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NL Contenders Watch: After Dodgers, Mets, Braves, things get interesting

By Rowan Kavner
FOX Sports MLB Writer

With a month and a half to go within the MLB season, the Dodgers, Mets and Braves have established themselves on a degree of their very own. Then the National League playoff image will get interesting.

The Dodgers are on a document tempo, sitting comfortably 16 video games forward of their division. The Mets and Braves proceed to vie for the highest spot within the NL East, although a wholesome rotation and a few new additions in New York have helped the previous begin to separate.

As it stands at the moment, the Mets, Braves and Phillies would all make the playoffs, placing stress on the Cardinals or Brewers to win their division or danger lacking out. St. Louis, Philadelphia, Milwaukee and San Diego all are inside 5 wins of each other and certain battling for 3 playoff spots.

Here’s a team-by-team take a look at the place the National League contenders stand.


Arrow pointing: Up
Overall: 79-34
Since Aug. 2 deadline: 9-1
Last week: 4-1
Playoff odds (through FanGraphs): 100%

Sound the alarms. The Dodgers misplaced a recreation. 

It hadn’t occurred all month, and it ended a 12-game successful streak that got here one victory wanting matching the longest streak in Los Angeles historical past. The Dodgers are 34-6 of their previous 40 video games, so it is much less a query of if and extra of when the Dodgers will wrap up the division, as they enter this week main the second-place Padres by a commanding 16 video games within the NL West

The Dodgers’ pitching employees has been the perfect in baseball, weathering the losses of Walker Buehler (now out for the yr) and Clayton Kershaw (on his second injured checklist stint) to go 11-1 with a 2.36 ERA this month. Their offense has additionally been the perfect in baseball, they usually lead the majors in August particularly with an .872 OPS and 84 runs. Max Muncy is starting to find his stroke, a harmful thought when contemplating what the remainder of the lineup has achieved this yr. 

The Dodgers’ 11-1 document to start August was the perfect begin to a month in franchise historical past.

The Dodgers and Astros lead Ben’s MLB Power Rankings

Ben Verlander breaks down this week’s MLB Power Rankings, with the Dodgers, Astros and Mets on high within the rankings.


Arrow pointing: Up 
Overall: 75-40
Since Aug. 2 deadline: 10-2
Last week: 5-1
Playoff odds: 100%

The Mets’ solely loss of their previous 9 video games getting into this week was an extra-inning defeat to the Phillies. Their pitching employees has allowed two runs or fewer in eight straight video games and simply blanked Philadelphia in two straight video games. They’ve received 17 of 20 video games. 

What’s extra, the highest of the Mets rotation seems to be nearly as good as any in baseball: Chris Bassitt, Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom have a mixed 7-0 document and 0.94 ERA in August. The Mets‘ .361 on-base share this month is the perfect in baseball. Jeff McNeil, Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso have appeared like superstars in August. 

While the strikes on the deadline had been extra supportive than substantial, they seem like prudent. Tyler Naquin (1.245 OPS) and Daniel Vogelbach (.949 OPS) have thrived of their new uniforms, and Darin Ruf, in a small pattern, has finished what he was introduced in to do in opposition to lefties (.846 OPS). A monumental stretch awaits with 4 video games in opposition to the second-place Braves, 4 video games in opposition to the third-place Phillies and a two-game set in opposition to the Yankees.

Mets are World Series contenders with deGrom, Scherzer and Diaz

Ben Verlander breaks down three causes the New York Mets are a World Series-caliber crew, beginning with the dominance of their pitching.


Arrow pointing: Up 
Overall: 70-46
Since Aug. 2 deadline: 7-5
Last week: 6-0 
Playoff odds: 99.4%

The Braves have tallied six straight wins, all in opposition to the Red Sox and Marlins. If they hadn’t performed the Mets earlier this month, their August document would look significantly higher; Atlanta is 1-4 in opposition to New York and 7-1 in opposition to each crew different this month. The Braves can have an opportunity to make up floor once they face the Mets once more at dwelling this week, seeking to decrease their 5.5-game division deficit. The Mets have received six of the earlier eight video games between the golf equipment.

Regardless, the Braves are comfortably above the remainder of the pack, sitting six video games forward of the Padres within the wild-card race. The youth motion goes swimmingly in Atlanta. Top prospect Vaughn Grissom has appeared each bit the half, beginning his major-league profession 7-for-18 with two homers and a stolen base. The Braves have an NL MVP candidate in Austin Riley and an NL Rookie of the Year candidate in Michael Harris, who’s making his case for the award with a 129 OPS+ total and a .357/.400/.667 slash line in August. Ronald Acuña Jr. can also be beginning to see his energy numbers leap — he’s slugging .521 in August — and the Braves’ offense is selecting up an Atlanta rotation that sports activities a 4.04 ERA this month. 

Although now not in his regular nearer’s function, Raisel Iglesias did decide up a save already and has supplied an eighth-inning improve. Max Fried’s well being can be one thing to watch after the ace went to the injured checklist as a result of a concussion on a weird defensive play.               


Arrow pointing: Slightly up 
Overall: 63-51
Since Aug. 2 deadline: 8-3
Last week: 3-3
Playoff odds: 75.6%

The Phillies had been rolling. Then, just like the Braves earlier this month, they ran right into a Mets squad extending its lead atop the NL East. The Phillies’ pitching employees has guided them by August. Seranthony Dominguez and new acquisition David Robertson are each 2-for-2 in save alternatives, with no runs allowed this month. Their performances change into more and more vital with Corey Knebel touchdown on the injured checklist as a result of a lat pressure. While Noah Syndergaard has stumbled early in his new digs (4.91 ERA, 1.73 WHIP, six strikeouts in 11 innings by two begins), Aaron Nola and Kyle Gibson each have sub-2.00 ERAs this month to tempo the Phillies’ rotation. 

Philadelphia’s offense bumped into Sandy Alcantara, Scherzer, deGrom and Bassitt in 4 of its previous 5 video games. Consequently, the Phillies head to Cincinnati this week with simply six runs scored of their previous 5 video games. Newcomer Brandon Marsh (6-for-27) remains to be making an attempt to realize his footing, and Alec Bohm‘s large July tempo (1.088 OPS) has decelerated in August (.549 OPS), however Rhys Hoskins has 4 homers in August, and Nick Castellanos has an .806 OPS this month. The offense can also be nonetheless lacking some key elements, with Bryce Harper on the comeback path and Kyle Schwarber now coping with a calf situation.

The Phillies have probability to make up floor on the NL East leaders this month. If they will win their Aug. 19-21 sequence in opposition to the Mets, their different sequence this month are in opposition to the Reds (twice), Pirates and Diamondbacks.

Jacob deGrom, Kyle Tucker, Aaron Judge lead MLB Team of the Week

Ben Verlander provides us his newest crew of the week, that includes stars from the Mets, Yankees, Dodgers, Astros, Cardinals and extra.


Arrow pointing: Slightly up 
Overall: 63-51
Since Aug. 2 deadline: 8-3
Last week: 3-3
Playoff odds: 77.5% 

From a win-loss perspective, every little thing concerning the Cardinals and Phillies has appeared virtually similar the previous couple of weeks. They’re each 63-51 total and 8-3 for the reason that deadline, they usually each went 3-3 final week to snap seven-game successful streaks. The largest distinction has been the best way they’re successful. The Cardinals are mashing in August, boasting the second-best offense in baseball this month, behind solely the Dodgers.

Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt proceed to appear to be the 2 finest gamers within the National League. They’ve mixed for 10 homers and 24 RBIs by the Cardinals’ first 12 video games this month. Paul DeJong, Nolan Gorman and Lars Nootbaar are offering depth. Albert Pujols has gotten into the motion, too, posting his 63rd profession multi-homer recreation on Sunday to tie Willie Mays for fifth all time. Also, deadline acquisitions Jordan Montgomery and Jose Quintana have been the Cardinals’ two finest beginning pitchers this month, permitting a mixed three earned runs by their first 4 begins with their new membership. 

The Cardinals have received 12 of their previous 16 video games, leaping forward of the Brewers in a decent division race. They have an opportunity so as to add to their slight benefit with sequence in opposition to the Rockies, Diamondbacks and Cubs arising. That’s excellent news for them as a result of even with the brand new postseason format, it’d take successful the division for any crew from the NL Central to make the playoffs. 


Arrow pointing: Neutral
Overall: 65-52
Since Aug. 2 deadline: 5-6
Last week: 4-2
Playoff odds: 83.6%

Manny Machado has carried the Padres’ offense all yr. Even after the large deadline additions, he hasn’t stopped. The reigning National League Player of the Week went 12-for-28 with seven extra-base hits and a six-game hitting streak to earn the weekly honor.

Over the weekend, Juan Soto additionally turned the primary participant since Mike Trout in 2018 to stroll 100 or extra occasions within the first 112 video games of a season. Machado continues to mash, Soto is getting comfy, Trent Grisham is getting scorching (5 homers in August) … and all of it makes the Fernando Tatis Jr. information much more of a damper. The suspension may both provoke or demoralize the Padres from this level ahead, and it’s up to them how they handle it. 

The lineup everybody envisioned received’t materialize, the Padres are nonetheless ready for Brandon Drury and Josh Bell to duplicate their pre-Padres kind on the plate, and the deficit within the NL West is probably going insurmountable — Sunday marked the primary time since July 26 that the Padres received and the Dodgers misplaced on the identical day — however the Padres’ October hopes stay in play, and sufficient expertise is in place for them to make a run.

After being swept by the Dodgers, the San Diego offense began selecting up the tempo in opposition to the Giants and Nationals. But their rotation might want to get again on monitor. San Diego’s starters are 5-6 with a 4.46 ERA in August, regardless of encouraging play lately from Blake Snell (2-1, 1.02 ERA, 27 strikeouts, two walks in three August begins).

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Ben Verlander dives into Padres celebrity Fernando Tatis Jr.’s 80-game suspension for testing constructive for performance-enhancing medicine and what this implies for the rest of the Padres’ season.


Arrow pointing: Down
Overall: 61-52
Since Aug. 2 deadline: 4-7
Last week: 3-2
Playoff odds: 59.3%

It’s not completely associated to the Brewers’ determination to ship Josh Hader to San Diego — he blew his first save alternative with the Padres — however Milwaukee’s bullpen has scuffled for the reason that deadline. Taylor Rogers, acquired in that deal, has allowed 5 earned runs in 3⅔ innings. Matt Bush, one other deadline acquisition, has a 5.06 ERA and 1.50 WHIP by six appearances.

The Brewers are 3-for-6 in save probabilities this month, and their relievers are 2-4 in August with a 4.19 ERA and 1.34 WHIP. It’s removed from the worst in baseball — plus, Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff and Eric Lauer proceed to raise up the rotation — however pitching mediocrity received’t lower it for a crew that ought to have the ability to depend on that a part of the sport to succeed in the postseason.

On the opposite aspect, Rowdy Tellez is mashing this month (.281/.395/.688), however the offense as a complete possesses a .220 batting common in August (twenty fourth in MLB). As it stands at the moment, the Brewers are 1.5 video games behind the Phillies for the ultimate NL playoff spot. And two of their subsequent three sequence are in opposition to the Dodgers, which could make it troublesome to realize floor on the Cardinals within the speedy future. 


Arrow pointing: Neutral
Overall: 57-57
Since Aug. 2 deadline: 6-4
Last week: 4-2
Playoff odds: 5.2%

They swept the Pirates and salvaged a spot on this checklist, however the Giants sit at .500 after Sunday’s walk-off win. Following their early second-half struggles — they dropped 12 of their first 15 video games out of the All-Star break, together with two four-game sweeps by the Dodgers — their playoff odds look more and more slim. 

Wilmer Flores, Joc Pederson and Thairo Estrada (who hit the walk-off) have been swinging scorching bats, and the deal for J.D. Davis (8-for-26, three homers) seems to be improbable for the Giants. Logan Webb and Carlos Rodón have pitched effectively this month, and nearer Camilo Doval has held down the ninth inning effectively of late, however getting there was a difficulty. To maintain the playoff hopes alive, things must shift dramatically for the remainder of a scuffling pitching employees (4.82 ERA this month) and a protection that has been the worst in baseball this season.

The Giants path the Phillies by six video games for the ultimate NL wild-card spot. They additionally sit simply 4 video games forward of the fourth-place Diamondbacks within the NL West.

Rowan Kavner covers the Dodgers and NL West for FOX Sports. A proud LSU alumnus, he credit his time as a sportswriter and editor at The Daily Reveille for making ready him for a profession protecting the NFL, NBA and MLB. Prior to becoming a member of FOX, he labored because the Dodgers’ editor of digital and print publications. When not at a stadium or watching sports activities, Rowan enjoys enjoying together with his canine, climbing, operating, {golfing} and reminiscing concerning the Mavs’ 2011 championship run. You can discover him on Twitter at @RowanKavner.

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