Atlanta continues to scuffle, losing five out of its last six games, including a weekend sweep at the hands of the Nationals. Pitching has been the Braves' Achilles heel recently, so you'd have to figure it's only a matter of time before the organization shakes things up to generate a spark. That was the talk after Wednesday's 5-1 loss to the Reds, as the club is reportedly considering removing veteran Eric Stults out of the rotation in favor of top minor league prospects Matt Wisler or Manny Banuelos. If they were to go ahead with that plan, each member of the rotation would be under the age of 25.
As for the offense, Atlanta's lineup took a hit when Kelly Johnson was put on the 15-day disabled list with an oblique injury. Johnson, who batted cleanup, was in the midst of a career revival as he lead the club in home runs (5) and RBI (18). He'll be replaced by minor-leaguer Todd Cunningham.
The Marlins had a 3-4 week, dropping to third place in the NL East thanks to the Nats' recent surge. But anyone who's watched baseball highlights in the past few days knows that the most memorable moment for the Fish in recent days was Giancarlo Stanton's mammoth home run Tuesday night against the Dodgers. Estimated at 475 feet, the ball cleared the entire ballpark, leaving the Dodger Stadium crowd ooh-ing and aah-ing in the process. Never mind that it came in an 11-1 loss; it just goes to show how Stanton is among the game's most fun players to watch (along with you-know-who).
NEW YORK METS
Losers of three straight, the Mets are clinging to a tenuous 1 1/2 game lead in the division. While the starting rotation has remained mostly steady, it's the hot-and-cold offense that's keeping them from becoming one of the better teams in the NL. Take this four-game set with the Cubs as an example: New York has scored just five runs total in the first three games, and are in danger of getting swept in a four-game series at Wrigley Field for the first time since 1992.
On the season, the Mets are collectively hitting .235 and are ranked 26th in the league in home runs with 23 long balls. The offensive inconsistency gives the pitching staff too narrow a margin for error each night. Luckily, the rotation has been more than solid -- the starters' ERA is a big league best 3.04 -- but pitching alone can't win games.
Since the 11-game win streak, they've gone 7-11 while the division rival Nats are making a steady climb up the standings. If the New York offense doesn't right the ship quickly, it looks like there will be a new division leader this time next week.
The bad news: The Phillies are tied for the worst record in the majors at 12-23. The good news? The team's most tradable asset, Cole Hamels, has rebounded from his tough April. After going 0-2 with a 5.00 ERA, the lefty starter has gone 3-1 with a 2.72 ERA over his last five starts. It seems like this section of Around the NL East reads like a broken record each week, but the Phillies can't move forward as an organization until they get the Hamels situation settled. Ditto for other veterans like Ryan Howard, Jonathan Papelbon and Chase Utley. The only question is how and when these deals get done.
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