Birds Go Defense In Third Round
Philly Takes Corner In Fourth Round

Phillies, NL East: 2021’s Current Predictions

 

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

For the Philadelphia Phillies, April ended and May began with the New York Mets in town.  And, currently, the National League East is still up for grabs with the Fightins, Metropolitans and Washington Nationals bunched atop the division. Basically, every franchise is near the penthouse and the basement. 

 

One Month After:

Phillies fans are not alone in bemoaning their club’s shortcomings because no clear front-runner has emerged. Unfortunately, NL East supporters can see their team taking advantage of this if they score more, improve their fielding, and/or have more than three dependable starters. But some here see no plan!    

IN OTHER WORDS:

“Always plan for the fact that no plan ever goes according to plan.” - Simon Sinek

In ‘21, many players are producing unacceptable stats, and their fan bases are unhappy with even some top stars. Translation: Hitters have difficulty in April’s colder climes, shifts are becoming more efficient, and many pitchers improve out of competitive necessity: keeping their job.    

The Phils have three frontline arms and two rotation question marks, but their divisional rivals also have warts. Expectation-wise, Zach Eflin is a solid three-slot hurler, not a five. And Vince Velasquez could be a bottom-rung starter, not an ace or nothing. For now, he and Spencer Howard could battle for the fifth spot.      

Because Matt Moore is the weakest link, Chase Anderson could move up to the fourth slot; and Velasquez’s opportunities could continue, while Howard builds up arm strength at the alternate site. Even so, the red pinstripes are in the middle of the MLB pack for a five-man staff.  

The relief corps is near the bottom, but the back-end arms again missed time: Jose Alvarado and Archie Bradley like prior studs. Fortunately, they’re not season-ending issues. One related outcome: Connor Brogdon was ready for his first seventh-inning appearance but received an eighth-frame baptism of fire instead.     

Alvarado’s return decreased the pen’s uncertainty for the final two innings. Basically, every hurler can be comfortable being back in familiar roles with seventh-frame chances until management reactivates Bradley. In fact, the bullpen’s numbers are already improving.  

After Génesis Cabrera had plunked Bryce Harper and Didi Gregorius on consecutive pitches, the reliever may have poked a struggling offense. And having the Mets at the Bank may just be the time to put crooked numbers on the scoreboard because the St. Louis Cardinals have hopefully stirred up a hornet’s nest.           

Aside from Bradley’s month on the IL (injured list), the Fightins fortunately haven't suffered any long-term absences from key players (only recent games). And when the biggest offensive worry is the average of the lineup’s eighth hole, warm weather --aka hittin’ season-- and focused batters are the doctor’s prescription.   

2021 Current Predictions on May 1:

  • 1: FanGraphs
  • 2: Davenport
  • 3: Pecota (Baseball Prospectus)
  • 4: RotoChamp (Avg. of the other 4)
  • 5: FiveThirtyEight (*not previously available)

TEAM

1

2

3

4

5

AVG. WINS

Mets

92-70

91-71

90.4-71.6

92-70

84-78

449.4 = 89.9

April 1

92-70

90-72

91.8-70.2

92-70

*

365.8 = 91.5

Braves

86-76

86-76

81.8-80.2

87-75

84-78

424.8 = 85

April 1

89-73

89-73

83-79

87-75

*

348 = 87

Nationals

79-83

84-78

80.3-81.7

85-77

82-80

406.9 = 81.4

April 1

83-79

86-76

83.4-78.6

85-77

*

337.4 = 84.4

Phillies

80-82

81-81

83.7-78.3

82-80

80-82

405.9 = 81.2

April 1

81-81

81-81

83.5-78.5

82-80

*

327.5 = 81.9

Marlins

73-89

69-93

68.7-93.3

70-92

72-90

352.7 = 70.5

April 1

73-89

69-93

70.1-91.9

70-92

*

282.1 = 70.5

Current forecast through April 30 on top. Opening Day predictions on the bottom.

Divisional Foes:

Despite IL stints by Mike Soroka and Max Fried, the Atlanta Braves' offense and defense have kept them near a .500 record. Basically, Charlie Morton and Ian Anderson are shouldering the load, while the club remains within striking distance through May.         

Ronald Acuna and Freddie Freeman are carrying the offense because the Braves have not avoided the hitting drought in the majors either. Realistically, their other regulars are only complementary pieces so far, but expect Atlanta to bounce back with the bats.

Stats through April 30:

Rotation

ERA

NL #

MLB #

Mets 

2.53

2

2

Marlins

3.09

6

6

Phillies

4.22

9

17

Braves

5.12

13

27

Nationals

4.94

12

25

The Mets rotation is the dominant factor for their near .500 showing. Yes, Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman and Taijuan Walker were excellent in April, while the other moundsmen were adequate. As for Carlos Corrasco, they expect him back in May’s second week.              

Their big offseason splash has so far been a drop because Francisco Lindor acquired with Carrasco is averaging .189 with one home run and three RBIs after changing leagues. But while he struggles, Brandon Nimmo and Pete Alonso are contributing. Is New York Lindor’s kind of town?  

Stats through April 30:

OFFENSE

RUNS

NL #

MLB #

Mets 

58

15

30

Marlins

104

10

20 (tie)

Phillies

97

12

24 (tie)

Braves

122

4

7

Nationals

77

14

28 

Stats through April 30:

BULLPEN

ERA

NL #

MLB #

Mets 

3.63

3

9

Marlins

3.80

6

13

Phillies

4.39

12

22

Braves

4.76

13

27

Nationals

3.66

4

10

Rotation-wise, the Nationals are near the bottom of the NL, and only Max Scherzer has delivered up to expectations. As for the pen, Brad Hand is the steady closer they lacked last summer. But expect Stephen Strasburg (on the IL) and Patrick Corbin to contribute.       

Like 2020, Trea Turner is and Juan Soto was hitting: The Nats put Soto on the IL with a strained shoulder on April 20. But their offense-first additions of left fielder Kyle Schwarber and first baseman Juan Bell haven't produced. Therefore, they’ve only plated more runs in the NL than the Metropolitans.   

Stats through April 30:

PITCHING

ERA

NL #

MLB #

Mets 

2.90

2

2

Marlins

3.40

6

7

Phillies

4.28

9

21

Braves

4.97

15

28

Nationals

4.21

8

19

The Miami Marlins have enough talent and drive to play .500 ball and defeat every divisional foe on any given day. Currently, their three young starters led by Sandy Alcantara are having an excellent campaign, but their relief corps could be problematic over a full 162.        

Jesus Aguilar is their prime offensive threat: .296, five homers and 22 RBIs. Like their pitching, they have scrappy youngsters who realized the possibility of serious October baseball. But even though they may not make the playoffs, they could spoil a postseason bid for another NL East organization.  

For the Phils in May, 15 of 28 games are against all four divisional rivals. And, basically, there’s a reason for contending by playing .500 ball: Some teams are pitching but not hitting or vice versa. But what should the red pinstripes have after returning from St. Louis? Hearts en fuego!   

 

NEXT:

Fans’ Free-Agent Picks for 2021

Rsz_bullpen

 

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)