The Nats are also 7-5, which isn't great. But baseball isn't absolute, it's relative and today the Nats find themselves in first place. How did that happen? And how is the rest of the NL East shaking out a couple weeks into the year? Is there anything surprising that may be real?
The Mets offense has been a little better than expected, even with Jose Reyes apparently forgetting to bring a bat up to the plate, but the back of the rotation is in a bit of trouble with Gsellman getting crushed and the depth on the DL. One could say they should be better after figuring out that but it's hard to see them keep hitting at these paces. The recent Marlins series, against some relatively weak starters, is probably more their speed. Really though this is the Mets. 7-6 over the course of the season is an 87/88 win pace.
The Marlins aren't terrible? The bullpen has come around since the Nats series to be the strangely built Achilles heeled force I thought it would be. The offense has been fine enough even with Ozuna and Stanton switching bodies a la Parent Trap. The real surprise has been the rotation though. It hasn't blown up. However FIP suggests it's a temporary situation, so unless you think JT Relamuto can keep hitting like Mike Piazza the Marlins are looking at a fade.
The Braves started the season with three series on the road and it showed. They are undefeated since coming home. For the most part the offense is as expected. Freddie Freeman and a bunch of other decent guys. But Swanson being terrible is a surprise. The pitching looks ok Teheran is back to being great and Colon and Dickey are holding up their ends of the bargain. I get a feeling that the offense should be better so if they can find any solution to the #4/#5 rotation spot they could be interesting. If not, won't get over that hump
Remember last year when the Phillies started hot? Funny. The Phillies offense isn't any good with Maikel Franco still in his 2016 form. They are getting some unexpected contributions (Nava, Hernandez) to keep them afloat but that can't last. Meanwhile their pitching is a story of haves and haves not. Like every other team they have a back of the rotation problem. Unlike the other teams they also have no depth to the relief pitching. A couple of decent arms were brought in and they've been decent but I worry about any time they have to get 6th/7th innings out of these guys.
So nothing terribly surprising in the East. Swanson's bat should heat up. Marlins rotation should collapse. But things are pretty much as they should be which is why the division has kind of lined up right.
This division is all topsy turvy with Cincy and Milwuakee with early leads and STL crashing out. Is it lasting? Cincinnati... doubt it. Unless Eugenio Suarez is truly a superstar. They could very well have a decent pen but beyond that I don't see this being anymore than a mediocre team that's sort of hot. Milwuakee might have a bit more staying power as Thames might actually be really good and we all know what Braun can do. There isn't any particular reason to believe in the cast around them but they aren't garbage either. So maybe if they all get a little better at the same time? Career years or such? The Cubs are suffering from an offensive dip but here's a secret for you. That might continue. None of these young guys HAVE to hit better (except maybe Bryant) They could all be kind of average. Age out Zobrist and accept the new normal for Heyward and you have an ok offense at best. Pitching should still take care of them though. Pirates aren't any good as the replacement bats for McCutcheon's slide never really worked out. Still have a young rotation that could come together though. To me the most real thing here is the Cardinals might be bad. Their best reliable bats are over 30 and their other bats aren't super young either (one player under 26). The rotation is good and looks good but the apparently have no pen. Defense is pretty bad too. This is 1/3rd a team.
The DBacks being ok shouldn't surprise you. They were built to win last year and then... didn't. But a lot of the same pieces are still there. It has a young offense that could surprise, a potentially solid rotation, a workable pen if they can find a closer (Archie Bradley might be that guy). Out of all the surprise contenders I like them the most. And for the flipside here are the Rockies who are completely powered by 1-run game luck. The Rockies, like the Marlins, went all in on the pen and it's very very good! But I don't know if the rotation holds up. Maybe it does. Maybe Bud Black is a genius who kept the Padres from years of 50 win seasons. Offensively though I don't see this group keeping pace. CarGo is done. Story was never that good. LeMahieu is at best a very good Singly Joe. The bench is garbage. The Dodgers are fine. Again back of the rotation issues but offense, bullpen, and presumably the first three arms will all be good. They'll be back up. Padres are not fine, but we knew that. The pitching in particular is top to bottom awful. The only thing that'll probably keep the offense from being as bad is Wil Myers finally getting it, assuming he has (I think he has). The Giants fixed the pen (Melancon has been fine since the first outing) but not really anything else. They are still trying to work Matt Cain in for god's sake. If they can sneak into the playoffs Bumgarner and the experience make them dangerous but I'm not sure they can. Maybe they can hit their way in - you can almost see that if they can find that last OF. But they certainly can't do that without a healthy Posey.
I never made predictions but I'll give you some standings on Memorial Day guesses and see if they hold up
Nats - Mets - Braves - Marlins - Phillies
Cubs - Brewers - Pirates - Reds - Cardinals
Dodgers - D-backs - Giants - Rockies - Padres