The Phillies took 3 of 4 from the Nationals, losing 17-7 on Friday but winning the other three games by one run. The Braves completed an impressive, three-game sweep on the road. Good job to those two clubs on their big weekend. Bad job to the Nationals and Cardinals, who both sit 42-40 and would be hitting the links if the playoffs started on Monday. The Nationals and Cardinals not only trail the Cubs and Phillies in the wild-card race, they now sit behind the Dodgers and Giants.
This is maybe the most disappointing aspect of both teams. NL teams are averaging 4.38 runs per game. The Cardinals are 10th at 4.27 runs per game, and the Nationals are at 4.24. They’re also trending in the wrong direction. While scoring across the NL was up in June at 4.52 runs per game, the Cards and Nats both averaged an even 4.0 per game.
What happens moving forward? FanGraphs projects the Nationals at 4.63 runs per game the rest of the season and the Cardinals at 4.35. That makes sense, as you would expect increased production from Harper and Daniel Murphy, while being less certain about guys such as Pham or Ozuna. The answer for the Cardinals, of course, could be a trade for Manny Machado.
The most successful Cleveland lineups in recent years featured multiple shooters around LeBron. Check out how the Cavaliers performed during the 2017-18 regular season based on the number of other players on the court with James who averaged at least one 3-pointer per 36 minutes.
When all four other Cleveland players averaged at least one 3-pointer per 36 minutes — in lineups with either Kevin Love or Channing Frye at center — the Cavaliers’ 115.2 offensive rating was a full three points per 100 possessions better than the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets managed last season (112.2).
Philadelphia found ways to overcome spacing challenges a year ago. According to Second Spectrum tracking, Embiid averaged more points per chance (1.10) on post-ups when playing with Simmons last season than with Simmons on the bench (0.88). And that increased to 1.15 points per chance when opponents double-teamed with Simmons on the floor, so they weren’t able to take advantage of his non-shooting by bringing extra help.