The narrative of the entire season in the National League were essentially the Los Angeles Dodgers and all others. It's hard to resist this statement as the Dodgers have the majors' biggest differential – only the Houston Astros are close and no NL team is within 100 runs of their lead.
But let's take a look at the Atlanta Braves, a team that begins to peak at the right time. The Braves drove to Citi Field this weekend to face a glowing New York Mets team that plays well at home and has just defeated the fierce Cleveland Indians. The Braves swept the series to extend their winning streak to eight games, and the three victories each were impressive in their own way:
Friday: Atlanta won 2-1
Saturday: After Atlanta jumped out 4-0, the Mets rallied and took the lead in Pete Alonso's threesome explosion in fifth. But the Braves rallied in the eighth with two runs and two in the ninth to win 9-5.
The Braves have won or drawn nine consecutive series, including five of Mets' six games and two of three of the Dodgers, Twins, Nationals and Phillies. They have beaten good teams to maintain their lead of six games in front of the Nationals in the Netherlands – and that's important.
The odd thing about the Braves is that their bullpen has done a lot of criticism throughout the season. They have indeed exceeded their Pythagorean record: The Braves are between 80 and 52, compared to an expected record based on a running differential of 74 to 58. This difference of six wins is the biggest positive spread for the majors. When a team exceeds its expected record, this is often due to a super clutch bull that helps a team win close matches. In fact, the Braves are 25-13 in one-pass games and 11-5 in additional innings, but the Bullpen was generally average throughout the season, finishing 12th in the probability-winning majors.
The hope Of course, the Bullpen improves. By the time the Mets scored a run-off against Mark Melancon on Sunday in the ninth inning, the pen had thrown 25 goalless innings in a row. While Melancon, Chris Martin and Shane Greene initially had problems after passing the trade date, all three settled in and have done well lately:
Melancon: Four parries and one victory in his last five games.
Martin: Five straight scoreless outings with only two hits allowed.
Greene: Six straight scoreless outings with three hits allowed, nine k's and no walks innings in August with 15 kilometers and four courses.
Sean Newcomb: The hard left-hander had a 1: 2: 3-eighth on Sunday, and he has a 3.16 ERA relief.
These are five pretty good reliefs. and only Jackson was in the Atlanta Bullpen at the beginning of the season. Given that the Dodgers have their own worries – Kenley Jansen has allowed six saves and eight home runs in 49⅔ innings – you can reasonably give the Braves the better bullpen in the postseason. (As always, the production of small samples will exceed all projections.)
Another reason why the Braves are so popular now more than two months ago is that Donaldson quietly gives them a third major alongside Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuna Jr. Staggered has Slow Start (possibly rusty after injury problems in 2018), Donaldson has reached up to 32 homeruns and .265 / .379 / .538. Since mid-June he beats .294 / .409 / .658. In response to the Braves on Cody Bellinger, he has been beating like an MVP candidate for more than two months.
Then there is Keuchel, who had his best start on Sunday with the Braves. He is 5-5 with an ERA of 3.78 and the first four of Mike Soroka, Julio Tehran, Max Fried and Keuchel give Atlanta four above-average starters. An important reason for the mediocrity of the Braves' running differential is that the rotation was terrible for most of the season – Foltynewicz, Kevin Gausman, Kyle Wright and Bryse Wilson have a combined ERA of 6.33 in 39 starts. These guys will not start in October (although Foltynewicz has the opportunity to get back into the Braves' post season schedule).
The most important thing to take with you: I think the Braves are better than their Plus-78-Laufendifferential suggests. They will soon get Dansby Swanson back and Nick Markakis, Ender Inciarte, Brian McCann and Austin Riley are also on the injury list. This winning streak is a merit of team depth from the bank.
Hard to believe, but the Braves have not won a playoff series since the 2001 NL Division Series. Since then, they have lost seven straight division series and one wildcard game. This could be the team that finally breaks this series.
National Sweep Cubs: The other big sweep this weekend were the Nats who went to Wrigley Field and won 9-3, 7-2 and 7-5 in 11 innings on Sunday. The Cubs entered the series at home 44: 19.
The game on Sunday was fun as Kyle Schwarber paired the game with a homer of two runs in eighth behind Fernando Rodney in the ninth and then eleventh in front of Tyler Chatwood, eventually scoring two goals for the Nationals, with Howie Kendrick and Trea Turner The rally started with a single and a double.
Anthony Rendon made his fourth goal of the game in the second half of the innings.
"I'll do a case for him now, yes," said Nationals manager Dave Martinez. "MVP, Gold Glove, my husband, Anthony Rendon."
Rendon may have some catching up to do, but a late surge could drive him off:
Rendon: .329 / .407 / .617, 29 HRs, 104 RBIs, 94 runs, 5.2 / 5.6 WAR
Christian Yelich: .329 / .421 / .678, 41 HRs, 89 RBIs, 91 runs, 6.0 / 6.5 WAR
Bellinger: .312 /. 409 / .655, 42 HRs, 100 RBIs, 101 runs, 7.9 / 6.8 WAR
Rendon scored .348 / .444 / .652 with runners in the standings, but the following: When he arrived on Sunday, he hit. 408/452/855 with nine home runs in 76 bats in high-leverage situations – the largest most clutch moments of games. The only thing is that Yelich was great also in the clutch. (Rendon takes third place in OPS in mid to high leverage moments, but Yelich takes fourth place.)
Anthony Rendon shatters a ball for a solo homer in fourth place inning to give the Nationals a 1-0 lead over the Cubs.
Anyway, Rendon has another great season ahead of him. Perhaps he's just a strong third in the MVP race (and Braves fans will be leading Freeman and Acuna), but do not ignore Rendon's clutch numbers for the remainder of the season.
Indians lose Ramirez, then lose a tough game: Jose Ramirez broke his right ham bone on Saturday on a swing over the Royals on a swing and will undergo surgery on Monday. The timetable for returning from such an operation varies, but Joey Gallo underwent a similar operation on 23 July and is expected to be out by mid-September. Ramirez will probably be lost for the remainder of regular time, and even if he miraculously returns, batsmen often take longer to regain their power after these injuries, partly because Ramirez had rebounded from a terrible start. On June 16, his OPS remained under 600. Since then, he had met with 16 home runs and 51 RBIs in 56 games .313 / .359 / .654. Rookie Yu-Cheng Chang started in third place with four career boards on Sunday.
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In this game, the Indians tied the Royals with four runs at the end of ninth place – Francisco Lindor met Ian Kennedy, and with two outs, Franmil Reyes scored on three -run Homer. It looked like Cleveland was going to win a miracle and defeat the Royals, but Ryan O & # 39; Hearn finished in tenth place and the Royals won 9-8.
"There are two ways to see it "said the manager of the Indians Terry Francona told reporters in Cleveland. "You can pity yourself, which probably will not go well, or you can choose to fight back and feel that this is our time to shine, and I would choose No. 2. I'm mine We've lost a great player. "
The Indians were resilient throughout the season, battling injuries in the starting rotation and a deficit of 11½ games to return to the American League Central and in June to participate in wild card races. Now they are back at 3½ games behind the Twins, with 12 of their next 16 games on the road.
Short Thoughts on the Weekend: Good to See Felix Hernandez made a respectable effort on Saturday before the Seattle fans (two runs on two home runs in 5⅔ innings against the Blue Jays). I do not know how much he has left, but it would be nice if his last launches in a Mariners uniform were not embarrassing. … Stunning record of the year: Mariners Catcher hit with 35 home runs on .302. … Someone who was terrible is Trevor Bauer, who gave eight runs in three innings to the pirates on Sunday. After nine runs before two starts, he has an ERA of 7.62 at the Reds and his season ERA is now at 4.34. Despite all the hype that Bauer had with his analytical approach to pitching, he had an ERA below 4.00 only once in his career. … One of the twins who flew under the radar is Miguel Sano, who has 26 homers in 292 bats. The exercise rate remains crazy (35%), but he mashed home runs and played well enough on third base. … It looks like we've skipped Michael Brantley in this season this season, but he drives an 18-game series in which he beats .458 / .519 / .750. Despite all the attention Yankees DJ LeMahieu has received for his Non-Mike Trout Division (MVP) season, Brantley had too little applause the same season.