Skip to content

MLB Power Rankings: Pirates get a boost

Jun 13, 2013, 4:30 PM EDT

Photo by USA Today

By Steve Roney
CSNwashington.com

The NL Central is packed with dominant pitching, making it no accident that three of baseball's best teams reside there. St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh are all in line for playoff spots right now, and if their arms hold up, the postseason could feature some pretty familiar matchups early on in the NL.
Here's how Nationals Insider Mark Zuckerman, Nats writer Chase Hughes, and I see the rest of the majors shaking out:

1. St. Louis Cardinals (42-23; LW: 1) - Zuckerman: Miller, Wainwright and Lynn all have WHIPs under 1.12. Simply dominant pitching.

2. Boston Red Sox (41-26; LW: 3) - Hughes: Boston has emerged as the best offense in the majors by a good margin. Everyone packs power as they're slugging over .450 as a team.

3. Cincinnati Reds (40-26; LW: 4) - Zuckerman: Mat Latos (6-0, 2.87 ERA) not getting enough credit as one of the NL's best starters.

4. Atlanta Braves (39-27; LW: 2) - Hughes: While the Nats have struggled with injuries, the Braves have used the same five starters all season and are about to get Brandon Beachy back.
Read more »

  1. 5c3cd06e-cef8-11e1-abe6-000bcdcb2996 - Jun 13, 2013 at 4:35 PM

    I don't think that this years has the fire in the belly as last year. The firey members of the team are gone. Think back to last years "brawl" between the Cubs and the Nats. There were 4 guys who were getting aggressive and taking things personal. Those 4 (Morse, Gonzalez, Jackson, and Bo Porter)have all left the team and I think that is a likely reason for the underwhelming performance of the Nats this year. FP praises LaRoche for being "Adam Cool", but I think it is a negative for players to be monotone and show no emotion. Just my take.

  2. A DC Wonk - Jun 13, 2013 at 4:41 PM

    Completely off topic — other than it's about baseball:mick said… Joe…my nickname for Kobernus is CowboyThe Wonkling has her own nickname: Copernicussomeone else noted:NL @AllStarGame Manager Bruce Bochy has named @Mets Terry Collins & @Nationals Davey Johnson to his #ASG coaching staff. I noticed some Davey-hater-heads exploding with that one. Or, perhaps they think Bochy is senile, too.

  3. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jun 13, 2013 at 4:41 PM

    Hughes: Chris Davis is on pace for over 50 home runs this season. At some point we need to accept him as one of best sluggers in the game.Best sluggers? How's about one of the best hitters in the game. If Miguel Cabrera got hurt Davis could be a legit Triple Crown guy! Have you seen his batting average?

  4. Eric - Jun 13, 2013 at 4:45 PM

    "Copernicus"He does seem to know a thing or two about spherical rotation…

  5. NatsLady - Jun 13, 2013 at 4:49 PM

    Wonk, If Davey gets this team to the playoffs he will DESERVE that manager-of-the-year thingie he won for 2012. When RZimm, Morse, & co. came back (plus Werth) the team pretty much managed itself and in forty days and forty nights Davey never changed the line-up–and the rotation never changed all year. Now we have the likes of Zach Duke, Nathan Karns and Ross Ohlendorf making “spot” starts, defense is last in the league, left field is a revolving door, a third base prospect is playing second base and no one on the bench can hit worth a lick (or take a walk).

  6. A DC Wonk - Jun 13, 2013 at 4:52 PM

    Well put, NatsLady. I think Boswell a week or so pointed out (and I've repeated here a few times) that the projected starting lineup from opening day has played only 6 or 8 (I forget) times: with injuries to, at various times: Werth, Ramos, Harper, RZim, etc. — not even counting Stras & Detwiler

  7. A DC Wonk - Jun 13, 2013 at 4:53 PM

    Thursdays oddities:- Until last night DeLaRosa had the third longest undefeated-at-home pitching streak (something like 11 straight starts?) until last night. (BTW, JZim has the longest such streak in MLB)- ALR has the third most HR's in the league in the last 365 calendar days.- Barry Zito’s ERA on the road is 11.28. At home it’s 1.94.- Edinson Volquez came into the game with a 6.33 ERA and allowed 4+ runs in 8 of his 13 starts — but then shut down the Braves (completing the Padres sweep!) allowing one run over seven innings while striking out nine- The Diamondbacks had 20 hits last night. Seventeen were singles. – The number 2 through 7 hitters in the Giants batting order went a combined 13-for-26 and the Giants lost anyway (see, above, Barry Zito — this was a road game for the Giants)- How's this for "keeping the line moving" — The Astros scored six runs in the top of the ninth this way: single, single, bunt, walk, double, walk, single, strikeout, single, walk, walk, strikeout.

  8. phil dunton - Jun 13, 2013 at 4:58 PM

    Surprised Braves rated at #4 after getting swept by the lowly Padres. I doubt the Pirates fold.

  9. phil dunton - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:01 PM

    The three best teams in the NL are in the NL Central. If the playoffs were held now, the Reds. Cards and Pirates would be in the playoffs.

  10. Faraz Shaikh - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:02 PM

    What do you mean 'nearly hit him in the head'? He definitely did. His helmet was knocked over, wasn't it?

  11. Eric - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:04 PM

    Wonk – does it count as an oddity that we're currently further out of WC contention (6.5 games out) than we are out of 1st place (6.0)?Or, is that fairly common?

  12. Faraz Shaikh - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:07 PM

    Eric, happens to weak divisions. Odd that it is happening in NL East which was supposed to be better than this.

  13. JaneB - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:08 PM

    Numbers and letters person…totally agree on losing those guys, especially Bo!

  14. NatsLady - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:11 PM

    David O'Brien ‏@ajcbraves 6mWith runners in scoring pos., Freeman is 24-for-53, Laird 5-for-9, and rest of #Braves are 78-for-408 (.191) with 126 strikeouts.

  15. A DC Wonk - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:11 PM

    Eric said… Wonk – does it count as an oddity that we're currently further out of WC contention (6.5 games out) than we are out of 1st place (6.0)?Or, is that fairly common? Hmm, good one. I don't think that's too common for the Nats ;-)I think it used to be somewhat common for some team in all of MLB — but perhaps not so common now that there are _two_ WC's

  16. bowdenball - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:11 PM

    The Braves are one game over .500 since April 16 and have lost 5 of 7 since their home win streak to start the month. I can think of at least 10 teams I'd be more worried about facing than the Braves right now.

  17. NatsLady - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:12 PM

    I miss Bo, but the others are no loss. And if you think Adam doesn't have fire in the belly, you haven't seen his eyes when he is at-bat in a critical situation.

  18. Eric - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:13 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  19. A DC Wonk - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:13 PM

    Somebody mentioned: we talk about intangibles all the time and how when a certain player is slumping he can put the player hitting in front of him in a slump. That seems to be what happened with Ian Desmond.FP spoke about this about two weeks ago or so. He said that the idea that "hitting is contagious" is bunk — but then clarified: but it seems that way sometimes, because when a good hitter or two gets going, then the batters in front of them get better pitches, and the batters behind them often bat with guys on base.I thought it was a nice insight.

  20. Eric - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:13 PM

    "I can think of at least 10 teams I'd be more worried about facing than the Braves right now."And, go figure, now is not when we're facing them. I'm sure they'll ramp up *just* in time for our next meeting.Hopefully we will, too.

  21. NatsLady - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:15 PM

    Matt Harvey day has started, Harvey, great first inning. I am listening the the STL feed because I can't stand the Mets announcers.

  22. A DC Wonk - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:15 PM

    Let's keep in mind that over 5 years Ohlenorf has a 5.00 ERA and a losing record. It's not likely that he became Greg Maddux over night. True . . . but:a) it might be that his new windup is helping him (my understanding is that he didn't have this windup until this year)b) he's had some surgeries, right?c) over the past _month_ he's been pitching extremely well, if I recall correctlyWho knows — he's only 30 — maybe he's back to 2009 form when he was pretty decent (again, iirc)

  23. A DC Wonk - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:18 PM

    Matt Harvey day has started, Harvey, great first inning. I am listening the the STL feed because I can't stand the Mets announcers. Really? Who do they have? They used to have Howie Rose, who I thought was excellent

  24. Eric - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:18 PM

    Ohlendorf said he's used that wind up "playing catch" over the years, but never professionally until this year.

  25. A DC Wonk - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:21 PM

    Sorry for the "data dump" — lots of catching up for me to do — but I'm almost done ;-)From last thread:Sec. 3, My Sofa said… I'm pretty sure that Fowler would have had that if CarGo had stayed out of the way.Indeed, there was one angle on the replay that showed the ball hitting the closed mitt (!!) of Fowler. I'm guessing he involuntarily closed it as he was bracing for impact with CarGo, and that, yes, he would have made a great catch on that if it weren't for CarGo.

  26. NatsLady - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:21 PM

    Wonk, I have no idea. All I know is that last time we played the Mets they bored on endlessly about the Stras shutdown and Game 5–which apparently is not old news to them yet.

  27. Eric - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:22 PM

    PS:Span 8, Kobernus 7, Zimmerman 5, Werth 9, LaRoche 3, Desmond 6, Rendon 4, Suzuki 2, Detwiler 1

  28. NatsLady - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:23 PM

    Wainwrigtht just got his 1,000 strikeout, and it was against David Wright. Tiny crowd, even considering the weather and it's a day game.

  29. Tcostant - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:31 PM

    Love the fact that Kobernus keeps playing, nice job Davey.In other news, I just read that Harper's hotel room, when they played the Brewers was haunted. Maybe…http://www.nbcwashington.com/blogs/capital-games/Bryce-Harper-Shares-Story-Of-Haunted-Hotel-Room.html

  30. NatsLady - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:37 PM

    Little Clip sent down.Sky Kerstein ‏@SkyKerstein 58s#Nats announce that they've sent Erik Davis to AAA to make room for Ross Detwiler who is starting this afternoon and coming off the DL

  31. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:37 PM

    bowdenball said… The Braves are one game over .500 since April 16 and have lost 5 of 7 since their home win streak to start the month. I can think of at least 10 teams I'd be more worried about facing than the Braves right now. Agreed. As Justin Upton has struggled so have the Braves. Freeman is their only big bat right now.

  32. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:38 PM

    Wow, Erik Davis before Cedeno. Interesting.

  33. Caps Fan - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:47 PM

    "bowdenball said… The Braves are one game over .500 since April 16 and have lost 5 of 7 since their home win streak to start the month."The Braves' season is playing out just like the Nats' season did last year. The Braves started 13-2 or whatever and have been a .500 team since then, and last year the Nats started 14-4 and were a .500 team for about two months after that. And last year when it was the Braves chasing the Nats, they did not gain ground even though the Nats were playing .500 ball in front of them but still managed to take the race for the division title deep into September. The point being there is a lot of baseball yet to be played before we start awarding any playoff berths.

  34. JD - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:49 PM

    NL, It'l be a race to see if they get the Mets – Cards game in. It's awfully dark here. What a waist of pitching if they have to cancel?

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 58 48 --
ATLANTA 58 51 1.5
MIAMI 53 55 6.0
NEW YORK 52 56 7.0
PHILADELPHIA 48 61 11.5
Through Thursday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Orioles at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 12:35 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

Follow us on Twitter