Recap of Each NL Team's Season So Far


Braves 3B Austin Riley: Photo via All-Pro Reels

The views expressed in this article represent only the individual author and not the entirety of The Drummey Angle


Summer is over. October is drawing near. Teams are gearing up for their playoff runs. Some front offices effectively killed their teams at the deadline, and others made moves that showed that they were all in. Here are your roughly 100 words per NL team recapping the first 120 games of this season.


NL East


New York Mets - I previously wrote an article detailing why I thought this team would go on to win this division and make a postseason run. This is their division to lose at this point. What makes this team so special? I will start at the top with Billy Eppler and Buck Showalter; the impact of their great leadership is quite evident. Additionally, the team just seems to be clicking, whether it is DeGrom being abusive with his fastball and slider combo or Edwin Diaz running on top of the graves of batters while the trumpets are blaring. This is a very complete team with a great 4 pitcher rotation they can use in the postseason in Jacob DeGrom, Max Scherzer, Taijuan Walker, and Carlos Carrasco. I’m most concerned about their durability in starting pitching, but the starters named all have lower inning counts than most postseason rotations because of guys spending time on the injured list.


Atlanta Braves- The Braves have the postseason pedigree and have demonstrated an ability to come through in big moments. Rookie sensation Michael Harris II has become an important piece of their offense since he was brought up, and he also brings defensive prowess. The team features many young stars like Matt Olson, Austin Riley, Ronald Acuna, Dansby Swanson, and Ozzie Albies, just to name a few. I think they have one of the best infields, if not the best, in baseball. To complement, the starting pitching ranks 4th in fWAR, and the bullpen, the Night Shift, ranks 1st in fWAR in the majors. I would not bet against this team. They have experience in October baseball, which is something the Mets lack.


Philadelphia Phillies - What the heck is happening in Philadelphia? Typically when a team fires a manager mid-season, it derails the whole season, but this team somehow has improved since moving on from Joe Girardi. At that moment, I questioned the front office blaming him for the slow start and making him a scapegoat because Rob Tompson is a carbon copy of Girardi; now, I think maybe there was something going on behind the scenes that we were not aware of. The offense heated up with the weather, and their starting pitchers have been nails. They rank 2nd in starting pitcher fWAR. Their bullpen has come around, but I am not sold on their consistency. Another big storyline is Bryce Harper coming back, but they lost star ace and rightful 2021 NL Cy Young Winner Zack Wheeler, who went to the IL on Thursday with forearm tendonitis. He is crucial for the Phils potential postseason run. I do not see them making it out of the Wild Card round without him.


Miami Marlins - Where do I start? Derek Jeter sold his minority ownership of the franchise before the season because the rest of the owners do not have an interest in committing the financial resources necessary to field a postseason-caliber team. The Marlins are officially a poorer version of the already poor Milwaukee Brewers. I say that because they know how to develop star pitching but cannot develop a power bat to save their lives. The young rotation features future Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantra, Pablo Lopez, Sweet Baby Jesus Lazardo, and Edward Cabrera. If you do not know these names, you’re missing out. Their top 4 starters are all certified dudes. Yet, I am not sure anything will come of this incredible young core because there seems to be no interest in competing in the stacked NL East. SAD!


Washington Trashinals - Coming into the season, I said they have Juan Soto, which is pretty cool. What I did not see coming was they somehow got even worse and traded him along with Josh Bell to the Padres in one of the biggest MLB deadline trades in history. This team does not care about winning. They are not good. Yeah, that is all I have on them.


NL Central


St. Louis Cardinals - Have a year, vets. Pujols is a few homers away from 700, which is incredible. I am happy he is going out on a high note. Hard to think about this team and not mention the corner infield duo of Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan “The Glove” Arenado. I am pulling for this team because they made investments in older players and have done right by Molina, Wainwright, and Puljos when other teams would have DFA’d these vets. Tip of the cap to the classy Cardinals organization. I think they could mess around and make a deep run, but I am not sure how they will hold up against the star-studded Los Angelos Dodgers. The Red Birds starting staff comes in at 16th in fWAR and their relievers rank 19th in fWAR, which has me worried.


Milwaukee Brewers - I hope this team enjoys a nice beer because that’s what they will be doing in October if they do not snap out of this rut the front office created - drinking beer and watching baseball from their couches. Trading Josh Hader took the wind out of the sails for many in the clubhouse. On paper, it was not a bad trade, but mentally, it made players feel like the front office does not believe in their ability to make a postseason run. Personally, I agree with the front office’s assessment, but I would have handled it differently. The goal is to make it to the postseason, and at the time of the trade, the Brewers were in first place in the NL Central; now, they are not. As I stated earlier, this team struggles to plate runs; it always has. The Brewers are known for pitching development, not hitting development, which has created this difference in talent level we see at the major league level.


Chicago Cubs - WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! This year’s trade deadline made no sense. Why would you not move Ian Happ and Willson Contreras? Neither guy is going to return on a team-friendly deal for the Cubs to continue this “rebuild” phase. For note, the Cubs farm system is ranked 10th after moving over 13 guys in the last two trade deadlines, which is okay but could have been better. Moving Contreras, who was one of the most coveted position players at the deadline, would have netted a larger return that almost any deal made at the deadline. Also, why did they trade Scott Effross when he still had 5 years of team control? I am ready to burn it all down and restart … again. Get rid of Tim Ricketts, Jed Hoyer, and David Ross!


Cincinnati Reds - Let’s give a slow clap for Nick Krall, the Reds GM. He dismantled a team with potential and received huge returns. He completely changed the outlook for the future of Reds baseball. Currently, the Reds are ranked 5th in MLB farm systems, which was a huge jump from where they were to start the year. Otherwise not much else to say about the team at the major league level besides Hunter Greene, who has serious upside. I hope they pair him up with the right pitching coach who can harness Greene’s incredible talents.


Pittsburg Pirates - Shoutout to my Statcast man, O’Neil Cruz. It is as it sounds; he performs well on the Statcast tests, but when it comes to traditional baseball the rookie has struggled. Ke’Bryan Hayes is turning out to be as advertised, an outstanding glove and an average hitter. I am sad to acknowledge the struggles of Bryan Reynolds; I wanted him to get moved at the deadline so he would end up on a team that would appreciate the talented centerfielder. Otherwise, there is not much else happening along the Allegheny River at PNC Park.


NL West


Los Angeles Dodgers- Arguably the best team in baseball, the Dodgers have had a dominant season. The scariest part of all this is they just got Dustin May this week. May is a young, flame-throwing starting pitcher who dazzles in the big moments. Even though Max Muncy and Justin Turner are having below-average years, it does not matter because Freddy Freeman, Trea Turner, and Will Smith are handling the slack. Oh wait, I forgot to mention they still have Mookie Betts patrolling the outfield. The biggest threat to the Dodger’s season is injuries. I am not sure any team lines up well against this team, which is why they are the team to beat and the number one seed in the National League postseason.


San Deigo Padres - Zoinks, this has been a weird year in San Diego. They acquire Juan Soto, Brandon Drury, and Josh Bell at the deadline just to get swept by the Dodgers that weekend. How could I forget my favorite can of worms - the Fernando Tatis drama/controversy! He is now suspended after playing in a Minor League game and testing positive for a banned substance. Amid all this, two stories have emerged explaining why he has tested positive, but all I know is that I have to wait til mid-2023 to see Tatis and Soto in the same lineup for the Padres. Pete Siedler and AJ Preller are trying to take a page from the Dodgers playbook in order to beat them - outspend them. So far, it has not produced the results everyone wants to see - the Dodgers losing. What will it take to beat them?


San Fransico Giants - The Giants came into the season hoping to compete with the Dodgers as they did in 2021, but that experiment has failed. Additionally, they held onto trade pieces at the deadline rather than trading them. Many criticized them, but at the time they were less than 3 games out of the Wild Card, which means they had a chance. Now I am not sure about their playoff hopes. Neither the Giants nor Brewers have gained ground on the Padres despite the Padres being in a bit of a slump since the PED suspension of Tatis. I think the biggest question at this time is will the Giants make a competitive offer to Aaron Judge in the offseason and build the 2023 Giants around him?


Arizona Diamondbacks - This team will be playing spoiler over the coming weeks. This diamondbacks team is very scrappy and will rip a team out of the playoffs without remorse. They might not have the biggest names or the star power of other teams in the division, but the Diamondbacks are not a bad team. Do not be fooled. Whose season are they going to ruin? I have my money on them ruining the Brewers in the last weekend of the season.


Colorado Rockies - There are only three certainties in life: taxes, death, and no one knowing what is going on at Coors Field. This team's record is not bad, but their run differential is 23rd in the MLB, which shocked me. I am curious to watch what this team does in the offseason because their front office simply does not make sense to me.


 

In summary, the NL is a little more black and white than the AL. It is a story of those who pay to play and those who get played. Unfortunately, all roads lead to Los Angeles if a team wants to make a deep run. Before we just declare the Dodgers the World Series winners, let’s remember how many trophies they’ve brought in over the last 25 years. Playoff baseball is the great equalizer because there’s no rhyme or reason, just madness. Sit back and let the show play itself out.


Sources:


Fangraphs.com


"MLB: Washington Nationals vs. Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park" via All-Pro Reels is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0



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