4 Phillies storylines to watch in third month of 2021 season

Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
3 of 4
Jacob deGrom #48 of the New York Mets (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

3. The National League East is an awfully underperforming division.

The Phillies currently sit tied with the Miami Marlins for third place in the National League East — 4 1/2 games behind the New York Mets and 1 1/2 games behind the Atlanta Braves. With the Marlins looming, the Phillies could be in fourth place as soon as Tuesday. The Washington Nationals are last, two games behind the Phillies and 6 1/2 games back of the division leader.

The division has been off to a really slow start. The first-place team has just a 25-20 record and every other team is below .500. The Mets are doing this with what seems like everyone injured. Notable players out for them include Pete Alonso, JD Davis, Seth Lugo, Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, and Brandon Nimmo.

The Mets are practically playing their “B team” on some nights, and pitching has gotten them by for now. DeGrom has an ERA below 1.00, Taijuan Walker below 2.00, Marcus Stroman below 2.50. Their bullpen has also been very strong, having eight different pitchers with an ERA+ over 100.

The Braves, second at 25-26, has had disappointing pitching so far — with the 22nd-best ERA as a team in MLB. Their offense, meanwhile, ranks 11th in runs scored. The good news for them is Austin Riley has really improved this season, as he now has a 153 OPS+. Riley has the potential, but is now starting to show it.

Overall, the division has been very disappointing and the Phillies have had a chance to take advantage of it. Yet, they simply haven’t.