcde; border-color: rgb(116, 118, 120) rgb(170, 170, 170); border-image: initial; border-style: solid; border-width: 1px; float: none !important; margin: 0px; opacity: initial; padding: 0px 12.375px; text-align: center;”>W-L%

<th aria-label="Games Back" class=" poptip sort_default_asc center" data-stat="games_back" data-tip="Games Back of Division/League Leader
Computed as games over .500 of leader (W-L) minus games over .500 of team divided by two.
Typically computed at the end of play for a particular day.
Blank for 1st game of DH.” scope=”col” style=”background-color: #dadcde; border-color: rgb(116, 118, 120) rgb(116, 118, 120) rgb(116, 118, 120) rgb(170, 170, 170); border-image: initial; border-style: solid; border-width: 1px; float: none !important; margin: 0px; opacity: initial; padding: 0px 12.375px; text-align: center;”>GB

East Division
Team W L
New York Mets 13 11 .542
Philadelphia Phillies 13 12 .520 0.5
Atlanta Braves 12 12 .500 1.0
Washington Nationals 11 12 .478 1.5
Miami Marlins 8 17 .320 5.5

ATLANTA BRAVES (2 – 4)

Summary: The Braves salvaged what began as a disastrous week by capturing the final two games. They began things by getting swept in a three-game series at home against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Atlanta then moved on to Cleveland for a weekend set with the host Indians at Progressive Field. The opener was rained out on Friday night and re-scheduled for a Saturday split doubleheader. The Tribe took the first game by 8-4 and then took a 7-3 lead into the top of the 9th in the nightcap. The Braves pulled off a stunning comeback, scoring five times with two outs in that last chance to rally for an 8-7 victory.
Third baseman Josh Donaldson, struggling in the early going, led the way to an 11-5 victory in the finale by slamming a pair of home runs. Ronald Acuna slashed .318/.423/.500 and Nick Markakis hit .368 with a .458 OBP, but neither provided much run production last week. Freddie Freeman both knocked in and scored five runs.
On the mound, Kevin Gausman provided Atlanta with an outstanding start on Wednesday in which he struck out 10 while walking one and allowing just three hits against Arizona. It went to waste as the offense let him down, the Braves eventually losing by 3-2 in 10 innings.
Atlanta is tied for fourth in the National League with 114 runs scored. Their cumulative .815 OPS is second in the league. The Braves pitching staff has an overall .251 Batting Average Against (BAA) which his just 10th in the NL and their 4.69 ERA is 11th in the league.
Key injuries: Starting pitcher Mike Foltynewicz, expected to be the ace of the rotation, had to begin the season on the IL with elbow soreness. The righty has now completed three rehab starts in the minors and could be activated this week if all continues well for him. The club has three key relievers on the IL: righties Arodys Vizcaino and Darren O’Day and lefty Johnny Venters. Vizcaino is done for the season following right shoulder surgery. There is no timetable on the other two.
Upcoming: Following an off-day on Monday the Braves are in Cincinnati for a three-game set with the host Reds. That will be followed by a three-game series with the Colorado Rockies next weekend at the opening of a seven-game home stand.

MIAMI MARLINS (2 – 4)

Summary: The Fish have slipped out of the running in the division here in the early going, much as expected. Despite all of the front-runners stumbling, this past week didn’t help them make up any ground. The Marlins began the week by getting swept at home by the Chicago Cubs in a three-game series. The club rebounded to capture two of three over the weekend against the Nationals to wrap a nine-game home stand.
In five of the games, Miami scored just a total of five runs. That included being shut out three times. In their lone offensive outburst, they scored nine in dumping Washington by 9-3 on Saturday. That seems to be their favorite day of the week, as the Marlins scored 10 against the Phillies the previous Saturday night. The week before that, Miami beat the Braves by 4-2 on Saturday. And on March 30 it was a seven-run burst for a 7-3 Saturday win over Colorado. Moral of the story: don’t play the Marlins on Saturday.
38-year-old veteran Curtis Granderson is slashing just .155/.261/.328, but is tied for the club lead with three homers and leads the Marlins with seven RBIs. 35-year-old veteran Martin Prado began to see more action this week at both first and third base but failed to produce, slashing just .118/.167/118 over 18 plate appearances.
The Marlins continued to receive strong pitching from lefty Caleb Smith, who beat Washington with his third straight Quality Start on Friday night. Righty reliever Nick Anderson gave up runs in each of his appearances last week. He also struck out four batters and is up to 20 strikeouts over 9.2 innings. Righty Tayron Guerrero has yet to surrender a run this year over 10 appearances and 9.2 innings.
Miami is last in the National League in runs scored. Their 60 to date are more than half what the league-leading LA Dodgers have put up and leaves them far behind the other four teams in the NL East. Only one club, the San Francisco Giants, has a lower OPS than Miami’s .606 mark. On the bright side, the Marlins pitching staff is fourth in the league in strikeouts.
Key injuries: It has been a nice first month of the season for Miami on the injury front as the club continues to remain fairly healthy to this point. They have yet to suffer any significant injuries.
Upcoming: Following a Monday off-day in the schedule the Marlins head to the road for two in Cleveland and then their four-game series at Citizens Bank Park beginning on Thursday. The Phillies took two of three from Miami in their first meeting last weekend.

NEW YORK METS (2 – 4)

Summary: The Mets dropped two of three to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park to open last week and then did the same in Saint Louis, dropping two of three to the Cardinals over the weekend. Going further back, New York split a four-game set with the Braves and a two-gamer with the Twins. They have not won a series since sweeping the lowly Marlins to open the month of April.
After eking out an 11th inning victory over the Phillies on an unearned run last Monday, New York dropped four of five the rest of the week. They were blown out once in each series: 14-3 by the Phillies and 10-2 by the Cards. Adding injury to insult, the Mets have lost both Jacob deGrom and Robinson Cano at least for the short-term to injuries.
Rookie first baseman Pete Alonso continues to pace the New York offensive attack. The 24-year-old is slashing .325/.416/.727 and banged two more home runs last week. His eight homers, 19 RBIs, and 15 extra-base hits all lead the club. His 17 runs scored are second to Michael Conforto, who banged three homers this week to double his own season total. Conforto has a dozen RBIs and is slashing .300/.417/.613 thus far.
The Mets are tied with the Braves for fourth in the NL in runs scored, just two behind the Phillies who are second in the league. The pitching staff BAA of .273 is the league’s worst, with the Phillies not much better at the .270 mark.
Noah Syndergaard has struck out 34 over 29 innings but has also allowed 30 hits and 19 earned runs. New closer Edwin Diaz has been a bright spot on the mound. The young righty who came over as part of the Cano deal with Seattle this past off-season has seven Saves to this point with a 14/2 K:BB ratio over his first 7.2 innings pitched.
Key injuries: Losing deGrom for a lengthy stretch could be disastrous to the Mets chances at keeping up in a division with three other legitimate contenders. However, he engaged in a long-toss session that went well and may not even require an MRI. At last report he anticipates making his next start this coming Friday when his 10-day IL stint is up. This will be a situation to watch for any further developments. Cano was in a soft cast on Monday after being hit by a pitch on Sunday. X-rays were negative and he is day-to-day for now, likely to miss some of the early-week action against the Phillies. Veteran infielder Todd Frazier is expected back for the Phillies series and will likely serve as an infield backup at any position.
Upcoming: This early-week three-game set with the Phillies is the start of a 10-game home stand at Citi Field for the Mets. The Phillies will be followed in by the Milwaukee Brewers over the weekend and then the Cincinnati Reds to open next week.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS (3 – 3)

Summary: The Nats were the lone team from the division to not suffer through a losing week. However, their 3-3 mark of last week is reflective of their overall 10-10 record on this up-and-down season. Washington opened the week by taking two of three from the San Francisco Giants at home, but then dropped two of three at Marlins Park in Miami over the weekend.
Third baseman Anthony Rendon continues to pace the Washington attack with a .371/.451/.711 slash line, six home runs, and 18 RBIs. However, Rendon missed much of the weekend after being hit by a pitch on his elbow on Saturday. The x-rays came back negative and he hopes to be back in the lineup to open this week. The pending free agent has been by far the club’s most consistent offensive performer to date.
20-year-old left fielder Juan Soto, runner-up in last season’s NL Rookie of the Year voting, is second to Rendon with 14 RBIs and leads the Nationals with 15 walks. The righty bat of Ryan Zimmerman and lefty stick of Matt Adams have provided the club with 11 and 10 RBIs respectively in what is basically a first base platoon.
The Nationals .802 OPS is third in the league and tops in the division. They are tied for the lead in the National League with a dozen stolen bases and are tied for third in doubles. However, the club is just ninth in the NL in runs scored.
On the mound the trio made up of righties Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg and left-hander Patrick Corbin have mostly been strong. They have combined to strike out 116 opposing batters over 89.2 innings while allowing 78 hits. Closer Sean Doolittle and righty setup man Kyle Barraclough have also come through for second-year manager Dave Martinez.
Key injuries: Starting shortstop Trea Turner remains out of the lineup after breaking a finger while trying to bunt against the Phillies early in the month. He began fielding grounders last week and is still expected to be out another three or four weeks, though the Nationals have no clear timetable on him at this time. Rendon sat out Sunday’s game and is day-to-day for now.
Upcoming: The Nats are now going where the Phillies just left, opening a three-game series at Coors Field on Monday with the Colorado Rockies. Then they return home to Nationals Park for a seven-game home stand with the San Diego Padres coming in over the weekend. That will be followed by a four-game set with the Saint Louis Cardinals to open next week.