Around the NL East: Marlins see Nats as early season test

Around the NL East: Marlins see Nats as early season test
April 8, 2014, 12:00 pm

ATLANTA BRAVES

Despite a rash of pitching injuries during spring training, the Braves have opened the 2014 season looking like they haven’t skipped a beat. They took two of three against both the Brewers and Nationals this past week, and now head back home to face the Mets with free agent signing Ervin Santana set to debut. That game will also feature the 40th anniversary celebration of Hank Aaron’s 715th career home run. It should be a special night at Turner Field.

It has only been one week of real baseball games, but so far the Braves’ pitching staff stacks up pretty well statistically. They rank second in the majors with a 1.56 team ERA, and their starting pitching is best in the game at 1.63. As a whole, opponents have hit just .185 off their pitching staff. That’s best in the game. 

The Braves have also seen a significant increase in franchise value over the last few years. The Atlanta-Journal Constitution says the team is worth $200 million more than it was just seven years ago. 

MIAMI MARLINS

With the help of two home series against teams that did not qualify for last year’s playoffs, the Marlins head to Washington with a winning record of 5-2 after their first seven games. Giancarlo Stanton (12 RBI) and Casey McGehee (10 RBI) have been hitting the cover off the ball, and their starting pitching has looked fantastic. The Marlins currently lead the majors in runs scored (42) and place fifth in team ERA (2.43). Their bullpen also has the league’s best ERA (0.40) as a unit after giving up only one earned run in their first 22 1/3 innings this season.

The Marlins’ surprising start, in fact, has the team talking about their series with the Nationals as an early season test. 

“It’s a great test for us to kind of see where we’re at,” manager Mike Redmond said. “We’re facing their best three pitchers. I’m excited about the opportunity to go in there and play after having a nice homestand, and hopefully we keep this momentum going.” 

NEW YORK METS

If early numbers are any indication, the Mets are going to have a very difficult time both scoring runs and preventing them late in games. They currently rank 23rd in the majors with 21 runs through the first week. Amazingly, however, that is better than the Braves who are 4-2 after having scored only 15 in their first six outings.

The Mets also have the second worst bullpen ERA so far at 6.75. That’s after giving up 14 runs in their first 17 1/3 innings of work. This past week the Mets also lost closer Bobby Parnell to Tommy John surgery, so it’s not looking great for the backend of the Mets’ staff. 

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

The Phillies are an even 3-3 after the season’s first week, losing their first series in Texas against the Rangers before taking two of three against the Cubs in Chicago. Now they return to play ten straight home games against the Brewers, Marlins and Braves.

It’s very early, but pitching has been a mixed bag for the Phils so far. Though Cliff Lee has allowed eight earned runs in his first two starts, their rotation otherwise looks pretty good. Kyle Kendrick was solid in seven innings of one-run ball vs. Texas, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez won his first start against the Cubs, and Cole Hamels will be back soon. 

Philly fans are, however, a little concerned with closer Jonathan Papelbon. The right-hander has seen a decreased velocity and has allowed three earned runs in his first three outings.

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