Fucking insane. Baseball is not a sport where shit gets “insane” (however you want to define that word) but this year, this moment, it is insane. It’s honestly hard to not talk about it for baseball fans so let’s go through each division and see what’s going on as of today.
NL East- What a year it has been for the NL East. Coming into this season, the Nationals were supposed to run away with the division. That has been the common trend the past few years with the Nationals. As they load up in talent, behind baseball’s best pitcher in Max Scherzer, move over Clayton Kershaw, it’s tough to imagine other teams, in the SAME division, competing. Well, the world doesn’t always work according to plans, and that is the case in the NL East.
The Atlanta Braves (64-51) and the Philadelphia Phillies (65-52) are FIRST and SECOND, respectively. As a Braves fan, I legitimately took this year as a lost year. We’re still eating either Matt Kemp’s or Adrian Gonzalez’s horrible, stupid, unjust salaries (can’t remember which), but I knew there was not enough room to go and sign pieces that could help us out. The Braves and Phillies found a way. The Phillies coming into the year, were in a weird spot. They signed Carlos Santana to a 3 year contract, worth probably a little too much ($60 mil), to play first base. Leaving Rhys Hoskins to play around in left field, where he is not the best. They opened up shortstop for prospect J.P. Crawford, who, for the second year in a row, has barely hit his weight (.194). With hitting that is mediocre at best, 20th in runs scored and 29th in total hits, it’s obviously the pitching that has kept the Phillies afloat. Coming in at 6th in ERA this year (3.74), that great number can be associated with the emergence of Aaron Nola. Nola has legitimately looked like a Cy Young candidate this year. Nola is LEADING, yes, LEADING all pitchers for both leagues in the WAR category. Sitting at a solid score of 7, which is .1 in front of Jacob Degroms 6.9. I think most of us knew he was going to be good, but not THIS good, this quick.
The Braves have seen the emergence of starters Sean Newcomb and Mike Foltynewicz helping carry the rotation. Of course, you cannot forget about the breakout season from 34-year-old Nick Markakis, the rise of Ronald Acuna, and young super star in the making, Ozzie Albies, for all contributing the the Atlanta Braves success in 2018. Even if the Braves don’t somehow make it into the postseason, this season will still go down as a success. The Nationals are only 5.5 games out of the lead so don’t count them out either, as there is still about a month and a half left of baseball. But, let’s not forget about the Mets and Marlins holding down the last two spots in the NL East. Someone’s got to do it.
NL Central: To the Cubs, this is expected. Leading the division by 3 games, they expected to be in this position. What they might not have expected is that the team in Milwaukee would be making the moves they are. After adding big names like Chistian Yellich and Lorenzo Cain during the off-season, people must have thought the rebuild was over. Boy, were they wrong. Instead, they decided to go all in. They acquired third baseman Mike Moustakas and second baseman Jonathan Schoop of the Orioles, who is going to be manning shortstop until he proves he can’t do otherwise. They also added Joakim Soria of the White Sox to solidify the bullpen that is already dominate. The Brewers are set up to make a run in the post season if they can hold off the mighty Cubs. The Cardinals of course, are still in the mix. Sitting 5.5 games back from the lead and with Matt Carpenter hitting like he’s one of the best hitters on the planet, don’t count them out.
NL West: After acquiring Manny Machado at the trade deadline, you thought that one move would be enough. Well, they ended up proving everyone that thought that wrong by acquiring Brian Dozier at the deadline. Solidifying there needs at 2nd and SS/3rd, they ended up getting two of the biggest hitters on the market. Thinking that would be enough to run away with the division, they were wrong. The Arizona Diamondbacks are leading the division by a total of ONE game heading into Monday. The Diamondbacks are back now after winning 93 games last year and making the NLDS last year. The division seems to be finding consistency with these two becoming power houses and seems to become a common trend in the coming years. The Diamondbacks made the move to grab Eduardo Escobar from the Twins to cover all infield positions wherever, whenever he is needed. With Zack Greinke pitching like a Cy Young candidate, Zack Godley hitting his stride at the right time, and Patrick Corbin pitching just as well as Greinke, this team is built for the playoffs. Don’t forget about Colorado either. With one of the best lineups in the National League, and only 1.5 games back from the division lead, the Rockies could end sneaking their way into the Wild Card game, or even winning the division. This is going to be a wild last month and a half.
You truly do not realize how close all the divisions are until you actually get a chance to look at the standings. Then you get a better grasp of what’s going on in the National League. Whether you’re a baseball fan or not, the competition is good enough to tune into any game you have a chance to watch with every game being more meaningful with each passing day. This is going to be a great last month and a half for baseball fans.