The baseball season has reached its midpoint, and the NL East is for the most part turning out as expected.
I think it is safe to say the NL East is the most competitive division in the MLB.
In this article, I will explain ten bold predictions I have for the outcome of this division.
Jair Jurrjens' stellar pitching has been a pleasant surprise for Braves fans this season.
Jurrjens is 12-3, with an ERA of 1.87, which is the best in the MLB.
His WHIP of 1.07 is also very impressive.
There has been doubt as to whether Jurrjens can keep up his performance. It has been said that his amazing run is only temporary, as was Ubaldo Jimenez's
However, his stats from previous seasons, along with his new grip on his sinker, are proof that he will continue to compete with the likes of Roy Halladay.
If Jurrjens does keep this up, he will definitely be a front-runner in the Cy Young race, and have a good chance at winning the award.
This is probably the least bold of my predictions.
The Mets have not seen much glory this season, which is owed partially to the amount of players that are struggling with injuries.
Jose Reyes may be able to bring this glory to his team.
He is currently hitting an outstanding .354, which is the best in the National League. He also has great speed, with 30 stolen bases.
He has been selected as the NL's starting shortstop in the All-Star game, which is not a surprise.
If Reyes can keep this up, which he most likely will, he will be a top candidate for the NL MVP.
Freddie Freeman has had expectations similar to Jason Heyward's in his rookie season.
In my opinion, he has been meeting these expectations.
His batting average is an impressive .277, and he has hit 13 home runs and 42 RBI so far this season.
He has recently been providing the most reliable offense for the Braves, with four HR and eight RBI in the past week.
If he continues to improve, he will surely be awarded the NL ROY award.
The Braves and Phillies have two of the best pitching staffs in the league, which can vouch for their amount of wins.
However, their offense is not nearly as impressive.
The Braves and Phillies rank seventh and eighth for runs scored, and tenth and 14th for overall BA, respectively.
This obviously leaves much room for improvement, and I think the Braves will quickly grasp this opportunity.
As I mentioned earlier, Freddie Freeman has recently been improving greatly. Also, Jason Heyward has been hitting more consistently than at the beginning of the season. And if Dan Uggla ever improves, which I am sure he eventually will, along with the consistent hitting of Brian McCann and Martin Prado, the Braves lineup could appear formidable.
The Phillies offense has not shown such positive outlook. Many hitters have not been performing nearly as well as expected. However, the Phillies, especially Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, are known to be great second-half performers, and it is likely they will also improve in the next few months.
I believe the offense will be the main deciding factor for the NL East at the end of the season.
The Marlins amazing start to the season seemed almost too good to believe.
This past month has proved it was definitely nothing permanent.
The Marlins do not have a single starter hitting above .300, and their struggling offense has definitely played a part in their amount of recent losses.
They have scored the fourth-to-least amount of runs in the National League.
Their pitching isn't the greatest either.
While the return of Josh Johnson shows some hope, the rest of the starting rotation does not. Besides Johnson, only one starter has a winning record, and two starters have an ERA well above 5.00.
The Marlins are currently 15 games back from the Phillies, and the Marlins show no sign of improvement.
The Mets and Nationals are both currently above the .500 mark, which backs my opinion that the NL East is the toughest division in baseball.
Both teams have been playing better than expected, and it appears they will continue to do so.
The Mets will hopefully have a few of their best players return from the DL in the second half of the season, among them Johan Santana and David Wright.
The Nationals have also been struggling with injuries, as well as slumping offense, which is likely to improve.
Whatever you might have to say otherwise, the Braves do have the capabilities to overtake the Phillies in the NL East.
Both teams have amazing pitching staffs, possibly the two best in the league.
Both teams have offense that will surely improve, though I think the Braves offense will give them a slight edge for the division.
Also, the Braves are considering a trade before a deadline, which could improve the team.
It is definitely going to be a very tight race at the end of the season, but I think the Braves have a few extra pieces that will help them to grab first place from the Phillies.
Despite my prediction of the Braves taking the division, the Phillies are also sure to make the playoffs.
Like the Braves, they have amazing pitching, and offense that will hopefully improve in the next few months.
Both teams have also been struggling through injuries, and the return of certain players will also impact the outcome of the division.
In my opinion, the Braves and Phillies are the two most talented teams in the National League.
They have the top two records, and it is likely for that to continue throughout the season.
Both teams have playoff experience, and perform well under pressure.
Even if their hitting does not improve, both teams have good enough pitching to get them at least this far.
While I hope for either the Braves or Phillies to win the World Series, it seems unlikely.
By this point in the playoffs, the teams will be facing pitching almost as good as theirs' and offense more consistent than theirs'.