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Around the N.L. East: Braves on the warpath

May 28, 2013, 6:20 PM EST

Photo by USA Today

By Steve Roney 

CSNwashington.com
Glancing around the N.L. East, it's hard not to notice that the general hierarchy has been in place for the entire season, with the Braves sitting atop the standings from the get-go, and everyone else trying to build a foundation to try to challenge them. As Memorial Day passes and the Phillies continue to toil, it's becoming clear that if the Nats don't mount a challenge, nobody will.
Atlanta Braves (30-20)
The Braves have awoken from a mid-spring lull to retake their commanding division lead, which now stands at 4.5 games, the highest margin in the majors. Justin Upton has come back to earth a bit, with a .267 average, and though the long ball continues to elude Freddie Freeman, he is second on the team with 30 RBI. Who leads the team? El Oso Blanco, Evan Gattis, who just won't go away. Try as they might to take at-bats away from him, the slugger leads the team with 31 RBI, leads all major league rookies with 11 home runs, and has worked his average back up to .271. Though he's excelled in pinch-hitting duty, the Braves simply need him in the lineup everyday, somewhere. On a team with three sub-Mendoza Line regulars, they cannot waste him on the bench. 

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  1. Dave - May 28, 2013 at 6:26 PM

    That Player of the Weak thing just doesn't get old. (At least to me.)

  2. Dave - May 28, 2013 at 6:26 PM

    Oh, and I'm first. For the first time in my life.

  3. A DC Wonk - May 28, 2013 at 6:35 PM

    Oddities of Mem Day Weekend:- Colby Rasmus doubled off his brother- Arizona used four pinch-hitters in their doubleheader — who collectively went 3-for-3 with a walk- Yu Darvish struck out 14 and walked none — and lost- Indians were 8-13 in their first 21 games, 16-4 in their next 20 games, 1-6 since then.- Giants are the only team to be winless in interleague play thus far (ok, only 0-3, but, still…)- Adam Dunn is 2-for-28 in his last 8 games, bringing his average down to .156. Of course, the two hits are both homers- Reverse Lock: The Mariners pitched Felix Hernandez (lost) and then team leader in ERA, record of 5-1 Hisashi Iwakuma (who got no decision) — then they sent Aaron Harang out there (he started the game with a 1-5 record, ERA of 8.58!!) and he threw a complete game shutout, winning 9-0

  4. Nats 128 - May 28, 2013 at 6:43 PM

    - Yu Darvish struck out 14 and walked none — and lostand Verlander struck out 13 and almost lost. That's what that extra strikeout does. As John Lannan would tell you strikeouts are over rated and walks are under rated and wins are good.

  5. Tcostant - May 28, 2013 at 6:49 PM

    I saw this on Boswell's Q&A today. For those who can't get enough of stats and the Nats:http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=20545And are hungry too.

  6. Alphabet Soup Erik - May 28, 2013 at 6:52 PM

    Okay, here is my stat of the day: Nationals have scored 2 runs or fewer in 25 of 51 games. Sorry to say, this team really stinks. You guys can keep hoping for some miracle offensive turnaround, but it isn't coming with this group. With the 1-2 punch of Strasburg and Zimmermann, they have a shot to be competitive, but that is about all without any offense. I sure would like to see this lineup in a couple of weeks:WerthRendon (maybe switch Rendon and Span now and then)HarperZimmermanLaRocheDesmondSpanRamosP

  7. Tcostant - May 28, 2013 at 6:57 PM

    Re: Nationals have scored 2 runs or fewer in 25 of 51 games.I heard that 980am today too. Really hard to believe. I also heard yesterday during the radio play of the game, that the Nationals have not come back in any game regradless of inning once down by two runs. Just unreal. The starting pitching is the only reason that this team is not 10 games under .500

  8. NatsLady - May 28, 2013 at 6:57 PM

    Tcostant that's cool, I might do that. Thanks.

  9. Don - May 28, 2013 at 6:58 PM

    BJ Upton is a 30/30 kind of talent. He may be aching from his bad back who knows, but the guy is capable of 12 HR months as we have seen from him in the recent past, he's a high caliber CF and the Braves have enough firepower to bat the guy 7th or 8th while they hold their noses and hope his corpse revives. The Braves are going to be hard to catch and they will be aggressive, adding talent to make a run. The Nats had better start hitting soon.

  10. A DC Wonk - May 28, 2013 at 7:02 PM

    You guys can keep hoping for some miracle offensive turnaround, but it isn't coming with this groupHaving Harper, Werth, and Ramos in the lineup will help.

  11. Sec. 3, My Natural Sofa - May 28, 2013 at 7:03 PM

    Okay, here is my stat of the day: Nationals have scored 2 runs or fewer in 25 of 51 games. Sorry to say, this team really stinks.That's not "really stinks," that's just "not hitting, probably because of injuries." The Marlins really stink. The Nats used to be the icon of "really stinks." We know what "really stinks" looks like, and this ain't it.

  12. Nats 128 - May 28, 2013 at 7:08 PM

    With all the negativity it just tells you that once the Nats do start hitting it will be great!A healthy Werth and Harper and Ramos in this lineup with the improving health of Zimm is big for this team. Desi will hit much better in a good lineup. All he is seeing is outside junk these days and a few mistake pitches that he has to capitalize on.

  13. UnkyD - May 28, 2013 at 7:09 PM

    Like.

  14. Section 222 - May 28, 2013 at 7:12 PM

    Tcos thanks for the reminder about Bos's chat. It has a great section about Espi and pitch recognition. Really worth a look.

  15. Nats 128 - May 28, 2013 at 7:15 PM

    Here's an oddity. Tough day if your last name starts with R and your 3rd letter is N and ends in ON as you shouldnt go into your Managers office today.Padres DFA Rincon and Yankees outright Rondon.Luckily Rendon is back in the Minors.

  16. Sec. 3, My Natural Sofa - May 28, 2013 at 7:17 PM

    They've won four of those, so there's that.Just for comparison's sake, the Braves have 14 games in which they've scored 2 or fewer runs, with 1 win; the Giants have 13, with 4 wins, and the Cardinals have 13, with 3 wins.

  17. nats guy - May 28, 2013 at 7:26 PM

    Nats cannot let that lead get to double digits or they can say hasta lumbago to the rest of the season. They don't have the horses to come back from a deficit that big.

  18. SonnyG10 - May 28, 2013 at 7:26 PM

    Sec. 3, My Natural Sofa said…Speaking of playing Fantasy GM, you may have seen this from MLBTR about the real one, over the weekend:Rosenthal On Rizzo, Altuve, MattinglyBy Charlie Wilmoth [May 25, 2013 at 8:01pm CST]Nationals GM Mike Rizzo might make an intriguing free agent after the 2015 season, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal says in a recent video. Rizzo's friends tell Rosenthal that Rizzo is not afraid of leaving after 2015 if the team does not pay him well. The Nats exercised their 2014 option on Rizzo last month, and have another option for 2015. Earlier this week, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reported that the decision to exercise the 2014 option may have annoyed Rizzo, since the contract from which the option came was not especially lucrative. Under the 2014 option, Rizzo will be in the bottom third in GM pay, Kilgore noted. Here's more from Rosenthal.May 28, 2013 2:56 PMOK, now I'm upset. Lerners better pony up.

  19. jeeves - May 28, 2013 at 7:27 PM

    My defense–Believe it or not, I know my minor leaguers pretty well, but obviously, natsjack, not that good at spelling their names. Stand corrected on Bernadina. I knew he had no options and really just meant send him, well, anywhere. Souza, as Alexa (Darn, that spelling doesn't look correct either.) suggested may have been a stretch, but I'm half serious in that he began to produce big time last year and is continuing to do so at Harrisburg. Certainly the guys we have with a lot more experience aren't producing so Souza couldn't possibly do worse. As to no position for Marrero. Well, I'm talking about a bat off the bench, and if you are suggesting that Moore has more than one position, I would suggest that with his defense, he doesn't really have any position.Essentially, my point was that things need to be shook up, big time. And I'm sure I don't have to remind anyone that that the best position player the Nats have is the one with the least experience. Sure, Souza is not a Bryce Harper, duh. But, heck, he might actually continue to produce in the majors. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

  20. Joe Seamhead - May 28, 2013 at 7:32 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  21. Joe Seamhead - May 28, 2013 at 7:33 PM

    Gattis K's with two on in top of 9th. Tied 6-6.

  22. Nats 128 - May 28, 2013 at 7:35 PM

    It took the Blue Jay pitcher 7 pitches to throw Gatis a slider.

  23. Nats 128 - May 28, 2013 at 7:41 PM

    That was quick. McCann HR in the 10th. Kimbrel warming up.

  24. Dave - May 28, 2013 at 7:43 PM

    Sofa said: We know what "really stinks" looks like, and this ain't it.Post of the day.

  25. Gonat - May 28, 2013 at 7:51 PM

    Oh my, the Tommy John doc to the Nats has died. Dr. Lewis Yocum.

  26. Nats 128 - May 28, 2013 at 7:58 PM

    Maicer Izturis and Emilio Bonifacio were both 1st ball swinging to end the game.Blue Jays lose. They had Kimbrel struggling in giving up a 3-2 walk and a 3-2 K with a steal and a man standing on 2nd.

  27. Secret wasian man - May 28, 2013 at 9:58 PM

    Sec 3. Nats don't Really stink. But somebody needs to give a courtesy flush cause its getting real close to REALLY STINKING.

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