This Week in the National League – Week 15

Another All-Star Game. Another loss for the National League. And this one even came in St. Louis in front of those rabid Cardinals fans. Sigh...

Alas, here's the latest and greatest from around the league that can't seem to piece together a roster that can win the All-Star Game.

 

East Division

 

Philadelphia Phillies (48-38) – The Phillies wrapped up the first half of the season winning nine of their last 10 games, ending on a five-game win streak. They then went out and signed veteran pitcher and three-time Cy Young award winner, Pedro Martinez, to a one-year deal worth $1 million plus performance-based incentives. It's still unclear if this move could take them out of the running for Roy Halladay.

 

Florida Marlins (46-44) – After going 0-1 in his last three starts, All-Star Josh Johnson pitched 6.2 innings en route to a 8-1 win against Arizona on Sunday. Johnson is 8-2 on the season with a 2.74 ERA over 128.0 innings pitched.

 

Atlanta Braves (43-45) – The Braves headed into the All-Star Break on a loss, but they did take three games from Colorado in a rare five-game series. Rafael Soriano is emerging as the Braves dependable closer. He is a perfect 6-for-6 in July in save opportunities and boasts a 1.48 ERA.

 

New York Mets (42-45) – At the break the Mets are, no doubt, underachieving, in large part due to the myriad of injuries they have experienced this season. To try to fill their offensive void, they picked up outfielder Jeff Francoeur from the Braves in exchange from Ryan Church. Perhaps both teams are hoping a change of scenery is all these hitters need to finally live up to their potential.

 

Washington Nationals (26-61) – The Nationals are 26-61 at the break – 22.5 games behind the Phillies division leading pace. Manager Manny Acta is out and journeyman manager Jim Riggleman has been named the interim skipper.

 

 

Central Division

 

St. Louis Cardinals (49-42) – With a win in the second game Sunday of a day/night doubleheader with the Cubs, the Cardinals salvaged a split of the four-game series. Strapped to find consistent offense from players other than Albert Pujols, the Cards were excited to see Ryan Ludwick returning to his form from last year. Ludwick drove in all four Cardinal runs Sunday night via two home runs. In his past seven games he has four home runs and 15 RBI.

 

Milwaukee Brewers (45-43) – Prince Fielder was victorious in the All-Star weekend's home run derby beating out the NL likes of Pujols, Ryan Howard, and Adrian Gonzalez. His Brewers are definitely feeling the void left behind from the departures of Ben Sheets and C.C. Sabathia. They are reportedly interested and in the running for Roy Halladay. If they can't land the big fish, it will be interesting to see if they go after a smaller catch to boost their rotation.

 

Chicago Cubs (43-43) – The Cubs missed a golden opportunity Sunday night to pull within 1.5 games of the Cardinals. Instead they find themselves 3.5 back heading into the break. That Sunday game did bring about a baseball rarity. Lou Piniella made a move sending relief pitcher Sean Marshall into left field in the ninth inning after Marshall had taken the mound and already walked a batter. After his replacement struck out the following hitter, Piniella brought Marshall back to the mound to face the final two hitters of the inning. The move left fans, producers, and writers scrambling for their rulebooks – and probably a few umpires too.

 

Houston Astros (44-44) – Hunter Pence joined Miguel Tejada on the All-Star team this year for the National League. No Carlos Lee. No Lance Berkman. No Roy Oswalt. But with those players alone on the roster, you'd think this Astros team could be a sleeping giant waiting to wake up in the second half of the season.

 

Cincinnati Reds (42-45) – The Reds lost four of their last five heading into the break. Their lone win in the set came Friday when Bronson Arroyo earned his ninth win by tossing a four-hit complete game shutout. Seems like the schizophrenic pitcher is either lighting up batters or getting lit up. You just never know which one is going to show up.

 

Pittsburgh Pirates (38-50) – Despite being in last place in the division, the Pirates still landed two players on the NL All-Star roster (one more than the Cubs, incidentally, who had eight on the 2008 roster). Freddy Sanchez made the team, as did starting pitcher Zach Duke, who was a late roster add replacing San Francisco's Matt Cain. Pittsburgh had been hanging around the NL Central pack, but their four-game losing streak heading into the break has pushed them to the brink of double-digit games back.

 

 

West Division

 

Los Angeles Dodgers (56-32) – As good as the Dodgers are, they are supposedly one of the front-runners for Roy Halladay – at least in the National League. Rumor has it they might have to give up a solid, young pitcher to get Halladay, though. Perhaps someone like Clayton Kershaw, who has won four straight decisions and is now 7-5 with a 3.16 ERA.

 

San Francisco Giants (49-39) – Matt Cain was a late scratch from the NL All-Star roster after the Giants realized they didn't want to mess around with Cain's bruised elbow after getting hit by a line drive over the weekend. Better safe than sorry when you've got the second best record in the league. Talk about young and up-and-coming, Pablo Sandoval has a .333 average, 15 home runs, and 55 RBI in the first half of what should be his first full season in the bigs. Oh yeah, and don't forget about Jonathan Sanchez. He went 0-4 over his last five starts, was relegated to the bullpen, but managed to produce MLB's first no-hitter of the season last Friday night at home against the Padres.

 

Colorado Rockies (47-41) – Starting pitcher Jason Marquis, who leads the league with 11 wins, did not pitch in the All-Star game Tuesday. He's traditionally a first-half pitcher that really struggles down the stretch, so perhaps the extra rest will do him some good. Huston Street, the club's closer, finished the first half of the season converting 22-of-23 save opportunities, and winning three games. There's definitely a lot of talent closing games this season across the league.

 

Arizona Diamondbacks (38-51) – Despite 24 home runs and 62 RBI, Mark Reynolds was not a National League All-Star. He is just four home runs away from tying last year's mark, which was a career high. His 123 strikeouts the first half of the season might just put him on-pace to break his impressive 204 strikeout mark set last season.

 

San Diego Padres (36-52) – It's not good when the top qualifying batting average in your starting lineup is just .267. That belongs to David Eckstein. And it might be worse when one player has 30.3% of the team's home runs as does Adrian Gonzalez. And to think Gonzalez has just two home runs since June 2nd. The end result: a 20-game deficit at the break.

 

Got questions or comments? Email them to pete@petekhazen.com.


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