It it starting to look more and more like none of the three teams vying for the National League East title will be able to pull away from each other.
Everyone is expecting the Phillies to gone on a run and claim their fourth straight division title.
I am one of the few that thinks the Phillies could be in some trouble. And here is why…
Injuries… Jimmy Rollins got hurt on Opening Day and the injuries have kept on coming… J.A. Happ, Placido Polanco, Ryan Madson, Carlos Ruiz, Chad Durbin, Antonio Bastardo. And now a thumb injury to Chase Utley that forced him to leave Monday’s game in Cincinnati. Plus, the injuries to Brad Lidge and J.C. Romero from the off-season that have turned them into different pitchers so far.
By the way, anyone remember the last save by Lidge???
Chemistry… You would think that this wouldn’t be a problem with a veteran team, but with the wealth of injuries, the roster that was supposed to start the season hasn’t played one game together. And remember, the Phillies were a very healthy team when they won the World Series in 2008.
As for the New York Mets, you expect them to fade into the sunset, but they have done a great job of playing hard over the last month and have stayed in the race.
Jose Reyes has found his stride, once again making him a feared hitter at the top of the order. David Wright is back in form, both at the plate and in the field. Ike Davis has come in to be a HUGE bonus for a Mets lineup that lacked that “power bat” with the loss (and subsequent departure) of Carlos Delgado. And the starting pitching has been solid, especially from scrap heap survivor R.A. Dickey. No one could figure that Johan Santana would be the Mets starter to struggle the most.
I don’t know if the Mets will win the division, but I do know that they are in the race “on the backstretch”.
As for the Atlanta Braves, I said in the spring that they would be the team to give the Phillies the best challenge for the division… and I was right (toot, toot!!!).
Bobby Cox’s boys have played some good baseball this year, despite an off-season from Chipper Jones. The Hall Of Fame 3B has shown his age a bit after some nagging injuries have cost him time. But he is swinging the bat a bit better as of late. Troy Glaus has been a great addition and been able to supplement the lost power numbers from Jones. Add in a solid pickup in Melky Cabrera, a solid hitter leading off in Martin Prado and that rookie named Jason Heyward (who was put on the Disabled List on Monday) and the Braves bats have done the job.
Not to mention the work of Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson and the other Braves starters. Remember, this is a staff carrying an 0-9 record Kenshin Kawakami.
Imagine where Atlanta would be without that albatross around their necks.
It has all the makings of a great race to the finish with none of the three teams able to pull away… right now.