Delpercio: National League East Recap

Graphic for NL East Column. - Graphics Editor / Julia Quennessen

This was the final week of the first half of the 2022 MLB Regular Season, and with it came plenty of debuts, a rare sweep, two division foes fighting for the top spot, and a big-time contract rejection. So, without further ado, let’s look at everything the NL East gave us from Monday, July 11, to Sunday, July 17. 

Welcome to the Show 

The division had plenty of debuts this week as two relief pitchers and one starter finally got the call of their lives.

Due to roster complications, the Philadelphia Phillies had to call up relievers Nick Duron and Bubby Rossman for their two-game series in Toronto against the Blue Jays. Both relievers got an inning of work in the Phillies’ 8-2 loss to the Jays on Wednesday. Duron didn’t allow a run and picked up his first major league strikeout, while Rossman also got his first major league strikeout but allowed two runs after Teoscar Hernández took him deep in the eighth inning. 

Meanwhile down in South Beach, the Miami Marlins called up starter Max Meyer on Saturday to make his debut in the middle of their series against the Phillies. Meyer, the young 23-year old righty, was drafted in the first round of the 2020 MLB Draft and has flown up the ranks, climbing all the way up to the second top prospect in the Marlins farm system.

On paper, Meyer’s day looked worse than it actually was, as he picked up the loss after allowing five runs in 5.1 innings pitched while striking out five. But it was reliever Richard Bleier, who allowed two inherited runners to score, that made Meyer’s line look worse than it could have been. 

Bring Out the Brooms 

The Phillies seemed to be sputtering into the All-Star break, losing their previous four games heading into their weekend series down in Miami. Things didn’t get easier for Philly either, as they had NL Cy Young candidate Sandy Alcántara waiting for them in a stadium that hasn’t treated them nicely in recent years. 

The Phillies had no trouble with the fish this time, however, as they swept the Marlins in their three-game set. Philly was able to get to Alcántara, scoring two off him and shutting Miami’s offense down to win a 2-1 pitching duel in the series opener.

The Phillies offense exploded in the second game as J.T. Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins, Didi Gregorius, and Kyle Schwarber all went yard to combine for a 10-0 blowout win. Finally, Aaron Nola was simply dominant in the series finale, going 8.1 shutout innings and striking out ten in the Phillies 4-0 win to give them their first series sweep in Miami since 2010. 

Beasts of the East 

After being 10.5 games back of the Mets on June 1, the Atlanta Braves entered their three-game series against New York on Monday only 1.5 games back, the closest they’ve been since April 16. The Braves were the hotter team entering play, but it was the Mets who made the statement, taking two of three. 

New York dominated the series opener and won 4-1, thanks in large part to Max Scherzer’s seven innings of one run ball on the mound and Luis Guillorme’s day at the plate, going 2-3 with a double, home run, and two RBIs. Atlanta wouldn’t be held down for long though, as they came out the next day and won 4-1 thanks to back-to-back home runs from Matt Olson and Austin Riley. 

With the series tied up at one game a piece, the series finale meant more than ever. If the Braves won, they would be just a half-game behind the Mets for first in the division. If the Mets won, they would give themselves some breathing room, as the Braves would be 2.5 games behind them.

Chris Bassitt and company played like first place was on the line, as the Mets won 7-3 and took the series. Bassitt went six solid innings and got run support from Francisco Lindor, Eduardo Escobar, and Mark Canha, as they all went deep and combined to drive in five runs. 

Juan Noto 

On Saturday, reports came out that the Washington Nationals outfielder, Juan Soto, turned down a 15-year, $440 million dollar contract extension.

With Soto declining, the Nationals have seemingly made it known that they will be open to trading the 23-year old superstar, albeit for the right price. The New York Yankees, Mets, San Diego Padres, and St. Louis Cardinals all seem to be linked to Soto, so this is a situation worth monitoring as we approach the trade deadline. 

Injury Update

On Wednesday, the Braves announced that they placed reliever Darren O’Day on the 15-day injured list, retroactive to Tuesday, with a strained left calf muscle. 

On Friday, the Marlins announced that they placed infielder Jon Berti on the 10-day injured list with a left groin strain. 

With the All-Star Break here, let’s look at some guys who ended the first half on a high note and guys who probably couldn’t wait for the break along with the standings as we head towards the second half of the season. 

Who’s Hot

Matt Olson (Atlanta Braves 1B) – .700 SLG, .967 OPS, 4 HR, 11 RBI 

Austin Riley (Atlanta Braves 3B) – .310 AVG, .759 SLG, 1.092 OPS, 5 XBH 

New York Mets SP Staff – 41.2 IP, 7 ER, 13 BB, 54 K, 1.49 ERA 

Juan Soto (Washington Nationals RF) – .350 AVG, .500 OBP, 1.350 OPS, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 0 K

Josh Bell (Washington Nationals 1B) – .400 AVG, 1.124 OPS, 4 XBH, 11.1 K% 

Who’s Not: 

Marcell Ozuna (Atlanta Braves LF/DH) – .111 AVG, .367 OPS, 0 RBI, 35 K% 

Pete Alonso (New York Mets 1B) – .172 AVG, 3 BB%, 33.3 K%, 21 LOB 

Kyle Schwarber (Philadelphia Phillies LF) – .040 AVG, .200 OPS, 0 BB, 56 K% 

Garrett Cooper (Miami Marlins 1B/DH) – .050 AVG, .150 OPS, 0 RBI, 0 BB, 45 K%

Miguel Rojas (Miami Marlins SS) – .125 AVG, .250 OPS, 0 RBI, 0 BB, 14 LOB 

Standings (As of July 18, 2022)

1. New York Mets 58-35 

2. Atlanta Braves 56-38 (2.5 GB) 

3. Philadelphia Phillies 49-43 (8.5 GB) 

4. Miami Marlins 43-48 (14.0 GB)

5. Washington Nationals 31-63 (27.5 GB)

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