Braves have built a remarkable division lead in just 31 games

Braves Ozzie Albies

The Braves have picked up right where they left off to end last season, dominating the NL East. They’ve won 21 of their first 31 games, including seven of their last nine. Following Tuesday night’s clobbering of the Marlins, they now sit five games up in the NL East, which was supposed to be one of the most competitive divisions in baseball entering the season.

The Mets were poised to be the Braves biggest competition after winning 101 games last year, but their rotation hasn’t been as stout as expected. Steve Cohen also apparently couldn’t afford any more power bats, leading to a lot of inconsistency on offense. I do expect them to get hot eventually, but chasing down the Braves from five games behind will be a difficult task.

The Marlins have been a pleasant surprise, but if we’ve learned anything over the past week, they are no match for the Braves. At best, they will be competing for a Wild Card spot at the end of the season.

Last year’s National League champions, the Philadelphia Phillies, are off to an incredibly disappointing start. Their pitching staff hasn’t performed to expectations, and their lineup has desperately missed Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins. Thankfully, Harper has returned, so don’t be shocked if the Phillies start to turn things around over the next month.

The Nationals… Nevermind, I won’t even talk about them.

It’s early, and I don’t want to pull a Sal Licata and claim the division is over before Memorial Day. With that being said, the Braves are and have been the class of the NL East. There’s a reason they’ve won the division five straight times. It’s much easier for them to chase down the Mets than it is the other way around. This is a Braves team that has looked the part of the best team in the National League early in the season, despite a myriad of injuries, and there’s no reason to think they are going to slow down considerably. If someone in the division is going to challenge them, they are going to have to play incredible baseball the rest of the way.

Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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