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Around the NL East: Will the Mets offense show consistency?

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Around the NL East: Will the Mets offense show consistency?

ATLANTA BRAVES

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. 

MIAMI MARLINS  

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. 

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES  

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. 

[RELATED: A grand conclusion to a wild Nats win]

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

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@MLB

Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

Juan Soto, the highly-regarded 19-year-old Nationals' prospect, got his first major league start of his career tonight. 

How did it go, you ask? Surely it would take Soto - who was in Single-A less than two weeks ago - some time to adjust? 

What were you doing at 19??

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.