On the strength of their starting pitching the Cardinals have finally knocked the Braves from the top spot in the rankings; here's how Nationals Insider Mark Zuckerman, Nats writer Chase Hughes, and I see the rest of the league shaking out.
1. Cardinals (21-12; LW: 5) Hughes - Their entire starting rotation boasts ERAs of 2.72 or lower and Carlos Beltran is an early MVP candidate.
2. Rangers (21-13; LW: 3) Zuckerman - Was Yu Darvish worth all the money? Right now, the folks in Texas certainly think so.
3. Braves (21-13; LW: 1) Roney - With Brian McCann back, wither Evan Gattis? Though he's cooled from his torrid start, the Braves need his bat to stay in the lineup.
4. Giants (20-15; LW: 8) Zuckerman - How is it that the World Series champs in two of the last three years still flies under the radar?
5. Orioles (21-14; LW: 7) Roney - Guess who's helping to drive the O's bus -- Nate McLouth, who's hitting and running (.299 avg., 3 HR, 11 SB) like it's 2008.
6. Yankees (20-13; LW: 4) Roney - How are they doing this without a single plate appearance from Granderson, Teixeira, Jeter, and A-Rod? Scrapheap pickups Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner are hitting so well, you'd think their careers weren't almost over.
7. Tigers (19-13; LW: 12) Hughes - The Nationals just knocked them down a peg, but that lineup will keep them around the top all year.
8. Red Sox (21-14; LW: 2) Roney - Andrew Bailey is back on the DL and Joel Hanrahan is sending x-rays to Dr. James Andrews, thrusting Junichi Tazawa into the closer role. He'll be the fifth player in the last 14 months to fill that role for the Sox.
9. Nationals (19-15; LW: 16) Roney - With all of the umpiring shenanigans the past couple of days, it's easy to overlook the egregious ejection Bryce Harper endured. Hard not to feel that some umps want to throw him out.
10. Diamondbacks (20-15; LW: 13) Zuckerman - Team Grit isn't lacking in talent, either. Goldschmidt and Gregorius are beasts.
11. Royals (18-13; LW: 9) Hughes - Jeremy Guthrie, at 34 years old, is 5-0 with a 2.28 ERA. What is going on?
12. Reds (19-16; LW: 14) Hughes - They are top ten in runs scored and team ERA, signs that suggest they'll be moving up this list soon.
13. Rockies (19-15; LW: 6) Zuckerman - A healthy CarGo-Tulowitzki combo is as formidable as any 1-2 punch in baseball.
14. Pirates (18-16; LW: 10) Hughes - Starling Marte looks like the real deal, but can their pitching keep it up? They need Jonathan Sanchez to get his act together.
15. Indians (18-14; LW: 19) Hughes - Remember Scott Kazmir? He struck out ten with no walks in six innings against the Athletics yesterday.
16. Athletics (18-18; LW: 11) Zuckerman - Ex-Nat Tommy Milone (3.13 ERA) has been the best return from Gio trade.
17. Twins (16-15; LW: 17) Hughes - Joe Mauer is the only player in Minnesota's lineup hitting over .269 and Vance Worley is not the guy they thought they were trading for.
18. Rays (16-18; LW: 20) Roney - Evan Longoria is scorching to the tune of a .414 average, with two homers and nine RBI.
19. Brewers (15-17; LW: 15) Hughes - Milwaukee has the worst team ERA in the National League, but there is talent there. We'll see if they turn things around.
20. Padres (16-18; LW: 26) Zuckerman - Jason Marquis: 4-3, 3.48 ERA. … Wait, is that right? Yes, it is. Who knew?
21. Mariners (16-19; LW: 22) Zuckerman - Michael Morse owns one-fourth of Seattle's entire home run total.
22. Phillies (16-20; LW: 21) Roney - Chooch Ruiz is back from suspension, which is a huge boost -- Erik Kratz was giving them almost nothing, offensively.
23. Mets (14-17; LW: 23) Roney - Zimmermann and Kershaw are great, but Matt Harvey might be the best pitcher in the NL right now.
24. White Sox (14-18; LW: 24) Hughes - I don't think many predicted Chicago to be this bad. Starting pitching has been okay, they just can't hit.
25. Dodgers (13-20; LW: 18) Zuckerman - $216 million apparently doesn't go as far as it used to.
26. Cubs (13-21; LW: 27) Hughes - The Nats are about to get a first-hand look at Chicago who actually have a nice rotation this season save for Edwin Jackson's 0-5, 6.39 ERA so far.
27. Blue Jays (13-23; LW: 28) Roney - Does anyone else get the feeling we may look back on R.A. Dickey's Cy Young award the same way we do Eric Crouch's Heisman? Not undeserved, but anomalous.
28. Angels (12-22; LW: 25) Zuckerman - Has the Mike Scioscia Firing Countdown Clock hit single digits yet?
29. Astros (10-25; LW: 29) Zuckerman - Bo Porter had better be the most patient man in the world. He's got a long road in front of him.
30. Marlins (10-25; LW: 30) Roney - With the performances that wunderkinds Fernandez and Ozuna turned in, there's finally something nice to say about Miami that doesn't involve the quality of the concessions.