This Week in the National League: 2008 Week 2

The first full week is in the books as Pete Khazen reports on the news around the National League.

The first full week of the 2008 season is in the books. We already have plenty of injuries, demotions, call-ups, and the like. Here's the latest and greatest from around the National League.

East Division


Florida Marlins (4-3) - Hanley Ramirez has started the season off as the stud we all expected. Through the first week he's batting .440 with two home runs, five RBI, and seven runs scored. He also has eight punchouts, which is something to keep an eye on if he gets a bit too swing happy. On the pitching front, the Marlins demoted Rick VandenHurk after the starter yielded an 0-1 record with an 11.81 ERA in two starts. Youngster Burke Badenhop will be the new kid on the block.


Philadelphia Phillies (4-4) - Starting pitcher Brett Myers is 0-1 in two starts this season posting a 6.30 ERA. Known as a big K-man, Myers has just six strikeouts in 10.0 innings of work. Pat Burrell, who is a career .259 power hitter, is off to a blazing start, though. The Phillies outfielder is batting .435 with three home runs and nine RBI in his first seven games.


Atlanta Braves (3-5) - Tom Glavine is back in a Braves uniform and has looked magnificent through his first two starts. Through 11.1 innings, Glavine has allowed just one earned run, but he has nothing to show for it in the win column. In fact, his Braves went on to lose both games. Go figure.


Washington Nationals (3-5) - After that white-hot 3-0 start, the Nationals have gotten slapped with a dose of reality by way of five consecutive losses. Toss in Dmitri Young landing on the 15-day Disabled List with a lower back sprain, and you've got one ugly end to what was shaping up to be a glorious first week. If you're looking for a player to watch, keep an eye on shortstop Cristian Guzman. The kid has blazing speed and has already tallied a pair of triples.


New York Mets (2-4) - In what will hopefully be the first of many epic divisional battles, Johan Santana and the Mets lost out to John Smoltz and the Braves on Sunday. Santana gave up just one run over seven innings, but it wasn't good enough to avert the loss. The offense has been powerless in what has been a rough first week for the Mets. Chalk up just three home runs, attributed to Ryan Church, David Wright, and Carlos Delgado. And with only three stolen bases by the entire team, small ball isn't getting the job done either.

Central Division


Milwaukee Brewers (6-1) - Eric Gagne has blown two of three save chances already this season, but he's not the pitching story from Milwaukee for Week One; Ben Sheets is. Sheets tossed a complete game shutout against San Francisco Sunday earning his first win of the season and bringing his scoreless inning count to 15.1. To top it all off, he did it against Barry Zito, rubbing the Giants noses in the bageezes of dollars they're paying a pitcher to not even come close to competing with Sheets. Of note, Prince Fielder hasn't driven a ball out of the park yet, and he's struck out just four times in 22 official at-bats, indicating he might be improving his eye at the plate.


St. Louis Cardinals (6-2) - There were some reports that the Grim Reaper was hanging out around the Cards clubhouse even before the season began, which is reason enough to beware a team. The Redbirds have opened up the season on fire. Among several pleasant early surprises is Kyle Lohse, who is 1-0 and hasn't given up a run through 12.0 innings in his first two starts. And while Albert Pujols is hitting .333, he has hasn't gone yard and has just one RBI. Still, comeback kid Rick Ankiel is filling the void. Attempting to move past the pitching woes, head games, and HGH stories of the past, Ankiel leads the club with three home runs and six RBI.


Chicago Cubs (4-3) - One of the things missing from the Cubs lineup the past couple years has been the monster power numbers from Derrek Lee. After hitting 78 home runs his first two seasons with the Cubs, Lee had just 30 the past two years. Injuries shortened the 2006 season to 50 games and in 2007 that big swing just wasn't there. 2008 might be different. Lee already has three home runs and four doubles giving him an .833 slugging percentage. Kerry Wood, who had a shaky first game, has rebounded and come on strong. Wood has pitched three consecutive scoreless ninth innings for his first three saves of the year, including back-to-back appearances Saturday and Sunday.


Cincinnati Reds (4-4) - Johnny Cueto has been the rave in Cincinnati after earning his first MLB win in his first start. Cueto beat a tough Diamondbacks team, giving up just one hit, a solo home run, in seven innings of work, which included 10 impressive strikeouts. Jeff Keppinger has also been a surprise in Cincy. He's hit safely in every game since opening day and has two home runs and five RBI to his name already.
Pittsburgh Pirates (3-4) - After jacking three home runs and driving in nine runs in the first week of the season, Pittsburgh's Xavier Nady was named NL Player of the Week. Ian Snell, one of the talented, young arms in the Pirates rotation, earned his first win of the season Sunday after holding Florida to just one earned run over six innings while striking out 10.


Houston Astros (3-6) - It's not exactly what they were expecting, but after one week of baseball, Astros closer Jose Valverde has a 2-0 record and one save. He also as an 11.25 ERA and has given up at least one run in each of his three appearances this young season. Meanwhile, Astros third baseman Ty Wigginton suffered a broken bone in the tip of his thumb. While the injury doesn't appear to be too serious, the Astros might play it safe and place him on the disabled list.

West Division


Arizona Diamondbacks (6-2) - Chris Young has already cracked four home runs this season, and he inked himself a very nice, five-year contract extension worth about $30 million. Brandon Webb, who is about as consistent as good pitching gets, is 2-0 to start the season with a 2.08 ERA.


San Diego Padres (5-4) - Talk about consistent. Jake Peavy is also 2-0 to begin the season. He tossed a complete game against the Dodgers on Saturday for his second win and has given up just five hits in 16.0 innings. Fellow rotation man Greg Maddux will have to make an adjustment, though. Michael Barrett, who catches Maddux regularly, landed on the DL with a strained elbow. It's not clear yet if the club's primary catcher, Josh Bard, will now catch Maddux, or if recent call-up Colt Morton will fill that void.


Los Angeles Dodgers (4-4) - Big money free agent Andruw Jones followed in Rafael Furcal's footsteps to LA and has had one ugly first week in the City of Angels. Jones is batting just .103 and has one measly RBI to his name. Old-timer Jeff Kent, who turned 40 this past March, continues to produce and leads the squad with six RBI.


Colorado Rockies (3-5) - With one jam-packed, powerful offense and games in a park that often resemble a recreational softball league, it's interesting that the Rockies haven't scored more than four runs in a game yet this season. Though it took a few games, Matt Holliday is finally starting to warm up. He knocked home runs in back-to-back games Sunday and Monday and then went out and had a three-hit, two-RBI game on Tuesday.


San Francisco Giants (2-6) - The Giants woes started with the questionable marriage to Barry Bonds. The super slugger produced the numbers and controversy and the Giants cashed in big time. But karma is something, and one might argue, "what goes around, comes around". And so, should it be any surprise that the most expensive pitcher in baseball, Barry Zito, is 0-2 with a 6.30 ERA in two starts, where he didn't record more than 5.0 innings pitched.


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