The National League East division is one of the more competitive divisions in MLB and with the Braves have been consistently winning 94 games /year since 2018 in full seasons. The Phillies and Bryce Harper are off to a very good start this season. The Braves have won the National League East 3 times since 2018 – and Washington has taken the division another 3 times since 2014, they have been nothing short of being the core of the division for some time. So matched up vs either one of them has been more than enough to handle – let alone a typical team that wins only about 43% of their games like the Phillies.
Philadelphia has looked like they have gotten better with their pitching staff, the Phillies have been playing like a brand new team. Last year they sat 27th in the entire MLB for team ERA – this year they have bumped up to 15th, those kinds of improvements can help a team greatly. And last year, as a team, teams were hitting a whopping .279 vs them, this year just .246. So far they have looked better.
Zack Wheeler has been better than most had expected this year – he has shown some good speed and excellent control, especially when he is ahead in the count. When ahead, he has taken care of business. MLB is a pitchers driven league, and Wheeler has been tough with a 10.0 K’s /9 innings average – guys who stay in control and can hit the corners like he has, don’t just fall off trees. He has been making batters uncomfortable. This improvement has made their team better – having that kind of disruption on the bump causes batters to make dumb mistakes – but they still need much better run support. As the Phils have only been trickling in hits at a sad .238 and scoring just 3.9 runs /game – they need guys who can get players home and win games.
So far their pitching game has shown some improvements but their bats still need to get much better as they are sitting at just 25th in the majors with 12 HRs as a team. But, who knows, we could be seeing a switch for the division, for the 1st time in awhile, Philly has shown some signs of improvement, and if they can possibly make the playoffs, we will see just how good their improvements have made. The improved pitching game won’t mean squat if they disappear when it counts.
The Phillies and their fresh season hopes can get them further than expected, and can get them wins on the defensive side of the game. The National League East can be anyone’s, if they clean up their batting woes and stay the course.