NL East Report: Harper Day-To-Day, McCann Raking, Hamels Smacked Around Again
Team News and Notes
Atlanta Braves (31-20)
Justin Upton has really cooled off at the plate in May, batting .232/.360/.366 with just two home runs. B.J. Upton has found himself sitting on the bench lately, due to an unsightly batting average of .148 to along with 60 strikeouts already. Brian McCann has been a welcomed addition back to the team, cranking six home runs in just 16 games since his return. On the pitching side of things, the recent rash of injuries to key members in their bullpen has left manager Fredi Gonzalez scrambling to find a bridge to stud closer Craig Kimbrel. Julio Teheran is finally starting to deliver on his promise with a 3.67 ERA, although he is not quite the dominant pitcher they had hoped he would be. Mike Minor has been the best pitcher on the staff this season with a record of 6-2 and a 2.47 ERA, while veteran Tim Hudson has hit the skids and currently owns a 5.37 ERA. The Braves have been surpassed by the surging Orioles, and now rank second in the majors with 70 home runs, On the flip side, their propensity to strikeout has them ranked second in the majors, right behind the lowly Houston Astros.
Washington Nationals (27-25)
Stephen Strasburg had the longest outing of his career last week, going eight innings to earn his second win of the season, and his first since Opening Day. The big righty is beginning to round into form, and has now gone seven innings or more in three straight starts. Jordan Zimmerman has been the ace of the staff so far this season, sporting an 8-2 mark with a 1.71 ERA. The 20-year-old Bryce Harper continues to lead the charge offensively, hitting .287, with 12 home runs and 23 RBI. Ryan Zimmerman has been slow to get going, but is beginning to pick things up a bit batting .321 in May with 13 RBI. The Nats slow start can be attributed to their poor offensive output thus far. As a team they rank 28th in Majors in batting with a .233 average and just 181 runs scored. With Zimmerman on track for a Cy Young season, and Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez coming around, it is clear that the offense is what is keeping this team from being as good as they were last season.
Philadelphia Phillies (25-27)
The struggles for Phillies ace Cole Hamels just continue to get worse with each start, as he now owns a team worst record of 1-8. Cliff Lee leads the staff with a 2.34 ERA, while rookie Jonathan Pettibone has been solid with a record of 3-0. Domonic Brown is finally delivering on his potential, leading the team with 11 home runs and 30 RBI. Ryan Howard has remained relatively healthy so far, and has six home runs and 25 RBI, to go along with 13 doubles. The Phils remain in the thick of things for the division, despite having inconsistent production offensively and poor performances from Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay.
Miami Marlins (13-39)
The Miami Marlins continue their season long battle with the Houston Astros to stay out of the cellar in the Majors. As of right now though, they are the worst team in baseball. They currently the have the Majors worst offense, ranking last in runs, home runs, RBI, doubles, and batting average. Giancarlo Stanton was the last man left standing after another fire sale this past winter. The slugger who hit 37 home runs last season, has just three so far in 2013, while batting a measly .227. Justin Ruggiano has been the lone bright spot offensively, leading the team with eight homers and 22 RBI. Ricky Nolasco has 17 strikeouts over his last two starts, while rookie Jose Fernandez has struggled and hasn’t made it past the fifth inning in either of his last two outings.
Nationals: Bryce Harper (left knee) is day-to-day. Jayson Werth experienced a setback with his ailing hamstring recently, but will begin a rehab assignment on Wednesday. Wilson Ramos has once again been placed on the DL, this time due to a left hamstring strain. Ross Detwiler lands on the DL with an oblique injury. Reliever Christian Garcia remains on the DL with partial tear in his forearm.
Braves: Lefty relievers Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty both saw their seasons come to an end when it was determined that they would require Tommy John Surgery. Brandon Beachy, who is also recovering from Tommy John surgery, began his rehab assignment on Sunday. Jordan Walden (shoulder) still needs some more recovery time.
Phillies: Chase Utley landed on the DL with a grade 1 left oblique strain, and could be out 2-4 weeks. John Lannan (quad) remains on the DL, but could start facing hitters this week. Roy Halladay (bone spur, torn rotator cuff) is targeting a late August return. Carlos Ruiz is on the DL with a hamstring injury with a possible mid-June return.
Marlins: Giancarlo Stanton remains on the DL with a grade 2 strain of his hamstring, but started some light jogging and took batting practice this week. Casey Kotchman who is on the DL with a strained hamstring may return by early June. Logan Morrison (torn patella tendon) began a rehab assignment last week, and along with starter Nathan Eovaldi is targeting a return the week of June 9. Matt Diaz (knee) was placed on the DL and is expected to return in early June. Henderson Alvarez is still on the 60-day DL, and remains out indefinitely.
Upcoming Schedules (5/27-6/2)
Nationals: (BAL, 5/27-5/28), (@BAL, 5/29-5/30), (@ATL, 5/31-6/2)
Braves: (@TOR, 5/27-5/28), (TOR, 5/29-5/30), (WSH, 5/31-6/2)
Phillies: (@BOS, 5/27-5/28), (BOS, 5/29-5/30), (MIL, 5/31-6/2)
Marlins: (@TB, 5/27-5/28), (TB, 5/29-5/30), (NYM, 5/31-6/2)
About the Author: Dan Valis
I am a staff writer for Mets Merized Online. I am a Mets team analyst with a focus on the minor league system, as well as the major league club. I am a lifelong New Yorker who was born and raised to be a Mets fan. The ups and downs of being a Mets fan is what makes following this team so much fun, but at times so frustrating. You can follow me on Twitter @BgAppleMetsTalk.
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