This Week In the National League – Week 11

The season is full of ups and downs, highs and lows. Health, luck, weather, not to mention talent, front office maneuvering, and coaching, all play into the path to the postseason. This week brings a hodgepodge of good news and bad news. Here's the latest and greatest from National League.

East Division

Philadelphia Phillies (36-26) – Good news: Closer Brad Lidge got a cortisone shot for the inflammation in his knee and is already reportedly throwing pain-free. Bad news: Not a single starting pitcher on the Phillies staff has more than four wins. Good news: The team is still in first place in the division and 10 games above .500. Bad news: Jimmy Rollins is by far the worst hitting regular position player the Phillies have reporting in with just a .221 batting average and a .257 on base percentage.

New York Mets (33-29) – Bad news: Johan Santana has given up 17 earned runs in his last three starts and is 1-2 in that span. That includes his most recent outing, a brief, 3.0-inning shellacking in Yankee Stadium, where Santana tossed a virtual batting practice session to the Yankee hitters and gave up a career-high nine runs as the Mets fell 15-0. Good news: John Maine, who has been on the 15-day DL since June 7th with a pinched nerve in his shoulder, is reportedly being helped by the cortisone shot he received. He's anticipated to be activated when eligible next week and likely will only miss one more start in the rotation.

Florida Marlins (32-34) – Bad news: Dan Uggla must have hit the snooze button after waking up last week. He doesn't have a single home run or RBI in his last nine games. Good news: Even without Uggla's production, Florida swept the Blue Jays in a three-game set in Toronto over the weekend. More good news: Starting pitcher Josh Johnson is 3-0 in his last three decisions, and the club has won each of his last five starts. His most recent stellar performance was a complete game against the Jays on Sunday where he gave up just three runs on seven hits in an 11-3 victory.

Atlanta Braves (30-33) – Bad news: The Braves have lost five of their last six. After two more games in Cincinnati, their schedule gets rough. They travel to Boston for three. Then back home for a make-up with the Cubs. Then back-to-back-to-back three game sets at home with the Yankees, Boston, and Philadelphia. Seasons are rarely made in June, but they can definitely be lost. A silver lining: Despite being 0-3 in his last three starts, Jair Jurrjens still has a 2.89 ERA.

Washington Nationals (16-46) – Bad news: It's mid-June, and the Nationals are 20 games back in the division's standings. With just 16 wins, they have sunk to 30 games below .500. At this pace, we could be witnessing the train wreck of a 120-loss season.

Central Division

Milwaukee Brewers (36-29) – Good news: After a quiet seven games that produced no homers and just two RBI, Prince Fielder hit his first career grand slam and had six RBI Monday, leading the Brewers to a 14-12 win over Cleveland. Ryan Braun added a homer and five RBI of his own. Bad news: Dave Bush, who got a no-decision in that softball game, is 0-3 in his last three decisions and has not won a start since May 19th. During that time his ERA has gone from 3.74 to 5.31.

St. Louis Cardinals (35-30) – Good news: Albert Pujols took over the league lead with 23 home runs. He has five home runs in his last five games. So much for that kryptonite a week ago. Good news: Facing Justin Verlander on Tuesday night, the Cardinals hammered Detroit 11-2. Verlander hadn't lost an interleague game, going 8-0 prior to the beating he took at Busch Stadium. Bad news: Somehow the not-so fleet of foot Pujols leads the team in stolen bases with nine. And Mr. Slow Motion Yadier Molina is third on the team with four.

Cincinnati Reds (32-31) – Good news: Edinson Volquez will be eligible to come off the Disabled List this week. Bad news: Though he's pain-free, his arm strength isn't quite there yet, so he's likely to be out a bit longer. Good news: Johnny Cueto has given up just two earned runs in his last three starts. He did, however, lose his last outing: a 7-1 loss in Kansas City where he gave up five unearned runs.

Chicago Cubs (30-30) – Bad news: The slow leak in the Pandora's box, holding the names of the MLB players that tested positive in 2003 for performance enhancing drugs, released Sammy Sosa's name. So the Cubs organization will have that distraction to deal with over the next week or so. More bad news: The Cubs don't have a single regular player on the active roster hitting above .283 (Ryan Theriot). Good news: Aramis Ramirez, who has a .364 batting average this season, has started his comeback from his dislocated shoulder. He took some grounders this past week. There's a chance he could be activated before the All-Star game, but the Cubs would be wise to be careful with him.

Pittsburgh Pirates (30-34) – Good news: Zach Duke is definitely on top of his game this season. With another win Saturday against Detroit, Duke improved to 7-4. He has already thrown 93.0 innings this season and has a solid 3.10 ERA. Bad news: No hitter on the roster has more than nine home runs or 34 RBI. Nate McLouth leads the team in both categories. The Pirates could very well end the season without a 25-home-run hitter or 100-RBI man.

Houston Astros (29-33) – Bad news: Wandy Rodriguez is 0-4 in his last five starts. His ERA has nearly doubled in that span from 1.71 to 3.33. Good news: Roy Oswalt has two wins in his last three starts and has pitched at least 6.0 innings in his past seven outings. In those two wins he gave up just one run in each game. Too bad he sandwiched a nine-hit, six-run loss in the middle of them.

West Division

Los Angeles Dodgers (43-22) – Good news: The Dodgers are 21 games above .500. More good news: Chad Billingsley has won his last three starts and leads the club with a 9-3 record. Even more good news: Jonathan Broxton is 6-0 with 16 saves and hasn't blown an opportunity in a month (May 14th).

San Francisco Giants (34-30) – Good news: Matt Cain's impressive season continues. He's now won seven straight decisions, including his past six outings. Most recently, on Sunday, Cain tossed a complete game against Oakland giving up just one run on four hits. Bad news: After an 0-for-27 mega slump, the Emmanuel Burriss project was canceled. The second baseman was sent to Triple-A Fresno, and youngster Matt Downs was given a shot.

Colorado Rockies (31-33) – Good news: The Rockies won 11 straight games. Bad news: That win streak was snapped Tuesday at the hands of Tampa Bay and the club is still two games under .500. Good news: Closer Huston Street has been a machine. He racked up five saves during the streak, including a span where he pitched on four consecutive days to close out four straight Ws for the Rockies. Milwaukee, who was red hot, got swept at home in a three-game set in part thanks to Street.

San Diego Padres (28-35) – Bad news: Adrian Gonzalez is still stuck on 22 home runs. Really bad news: Jake Peavy strained a tendon in his ankle and could be out anywhere from 4-to-12 weeks. To sum it all up: The Padres are 3-10 in the month of June and are riding a four-game losing streak.

Arizona Diamondbacks (27-38) – Good news: Dan Haren has a 2.20 ERA and has given up just five runs in his last four starts. He has struck out 90, while walking just 13. More good news: Mark Reynolds continues his hot streak. Over the course of his last nine games he has four home runs and 12 RBI. Bad news: Haren and Reynolds are just two men. The club is 11 games under .500 and find themselves in the cellar in the West staring at a 16-game deficit behind the Dodgers.

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