Matt Veasey's NL East beat

Matt Veasey’s NL East beat

Freeman was one of the few bright spots for the Braves during their opening week sweep at the hands of the Phillies. (Eric Enfermero/WikiCommons)

I’ll be providing a weekly update scheduled to release every Monday during the regular season, highlighting the happenings within the National League East Division.

The Philadelphia Phillies swept the defending division champion Atlanta Braves in the 2019 season-opening series for both teams over this past week at Citizens Bank Park.

I will be presenting those game and series results, but also will be letting you know how each of the Phillies division rivals fared in the prior week of play while supplying important updates for each club.

The NL East beat reports will also include top producers for each team in the division, interesting statistics, the upcoming schedules, and the ramifications on both the divisional and National League Wildcard playoff races as the season unfolds.



Last week: 0-3

The defending NL East Division champion Braves came to Citizens Bank Park with a number of questions regarding their pitching staff. Those questions found few answers as the Phillies pounded the staff for eight homers en route to scoring 23 runs over three Atlanta losses.

By far the biggest offensive producer for the Braves was veteran first baseman Freddie Freeman. He slashed an unreal .600/.692/.800 with two doubles and two RBI. 22-year-old second baseman Ozzie Albies had three hits and two walks. Shortstop Dansby Swanson had Atlanta’s lone home run and scored three times.

On the mound, starter Julio Teheran went five solid innings on Opening Day, allowing three runs on four hits. He struck out seven and walked two. He surrendered a home run to Andrew McCutchen on his first pitch of the season, but left with Atlanta trailing just 3-1.

The Phillies whooped up on the Atlanta bullpen, thrashing eight relievers for 13 earned runs and 10 hits including five homers over 11.1 innings.

Key injuries: Starting pitchers Mike Foltynewicz (elbow) and Kevin Gausman (shoulder) and lefty reliever A.J. Minter (shoulder) each began the year on the IL. The Braves hope to get all three back soon.

Upcoming: The Braves host both the Marlins and Chicago Cubs for three games each this week at SunTrust Park


Last week: 2-2

The Fish, universally picked to finish in the cellar of this talented division, opened their season with a four-game split against the Colorado Rockies of the NL West. After dropping the first two games to the Rox, the Marlins battled back to take the last two by 7-3 and 3-0 scores.

Former Phillies catcher Jorge Alfaro, dealt away as part of the deal to acquire J.T. Realmuto, homered on Opening Day for the Marlins. Shortstop JT Riddle banged a pair of homers during the series. 38-year-old, 16-year big-league veteran outfielder Curtis Granderson played the middle two games of the set, producing a pair of hits including a home run while driving in three runs.

23-year-old Sandy Alcantara, obtained as part of the Miami rebuilding program in the Marcell Ozuna deal with Saint Louis in December 2017, went eight strong innings on Sunday. The right-hander allowed just four hits while walking no one and striking out six batters. Second-year starter Trevor Richards gave Miami six strong innings in one of the losses. New closer Sergio Romo was clobbered on Friday but rebounded with strong efforts on the weekend, including nailing down his first Save on Sunday.

Key injuries: Starting pitcher Jose Urena was nailed on the knee by a comebacker on Opening Day. He is expected to make his next start this week against the Mets.

Upcoming: The Marlins stay at home to start the week with three in South Florida against the division-rival Mets before heading up to Atlanta for a three-game set next weekend against the Braves.


Last week: 2-1

The Mets took the first two games of their season-opening intra-divisional series at Washington. Then they rallied from down 5-2 to tie the Nationals in Sunday’s series finale, only to get walked-off by a Trea Turner home run.

Robinson Cano drilled a home run among four hits in his NL debut series. Rookie phenom first baseman Pete Alonso had six hits in his big-league debut including three doubles with three RBI. Super-utility man Jeff McNeil started twice in left field and once at third base, contributing four hits including a double and triple. Wilson Ramos, who briefly caught for the Phillies last season, had four hits while scoring three times and driving in three runs.

On the hill the Mets received a strong Opening Day outing from Jacob deGrom, who allowed five hits while walking one and striking out 10 batters over six innings to gain a victory. Noah Syndergaard struck out seven and walked no one over six innings but was touched for four earned runs and seven hits in his first start. New closer Edwin Diaz registered his first two Saves for New York, striking out one batter over 1.1 perfect frames.

Key injuries: Veteran outfielder Yoenis Cespedes (heel surgery) remains on the IL with no timetable for his return. It is possible that the 34-year-old could miss the entire season after appearing in just 38 games a year ago. Infielders Jed Lowrie (knee) and Todd Frazier (oblique) and catcher Travis d’Arnaud (elbow) each have no firm timetable but could all return at some point later in April.

Upcoming: The Mets will be in Miami to open the week, then head home to the Big Apple for their home opener on Thursday against Washington. Following an off-day on Friday those same two clubs will battle twice more next weekend.


Last week: 1-2

The Nats are considered the favorites by many to win their fifth NL East crown in eight years in what is expected to be a four-team battle royale. They began their season by dropping two of three to the Mets at home, avoiding a sweep thanks to that Turner walk-off bomb in Sunday’s finale.

Turner produced five hits during the series including a pair of homers. He scored four times, drove in four runs, and also stole four bases. Still considered a rookie, Victor Robles produced five hits including three doubles and a home run, scoring three times. Anthony Rendon and Adam Eaton each had four hits and a pair of runs scored.

On the mound, three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, who finished runner-up for those honors a year ago, was brilliant in his season debut. The 34-year-old, 12-year veteran allowed two hits and walked three while striking out a dozen over eight innings on Opening Day. Unfortunately he lost when the club got shut down by deGrom, last year’s Cy Young winner. Both veteran Stephen Strasburg and newcomer Patrick Corbin provided six innings in their respective outings. The Nationals bullpen was roughed up by the Mets, allowing 16 hits and 10 earned runs over 7.1 innings.

Key injuries: Veteran utility man Howie Kendrick (hamstring) and young outfielder Michael Taylor (knee) are each working their way back. Taylor seems ahead of Kendrick, but no firm timetable on either.

Upcoming: If you’ve been living in a cave without access to media over the last few days you may not be aware that Bryce Harper is returning to where it all began. The Nationals host the Phillies on Tuesday and Wednesday, with Scherzer getting the nod for the Nats in the opener. It should be quite a scene. Washington then ends the week traveling up to New York for the home-opening series for the Mets.


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