|Photo by USA Today
By Steve Roney
The Nats aren't the only team that has stumbled out of the second-half gate. Things are worse than ever in Miami, as the Marlins' bats have all but gone on strike, and nobody in the division has fared better than 2-2 since play resumed. The only real action in the standings involves Philadelphia moving into second place ahead of Washington, though their seven-game deficit behind the Braves is a veritable chasm compared with the other division leads around baseball.
Atlanta Braves (56-43)
Freddie Freeman has showed no ill effects from the finger injury that kept him from participating in the All-Star Game, boosting his average with a .400 tear since the meaningful games have returned. Paul Maholm, on the other hand, probably wishes he was still on vacation after he was shelled by several soon-to-be-former White Sox on Saturday, giving up seven earned runs in just three innings. The loss was Maholm's ninth, and he's not the only starter saddled with a relatively high number. Though Atlanta's staff is deep and talented, every member has at least five losses, and only Mike Minor (9-5) has a record much above .500. Odd.
It'll be interesting to see what Atlanta does with the non-waiver trade deadline looming; though they likely don't need more ammo to win the East, they can't reasonably expect to contend for a pennant without an upgrade or two. Lefty relief could be a target, but they may choose to add a bat to help in the outfield. If just one of their current outfield starters plays up to his full potential in the second half, that would more than equate to a major deadline acquisition — but as it is, they have all underperformed, and 99 games is no longer a small sample size.
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