This Week in the National League: 2008 Week 8

Interleague play started this past weekend, and we're beginning to get our taste of who might be for real this season and who might just be pretending. So around the horn we go, here's the latest and greatest from around the National League.

East Division


Florida Marlins (25-19) - The Marlins signed outfielder Jacque Jones to a minor league deal Monday. He could add a veteran presence to the clubhouse and in center field. Second baseman Dan Uggla meanwhile continues his tear. With another blast on Tuesday, Uggla's season totals are 14 home runs and 32 RBI while carrying a .323 batting average.


Atlanta Braves (24-21) - Chipper Jones continues to lead the league in hitting with a .409 batting average, and the Braves continue to play solid baseball. They swept a doubleheader against the Mets on Tuesday behind good all-around pitching. Tom Glavine, who was 0-1 after his first six starts this year, has produced back-to-back wins against Philadelphia and the Mets.


Philadelphia Phillies (25-22) - Chase Utley leads the team with 14 home runs, and Pat Burrell is the top RBI man with 32. However, Utley has just one home run in his last 16 games, and similarly, Burrell has just two RBI. Offense has been a struggle for the Phils as of late, though they continue to keep pace in the NL East standings.


New York Mets (22-21) - Johan Santana is starting to heat up in New York. He's undefeated in his past four decisions, and the club is 6-0 when he's taken the mound in that same timespan. His latest outing was his longest, a 7.2-inning performance against the New York Yankees, in which he gave up four earned runs, but still earned the win.


Washington Nationals (20-27) - Tim Redding has given up just one run in his last two starts, spanning 12.1 innings, which netted him two big wins and improved his record to 6-3. Teammate Jon Rauch is proving to be a quality saves man for the Nationals. Rauch has been a perfect 8-for-8 in save opportunities since his last blown save on April 17th. He now has 10 saves on the season.



Central Division


Chicago Cubs (28-18) - The Jim Edmonds experiment began in Chicago with the Cubs signing the centerfielder to a one-year deal. Edmonds is expected to split time with Reed Johnson. The Cubs completed an 8-2 homestand that saw Alfonso Soriano ignite. Soriano boosted his average from .188 to .296 and in a six-game sequence cranked seven home runs and drove in 13 runs. The Cubs most pleasant, and maybe not-so unexpected surprises on offense this year so far has been Geovanny Soto. The catcher is batting .317 with nine home runs and leads the team with 33 RBI.


St. Louis Cardinals (27-21) - There are a lot of new names on the Cardinals roster this season, but somehow they're finding ways to win. Todd Wellemeyer has been the surprise of the rotation. The former relief pitcher is 3-0 in his last four starts and 5-1 with a 3.25 ERA on the season to lead the Cardinals staff. Though Ryan Ludwick leads the team with 32 RBI, the familiar face of Albert Pujols is still the dominant presence in the Cards lineup. Pujols is batting .355 this season and continues to lead the majors with a .495 on-base percentage.


Houston Astros (26-21) - Prior to running into the Cubs on Monday, Lance Berkman was putting up some stupid numbers for May. He had a 17-game hit streak broken Monday that took his average from .297 to .399. During that same time, he rocked eight home runs, bringing his total to 16 and drove in 21 runs to bring his RBI count to 44, both league highs. Closer Jose Valverde continues his dominance, as well. Valverde hasn't given up a run since April 17th and has since closed 11 games and added two wins to his 4-1 record.


Pittsburgh Pirates (21-24) - The Pirates caught Milwaukee and the two teams face off this week, with the Brewers taking game one Tuesday 7-2. Though the Bucs have shown definite signs of improvement, Freddy Sanchez, one of their bright spots the past two seasons, continues to struggle. Sanchez is batting just .260 on the year following his .344 in 2006 when he won the batting crown, and .304 just last year.


Milwaukee Brewers (21-24) - Eric Gagne hadn't pitched since he earned his last save on May 13th. He took the hill in a non-save opportunity Tuesday against Pittsburgh and gave up two runs in just 0.2 innings of work. There's a big hole in that closer position in Milwaukee and it's just going to keep haunting this up-and-coming team.


Cincinnati Reds (21-25) - Edinson Volquez continues to be the rave, but there is already rising concern over how Dusty Baker is using him. Volquez is throwing a lot of pitches, and Baker's history of allowing the likes of Kerry Wood and Mark Prior to do so have some fans worried about the fate of this budding phenom. Adam Dunn is starting to mash the ball. He never really hits for average as his .248 career BA indicates, but Dunn can crank the long ball, and he did so in five consecutive games this past week.



West Division


Arizona Diamondbacks (28-17) - The Diamondbacks remain the team with the best record in baseball, and not much has changed from week to week. Brandon Webb continues his dominance and is now 9-0 with a 2.56 ERA. Closer Brandon Lyon has converted his last 11 save opportunities giving him 12 on the season and has a pitched 17.0 consecutive scoreless innings to improve his ERA to 1.80.


Los Angeles Dodgers (24-21) - The Andruw Jones saga in LA continues. Jones had an MRI on his knee and reports indicate a fluid and torn cartilage, which could sideline Jones for around a month. Meanwhile, Rafael Furcal, who has been out with a strained back, has been practicing and is expected back before the weekend.


Colorado Rockies (18-28) - After winning six straight starts, Aaron Cook has dropped two in a row. Still at 6-3 with a 3.06 ERA a quarter of a way through the season, he's the top performing Rockies pitcher. Clint Barmes has been the resurrected Rockies hitter. Barmes is having a career year batting .355 to start the season.


San Francisco Giants (18-29) - Closer Brian Wilson has struggled as of late. Wilson gave up two runs Tuesday night, but managed to hold on for his 13th save. That's now six runs he's given up in his last two outings, which has buried his ERA at 5.79. Young phenom Tim Lincecum continues to dazzle hitters. Lincecum improved to 6-1 on Tuesday, and though he gave up three runs over 6.0 innings of work, he still only has a 2.17 ERA.


San Diego Padres (17-30) - Starting pitcher and staff ace Jake Peavy landed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right elbow. The news just keeps getting worse for the Padres who can't seem to catch a break, produce any offense, or do anything right. General Manager Kevin Towers has made it publicly known that he isn't happy with the worst record in baseball and that change is imminent if the club doesn't get its act together and start winning some games quickly.


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