Around the NL East: Atlanta stumbling at the wrong time

Around the NL East: Atlanta stumbling at the wrong time
August 5, 2014, 12:00 pm
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(Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports)

ATLANTA BRAVES 

What has happened to the Braves? After a stretch where it looked like the race for the division title would be neck-and-neck with Washington, Atlanta has suddenly fallen on hard times. The Braves are in the midst of a six-game losing streak and currently sit three games back of first place. Getting swept by the first-place Dodgers is one thing, but then getting swept by the Padres? Suffering two straight walk-off losses? That's troubling if you're an Atlanta fan.

The good news for the Braves, if any, is that after wrapping up a brutal west coast swing, they home for a pivotal series against the Nationals that'll give the team a chance get right back in it. It's probably too early to call it a make-or-break moment in the season, but it's pretty close. If the Braves lose the series (or even worse, get swept) then it might be time for them to start focusing on the Wild Card standings.

MIAMI MARLINS 

The Marlins actually wound up being buyers at the trade deadline, acquiring Jarred Cosart in a six-player deal with the Houston Astros to help bolster their rotation and potentially spark a late-season run. However, the 24-year old righty has struggled of late, allowing 23 earned runs in his last five starts combined (which includes his Marlins debut). Add in the fact that All-Star Henderson Alvarez is on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, and you wonder if Miami's rotation can hold up long enough to keep the team relevant in the standings.

Speaking of the standings, Miami couldn't take advantage of its recent six-game win streak, instead dropping four out of the next five and losing ground in the division race. The Marlins are still 6.5 games back of first, so they'll have to turn things around in a hurry if they really want to make this a three-horse race for the division.

NEW YORK METS 

The Mets may not have made any moves at the deadline, but that doesn't mean they were losers. They just so happened to be in a unique situation where they already had a lot of young building blocks in the organization and no teams wanted any of their veterans.

So what do Mets fans root for the rest of the season? It has to be the continued development of the young rotation, which has rapidly improved from the start of the year. Jacob deGrom, for instance, won NL Rookie of the Month in July with a 4-1 record to go along with a 1.39 ERA. Zach Wheeler, who struggled mightily early in the season, has all of a sudden gone 3-0 with a 1.63 ERA his last six outings. And last but not least, Matt Harvey -- still recovering from Tommy John surgery -- threw off a mound at the team's spring training home in Port St. Lucie, Fla. It doesn't take much to see that with this rotation's potential, the Mets are on the rise -- even if it won't show in the win column in 2014.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

With all the wheeling and dealing around baseball at the trade deadline, a lot of folks expected the Phillies would be leading the pack among sellers as the team making moves left and right. But 4 p.m. struck and.....nothing. Not a single move made by general manager Ruben Amaro. Whether it was because potential suitors weren't offering enough or that they didn't want to take on huge contracts, it has to be a little bit disappointing that Philly couldn't take advantage of its opportunity to inject the organization with quality prospects.

But it's not over just yet. The Phillies placed A.J. Burnett, Ryan Howard, Anthony Bastardo, Kyle Kendrick and Roberto Hernandez on revocable trade waivers Saturday, per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Perhaps they'll still be able to salvage a trade or two, but regardless of what happens it looks like a dramatic roster shakeup is in the cards once the season ends.