Johan Camargo

Most underrated players in the NL East

Most underrated players in the NL East

The Phillies, Nationals, Mets and Braves have had active offseasons.

The Phillies have added J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura, Andrew McCutchen and David Robertson.

The Nationals have spent upwards of $183 million in free agency, by far the most of any major-league team.

The Mets added Edwin Diaz, Robinson Cano, Wilson Ramos, Jed Lowrie, Jeurys Familia, Rajai Davis, Keon Broxton and lefty Justin Wilson.

The Braves signed Josh Donaldson, re-signed Nick Markakis and brought back catcher Brian McCann.

There's a lot of top-end talent in the NL East and you know all about the Freddie Freemans and Jacob deGroms of the world. There are also plenty of under-the-radar players in the division.

In Atlanta, Johan Camargo had a better season than practically anyone gave him credit for in 2018, hitting .272 with 19 homers, 76 RBI and an .806 OPS while starting 114 games at third base for the Braves. He becomes a super-sub with Donaldson in ATL.

In Washington, Anthony Rendon is a beast when healthy, hitting .305/.389/.534 the last two seasons with averages of 42 doubles, 24 homers and 96 RBI. He's not just underrated within the division, he might be the most underrated player in the NL. 

Then there are the Phillies and Mets, who each have a starting pitcher entering the season as a No. 3 but with the potential to be a whole lot more.

Mets — Zack Wheeler

Wheeler could be more instrumental to the Mets' success this season than any of their newcomers. His second-half success in 2018 was overshadowed by rotation-mate deGrom, but after the All-Star break, Wheeler was even better than Aaron Nola (by a lot).

In the second half, Wheeler went 9-1 with a 1.68 ERA in 11 starts, striking out 73 and walking 15 with three homers allowed in 75 innings. His opponents hit .179.

Wheeler's 1.68 ERA was third best in the majors after the All-Star break, behind only Blake Snell and Trevor Williams. His opponents' batting average was also third best, behind only Snell and Walker Buehler.

Once a top prospect, Wheeler has dealt with plenty of injuries throughout his time with the Mets. He did not pitch in the majors at all in 2015 or 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery in March of '15.

This past season was Wheeler's coming out party, and much of the improvement had to do with increased velocity (96.5 mph average) and excellent fastball command. 

Between deGrom, Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard, the Mets have a formidable 1-2-3 on par with the Nationals' trio of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin.

Good thing the Phillies have added some offense.

Phillies — Nick Pivetta

With Pivetta, it's more about the potential and the highs we've seen than the overall production in his two big-league seasons.

Pivetta showed what he's capable of in April and May of 2018. In his first 11 starts, he had a 3.26 ERA with 67 strikeouts in 58 innings. He limited the walks (14) and homers (five) and missed a ton of bats. 

The rest of the season, you never knew which Pivetta would show up when his turn came in the rotation. There was a lot of boom and a lot of bust. He had 10 starts allowing one run or none. He had eight starts allowing five or six runs.

Pivetta has a big fastball and a slider/curveball combination that show flashes of being plus pitches. Turning 26 on Valentine's Day and entering his third MLB season, this is the time for Pivetta to take a step forward. He is compared often to Vince Velasquez, but Pivetta's control is undoubtedly better.

This past season, Pivetta struck out 10.3 batters per nine innings and walked 2.8. There were only 11 pitchers in baseball who hit both marks, and Pivetta's ERA (4.77) was a full run higher than anyone on the list. German Marquez was next at 3.77. 

The peripherals foretell improvement for Pivetta and the Phillies badly need it with all of their rotation questions.

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Braves' Johan Camargo goes on DL after suffering knee injury running onto field

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AP Images

Braves' Johan Camargo goes on DL after suffering knee injury running onto field

ATLANTA -- Rookie shortstop Johan Camargo was placed on the 10-day disabled list after suffering a bone bruise in his knee while jogging onto the field before Tuesday night's game.

Rookie shortstop Dansby Swanson was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett on Wednesday.

Camargo was taking the field when his right knee appeared to lock as he tried to avoid stepping on the first-base chalk line. He fell to the ground and needed help off the field.

Camargo, on crutches after the game, attributed the injury to "bad luck."

Swanson was optioned to Gwinnett on July 27, when he was hitting only .213 with six homers and 35 RBIs for Atlanta.

Swanson is expected to start in Wednesday night's game against the Phillies.

Braves SS Johan Camargo hyperextends knee running onto field for game vs. Phillies

uspresswire-braves-johan-camargo.jpg
USA Today Images

Braves SS Johan Camargo hyperextends knee running onto field for game vs. Phillies

ATLANTA -- Rookie shortstop Johan Camargo suffered a bone bruise in his right knee while jogging onto the field before Tuesday night's game against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Camargo was taking the field when his right knee appeared to lock as he reached down to grab a handful of dirt or touch the chalk on the first-base line. He fell to the ground on the infield grass.

The diagnosis was made following an MRI. The Braves initially said the injury was a hyperextended knee.

Camargo, on crutches after the game, attributed the injury to "bad luck."

"I do the same thing every time," Camargo said through a translator.

Camargo was unable to put weight on his right leg when leaving the field. He needed assistance from assistant trainer Jim Lovell and third base coach Ron Washington.

Braves manager Brian Snitker said he's never seen a player get hurt running onto the field.

"That was a first. What a way to start the day," Snitker said after the Braves' 5-2 loss.

Snitker said Camargo will be placed on the disabled list and is expected to miss two weeks.

Jace Peterson replaced Camargo in the lineup at shortstop. Camargo is hitting .292 with three homers and 19 RBIs.

The versatile Camargo became the regular at shortstop when top prospect Dansby Swanson was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett on July 27. Swanson was hitting .213 with six homers and 35 RBIs when demoted.

Swanson was pulled out of Gwinnett's lineup on Tuesday night shortly after Camargo's injury, a possible sign he could soon return to Atlanta.

Snitker said a final decision on replacing Camargo will be made Wednesday, though he said Swanson "probably" will be recalled.