The National League East at the break

Here’s some fun stats and facts/opinions about the National League East teams and their performance in the 2013 season. The “fWAR” stands for “FanGraphs WAR.”

Atlanta Braves
Batting: .250/.324/.412 = .736 OPS is third in the National League.
Pitching/Defense: 3.29 ERA is second in the National League.

  • Brian McCann, with just 206 plate appearances, leads the team with 2.2 fWAR.
  • Evan Gattis and Andrelton Simmons both each have more fWAR (1.7) than the Upton brothers combined! It helps that B.J. Upton has negative fWAR for the season.

Miami Marlins
Batting: .233/.292/.340 = .632 OPS is 15th in the National League.
Pitching/Defense: 3.87 ERA is ninth in the National League.

  • What 20-year-old righty Jose Fernandez is doing at his age is pretty incredible. He’s got a 2.75 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 103 strikeouts, and 40 walks in 104.2 innings so far. There are better pitchers in the NL, but all of them can drink legally in the United States.
  • The offense will be a lot better in the second half because of players like Marcel Ozuna (minor leagues), Giancarlo Stanton (injury), and Logan Morrison (injury) who haven’t played as many games as they could have.

New York Mets
Batting: .235/.303/.376 = .680 OPS is 14th in the National League.
Pitching/Defense: 3.85 ERA is eighth in the National League.

  • We know Matt Harvey and David Wright are awesome, but wow, Marlon Byrd has been a revelation. He’s batting .271/.316/.502 and is playing plus-defense in right field.
  • John Buck is still third among the team’s position players in fWAR (1.6) despite his .284 OBP and 25.6% strikeout rate.

Philadelphia Phillies
Batting: .257/.312/.402 = .714 OPS is sixth in the National League.
Pitching/Defense: 4.03 ERA is 11th in the National League.

  • The offense has been pretty good despite Chase Utely and Domonic Brown being the only Phillies with more than 1.0 fWAR.
  • The pitching has been bad despite the Phillies have a pretty good top three in the rotation. The bullpen has been dreadful, with a handful of players being at or below replacement level.

Washington Nationals
Batting: .241/.301/.385 = .686 OPS is 13th in the National League
Pitching/Defense: 3.58 ERA is fifth in the National League

  • Dan Haren has 81 strikeouts and just 17 walks in 93 innings so far, but his season has been a disaster due to his out-of-control BABIP (.330) and home run allowance (19).
  • Bryce Harper doesn’t turn 21 until October, and yet he’s hitting .264/.371/.522 with a .272 BABIP. If he can get that rate up to last year’s level of .310, Harper is going to mash, mash, and mash some more in the second half.
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Can we talk some more about how awesome Dillon Gee is?

Party time. The Mets beat the Yankees for the fourth straight time last night. This time the score was 3-1 and the starting pitcher was Dillon Gee. Marlon Byrd hit another home run and it wasn’t only because Yankee Stadium is a little baby ballpark.

The Mets still stink though! They can’t hit and the pitching (except for HARVEY) is more of an aberration than something we can expect to continue in the near future.

But what if just one thing is not a mirage and Dillon Gee can keep pitching like this for a while? I mean, his changeup was REALLY good last night. And he was locating his curveball on the outside corner against lefties! I’m not saying that I expect Gee to strikeout 12 batters and walk none in 7.1 innings (he could have gone the distance but Terry Collins decided to be a huge troll) every night, but this start was a continuation of what we saw Gee doing in 2012. More strikeouts, less walks, a lot less of what we’ve seen from Gee so far this season.

Gee may not have another start like the one he had last night for the rest of the season, but if he can just pick up where he left off in 2012, that would be a big boost to the Mets going forward.

The only other big takeaway from last night was that Collins lifted Gee — who was dominating and had a pitch count of 88 — to give Scott Rice YET ANOTHER APPEARANCE. Granted, Rice did a great job getting the two outs he was asked to get, but what is Collins playing at? Last night it seemed like he was actively trying to use Rice to break some kind of record for number of games played by a relief pitcher. Even though it worked out, the move was baffling to say the least.

The Mets will try to keep their winning streak alive in Miami this weekend. Tonight, Shaun Marcum takes the hill opposite Jacob Turner, who will be making his first MLB start of the season for the Marlins.

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Tejada, Niese hurt for Mets, Quintanilla called up

There’s apparently been too much good news for the Mets this week, so today we started to hear some bad news. First it was reported that Ruben Tejada had suffered a quad strain last night and was going on the disabled list. Omar Quintanilla got promoted to the big leagues in Tejada’s stead, but first he had to be put on the 40-man roster. That was accomplished when the Mets moved Frank Francisco — who recently suffered a setback with his elbow and hasn’t pitched since February — to the 60-day disabled list.

Quintanilla is hitting very well in Las Vegas, but there’s a very good chance that his .333/.419/.484 batting line won’t carry over to the major leagues. Oh well. It’s not as though Tejada was hitting well at all, anyway. He is an important part of the Mets’ future, though, so hopefully Tejada can get well soon and pick up his game when he’s healthy again.

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Mets blow past bombers 9-4, close in on sweep

Yes, somehow the Mets continued their winning streak on Wednesday night in the Bronx. They took the lead quickly and didn’t look back en route to a 9-4 win. John Buck, Marlon Byrd, and even Ike Davis had two RBI each, and Jeremy Hefner got the win while pitching a quality start. Here’s the box score. Check before for the details.

The Mets scored five runs against David Phelps in the first inning
The Amazins waited until the ninth inning to finally cross the plate on Tuesday night, but on Wednesday they wasted no time at all. Ruben Tejada — one of two Mets who are reportedly candidates for demotion if they don’t start playing well ASAP — led off with a line drive single and Daniel Murphy smashed a double to right-center field to drive him in. After Phelps walked Wright and struck out Duda, John Buck came through with an opposite field single to score the Mets’ third run. Phelps then seemed to lose control of the game with a walk of Rick Ankiel, but that really should have been the end of the rally. Marlon Byrd hit a ground ball to third base that could have easily been turned into a double play, but Jayson Nix booted the ball, allowing Wright to score while recording no outs. All hail David Adams.

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Wednesday Night Baseball: Mets take on Yankees in Yankee Stadium

Ruben Tejada is batting leadoff again, despite reports that he is just as close as Ike Dave to being sent down to Triple-A. Andy Martino of the Daily News uses Omar Quintanilla’s success in Las Vegas this season as a reason to bring him up in place of Tejada, but he neglects to mention how easy it is to put up sexy numbers in the Pacific Coast League. Quintanilla has never hit well enough to stick at the major league level; not even when he played for Colorado. That’s why Quintanilla’s Las Vegas performance should not factor into the decision on what to do with Tejada.

The other Mets player on the hot seat, Davis, is batting eighth for the second night in a row. Last night, he finally hit a grounded out after striking out five times in a row.

The Yankees get a big boost tonight because they get to put Travis Hafner back into the lineup after two games in Queens without the DH. However, Girardi may have shorthanded his lineup by giving David Adams a day off of third base. Adams has been a pleasant surprise for the Yankees since being called up from Triple-A a couple of weeks ago. Jayson Nix will start in his place.

Meanwhile, the Yankees have some injured stars getting closer to returning to the major league lineup. Both Kevin Youkilis and Mark Teixeira played in a rehab game in Trenton today. Neither guy picked up a hit, but the point is that they are on the field and one step closer to replacing Lyle Overbay’s .295 OBP. Both players are expected to be back in the majors by Friday.

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Rangers oust John Tortorella

I was met with some good news around lunchtime today when I heard on WFAN that the New York Rangers had fired head coach John Tortorella. I almost threw myself a pants party.

“Torts,” as he was sometimes known, took the Rangers to the playoffs in his last three seasons with the team. Unfortunately, the Rangers never reached the Stanley Cup Finals during Tortorella’s tenure, which is something that many fans (myself included) thought they should have achieved during the 2011-12 campaign. Blessed with arguably the best goalie in the game, the Rangers never seemed to score enough goals to be an elite team under Tortorella’s watch, but that was likely only part of the reason he was let go.

The thing that most fans will remember about Tortorella is how short and often rude he was with the Rangers’ reporters. Most recently he said a swear word during an in-game interview with NBC’s Pierre McGuire. I was amused by the way Tortorella handled the media, but it always seemed that his shtick would only be tolerated as long as the team was winning. This season, the Rangers were eliminated in five games in the second round of the playoffs when they should have been contending for the Stanley Cup. All of a sudden, the coach’s antics became less funny.

This afternoon in a conference call with reporters, Rangers GM Glen Sather would not divulge any specific reason as to why Tortorella was let go. I can only guess that the team’s performance and the coach’s relationship with the media were the two biggest parts of the decision.

Sather also said that no decision has been made in regards to the rest of the Rangers coaching staff.

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Duda, Mets defeat Rivera once again, top Yanks 2-1

Wowee zowee. I don’t know which part of tonight’s Yankees vs. Mets game is harder to believe. The fact that the Mets trailed after eight innings despite a brilliant Matt Harvey outing (okay, definitely not that part)? The fact that Lucas Duda actually made a nice play on a Brett Gardner fly ball? The fact that David Wright’s scorching base hit in the ninth inning didn’t hit Daniel Murphy in the leg? The fact that the Mets defeated Mariano Rivera for the second straight time? The fact that that was the first time that Rivera has ever blown a save without recording an out?

Those last two are especially hard for me to wrap my head around. The last time the Mets faced Rivera, they trailed 2-1 in the ninth inning on July 3, 2011. Rivera retired the first two Mets batters before walking Jason Bay to open the door. Lucas Duda and Ronny Paulino then hit back-to-back singles to tie the game. Bay later delivered the winning hit for the Metsies with a single off of Hector Noesi in the bottom of the 10th.

Tonight, the Mets entered the ninth inning without even a single run on the board. Harvey had been awesome, but he allowed a run to score on Lyle Overbay’s two-out sixth inning single. With the way Hiroki Kuroda and David Robertson had shut down the Mets over eight innings, it looked like Harvey’s great effort would go to waste.

Instead, Murphy opened the last frame by flicking a Rivera fastball down the left field line for a double. Wright followed up by ripping a single up the middle to tie the game and he advanced to second when Gardner’s throw bounced away from catcher Chris Stewart. The next batter, Duda, fought off an inside cutter and hit a soft liner to right-center field to end the game. Just like that, the Mets had themselves an Amazin’ victory.

The 2013 Subway Series swings over to Yankee Stadium tomorrow night. Jeremy Hefner and David Phelps will take the mound for their respective sides.

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