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Around the NL East: Tough times in Philly

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Around the NL East: Tough times in Philly

ATLANTA BRAVES 

The Braves continue to hover around the .500 mark as they sit comfortably in third place in the division, which is about where most pundits had them before the season started. The trio of starting pitchers Alex Wood, Shelby Miller and Williams Perez are all developing at a pretty steady rate, which is one of the goals for this retooling club.  

Interestingly enough, the Braves quietly have one of the more efficient offenses in baseball. They rank 11th in runs (283), eighth in average (.263) and seventh in on-base percentage (.325). The area where they're still struggling? Slugging, as they're 26th in that category at .375. That figure might take a dip now that Freddie Freeman, who leads the team with 12 homers, will be out for a few games with a sprained right hand.  

MIAMI MARLINS

At this point, it seems like all we're doing here every week is updating how awesome a season Giancarlo Stanton is having. With the rest of the team up-and-down, Stanton's number continue to soar. He's hitting .372 this month with nine homers and 18 RBI, looking every bit like the guy who will probably win NL Player of the Month for June. He now leads the majors in homers with 24 and has had six straight years with 20 or more long balls. His career-high for single season is 37 and, with the way he's going, there's little doubt he might set a new mark sometime soon.

NEW YORK METS 

Is there any doubt that the Mets will stick around deep into the summer? They certainly aren't going away anytime soon, as they sit 1 1/2 games up on the inconsistent Nationals for first place in the NL East. And most of all, they keep doing it their way: Pitching, pitching and more pitching. At some point you wonder if the club will make a move at the trade deadline to acquire an additional bat or two to increase the margin for error for the staff. But hey, things have worked out well enough so far as is.

Speaking of bats, the Mets are expecting the return of Daniel Murphy and David Wright in the coming weeks, with the former expected to be ready sooner than the latter. Will their additions to the lineup be enough for GM Sandy Alderson to stand pat, or will the Mets still try to address their offensive woes before next month's deadline? Either way, it's quite an accomplishment for the team to even be considered 'buyers' at this point of the season.  

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES 

Boy, have things have quickly spiraled out of control in Philly. Losers of nine straight, the Phillies officially have the worst record in the game at 22-45. The skid is highlighted by Tuesday night's 19-3 blowout loss to the Orioles, a game in which the starter left in the first inning with injury, the staff allowed eight home runs and a position player had to throw 48 pitches because the bullpen phone was off the hook. Seriously.  

As as the tailspin continues, it's fair to wonder if and when the organization is going to make any changes in leadership. And the speculation this week is that the Phillies may hire former Orioles exec Andy MacPhail to help steer the franchise in a different direction. MacPhail is credited with reshaping the Orioles' roster, hiring manager Buck Showalter and starting the team's ascent from bottom feeder in the AL East to playoff contender (though he left before the team made its first postseason appearance under Showalter in 2012). If this is the move, the Phillies will have to hope that MacPhail, 63, has one more good run left in his career to turn around another struggling organization. 

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Washington Nationals Roundup: Stephen Strasburg saves Nationals from series sweep

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Washington Nationals Roundup: Stephen Strasburg saves Nationals from series sweep

With 11 strikeouts and only two hits in eight innings, Stephen Strasburg contained the Marlins to nothing as the Nationals won 5-0 in Miami. Here are the latest news and notes after Sunday’s victory.

Player notes:

Anthony Rendon remains day-to-day after being hit on his left elbow by a pitch Saturday. He left Saturday’s game and missed Sunday’s outing as well. Howie Kendrick, his replacement thus far, finished the series against Miami going 1-for-3 with a single RBI.

Stephen Strasburg posted double-digit strikeouts for the first time this season (11). Strasburg dropped his ERA by almost 1.5 runs, and is expected to start next against the Padres. That series begins Friday, April 26.

Ryan Zimmerman went 2-for-4 with two home runs. He tallied two RBIs as well.

Injuries:

3B Anthony Rendon: Elbow hit by pitch, day-to-day

RP Austen Williams: Shoulder, 10-day IL

RP Justin Miller: Back, 10-day IL

SS Trea Turner: Finger, 10-day IL

RP Koda Glover: Elbow, 10-day IL

Coming Up:

Monday, 4/22: Nationals @ Rockies, 8:40 p.m. ET, Coors Field

Tuesday, 4/23: Nationals @ Rockies, 8:40 p.m. ET, Coors Field

Wednesday, 4/24: Nationals @ Rockies, 3:10 p.m. ET, Coors Field

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3 things to watch when the .500 Nationals head to Colorado

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3 things to watch when the .500 Nationals head to Colorado

The Nationals face the Rockies at Coors Field for the first half of this work week. Here are three things to watch for:

  1. Can the Nationals stay above .500? Stephen Strasburg’s impressive start along with Ryan Zimmerman’s two homers and two RBI kept Washington from being swept by the lowly Marlins.

  2. Who will produce with Anthony Rendon out? While the Nats 3B was sidelined with an elbow injury after being hit by a pitch in Saturday’s outing against the Marlins, Howie Kendrick started in his place. Kendrick went 1-for-3 vs Miami with one RBI and one strikeout. In terms of replacing Rendon’s hitting prowess, Victor Robles has started a streak of his own. The youngster is hot on a seven game hit streak, including a bunt over the infield Sunday.

  3. Will the Nationals ever sure up their end game? Yesterday’s ninth inning was on the brink of disaster. Kyle Barraclough allowed back-to-back walks, then Sean Doolittle loaded the bases. Luckily for the Nats, crisis averted.

Download the MyTeams app for even more Nationals content, and check out the latest episode of the Racing Presidents podcast below.

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