We’re mid-way through June and so much has happened since our last NL East Roundup! Like always, I’ll recap the latest developments for each team in the division, including a surprise, disappointment, and recent injury news.
Since our last division update, the New York Mets started a six-game win streak while sweeping the division rival Phillies and Nationals. Pete Alonso and Starling Marte have been impressive at the plate, and Chris Bassitt bounced back from a rough month with a stellar outing against the Brewers on Tuesday night. In the bullpen, Edwin Diaz has not allowed a run in his last six appearances. He’s picked up a win, hold, and two saves during that time, with just two walks and 14 strikeouts. The Mets are 7-5 in June and have a healthy 5-game in the NL East.
Biggest surprise: Pete Alonso can’t stop mashing.
Since our last NL East Roundup, Mets first baseman Pete Alonso is slashing .333/.449/.759 with an identical 15.9% walk and strikeout rates. In those 16 games, he’s scored 15 runs, hit 7 long balls, and driven in 18 RBIs. Coming into Wednesday’s game, the Polar Bear leads the National League with 18 home runs, 59 RBIs, and 6 intentional walks.
Biggest disappointment: Two of the best pitchers in baseball remain on the injured list.
I’m carrying over the last recap’s Mets disappointment here. A strained oblique has sidelined Max Scherzer for the past four weeks. The initial timetable was that he’d be out for six to eight weeks, but it seems like good news that the right-hander is scheduled to throw live batting practice later this week. Anthony DiComo, who covers the Mets for MLB.com, posted the following video clip from Scherzer himself talking about his rehab process.
🎥 Here's more from Max Scherzer on his rehab process: pic.twitter.com/L5iSc30Lbg
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) June 14, 2022
Jacob deGrom, who is working his way back from a stress reaction in his shoulder, is a bit further behind than Scherzer, but hopes that his return will be early or mid-July. The Mets are hopeful Scherzer will return in late June or early July.
- SP Jacob deGrom threw his fourth bullpen session on Tuesday and is scheduled to throw a more intensive session on Friday. He has not pitched this year due to a stress reaction in his shoulder. The Mets hope he will be ready for big league action sometime in July.
- SP Max Scherzer, sidelined with an oblique strain, will throw live batting practice later this week. His rehab is a bit ahead of deGrom’s, making the Mets optimistic for a late June or early July return.
- C James McCann is rehabbing after surgery to his broken left hand, nearing a minor league rehab assignment, and is expected back in late June.
- OF Travis Jankowski also had surgery to repair a broken bone in his hand on May 27. He is expected to return in early July.
- RP Colin Holderman hit the injured list on July 8 with a right shoulder impingement and is considered week-to-week.
What has gotten into the Braves?! Atlanta is riding a 13-game winning streak, having won every game this month. Sure, the teams they beat (Diamondbacks, Rockies, Athletics, Pirates, Nationals) all have a record below .500. But no matter who they came against, 13 consecutive wins is impressive. During this streak, Braves hitters have combined to slash .287/.348/.567 with a 149 wRC+. They’ve hit 32 home runs and outscored their opponents 93 to 39 in the last 13 games.
Entering June, the Braves were 10.5 games back from the division-leading Mets. Although they’ve put together this impressive stretch, they’re still 5.0 games back from the Mets.
Shortstop and free-agent-to-be Dansby Swanson and rookie centerfielder Michael Harris II have been the most productive hitters for the Braves in June. Swanson is slashing .370/.443/.593 with a 188 wRC+ in June. Harris is not far behind, slashing .360/.385/.640 with a 181 wRC+ in June. I’d also be remiss not to mention Adam Duvall, who is heating up after a rough start to the season.
Biggest disappointment: Ozzie Albies.
Ozzie Albies, whose production as a whole has been disappointing, is also one of the few players struggling at the plate during the team’s hot stretch. He’s slashing .244/.289/.405 with a 91 wRC+ on the season. Albies is hitting a lot more balls on the ground this year and has been less disciplined at the plate, chasing pitches out of the zone at a 45.0% clip. For context, the league average chase rate is 31.0% and Albies’ career average hangs around 37.0%.
Things took an even worse turn when the Braves announced Albies broke his left foot during Monday’s game. He will be out for most of the summer, but there is no definite timetable for his return.
- 2B Ozzie Albies was placed on the 60-day IL on Tuesday with a broken left foot.
- RP Tyler Matzek (shoulder soreness/inflammation) has begun long tossing.
- OF Eddie Rosario (blurred vision and retinal swelling) is hitting in the batting cage, but there is no timetable for his return.
- SP Mike Soroka may return after the All-Star Break. He has not pitched since August 3, 2020, since tearing his Achilles tendon, and then re-tearing it last June.
Following the firing of manager Joe Girardi, the Phillies put together a winning streak of their own. Carried by the bats of Rhys Hoskins, Bryce Harper, and Kyle Schwarber, the team won nine in a row to start June. Harper is continuing to rake out of the designated hitter’s role because of a tear in his throwing elbow. Young Bryson Stott has also come alive.
Philadelphia came into June 12.5 games back from the division-leading Mets and just two games behind Atlanta. Despite the nine-game winning streak, they weren’t able to make up much ground because of how well the two teams above them have been playing. Entering today’s game, the Phillies sit 9.5 games back from the Mets and four-and-a-half back from the Braves.
Biggest surprise: Rhys Hoskins.
First baseman Rhys Hoskins is one of the hottest hitters on the planet right now. In June, he’s slashing .354/.446/.750 with a 226 wRC+. He’s hit five home runs and driven in 12 in his last 12 games. After recording the walk-off hit in Philadelphia’s win Monday versus Miami, Hoskins did all he could to push the team to victory on Tuesday night. Despite the loss, Hoskins went 4-for-5 with one double, two home runs, and six RBIs.
Biggest disappointment: Corey Knebel.
Closer Corey Knebel has struggled as of late, forcing interim manager Rob Thomson to remove Knebel from the closer’s role following his blown save Tuesday night. It was his fourth blown save of the season. He came into the ninth with a one-run lead but retired none of the four batters he faced. He left the mound with the game tied and the bases loaded, and the Phillies would lose the game 11-9. Knebel has struggled to throw strikes as of late, walking six batters in his five starts this month. The Phillies will now look to Jeurys Familia and Brad Hand to close ballgames.
- IF Nick Maton (sprained right shoulder) and IF Johan Camargo (strained right knee) may return this week after short stints on the 10-day IL.
- RP JoJo Romero (Tommy John surgery) and RP Ryan Sherriff (left biceps tendinitis) have begun rehab assignments and are targeting returns in late June or early July.
- IF Jean Segura (fractured right index finger) was transferred from the 10-day IL to the 60-day IL on Tuesday.
News of a closed-door team meeting spread like wildfire, especially after it was reported that Jazz Chisholm Jr. was the topic of conversation. To Chisholm’s credit, he followed up the meeting with a two-homer, six-RBI game. The team won their next five games, sweeping the Nationals before taking two of three from the Astros. The Marlins sit in fourth place in their division, 11.5 games back from first place.
Biggest surprise: Garrett Cooper.
I’m not sure many baseball fans outside of the South Florida area know who Garrett Cooper is, but it’s time you get to know him. Among Marlins hitters with at least 100 plate appearances, Cooper has been the team’s most productive hitter. He leads the Fish with a .311 batting average, .382 on-base percentage, .369 wOBA, and 142 wRC+. He’s been on fire lately, slashing .422/.458/.578 in June.
Biggest disappointment: Jacob Stallings.
When the Marlins traded for Jacob Stallings this offseason, it was because of his Gold Glove-winning defense behind the plate. The boost Stallings’ had provided on defense outweighed his slightly below-average offensive production during his last few years in Pittsburgh. This was a trade-off the Marlins would have been ok with. Stallings, however, has been far more disappointing than the team would have hoped. Stallings holds a .204/.272/.272 slash line and 61 wRC+ coming into today’s game. As of late, however, he’s hitting even worse. Since June 1, Stallings is slashing .161/.212/.258 with a 37 wRC+. This leads me to wonder if the Marlins will decide to use backup catcher Nick Fortes more regularly.
- SP Pablo López took a come backer off his right wrist in his last outing but fortunately x-ray results were negative. He was scratched from his scheduled start today, but it appears to be out of an abundance of caution, allowing him an extra day of rest with the off-day tomorrow. He’s day-to-day but should be good to go for Friday’s start against the Mets.
- 3B Brian Anderson (back spasms) and IF Joey Wendle (hamstring strain) are progressing from their respective injuries and target a return in July.
- RP Anthony Bender is working his way back from back stiffness and is hopeful to return sometime this month.
- SP Edward Cabrera (right elbow tendonitis) and RP Cole Sulser (right lat strain) were each placed on the 15-day IL prior to Wednesday’s game.
- SP Jesús Luzardo (strained forearm) was transferred to the 60-day IL on Wednesday.
The Nationals are having a rough month of June, going 5-8 and losing key players to injuries. Not only do they remain at the bottom of the NL East, but the Nationals also have the worst record in the National League.
Biggest surprise: Nelson Cruz.
Veteran slugger Nelson Cruz had a slow start to the season, slashing .237/.316/.343 through the end of May. Since then, Cruz has gotten hot to the tune of a .370/.442/.630 slash line in June. The Nationals aren’t contenders — FanGraphs gives them a literal 0.0% chance to make the playoffs — but it’s good to see Cruz put together a good stretch at the plate.
Biggest disappointment: Stephen Strasburg is back on the injured list.
After having not pitched since June 1, 2021, because of thoracic outlet syndrome surgery, Stephen Strasburg worked his way back to the mound and started on June 9 against the Marlins. He lasted only 4 2/3 innings, allowing seven runs on eight hits, two walks, and five strikeouts. The return would be short-lived, however, as Strasburg returned to the injured list with a stress reaction in his ribs. Having been so injury-plagued the last few years, you can’t help but feel bad for Strasburg. Here’s to hoping he’s healthy and back on the mound soon.
- SP Stephen Strasburg made one start after returning from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery but returned to the 15-day IL with a stress reaction in his ribs. There is no timetable for his return.
- RP Josh Rodriguez (shoulder impingement) and RP Víctor Arano (knee bone bruise) were each placed on the 15-day IL
- RP Joe Ross has been shut down and will undergo a second Tommy John surgery, ending his season.
- SS Alcides Escobar is on the 10-day IL with a strained hamstring.
Artwork by Michael Packard (@CollectingPack on Twitter)