Beginning the 2021 MLB season, It seemed like everyone was expecting the Braves to win the NL East. Especially with the post-season that they had in 2020. Now with two months left in the 2021 MLB season, it’s time to look at division races. Will anyone dethrone the Mets in the NL East race?
Currently, in the NL East, the Mets are leading the way over the Phillies by 3.5 games. The Braves are sitting in third, five games out of first and playing really good baseball. Could the Nationals who are in fourth replicate what they did in 2019 and have another cinderella story in the second half this season?
Here’s a breakdown of each team’s chances to walk away with the NL East.
New York Mets
I believe the Mets have the best shot at winning the NL East this season. The biggest reason for this will be their pitching staff. They have a three-headed and potentially four-headed monster in Jacob DeGrom, Marcus Stroman, Tajuan Walker, and Noah Syndergaard set to come off the IL soon. The Mets pitching staff currently ranks fourth overall in the majors with a 3.49 ERA, 889 strikeouts, a 1.20 WHIP, and a .230 opponent batting average.
Also, the Mets pitching staff is only allowing 3.27 runs per game which is second-best in baseball. The Mets offense has been sub-par this season, to say the least. They rank 18th in the majors in offense and they rank 28th in runs scored per game. However, I expect the Mets to make a big move at the trade deadline and pick up another bat or two to help with their offensive woes.
The Atlanta Braves have the second-best chances at winning the NL East title. They are currently sitting in third place in the division and four games out of first. The Braves season has been marred by injuries to a lot of key players. Most notably, Mike Soroka and Ronald Acuna Jr who are both done for the season. Losing your best pitcher and your best hitter would de-rail anyone’s season.
Even though Ronald Acuna Jr is done for the season, the Braves still have a lot of firepower on offense. They currently rank eighth in baseball in total offense with a batting average of .241, with 141 HR, 463 RBI, and an OPS of .750. They also have the best run differential in the division at +45.
Since losing starting pitcher Mike Soroka, their pitching has been struggling. I wouldn’t say they have been terrible, but they haven’t been good. They currently rank 14th in pitching with an ERA of 4.11, gave up 399 earned runs, struck out 888 batters, and have a WHIP of 1.31. Atlanta is also giving up 3.94 earned runs per game while their offense is scoring 4.7 runs per game.
The NL East this season feels like it will come down to a neck and neck race between the New York Mets, Atlanta Braves, and the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies are currently second in the NL East and 3.5 games behind the Mets for first. I am giving them the third-best chances simply because the Mets and the Braves are near the top of the standings in either pitching or batting.
With the Phillies, they are in the middle of the league in both categories. So there isn’t one particular thing that they are very good at. On top of that, they have the second-worst run differential in the division at -24.
I still like the Phillies’ chances because they are a team that can get hot and can strike out of nowhere. Their offense is still putting up 4.49 runs per game which are very respectable. If they can make the right moves at the trade deadline, I think the Phillies can be right there in the mix for the NL East.
The Washington Nationals proved in 2019 that you can’t count them out of the playoff race after a lackluster first half of the season. In June of 2019, the Nationals had a losing record and by the All-Star break in July, they were numerous games above .500. I’m not going to completely count them out this year but it’s getting hard not to.
They are currently eight games back of first place in the NL East and 11 games back of a wild card spot. Also, it’s rumored that the Nationals are selling at the trade deadline and All-Star pitcher Max Scherzer may be on the way out. If they trade Max Scherzer, that may be the nail in the coffin on their 2021 season.
They are dead last in the NL East and would need a miracle to win the division this year. Their pitching staff is unbelievably talented and their offense is not good. It’s unbelievable that they are currently sitting at a +1 run differential.
Fun fact, the Marlins are currently scoring more runs than the Mets per game. If they can make some additions to their offense in the off-season, there is no doubt in my mind that they can contend for the NL East title in 2022.
So, to answer the question “will anyone dethrone the Mets in the NL East? My answer is no. I think either the Phillies or the Braves will make a run and possibly take the lead. But ultimately, I think the Mets will finish the season as the NL East champions.
Their pitching staff is too dominant and will be the exact reason why they end up with the division title. The NL East division title will be more important than ever this season because whoever doesn’t win it, will be fighting for a wild card spot with two of the three monster teams out in the NL West. Good luck with that.