Tonight at just after 7pm, the Phillies and Marlins will square off in the beginning of a 3 game series, and tomorrow night the Nats and Mets will meet for the first time this season in a 3 game series. The NL East standings will look very different after Thursday night’s games are complete.
Here is what the NL East standings look like with these 4 teams, and there is no other division with 4 teams that have won at least 20 games at this point in the season and in fact there are no other division with 3 teams with at least 20 wins:
If you paid attention last year to the way Terry Collins approached games with the Washington Nationals, it was like he was managing Game 4 of the playoffs. He had a quick hook on his starters, and was playing match-up baseball with his relievers. Terry Collins also has not set his rotation for this series. Steven Matz had his last start skipped due to arm discomfort (update: see Tweet below) and that could indicate that Bartolo Colon could pitch on Wednesday, and while we are not sure if this is gamesmanship (updated: same word used by the Mets beat writer below) or not, it just makes it more difficult to project out a line-up for Wednesday if you were to play match-up baseball.
As of now, the Tuesday night game 1 starters are Noah Syndergaard vs. Max Scherzer, Game 2 is a TBD (Matz or Colon) vs. Gio Gonzalez, and Game 3 is Matt Harvey vs. Stephen Strasburg.
Matz is OK but Mets won't release info until tomorrow. Smells like gamesmanship, like TC wants to keep Nats guessing re: rotation.
— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) May 16, 2016
These match-ups look like a playoff showdown of Aces and it will continue next week as the teams head to Nats Park for another 3 game set. Whoever pitches Wednesday night on May 18th game should be pitching on Monday night which would set-up Gio Gonzalez for the Nats on the May 23rd game in Washington, then would be Harvey and Strasburg on Tuesday May 24th, and the May 25th game should be Tanner Roark for the Nats and could be Jacob deGrom on normal rest, or Bartolo Colon or Logan Verrett or Steven Matz. We will know more about that series based on who the Mets pitch on Wednesday and on Friday May 20th against the Brewers.
Terry Collins team just got swept in a four three game series in Colorado, and have lost four games in a row. The Mets pitchers were hit hard all weekend, and they might have been looking ahead in the schedule. This is the biggest series of the year for both teams. Which manager will be playing checkers and which will be playing chess.
Jim Riggleman in 2010 as Nats manager said, “Once the game starts, [Tony LaRussa’s] a master. He’s just outstanding. I think in terms of preparation and all of that, he’s at the top of the list right now in baseball. He’s a great motivator and great strategist. [LaRussa’s] playing chess. I’m playing checkers. But he’s really good. He knows his talent. He knows your talent. He knows who he’s playing two days from now. He’s got it all in there. You’re not going to get anything by him. You just manage your team the best you can and hope your players outplay his players.”
Yes, the Philadelphia Phillies are in 2nd place, and are the clear surprise of the baseball world thanks to some very good starting pitching and improved defense and timely hitting. Phillies Manager Pete Mackanin seems to be playing each game aggressively pulling his starters who have only averaged 5 2/3 innings per start which puts the pressure on a bullpen; however, it has resulted in wins. Aaron Nola and Vincent Velazquez have led a group of young starters who have combined for the 10th best ERA in the Majors at a 3.80 ERA. The Phillies bullpen ranks 19th with a 4.01 ERA and that is where they need to improve. Here is the amazing stat, the Phillies are 2nd to last in the MLB in runs scored at 126. That averages 3.32 per game, and that is where the timely hitting has come into their success factor. When the Phillies lose, it is by a large factor, and when they win it is by a small factor. They already lead in the league in 1 run wins, and many think that is unsustainable. We will see.
The Miami Marlins have survived not having Dee Gordon who is serving an 80 game PED suspension, and their issue is the struggles in the back-end of their rotation and the front of their bullpen. It is still difficult to gauge their direction, but they could easily continue to be a team playing above .500 baseball.
The NL East is the surprise of baseball, and we will see who is a contender, and who is a pretender as we approach the the quarter pole in the season mid-week with 3/4’s of the regular season remaining.