This Week in the National League: 2008 Week 6

Around the horn we go; here's the latest and greatest from around the National League from the last seven days, brought to you by Pete Khazen.

East Division


Florida Marlins (18-14) - Dan Uggla jacked 31 home runs in 2007 and he's already got seven this season thanks to the three-spot he put up this past week. He's a consistent power hitter and second base, which is a rare find these days. Scott Olsen has been a player with high hopes each season that just haven't quite panned out. Well, at age 24, the lefty is starting to find his rhythm. Olsen improved to 4-1 Tuesday with a two-hit performance against the Brewers over 8.2 innings.


Philadelphia Phillies (19-15) - Jimmy Rollins appears to be getting healthier every day and looks to return to the lineup as early as Sunday. Considering the Phils have managed to flirt with first place in his absence is a phenomenal sign of good things to come in Philadelphia.


New York Mets (16-15) - Jorge Sosa leads the Mets pitching staff with four wins, and that's out of the relief role. He's been a vulture this season, and his 6.05 ERA just shows you that sometimes it's simply a matter of being at the right place at the right time. Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran continue to struggle. The once fearsome duo is batting .216 and .221, respectively. And only Ryan Church holds a batting average above .300 at .310.


Atlanta Braves (16-15) - He's talked about every week this season, but Chipper Jones is just putting up some stupid numbers. After a five-RBI day on Monday and two more on Tuesday, Jones has 29 on the season to go along with 10 home runs and a .426 batting average. Starting pitcher Jair Jurrgens continues to impress. The youngster earned his fourth win Tuesday and dropped his ERA to 2.84.


Washington Nationals (14-19) - Despite being the only team in the NL East without a winning record, the Nationals aren't looking half bad this season. Tim Redding has been anchoring the pitching staff thanks to his four wins and 3.20 ERA. The offense has been struggling, though. Ryan Zimmerman leads the trio, which includes Austin Kearns and Nick Johnson, with an unimpressive .217 batting average.


Central Division


St. Louis Cardinals (22-12) - This Redbird team is on fire. I didn't receive any comments about my failure to mention Albert Pujols as an MVP candidate, probably because it's just assumed. But Albert the Great continues to be a man among boys. Pujols has a .355 batting average and 24 RBI, not to mention a league-leading .600 slugging percentage. Besides Pujols and some timely hitting being keys to their success, don't look any further than the bullpen. Aside from Jason Isringhausen's abnormal 6.14 ERA, all four remaining relievers with double-digit appearances have miniscule ERAs: Ron Villone (0.63), Randy Flores (1.08), Ryan Franklin (1.65), and Kyle McClellan (2.08).


Chicago Cubs (19-14) - The Cubbies have been sliding, no doubt. But despite losing six of their past nine games, they have been in each contest, sometimes winning late. Yes, Kerry Wood hasn't been solid as a closer. He blew his third save on Thursday last week at home against the Brewers when he surrendered three runs to take the loss in the ninth inning. The game set the stage for a rough two-games-to-one series loss to the Cards over the weekend.


Houston Astros (17-16) - After starting the season 0-3, Roy Oswalt has settled down and is doing his thing again. The Astros staff ace is 3-0 in his past four starts and has his ERA down sharply to 5.57 from 9.00. On the offensive front, we knew this would happen and now we're seeing it. Miguel Tejada, Lance Berkman, and Carlos Lee are killing the baseball. They already have 22 home runs and 73 RBI between them with Berkman leading both categories with 10 dingers and a monstrous 31 ribbies.


Milwaukee Brewers (16-16) - In 122 at-bats this season, Rickie Weeks has just 24 hits. That's good for only a .197 batting average, which isn't helping the Brewers cause. Neither is their starting pitching. Ben Sheets leads the rotation with four wins, but the remaining starters combined only have three Ws to their name.


Pittsburgh Pirates (13-19) - Xavier Nady tends to start quickly and fade even faster. That hasn't been the case so far. Nady is batting .352 and has a whopping 32 RBI. Teammate Nate McLouth's blazing start hasn't fizzled either. He blasted two more home runs Tuesday, giving him nine on the season, and his three RBI brought his total to 28.


Cincinnati Reds (13-21) - Aaron Harang is 1-5 and Bronson Arroyo 1-4 t start the season. Thing is Harang's ERA is a decent 3.09, while Arroyo's is, well, 8.63. Both pitchers better get their act together if new manager Dusty Baker is going to make a run for the playoffs in his first season in Cincy.

West Division


Arizona Diamondbacks (22-11) - Justin Upton is living up to the hype. The Diamondbacks outfielder, who still can't legally buy alcohol in the United States, is batting .347 this young season and leads the team in batting average. He's also riding a seven-game hit streak. Meanwhile, Brandon Webb continues to be lights out. Despite giving up a season-worst four runs against the Mets, Webb pitched well enough to improve to 7-0 on the season.


Los Angeles Dodgers (19-14) - Matt Kemp figured out he's got wheels that work. The Dodgers outfielder has swiped eight bases in the past week and a half and has an 11-game hit streak going. All this was good enough to make him NL Player of the Week. He's sparked the Dodgers, who have been red hot lately. Brad Penny continues to get the job done too, posting wins in his past four starts and lasting at least five full innings in every game this season.


San Francisco Giants (14-19) - This Giants team is proving to have some grit, and Wednesday represents a huge test when Barry Zito takes the mound again as a starter. Zito has to show he's still got good stuff and is willing to fight to prove it.


Colorado Rockies (12-21) - Last September and October the Rockies put together one of the most amazing runs MLB has ever season. Not so much this April and May. Still Aaron Cook has been a pleasant surprise on the mound. With just 12 wins under the team's belt, Cook's five wins are a huge part of that. And a pitcher with a 2.40 ERA in Colorado deserves props no matter what.


San Diego Padres (12-21) - Jim Edmonds' return to California hasn't been a good one so far. He's batting just .181 with one home run and six RBI. Definitely not what the offense-less Padres need. The club sports the NL's worst team batting average at just .230 and are second worst only to the Giants (106) in runs scored with 108.


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