|Photo by USA Today|
By Steve Roney
Sizing up the Opening Week that was in the National League East, with one contender sprinting out of the gate, an also-ran that has yet to start walking, and everyone else in between:
Atlanta Braves: 6-1
The Braves are off to the majors’ best start, sweeping the Chicago Cubs late last week to fuel a four-game winning streak. One of the game’s best (and deepest) pitching staffs deserves most of the credit, ranking second in the NL with a 2.29 ERA. While the immensely talented outfield has yet to really warm up – Jason Heyward and B.J. Upton are a combined 5-for-49 – feel-good story Evan Gattis hit a home run in the opener, his major league debut. Not only was the rookie catcher’s dad in attendance – the elder Gattis was being interviewed on national TV when his son connected. Not a bad way to start the season.
Player of the Week: Justin Upton, OF: 9 R, 6 HR, 8 RBI, .423 AVG
Miami Marlins: 1-6
On the other end of the spectrum sit the Marlins, right where they left off last season. Only a 7-5 decision over the Mets and the potentially historical debacle that is the Houston Astros are keeping this team from the ignominy of being the Majors’ worst team. Though not as young as you’d expect, Miami does field several promising youngsters – as always – including stud 20 year-old righthander Jose Fernandez, who pitched five innings of three-hit, one-run ball in his big league debut. However, his controversial call-up has perhaps prematurely started the clock for both his arbitration eligibility and his inevitable exit from Miami.
Player of the Week: Fernandez: 0-0, 5 IP, 8 K, 1.80 ERA, 0.80 WHIP
New York Mets: 5-2
A half-game ahead of the Nationals in second place, and a full game behind the Braves, New York’s National League squad is off to a nice start to the season. The teams heart and soul, David Wright, is showing no ill effects from the minor injury that held him out of the end of the World Baseball Classic, hitting at a .333 clip with a pair of extra-base hits. Well-traveled catcher John Buck, who arrived from Toronto as part of the return for pitcher R.A. Dickey, has surprised early, mashing to the tune of three home runs, 12 runs batted in, and a .375 average.
Player of the Week: Matt Harvey, SP: 2-0, 14 IP, 19K, 0.64 ERA, 0.57 WHIP
Philadelphia Phillies: 2-5
The perpetually aging Phillies are barely holding it together as it is, and desperately need to get younger: Only two players in the Opening Day lineup (outfielders Ben Revere and Domonic Brown, both 25) were under the age of 29. The creaky lineup is matched with an equally leaky rotation, with Cole Hamels and the rapidly declining Roy Halladay combining to go 0-4 with ERAs of 10.97 and 14.73, respectively. Only Cliff Lee (1-0, 0.00 ERA) and old friend John Lannan are keeping this ship afloat.
Player of the Week: Chase Utley, 2B: 5R, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 1 SB, .370 AVG