MLB: What We (Think) We’ve Learned -NL Edition

Today we hit you with the very first installment of What We (Think) We’ve Learned about the National League so far in the 2017 MLB campaign.

 

Holy Mediocrity 

It’s still pretty early, but right now the NL is looking pretty, well, blah. The Cubs are underachieving, the perennially competitive Cardinals have struggled and the mega-spending Dodgers are just one game over .500. Washington is the class of the National League so far, but that’s not a huge surprise. On paper they’re a great club, and they’ve been feasting on the otherwise very weak NL East.

The Cubs and Dodgers will almost certainly pick up the pace at some point though, and the Cardinals have been playing a bit better of late after a very slow start. Mike Leake somehow leads in the NL in ERA through the first month. Bet you didn’t have that one.

The Rockies Are Good… For Now

It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that the Rockies are in the top five in the NL in basically every offensive category. What should come as a bit of a surprise however is that they’re still winning at this type of pace (16-10, first place in the NL West), despite the fact that their pitching has struggled as usual. Through May 1st, their staff is carrying a 4.58 ERA, good for next-to-last in the league, and their #1 starter Jon Gray is currently on the 10 day DL with a stress fracture in his foot that looks as though it will keep him out for at least a month.

The real question here has to be if the Rockies can sustain this early season success. Even with the kind of offensive output that they’re seeing, the pitching simply has to improve for this to be a sustainable model. We all know that pitching at Coors Field is an adventure, and no one is expecting this staff to dominate, but more will be needed for the Rockies to truly make a run at winning the West.

What’s Up With The Cubs? 

As of this writing, the defending champs are just 13-12 and the NL Central, from first to last place, is separated by just 2 games. They’re still scoring a fair amount of runs, coming in 4th in runs scored as of the writing of this article, but the starting pitching has been suspect to say the least. Four of the Cubs starters (Arrieta, Hendricks, Lackey and Anderson) are carrying ERAs over 4, with Brett Anderson carrying a ghastly 6.23 ERA after five turns on the mound. The back end of the bullpen has been filthy though, with new closer Wade Davis going 6 for 6 in save opportunities, and set up man Hector Rondon sporting a sub 1 ERA at this juncture.

Make no mistake, I expect the Cubs to turn it around, but when you look at the numbers it’s not hard to explain their mediocre record to this point. John Lackey is entering the twilight of his career, and Brett Anderson is who he is, but Arrieta and Hendricks will need to be much better if Chicago intends to make a serious run at repeating as World Series champs.

The Mets Are A Mess

I touched on this in a quick article yesterday, but the New York Mets are a big ole’ steaming mess. A team that should be competing for a playoff spot in the NL, the Mets find themselves three games under .500 and without their best position player and their best pitcher, and both under undesirable (to say the least) circumstances. I would say enough has been said about this, but yesterday we learned that Mets ace starter Noah Syndergaard will now be on the shelf, perhaps for an extended period of time, with a partially torn lat muscle. Mets manager Terry Collins has been taking a lot of the heat for the injury, which occurred when Syndergaard took the mound just days after missing a start with extreme biceps discomfort (and refused an MRI), but now Mets GM Sandy Alderson is taking the heat for the decision.

Regardless of who is at fault, losing Syndergaard for any amount of time at all is a crushing blow to a team that badly needs their starting pitching to dominate. With Yoenis Cespedes already on the shelf with what seemed like an avoidable injury, the Mets seem like they could be poised for a free fall.

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