Braves vs. Phillies is huge for NL East standings

Braves vs. Phillies is huge for NL East standings
Braves vs. Phillies is huge for NL East standings

Brian Snitker says he and his Atlanta Braves “plan to win the (National League) East.” This could be the week to put that plan into action.

The manager of the Braves and his six-time reigning division champion were eight games behind the Philadelphia Phillies when he made that bold but understandable statement on June 17. Two weeks later, the Braves are back to trailing by the same margin.

But it may never be as good as it is now.

The Braves and Phillies will play for just the second time this year when the teams meet this weekend in Atlanta. The Phillies will be without leadoff batter Kyle Schwarber (groin) and MVP candidate Bryce Harper (hamstring), both on the injured list for what will likely be short stays.

Meanwhile, the Braves have broken through much of their early malaise to win four of their last five series and remain No. 6 in the USA TODAY Sports power rankings. They’d love to repeat their epic comeback of 2022, when they looked out of it on Memorial Day but won 101 games to defeat the Mets.

Check out our updated rankings:

1. Philadelphia Phillies (-)

  • As expected, teammates battle for the NL ERA lead, but it’s Ranger Suarez and Cristopher Sanchez.

2. Baltimore Orioles (+2)

  • With a home run in June, they reach 139 home runs, the most in the Major League.

3. Cleveland Guardians (-)

  • And now Gavin Williams is back for his season debut.

4. New York Yankees (-2)

  • Just a dip for the pitching staff? We’ll see.

5. Los Angeles Dodgers (-)

  • With Max Muncy out longer, the Dodgers’ third basemen rank 24th with an OPS of .640.

6. Atlanta Braves (-)

  • 1-5 in Spencer Schwellenbach’s starts.

7. Milwaukee Brewers (-)

  • Five Grand Slam titles in their last eight matches.

8. Minnesota Twins (+1)

  • Bomba Squad redux? A club record of 19 games with a homerun..

9. Seattle Mariners (-1)

  • Have lost four straight series as the Astros are just waking up.

10. Kansas City Royals (+1)

And now for real: grab three out of four from Guardians.

11. San Diego Padres (+1)

  • Hear Manny Machado cheering in Fenway Park? That’s what’s hot!

12. Boston Red Sox (-2)

  • Kenley Jansen and Craig Kimbrel alternate in fifth place on the list of all-time saves.

13. St. Louis Cardinals (-1)

  • Ryan Helsley 30 of 31 save chances.

14. Houston Astros (+2)

  • Yainer Diaz (.282, seven home runs, .728 OPS) provided the punch they were looking for from the catcher’s position.

15. New York Mets (+2)

  • Right-handed pitcher Tylor Megill is being sent to the minor leagues, likely until the All-Star break.

16. Tampa Bay Rays (+3)

  • Taj Bradley strikes out 11 in his third standout start in the last four.

17.Arizona Diamondbacks (+1)

  • Zac Gallen makes a triumphant return with six shutout innings.

18. San Francisco Giants (+7)

  • Jorge Soler’s June line – .284/.361/.484 – is an encouraging sign.

19. Washington Nationals (-4)

  • Acclaimed slugger James Wood makes his Major League debut on Monday.

20. Cincinnati Reds (+2)

A disappointing break in St. Louis thanks to two shutout losses.

  • Low point: Corey Seager suffers a wrist injury, resulting in the team’s sixth straight loss.
  • Rowdy Tellez-o-Meter continues to rise: .230, .618 OPS.
  • Craig Counsell and his club greeted each other rudely in Milwaukee.
  • Yankee division not enough to inspire confidence.
  • Mike Trout says he wants to be back by the end of July.
  • Reliever Tanner Scott in June: 1.38 ERA, 15 strikeouts, five walks in 13 innings.
  • Mark Kotsay’s inclusion on the AL All-Star staff is a nice gesture from his former manager, Bruce Bochy.

  • You can’t sink any lower than this, but it doesn’t help that they lost a series to the White Sox.

30. Chicago White Sox (-)

  • Can we trust this regime to deliver positive returns for Garrett Crochet?