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Around the NL East: Have the Mets locked up the division?

Sep 10, 2015, 12:00 PM EST

Sep 9, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; New York Mets center fielder Yoenis Cespedes (52) celebrates with right fielder Curtis Granderson (3) after hitting a two run home run in the eighth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. New York Mets defeated Washington Nationals 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

ATLANTA BRAVES  

The Braves are in the midst of a full-on tailspin, losing 20 out of their last 23 games. At this point, there isn’t much left to salvage other than trying to avoid an 100-loss season for the first time since 1988. But with their next seven games against the Mets and Blue Jays, it looks like things could get worse before they get better.

MIAMI MARLINS 

The saga continues in Miami. According to FOX Sports, the Marlins have approached manager Dan Jennings about reprising his role as GM once the season ends. The problem? It appears that Jennings would prefer to stay on as the skipper or become a GM at a more desirable location like Seattle. At this moment, it doesn’t look like he’s going to get what he wants, and so his best (and only) option may be to return to the Marlins’ front office.

NEW YORK METS  

As Nationals fans found out the hard way, the Mets may have very well locked up an NL East title this week. By going to Washington and earning a hard-fought sweep, New York has opened up a seven-game lead in the division while also breaking the heart of its closest competition.

The key cogs in the gigantic series win were (as usual) the trade deadline acquisitions, most notably Yoenis Cespedes, who has been nothing short of brilliant since the moment he joined the Mets. He’s hitting .312 with 14 home runs and 36 RBI in just 36 games with New York, a performance that has prompted a few pundits to wonder if he deserves NL MVP consideration. While that might be taking it a little too far (there’s a guy in D.C. who has a better claim to that throne), what’s undeniable is how impactful the 29-year-old former Cuban defector has been on the division race.

In fact, if and when the Mets clinch, their fans will probably look back at the wacky deadline week that may have changed the entire season; from the Wilmer Flores trade-that-wasn’t to the collapse vs. the Padres to the acquisition of Cespedes on July 31 that preceded a sweep of Washington at Citi Field, the seven-day stretch sparked an unlikely turnaround that transformed the Mets into serious contenders while simultaneously sinking the Nats.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES 

With the season coming to a close, all eyes are on Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. With the newly-hired Andy MacPhail as team president, it’s reasonable to assume that change will be made as soon as the season ends. But so far, MacPhail hasn’t tipped his hands about what Amaro’s fate will be just yet. Given that other clubs have already fired their GMs in recent weeks, you’d think if a change were to be made, the Phillies could have done it by now. But MacPhail is known for his patience, so fans will have to wait a few more weeks to see what the new man in charge has in store.

 

  1. Eugene in Oregon - Sep 10, 2015 at 12:07 PM

    Yes.

  2. scnatsfan - Sep 10, 2015 at 12:17 PM

    Absolutely

  3. Section 222 - Sep 10, 2015 at 12:18 PM

    No doubt about it.

  4. edbrinkman - Sep 10, 2015 at 12:26 PM

    Silly question.

  5. JayB - Sep 10, 2015 at 12:49 PM

    yup….should not have been that easy

  6. wmlsays - Sep 10, 2015 at 12:58 PM

    Mets will move on. Nats will grind on.

  7. nats106 - Sep 10, 2015 at 1:02 PM

    The depressing thing about this is that the NLDS is going to be wide open with San Francisco likely out of the playoff picture as well. Cardinals, while having a great record are having some weaknesses exposed, Dodgers, well they have the Williams to the Nationals as Mattingly is to Dodgers manager scenario. Pittsburgh and Chicago will have to play a WC game and burn their best pitcher.

    This could have/should have been the Nationals. I like the Mets chances, but I sure wouldn’t root for them. I’d rather have another I70 world series, exactly 30 years later and have the same outcome.

  8. alexva6 - Sep 10, 2015 at 1:04 PM

    yes, and the Nats are the ones that gave them the keys

    • npb99 - Sep 10, 2015 at 1:30 PM

      And the lock.

  9. langleyclub - Sep 10, 2015 at 1:47 PM

    Yes. Even heading into Monday, if the Nats had swept, the thought of facing the Dodgers with a rested Kershaw and Greinke (given the Nats went 0-4 against them recently) tempered my enthusiasm for the playoffs.

    Credit to the Mets for sweeping the Nats twice and taking control of the Division, but it feels like the NL East is a battle among midgets and that the three teams in Central and the Dodgers are all superior teams (even though baseball playoffs typically result with apparently weaker teams winning0.

    • jfmii - Sep 10, 2015 at 2:13 PM

      Mets will be formidable in the playoffs

      • sec112 - Sep 10, 2015 at 4:12 PM

        Curious why you think so. Their starting pitching is only fair (ignore the NY hype and look at actual numbers for the last month – fair is maybe an overstatement), their middle relief pitching is suspect (except when facing the Nats), their defense is subpar at almost every position, and their offense has looked great over exactly the same period that they have faced lousy teams with lousy pitching staffs (or, to be charitable to us, a mediocre team with an imploding pitching staff). Don’t be fooled by what they’ve done against poor opponents. Instead focus on 1 run against Zimmerman (ERA over 3) and 2 against Strasburg (ERA over 4) and imagine them facing that every night followed by competent relief pitching. I don’t expect them to do very well (and so you know there’s no bias here, I will be rooting for them).

      • jfmii - Sep 10, 2015 at 5:15 PM

        Can’t disagree with any of your points, sec112, just caught up in the notion that this is their year. The biggest reminder I take from your post is that both the Mets and Nationals have been mostly playing against the dregs of major league baseball which is the rest of the NL East.

        I too, will be rooting for them, and perhaps that is my bias.

  10. Whack-A-Mule - Sep 10, 2015 at 1:49 PM

    Mets are the best team in the N.L. East, top-to-bottom.
    Their starting pitching, strong bullpen, consistent and
    timely hitting and deep bench (since the trade deadline)
    impelled them to earn the N.L. East championship.
    (We accelerated the inevitable with choke after ghastly choke.)

    N.L. MVP ?
    None-of-the-above.

    Yadier Molina.

    (The one essential for a championship-caliber team is a
    championship-caliber catcher. Which we ain’t got.)

    • wmlsays - Sep 10, 2015 at 2:00 PM

      Rizzo failed to adapt to changing circumstances. Not the first time he has failed in this regard. Hence, the failure of the Nats to advance in the playoffs in previous years. And their failure to even get to the playoffs this year.

    • sec112 - Sep 10, 2015 at 4:27 PM

      Mets starting pitching has dropped from among the best as of the All-Star break to bottom half of MLB over the past month.

      • wmlsays - Sep 10, 2015 at 4:44 PM

        And yet they still beat the Nats. Go figure. (Maybe it’s because Harvey and deGrom have not been pitching).

      • sec112 - Sep 10, 2015 at 4:57 PM

        Did they beat the Nats? Or did the Nats beat themselves?

        My guess is that Harvey is tired and hurting, which is why he had Boras raise the shut down issue on his behalf. His last two starts have been worse than poor. Syndegaard and Niese have also been poor. DeGrom has been OK (good last night – not as good against Marlins or Red Sox). Colon has been the star lately.

        All I’m saying is that they have some very talented pitchers. But RIGHT NOW, they are far from a good starting rotation.

  11. micksback1 - Sep 10, 2015 at 1:53 PM

    I just realized I have done a pretty good job of not commenting during the games this year. For one, most home games I attend so could not anyway and as far as the season goes, I think I have only poste 1-2 times in 2015…I am proud of myself. Needless to say, I am glad I did not post last night, LOL

    So……hee hee, I think Richrad Justice’s segment with Tony Kornheiser was the BEST analysis of this season, MW, Storen, Rizzo and the Lerners PERIOD.

    Certain absolutes from this segment that I are etched in stone that Justice stated:

    1) MW inability to EVER admit he was wrong has now spread to the players in the clubhouse

    2) MW’s decision on the Rendon bunt (Rendon only bunted 4 times in his career) illustrates how MW does not his players or knows how toe manage

    3) Drew is a head case, some of which can be blamed on Rizzo and MW.

    3) MW has lost the clubhouse and he points out Stras’ expression after he was lifted.

    4) The blueprint for a winning team are teams like the Royal and Mets who play incredible defense

    • jfmii - Sep 10, 2015 at 2:15 PM

      The Mets play incredible defense? With Daniel Murphy at 2nd? And Wilmer Flores at short?

      • jd - Sep 10, 2015 at 2:20 PM

        And Cespedes incenter? and Wright at 3rd?

        C’mon man.

      • micksback1 - Sep 10, 2015 at 3:04 PM

        defense includes pitching my friend. also, the Royals both in the field and middle relief are the best examples. Also, I was paraphrasing what Richard Justice said on Tony Kornheiser’s show

        BTW: To be critical of the Mets after they exposed the fraud of a team the Nats are is a bit bold on your part.

        The Mets showed they have HEART and GUTS. In all 3 games , they trailed the Nats…what did they do, they hung in came back and won. What did the Nats do when they fell behind, they quit. The 3 up 3 down in the 9th inning yesterday was gutless and sad to watch

        All credit goes to the Mets who have more heart than the Nats, period

      • micksback1 - Sep 10, 2015 at 3:06 PM

        Cepedis….whom I said back on July 31 the Nats would pick up….I was wrong and the Nats are paying for it now

      • sec112 - Sep 10, 2015 at 4:31 PM

        Not to mention Cespedes, Duda and sad as I am to say it (because he was once my favorite player) David Wright. The Mets have 2 fewer errors than the Nats this year.

    • langleyclub - Sep 10, 2015 at 3:10 PM

      The Mets only beat the Nats so far. Let’s see how far they go when not playing the weaklings in the NL East. To date, the Mets have struggled against quality NL teams:

      Cards 3-4
      Pirates 0-7
      Cubs 0-7
      Dodgers 4-3

      7-21 against the other playoff teams. Agree that bad defense will catch up to them.

      • Section 222 - Sep 10, 2015 at 4:10 PM

        Weaklings in the NL East like the Nats?

  12. micksback1 - Sep 10, 2015 at 2:00 PM

    the one positive about MW is that at least he not saying what another DC loser head coach in another sport use to say loss after loss “we competed” lol

    If MW had lived 70 years ago he would have been the 4th Stooge along with Moe, Larry and Curly

    nuk nuk nuk

  13. micksback1 - Sep 10, 2015 at 2:07 PM

    well I will break even on the beers bet with Bowden and Wonk. looks like my less than 82 wins looks good and Wonk will owe me a Corona Light and Bowden may get lucky and the Nats could win 77 games, or I could win 2 Corona Lights

    lol

  14. Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 10, 2015 at 2:07 PM

    Have the Mets locked up the division?

    ——

    Yes. Congrats to them for winning the NL East. Good Luck in the post season. Going to be weird watching a post season with no Giants, no Nats and possibly no Angels.

  15. raleighnat - Sep 10, 2015 at 2:15 PM

    What an embarrassment these Nats have been! All of that talent and braggadocio ends like this. What a humiliating waste.

    • nats106 - Sep 10, 2015 at 2:16 PM

      Yes, they were, after all, the team to beat. Mets took them literally and beat them. Again and again.

      • wmlsays - Sep 10, 2015 at 2:24 PM

        They only won slightly more than half of the time. They beat the Nats when it mattered. It’s now how you start but how you end. Mets made great adjustments (some lucky). Rizzo and the Nats got unlucky with their adjustments (small as they were). And so, another year is almost done. And the Nats will miss the playoffs for the second time in three years. With a supposedly loaded roster.

      • nats106 - Sep 10, 2015 at 2:26 PM

        You only need to win playoff games slightly more than half the time. Compare that to the Nationals mastery last year over the Mets. I’m sure those double digit wins was on their bulletin board and circled every time the Nationals showed up on the calendar.

  16. micksback1 - Sep 10, 2015 at 3:10 PM

    So when do pitchers and catchers report??

  17. micksback1 - Sep 10, 2015 at 3:25 PM

    you see, if Rizzo had resigned ALR, he could have had him pitch and why not pitch TMoore now?
    LOL

  18. ehay2k - Sep 10, 2015 at 3:39 PM

    Of course, the Mets are in a very, very good position to win the division. But there is just no such thing as a lock. Prior to getting a sweep handed to them in DC, the Mets lost 2 of 3 to a Miami team playing without Stanton. They also lost 2 of 3 in Boston prior to sweeping the Phillies, Oh wait, the Phillies won a game in that series. Basically, they haven’t shown they can beat a good team either. And the Yankees are up next for them.

    Add to that the fact that right now, there is a lot of talk in the NY media about the potential Harvey shutdown. Did that affect his pitching on Tuesday? He sure got hit hard, as he did 6 days earlier against… the Phillies! Only 2 games but this reminds me of Stras late in 2012.

    So, while I personally saw the biggest pitching meltdown I have ever seen on Tuesday, followed by a game on Wednesday that further exemplified the adage “Managers don’t win games, but they can lose them”, somewhere deep in the recesses of the Nats fan in me that has not been disappointed in the team this year and brutalized in the last two days, I still think that there is a chance the Nats can do this, because I know the Mets can collapse.

    • jd - Sep 10, 2015 at 4:05 PM

      ehay2k,

      The Mets may stumble but I just don’t see how the Nats get off the Mat one more time. These were 3 pretty strong blows to the head we took. If it were a fight it’d be called by a TKO.

      • ehay2k - Sep 10, 2015 at 4:10 PM

        Fortunately, the MLB schedule has no concussion protocol and the Nats will have to play on. 😉

      • jfmii - Sep 10, 2015 at 5:23 PM

        Bullpen will not reverse the trend. Nationals will continue to lose games 7th inning and later. Storen’s collapse has been and will continue to be a crippler unless he turns it around (which I don’t see). Eternal optimist that I am, I thought Treinan and Rivero were ready to step up. I was wrong.

        So even if the Mets stumble, they won’t lose 7 in the standings to a Nationals team that can not possibly go on a run without a miraculous bullpen turnaround–even if the starting pitching gets better than it has been

  19. jd - Sep 10, 2015 at 4:02 PM

    No worries ehay2k,

    my mistake for attempting to debate with a serial moron. Won’t make that mistake again.

  20. sec112 - Sep 10, 2015 at 4:49 PM

    As should be clear from my comments on other peoples’ comments, I don’t think very highly of this Mets team (and again, to be clear, assuming they win the East, I will be rooting enthusiastically for them in the post season). I really felt like even with a 4 or 5 game deficit, a healthy (physically and mentally) Nats team would have a good shot at catching them, as their pitching staff is running on fumes (and has already slipped considerably – masked by poor opponents), they are relying mostly on very streaky hitters who were showing signs of cooling off before facing our middle relief (and whatever Scherzer is right now), their defense is poor, and they have three games against the Yankees who they have a lot of trouble against and could easily be swept by. .

    But 7 games is a lot. And this is not a healthy Nats team (mentally or physically). I don’t see how they can recover from what they just went through. So – yeah – it’s probably over.

  21. jeffreycbullock - Sep 10, 2015 at 5:00 PM

    Has anyone else wondered if Rizzo “liked our guys” and made no more big moves (i.e. for hitters) because he realizes he may have made a poor choice with MW and is just leaving him twisting in the wind? Long shot conspiracy theory but I’m sure it’s happened before

    • jfmii - Sep 10, 2015 at 5:27 PM

      Funny I just used that “twisting in the wind” phrase in thinking MW was doing that to Storen in the 8-7 loss.

    • sec112 - Sep 10, 2015 at 5:44 PM

      I don’t tend to believe in conspiracy theories.

      But I am still struggling to understand bringing in Storen last night when there were better right handed or left handed options ( including, possibly, not removing Strasburg) Was this really a good time for “showing confidence” . Did Williams really believe bringing in Storen was the best path to winning the game? I’m just having a hard time believing that.

  22. natsguy - Sep 10, 2015 at 6:16 PM

    Per Bill Ladson RZIM will miss a significant amount of time due to the oblique. Probably ought to just shut him down. Nothing left worth playing for. Too bad.

    • natsjackinfl - Sep 10, 2015 at 6:39 PM

      You did read the whole article, right? The Trade Rumors qualified Ladson by saying that it was pure conjecture on Bill’s part and not something official from the club.

      But I do agree. If it’s an oblique, he should just shut it down.

  23. NatsNut - Sep 10, 2015 at 6:22 PM

    The thing is, even if the Nats did squeak in and take the division, there is NO WAY this bullpen survives. They will be gone in tjree games, tops. Its not just Storen, bless his heart. The long list of late inning lead changes came from the ENTIRE bullpen.

  24. Guapo - Sep 10, 2015 at 7:41 PM

    It’s over.

    Desmond should be benched for the remainder of the season. He’s only got a handful of games left with the Nats.

    They need to starting figuring out the SS position for next year. Extended tryout for Escobar, Espinosa and Turner.

    Thanks for the memories #20, but the Nats need to move forward.

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