Another week down means another week of great baseball from the NL East. With plenty of storylines, injuries and firsts, let’s take a look at everything the division had to offer us from Monday, April 18, to Sunday, April 24.
A Blast from the Past
The Atlanta Braves kicked off the week with a road trip out to sunny Los Angeles to play the Dodgers for the first time since their 4-2 series win in the National League Conference Series (NLCS) in 2021.
This series, however, wasn’t viewed as an NLCS rematch, but instead highlighted by the fact that longtime Braves’ first baseman Freddie Freeman was going to play his old squad for the first time since joining the Dodgers in free agency.
Freeman, a World Series Champion and MVP with the Braves, instantly killed his old squad, hitting his first home run of the season during his first at-bat of the series against his former team. Freeman and the Dodgers got the best of the Braves, beating them 7-4 on Monday. Another former Brave, their all-time saves leader Craig Kimbrel, closed the door on a Braves comeback.
The Braves responded like a World Champion would, winning the second game of the series 3-1. Pitcher Max Fried was perfect through five and didn’t allow a run throughout his seven innings pitched. Fried and the Braves bullpen held Freeman to no hits and two strikeouts that game. This time it was the Dodgers’ all-time saves leader, Kenley Jansen, who closed the door on his former team, getting Freeman to fly out to center for the final out.
Thanks to a big day at the dish from Freeman, the Dodgers took two out of three from the reigning champs, beating them 5-1 in the series finale. Freeman, like the first game, homered in his first at-bat of the game, this time a two-run shot to put the Dodgers up early and for good.
Mad Max’s Giant Rampage
Mets fans piled into Citi Field on Tuesday to see their prized offseason acquisition, Max Scherzer, make his home debut against the San Francisco Giants.
Scherzer, the recipient of a three-year, $130 million dollar contract, was set to pitch game two of the Mets’ day-night doubleheader against the Giants. After a Francisco Lindor walk-off RBI single in game one, New York was ready to see its new superstar toe the rubber for the first time in orange and blue.
Scherzer would go on to make the price of admission worth it for Mets fans, going seven strong innings, only allowing one hit and one run while walking three batters and striking out ten. Scherzer was even flirting with a no-hitter, going the first 5.1 innings without allowing a hit before Darin Ruf got an RBI single to end his bid.
Based on Max Scherzer’s storied career thus far, I’m sure this won’t be the last time we see him with a no-hit bid as a member of the New York Mets.
Nationals Young Righty Picks Up First MLB Win
The Washington Nationals’ 23-year-old, right-handed pitcher, Joan Adon, picked up his first MLB win in their 1-0 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks in the second game of their day-night doubleheader on Tuesday. Adon allowed three hits, two walks and struck out five through his sixth and a third innings pitched.
Adon could have gotten his first major league win earlier on Oct. 3, 2021 when he made his MLB debut against the Boston Red Sox. He was in line for the win before the Nationals bullpen gave up the 5-2 lead Adon had left with as the Nationals lost the game 7-5.
Unfortunately, the division saw a lot of great players get plagued by injuries this week.
Phillies shortstop, Didi Gregorius, got hit by a pitch during the Phillies’ loss to the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday. He hasn’t been in the lineup since and it is currently unclear when he will return, although manager Joe Girardi claimed him to be day-to-day.
Braves’ star outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. started a rehab assignment with the Gwinnett Stripers, the Braves Triple-A team this week. Acuna is currently 5-14 with a double and three stolen bases on his rehab assignment. If everything goes according to plan, Acuna could rejoin the Braves lineup in the early part of May.
Phillies’ star outfield and reigning NL MVP, Bryce Harper, is currently dealing with a strain in the flexor tendon of his right elbow, so the Phillies are keeping Harper out of the field and slotting him in the DH spot until his elbow heals.
The Nationals faced a big blow in the bullpen, with reliever Sean Doolittle going on the 10-day injury leave with an elbow strain on Wednesday. Doolittle had seemed to revive his career this season, retiring the first 15 batters he faced. The Nationals and Doolittle hope that after this stint, he will be able to throw again without any pain.
The Nationals faced another injury scare when first baseman, Josh Bell, left the game Saturday with left knee tightness. Bell got an MRI and it came back clean, but Nationals manager Dave Martinez is holding Bell out for precautionary reasons.
With another week down, let’s take a look at five guys who were on fire this week, five guys who weren’t, and the standings heading into the final week of April.
1. Austin Riley (Atlanta Braves, 3B) – .381 AVG, 2 HR, 1.238 OPS, 1 SB
2. Aaron Nola (Philadelphia Phillies, SP) – 12.1 IP, 7 H, 2 BB, 13 K, 1.46 ERA, 0.73 WHIP
3. Francisco Lindor (New York Mets, SS) – .355 AVG, .903 OPS, 3 XBH, 5 RBI
4. Travis d’Arnaud (Atlanta Braves, C) – .438 AVG, 1.188 OPS, 12.5 K%
5. Max Fried (Atlanta Braves, SP) – 7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K
1. Patrick Corbin (Washington Nationals, SP) – 1.2 IP, 7 H, 3 BB, 4 K, 37.80 ERA, 6.00 WHIP
2. Adam Duvall (Atlanta Braves, CF) – .048 AVG, .095 OPS, 0 BB, 38 K%, 11 LOB
3. Alcides Escobar (Washington Nationals, SS) – .095 AVG, .286 OPS, CS, 5 K
4. Erick Fedde (Washington Nationals, SP) – 3.1 IP, 8 H, 3 K, 16.20 ERA, 2.70 WHIP
5. Rhys Hoskins (Philadelphia Phillies, 1B) – .100 AVG, 6 K, 13 LOB
Standings (As of Monday, April 25)
1. New York Mets: 12-5
2. Miami Marlins: 7-8 (4.0 GB)
3. Atlanta Braves: 7-10 (5.0 GB)
4. Philadelphia Phillies: 6-10 (5.5 GB)
5. Washington Nationals: 6-12 (6.5 GB)
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