The National League is as competitive as ever this season, with two out of three divisions neck and neck as we type this. We’re 65 games in and the NL Central and NL East are anybody’s to win as we creep steadily towards the postseason. Summer is prime time to go catch an MLB game with friends and family – not to mention, it’s super affordable! – so grab tickets to see your favorite baseball team, even if they’re not at the top of the National League right now.
If you’re interested, we’ve already given you a briefing on the leading teams in the American League too.
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Not the team we thought we’d be writing about in the NL East a few months ago, but you’ve got to give credit where credit is due. With a record of 37-28, these guys are edging the Braves out of first place by a mere one game. The Phillies haven’t been able to sweep many teams but they have gone 2-1 in their series against the Brewers, Cardinals, Padres, and Reds, falling short only to the Dodgers (who, unsurprisingly, make this list as well).
This year, the Phillies have some uber popular, talented players, with as many as five getting voted into the MLB All Star game – the most of any team, along with the Dodgers. Outfielder and new addition Bryce Harper hasn’t had his best season yet but we’re waiting for it (and the fans still love him), while first baseman Rhys Hoskins has 13 home runs and catcher JT Realmuto has some of the best numbers in the National League. Shortstop Jean Segura leads his position in batting average in the NL and Cesar Hernandez ranks third in batting average among second basemen. The Phillies are like a real life fantasy team right now – locked and loaded – so we’ll keep watching and see if they can stay in front.
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Despite that early rough patch, the Cubs have manage to pull themselves up to the number-one slot in the AL Central Division. But don’t get too comfortable because the Brewers are just one win behind and things could literally change as early as tonight! The Cubs swept the division rival St. Louis Cardinals, who haven’t been able to win a game at Wrigley in six tries (although, let’s be real, the Cardinals swept the Cubs at Busch Stadium at the beginning of the month). Chicago also went 2-1 in their series against the Rockies, but they didn’t fare quite as well against the dominant Astros or even the Reds.
One thing the Cubs needed to work on was their bullpen, and for the most part, they’ve done it. Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks is now 7-0, beating the Cardinals on Sunday even though he says he didn’t feel “sharp” out there on the mound. Pitcher Yu Darvish, on the other hand, is only 2-3 at the moment. But there’s more big news for the Cubs bullpen: Chicago recently sealed the deal on acquiring Craig Kimbrel, former Red Sox pitcher and seven-time All Star, so that should liven things up a little. Meanwhile, the team as a whole isn’t doing so well on the road (they’ve got a 13-16 road record) and they’re about to embark on a 7-game road trip, beginning with the Rockies this week and the Dodgers this weekend. We’ll see if they can’t improve that record and pull ahead.
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Los Angeles Dodgers
If you’d asked us a while back, this is only team we expected to be on top of the NL. The Dodgers have been picked by many as an early favorite for the World Series this year after devastating back-to-back losses to the Astros and the Red Sox in 2017 and 2018. The NL West was a super tight race last season but it looks like LA is racking up crucial wins early to prevent that from happening again. With a record of 45-21, they’re a solid 12 games ahead of the Rockies, who are themselves in very close competition with the Diamondbacks and the Padres. Some might say the Dodgers are running away with it.
In their last ten games, the Dodgers are 8-2, better than any other team in the the National League. With the same core group of players they’ve had over their past two World Series attempts, it may be their strongest team in recent years. They’ve got veterans like Clayton Kershaw, Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, and Kenley Jansen who are still around helping them open up this expansive lead early in the season. If the Dodgers can stay at the top of the NL West, they’ll have their seventh division title in a row. Yeah, it’s early, but it’s clear this whole team and its fan base are aiming for something even bigger…
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Even if your team didn’t make the cut – we see you, Braves fans – we’ve still got cheap MLB tickets so you can go check out a game. We’ll keep you posted as the season marches on through the dog days of summer. After all, each team still has almost 100 games left to play!
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