PHILADELPHIA -- Everybody enters every baseball season with a few things that you just know will happen.
Like, these things are bet-your-life-on-them locks.
But then -- poof -- they do not happen like you expected at all. Here is a look at something from every National League East team that we got wrong:
Braves: The rotation
It seemed like the Braves needed a big season from Mike Foltynewicz and Sean Newcomb if they hoped to compete in the NL East. But nearly seven months later, Atlanta comfortably sits atop the division despite Newcomb spending most of the season in the bullpen and the once-demoted Foltynewicz only recently proving to be a reliable commodity. The Braves signed Dallas Keuchel in June, which was significant. The expedited developments of NL Cy Young Award candidate Mike Soroka and Max Fried were, too. But the most surprising contributions have been provided by the rejuvenated Julio Teheran, who has produced the NL’s fourth-best ERA since the start of May.
Marlins: The young starters
The rebuilding Marlins had concerns up and down the roster, but everybody wondered how their starting pitching could hold up. They got some encouraging answers. The rotation had a combined 3.92 ERA at the All-Star break, which ranked fourth in the NL. It has not kept that pace in the second half, but All-Star Sandy Alcantara has made terrific strides, tossing two shutouts this season. Left-hander Caleb Smith also has shown flashes of ace potential, and there is help on the way, too. Top prospect Sixto Sanchez could be in the big leagues next season.
Mets: Edwin Diaz
Diaz was one of the best, if not the best, relief pitcher in baseball last season. He had a 3.5 WAR with the Mariners in 2018, according to FanGraphs -- only Oakland’s Blake Treinen was better (3.7 WAR). Diaz had 57 saves and a 1.96 ERA in 73 appearances with Seattle, so no wonder the Mets were fired up to get him in the offseason. But Diaz is 2-7 with 5.77 ERA and 25 saves. He has a 0.0 WAR, which is tied for 120th out of 158 qualified relievers. Imagine if Diaz had been just half as good as he was last season with the Mariners. Where would the Mets be?
Nationals: Surviving Bryce
The Nationals not only have fared well in the beginning of the post-Bryce Harper era, they have thrived. A big reason why is Anthony Rendon, who has played himself into legitimate NL Most Valuable Player Award consideration. Rendon entered Wednesday batting .335 with 41 doubles, three triples, 32 home runs, 114 RBIs and a 1.044 OPS. The Nationals' offense has been a top-10 performer and the team has played well since May, looking like a lock to host the NL Wild Card Game early next month.
Phillies: Strength in the 'pen
The Phils entered Spring Training believing they could have one of the better bullpens in baseball. Their core included Hector Neris, David Robertson, Tommy Hunter, Pat Neshek, Seranthony Dominguez, Victor Arano and Adam Morgan. Neris is the only pitcher who has been healthy the entire season. Robertson, Hunter and Neshek have had season-ending surgeries for various injuries. Dominguez is trying to avoid Tommy John surgery, but he has not pitched since June. The 'pen has been a big disappointment for the Phillies, who have tried to fill holes with low-cost replacements and internal options.