Every week Baseball Essential’s Dan Siegel will answer questions from you the readers about the teams in the NL East. You can send in your questions by leaving a comment below or by sending them to Dan on Twitter @DanSiegelUnCut.
Is the Marlins winning streak a sign that they’re the team we expected?
Just like it wasn’t smart to overreact when they stumbled, I’m not going to overreact to their five game winning streak. Before we start crowning them a playoff contender again, let’s let them get to .500 first — they still sit three game under currently. They took two of three from the Phillies and then swept the Nationals which is all well and good despite the fact that neither of those teams is playing really good baseball at the moment. The biggest takeaway from the winning streak for me is the pitching. Over the five games, Marlins pitching has allowed a total of six runs. The two losses before the winning streak the Marlins had allowed seven runs in each of those games. We know that the Marlins offense can score some runs but it’s the pitching that has to do their part. It seems like the Marlins in the early going tend to play better with the lead then having to come from behind so the strong pitching will need to continue for the Marlins to continue their climb back to .500.
What happened to the Braves?
In the words of former NFL coach Dennis Green, “They are who we thought they were.” The Braves were swept by the Mets in New York then lost two out of three in Philadelphia. The starting pitching continues to be ok — they got good performances from Alex Wood and Eric Stults in losses — but the bullpen has fallen hard. As well as they pitched early on, they’ve seemingly given it all back since. The Braves currently sit at .500 and as I’ve said before unless the pitching suddenly straightens itself out that’s where this team will be throughout the season.
Is the Mets losing two of three to the Yankees a sign of things to come?
Take the Yankees series as you will, runs in the Bronx tend to pop up at a much higher rate than we normally tend to see against Mets pitching (just ask Jacob deGrom). The Mets have series with the Marlins, Nationals, and Phillies coming up, a total of ten games overall. I think anything less than six wins would be a disappointment to the team and begin to put some doubt into people’s heads. However, the Mets are among the NL leaders in many statistical categories both offensively and defensively which makes me believe this team can be rebound quickly and not let this turn into a prolonged losing streak.
Is Chase Utley going to be traded?
For the first time that I know of, Chase Utley has at least expressed an open mind to the idea of being traded. Of course, it would be on his terms to the destination of his choice, but that’s more than had been there previously. Now, the problem at the moment isn’t so much whether the Phillies would entertain trading the lifelong Phillies second baseman, but that his play wouldn’t garner much interest. He has just seven hits on the year thus far and is hitting well below the Mendoza line. While there may be teams on the west coast that could use a second baseman (San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Angels), the likelihood of anyone even contemplating making a deal for him won’t happen until he starts to show some more production at the plate.
Is it time to start worrying about the Nationals yet?
I wouldn’t hit the panic button yet, but the next week or two might certainly change that. The saying goes, “You can’t win the division in April but you can lose it,” and that holds true. The Nationals are currently seven games back in the division and five games under .500. They’ve got three games in Atlanta followed by four in New York against the Mets. They can not afford to have another bad week and watch that division hole grow to double digits. The opening month of the season is coming to a close and now is the time for the Nationals to start putting things together. At worst, this team needs to go 4-3 over the next week before returning home to play the Marlins.