The National League West has three titans. The National League Central was mediocre but has seen the Brewers emerge as the power. They are playing at a .589 clip, which is a full-season pace of 95 wins. Over the NL East -- do we need to pin the "NL Least" moniker on it? -- the Mets are leading, but they are only on pace to win 86 games.
Will the Mets regret letting the other teams hang around?
The Phillies are definitely hanging around. In fact, they are starting to really push the Mets. They've gone 10-4 so far in July and the bullpen has even been good. They are only two games out and figure to be as aggressive as they can -- the farm system isn't very good, so it'll be tough -- in stocking up in front of the trade deadline. They only have six games left against the Mets, but that might be all they need.
The Braves were the favorite to win the division heading in and had aspirations of winning the World Series. Yet they have had so much go wrong this year. They've still never been over .500, not even for one game. Their superstar, Ronald Acuña, Jr., is now done for the season and the pitching continues to be unreliable. Slugger Marcell Ozuna is likely done for the year due to injury and a domestic violence arrest. So much has gone wrong for the Braves, and yet they are still talented and only four games out. And get this, the next week-and-a-half or so could make the season. The Braves have a four-game series with the Phillies later this week and what follows is a five-game series against the Mets. They could do some serious damage -- or ruin their season, of course.
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The Nationals are 3-11 in July, yet they are only six games back. They probably need healthy Kyle Schwarber and Stephen Strasburg to make a run, but they are within striking distance. They have 11 games against the Phillies, nine against the Braves and 11 against the Mets left on the schedule, so there's plenty of time for them to strike.
Even the Marlins are closer to first place than every other last place team in baseball. It's not even close. They are 9 1/2 games out and the next-closest last place teams would be the Pirates and Royals at 19 games out in the respective Centrals.
Can the Mets keep things together? It might come down to how they fare at the trade deadline. They could add some beef to the lineup, Francisco Lindor is going to be out for a while with an oblique issue and there are injury concerns all over the rotation. Plus, do they really want to leave Edwin Diaz in the ninth? He's only blown three saves this year, but he's had some colossal meltdowns in a Mets uniform.
It might not be the best race in terms of being well-played baseball, but it's sure going to be entertaining to watch how this thing shakes itself out.
|Weird quirk or something more? The Dodgers are 1-9 in extra innings this season.||1||100-56|
|Just off being predicted to win the World Series by yours truly, the White Sox took two of three from the Astros. Great start to the second half!||1||89-68|
|Everyone ready for another round of Giants-Dodgers? This one is a four-gamer. Appointment viewing.||2||102-54|
|Chris Sale went three scoreless innings and struck out five in his first minor-league rehab appearance on Thursday. Won't be long...||1||88-68|
|They've lost five of seven after a six-game winning streak which came after a four-game losing streak which came after a stretch where they won 12 of 13 and we'll just stop there.||1||91-65|
|Wander Franco is only hitting .216, but he's hit safely in 11 of his last 13 games. The smart money is on the groupings of multi-hit games coming pretty soon.||--||97-59|
|The Reds took three of four from the Brewers heading into the break to tighten the NL Central a bit. The Brewers responded with a "ah, it's cute that they think they can catch" statement, sweeping the Reds in Cincy over the weekend.||1||94-62|
|The Padres have never had a player go 30-30. The most steals in franchise history among players who hit 30 homers in the same season is 23 (Ryan Klesko, 2001). Fernando Tatis, Jr., right now has 28 homers and 23 steals with an awful lot of season left.||1||78-78|
|The funk continues. The A's are 9-14 since June 18. They are 1-6-1 in series in that time.||--||85-72|
|The Jays just outscored the Rangers 25-2 in their first post-break series. Are they ready to truly break through? Because seven of their next 10 games come against the Red Sox.||5||87-69|
|If they are going to put together any kind of run, a lot of their offensive personnel has to return to form. Gleyber Torres has homered in two straight games, so maybe that's the starting point.||1||89-67|
|They lost two of three in Pittsburgh and the Saturday night meltdown was one of the worst we've ever seen. Then they followed by coughing up six runs in an embarrassing first inning the next day. Give them credit, though, they came back to win that one.||2||73-82|
|Only nine teams got to 50 wins before the Mariners did. Imagine placing a bet on that back in the spring.||--||87-70|
|Hector Neris has now gone eight straight scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts, zero walks and three hits.||2||81-75|
|Here's the winner for the toughest schedule out of the break. They have a trip to Oakland (they won two of three!) and Houston before hosting the Rays and Cardinals and then it's back to the road for the White Sox and Blue Jays.||2||77-79|
|So much for those good vibes, huh?||5||82-75|
|The Legend of Shohei Ohtani grows. On Sunday, he beat out a grounder to first base. Of course, the Angels then lost.||3||74-82|
|Big series win to start the second half, but they are just too far back. There's no need to tear it down, but they can sell on the margins and look to contend again next year.||1||87-69|
|They added at the margins with Joc Pederson and Stephen Vogt, so it looks like the Braves are going to be aggressive in the upcoming weeks.||1||83-72|
|On Sunday, Javier Báez hit a hard single right at the left fielder, who was pretty shallow and made a strong and on-target throw home. It didn't matter. Kris Bryant scored from second. Watching it unfold, it occurred to me that Bryant might be the best fundamental baserunner in all of baseball. He's not a burner, but he never wastes any motion and hits every bag perfectly in stride. The league average percentage of extra bases taken is 40. Bryant's at 52 percent. It's an underrated aspect of his game.||--||67-89|
|On July 3, Alcides Escobar appeared in his first MLB game since 2018. On July 18, he hit two homers including a walk-off job.||--||65-92|
|The Rockies now have 10 walk-off wins. They've only won nine road games.||1||71-85|
|Surely Starling Marte will be traded, but how about Jesús Aguilar? He's having a pretty good power year and hits free agency after the season.||1||64-91|
|What's going on with Wily Peralta? He's now 32 years old and didn't pitch in the majors last season. He had a career 4.52 ERA coming into the season. Through 33 innings now he has a 1.64 ERA and 0.94 WHIP. How about that.||1||75-81|
|So much for the hot streak. They lost three of four to the Tigers.||1||69-87|
|That Jacob Stallings walk-off grand slam was a pretty fun moment, one of the most fun of the whole weekend.||1||58-98|
|Mike Foltynewicz was an All-Star and got Cy Young consideration in 2018. He still hasn't even turned 30 years old, but he's now sitting with a 5.91 ERA. He leads the majors in home runs allowed at 28. No one else has allowed more than 21.||1||57-99|
|There is good news! I swear! Bobby Witt, Jr. has been promoted to Triple-A.||--||71-85|
|Is now the time to trade Trey Mancini? He's a free agent after 2022, so the return would be good. The Orioles aren't built to contend next year anyway.||--||50-106|
|Progress? They've already won five games in July. They only won five in May and three in June.||--||50-106|