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NL East Update: The one where Utley uses his head

Chase Utley was involved in another “heads up play” but this one has the Philadelphia Phillies  a little concerned.

Utley got drilled in the back of his helmet and didn’t seem to know exactly what had happened immediately after…a very unusual reaction. This is a smart decision by Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. since there is clearly no reason to run Utley out there anytime soon, even with their upcoming series against a potential playoff matchup in the Milwaukee Brewers. The good news is that the Phillies have activated Jimmy Rollins from the disabled list but isn’t expected to be fully active for a few days.

As for the rest of Utley’s teammates, a three-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves was enough to convince me that the Braves will seriously need to step up their game in the coming weeks if they want to go deep into the playoffs.

A few of the things that separates the “great” teams from the “good” ones are timely hitting and a shut down bullpen, but lets not forget about bench contribution. When you have a guy like Ross Gload getting the game-winning hit off you and Raul Ibanez who hasn’t done squat all year, rise from the dead to go “4-7 with four RBI’s, a home run, and two runs scored”, you know you could be in some trouble. This was a big series for Atlanta, and the end result was being swept for the first time all season. That’s an impressive feat in itself but the timing couldn’t have been worse. I think the Braves are a very good team, but I’m not completely sold on them yet. They need to have more statement wins that will start to turn some heads.

Josh Johnson is no slouch on the mound, but his bad posture may have led to his recent shoulder injury.

I’m sure that isn’t the entire reason why his shoulder has been giving him problems, but it certainly doesn’t help. Who knows if his “customized shirt that keeps his shoulders back” will actually do anything but it sounds like it could make a difference…who knows. I’m surprised we don’t hear more stories similar to this.

What else can you say about Nick Evans? The guy has been incredible in his “audition” for the New York Mets.

Evans is no stranger to the big leagues, as he’s been around since the 2008 season, but I’ve never seen him perform at such a high level. He and David Wright have been carrying the offensive load during the Mets “hot streak” but unlike Wright, I still don’t see Evans having any future in New York. If anything, his play will raise his value making him a very attractive player to other teams.

Luckily for Nationals fans, it looks like Michael Morse has finally “figured it out”.

I always forget that Morse is nearly 30-years old and has spent significant time with the Seattle Mariners. I don’t think his 2011 campaign is a flash-in-the-pan performance since he has been steadily improving through the years while picking up more playing time. I have complete confidence in Morse for next season and will expect about the same numbers he has put up this year. Why should I think otherwise?