Jun 3, 2014, 1:17 PM EDT
The Braves had another up-and-down week, but it ended on the upswing as they completed a three-game sweep of the hard-charging Marlins in Miami. The series win helped give Atlanta some breathing room in the standings, as they head into Tuesday’s action with a 2.5 game lead over the Fish.
But once again, consistency will be the key for the Braves moving forward. The division they play in is as competitive as any in baseball — three teams are within 3.5 games of first place — and they have yet to put their best foot forward and establish control. As of now, most people think they’re still the favorite to win the division, but Atlanta hasn’t exactly wowed anybody through the first two months of the season.
What a missed opportunity for the Marlins over the weekend. They had a chance to take a series from the Braves and enter June atop the NL East. Instead, they got swept at home and now have to be wondering if they’ll ever get that close again this season.
That being said, the longer the Marlins stay in the race, the more you wonder if they’ll be more amenable to making a move at the trade deadline. As everyone around baseball knows, Miami has always been an historically conservative team when it comes to this sort of thing (2011-2012 offseason aside), so it remains unclear if they’d be willing to “go for it”. One area they seem to be targeting is the bullpen, as they signed former closer Kevin Gregg to a minor league deal Monday. The thinking here is that probably won’t be the only move they make before July 31st.
NEW YORK METS
The Mets had the best and highest profile week of any team in the division. First, they hosted rapper 50 Cent as he attempted to throw the ceremonial first pitch last Tuesday, which was so comically bad that it was as meme-worthy as anything sports related recently. But more importantly, New York has gone 5-1 over their last six games, including taking four of five from rival Philadelphia.
For all their faults, the Mets enter the early part of June just one game under .500 and tied with the Nationals for third place in the division, sitting 3.5 games out of first. Do they actually have what it takes to contend down the stretch? That remains to be seen, but with a starting rotation that has compiled the third highest number of quality starts in the majors, there’s no reason to think they can’t compete in what looks like a so-so division.
It might be too early to sound any alarm bells in The City of Brotherly Love, but it looks like things might be slipping away for the Phillies. Losing four of five games at home to the division rival Mets really hurt, as it dropped Philadelphia down to 24-31 and 6.5 games out of first place.
June looks like it will be the time of reckoning, as Philly has 14 games against the NL East the rest of this month. In other words, it might be do or die time, as they’ll have to find a way to stay afloat through July. If they don’t, as we mentioned last week, GM Ruben Amaro will have some very tough choices to make with his high priced veterans as the trade deadline draws nearer.
NL EAST STANDINGS
TUE: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Marlins, 12:40 p.m.
THU: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
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.
Full season schedule
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.
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