Delpercio: National League East Recap

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

The last full week of the MLB regular season was jam-packed with debuts, broken records, clutch moments and a pivotal series. Let’s take a look at everything the NL East had to offer from Monday, Sept. 26, to Sunday, Oct. 2. 

Welcome to the Show 

With their huge series against the Atlanta Braves on tap, the New York Mets needed all hands on deck, so on Friday, they called up the top prospect in all of Major League Baseball, Francisco Alvarez.

Alvarez boasted a .260 batting average, along with a .374 on-base percentage and .885 OPS in 411 at-bats between Double-A and Triple-A this year. 

Alvarez nearly had a storybook ending to what was a rough debut, as he entered the batter’s box with the bases loaded and just one out, down three, in the ninth inning. However, Alvarez struck out to put the cap on an 0-4 night. 

Welcome to the History Books 

A pair of NL East superstars added to their great seasons thus far after rewriting the history books on Friday. 

After hitting a double and stealing three bases in Friday’s game against the Washington Nationals, Philadelphia Phillies catcher JT Realmuto became the first catcher to record 20 doubles and 20 stolen bases in a season since Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez did it back in 1999. Realmuto, who was never caught stealing this year, also became the third player in MLB history to hit this milestone without being caught, joining Chase Utley and Kevin McReynolds. 

Sandy Alcantara’s great season and Cy Young campaign came to a close on Friday after his start against the Milwaukee Brewers. In what was his final start of the season, Alcantara went all eight innings and just allowed one run. While he struck out eight, Alcantara’s first strikeout of the night was the one that solidified his place in Marlins history. He became the first Marlins pitcher in franchise history to reach 200 strikeouts in a season.

Fighting Fish 

Everyone in the Delaware Valley and South Jersey region kept tabs on the Marlins and Brewers four-game series over the weekend, as any Marlins win helped the Phillies’ chances of getting into the postseason. 

The Brewers were in a prime position to overtake the Phillies for the final Wild Card spot on Thursday after Philly’s 2-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs, carrying a 2-0 lead of their own into the eighth inning, but Avisail Garcia stunted his old team’s playoff hopes with a grand slam to dead center. The Marlins would end up holding onto their 4-2 lead, keeping the Phillies in sole possession of the final Wild Card spot. 

Later in the week on Saturday, Oct. 1, the Brewers held a 3-2 lead with two outs to go over Miami and a chance to be tied with Philly for the final Wild Card spot, but Bryan De La Cruz showed his clutch gene as he smoked a ball down the left field line to drive in two and give the Marlins the lead in the ninth. Richard Bleier was able to slam the door shut in the bottom half of the inning, and put the Phillies up a game with four games left in the race for the final Wild Card spot. 

Then, on Sunday, Oct. 2, the Marlins helped improve the Phillies’ magic number to just one after a 4-3 extra-inning win. Miguel Rojas singled home the go-ahead run in the top of the 12th and the Marlins were finally able to close the door on the resilient Brewers to take three of four, and more importantly, help the Phillies playoff push. 

Battle for the Crown 

The Mets and Braves squared off over the weekend for a pivotal three-game series down in Atlanta to help determine who would have the advantage in the NL East.

It was all Atlanta all the time, as the Braves rose to the occasion and swept the Mets to move their magic number to one for the NL East crown. 

Atlanta was led by Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson the entire way, as the Braves duo homered in every game of the series. The Braves pitching staff was forced with the task of keeping the Mets’ offense quiet, and they stepped up to the challenge, as the Mets went 5-18 with runners in scoring position and left 22 men on base throughout the series. 

Now entering the final series of the 2022 regular season, all the Braves need to win the division is either a win themselves or one Mets loss. 

Injury Update: 

On Friday, the Mets announced that designated hitter Darin Ruf was placed on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to Tuesday, with a neck strain. 

Marlins starter Edward Cabrera left Saturday’s game against the Brewers after the 3rd inning due to an apparent right ankle injury. 

With just one series left in the year, let’s take a look at guys ending the 2022 campaign strong, and guys who are hoping 2023 gives them better results, along with the divisional and wild card standings. 

Who’s Hot

Matt Olson (Atlanta Braves 1B): .500 AVG, 5 HR, 9 RBI, 20.8 BB%, 1.917 OPS 

Jeff McNeil (New York Mets 2B/LF): .524 AVG, 4 R, 0.0 K%, 1.212 OPS 

Bryan De La Cruz (Miami Marlins OF): .333 AVG, 4 XBH, 5 RBI, .903 OPS 

Luis Garcia (Washington Nationals 2B/SS): .350 AVG, 3 XBH, 7 RBI, 2 LOB, 1.009 OPS

Bryce Elder (Atlanta Braves SP): 1 CG, 9.0 IP, 1 BB, 6 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.78 WHIP 

Who’s Not

Eddie Rosario (Atlanta Braves LF): .200 AVG, 1 R, 0.0 BB%, E7, .440 OPS 

Francisco Lindor (New York Mets SS): .182 AVG, 0 RBI, 0.0 BB%, 11 LOB, .409 OPS

Alec Bohm (Philadelphia Phillies 3B): .107 AVG, 2 RBI, 16 LOB, E5, .444 OPS 

Jon Berti (Miami Marlins UTL): .091 AVG, 0 RBI, 10 LOB, 41.7 K%, .258 OPS 

Victor Robles (Washington Nationals CF): .091 AVG, 0.0 BB%, 2 CS, 12 LOB, .311 OPS

Standings (As of Oct. 3, 2022) 

1. Atlanta Braves 100-59 

2. New York Mets 98-61 (2 GB) 

3. Philadelphia Phillies 86-73 (E) 

4. Miami Marlins 67-92 (E) 

5. Washington Nationals 55-104 (E) 

NL Wild Card Standings (As of Oct. 3, 2022)

1. New York Mets 98-61 (+12 GB)

2. San Diego Padres 87-72 (+1 GB)

3. Philadelphia Phillies 86-73 (-)

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