If Nationals fans thought their team's bullpen had issues, take a look at what's going on with the Braves these days. In a recent 10-game road trip, Atlanta relievers allowed 22 earned runs in 22 innings of work, with the most egregious effort coming Wednesday night after a 6-0 Braves lead turned into a 9-8 Diamondbacks win. Ouch.
Despite all that, they only sit three games back in the division and are (somehow) very much alive as June begins. That probably speaks more to the weakness of the division than anything else, but if the retooling Braves were to suddenly get hot over the next month, it wouldn't be a huge surprise if they were buyers at the trade deadline.
Maybe the Marlins aren't as much of a disaster as we originally thought. While they're still fighting with the Phillies to see who will finish in last place, they've been able to tread water recently with Dan Jennings at the helm. The Fish are 5-5 over their last 10 games and seemed to have slowly worked out of their May funk.
One of the main reasons for that, as is usually the case, is Giancarlo Stanton has started to heat up again. Over his last nine games, he has hit five homers to raise his season total to 17. He's hitting just .231, but he leads the majors in RBI (46). If anyone in the NL is a major threat to challenge Bryce Harper's season totals, it's undoubtedly Stanton.
NEW YORK METS
It was a possibility for a few weeks, and now it's finally a reality: The Mets are implementing a six-man starting rotation, inserting righty Dillon Gee into the mix after he returned from the disabled list Wednesday.
The question is, why are they doing this? Well, on the surface, the strategy seems to makes sense. It helps limit innings for youngsters like Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, but also keeps 42-year-old Bartolo Colon fresh and doesn't overwork Matt Harvey, who recently came off of Tommy John rehab. Starting pitching is clearly the Mets' biggest asset, so they might as well protect it as best they can -- not only for a potential playoff chase this year, but for 2016 and beyond.
The last-place Phillies got a scare Wednesday night, as it appeared lefty ace Cole Hamels left the game in Cincinnati with injury. As it turned out, he was fine, keeping in tact what Philly fans hope is the team's biggest trade chip over the next month or so. After a tough start to the season, Hamels has rebounded big time, posting a 1.83 ERA over his last six outings. If he keeps this up (and stays healthy) over the next six weeks, he'll undoubtedly be pitching in a different uniform come late July.