Those are the sort of massive outlays that ultimately undid the Phils. Yes, Washington has a cornerstone in Bryce Harper, who's 22, and the 25-year-old Anthony Rendon, assuming he gets healthy, is superb. But Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Desmond and Doug Fister (who has been banished to the bullpen) are eligible for free agency, and nobody knows what to make of Stephen Strasburg, whose ERA is higher than Julio Teheran's.
Meaning: The benchmark in the NL East is itself being reset. The Mets have younger and better starting pitchers than the Nats, but the Mets can't score. (The three hitters they acquired before the deadline -- Yoenis Cespedes, Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson -- are two-to-three-month rentals.) They were just swept by Pittsburgh, losing twice in bonus cantos and mustering six runs over 33 innings. But they still lead the East by 4 1/2 games.
The Braves have been amassing young pitching themselves, and they have Freddie Freeman. It will be a while before we can put a Braves rotation on the same high shelf as DeGrom-Harvey-Syndergaard-Niese (with Steven Matz set to assume Bartolo Colon's spot soon), but the expanse between the local club and the top of this division mightn't be as wide as once believed. The Mets' pitching is scary good; the rest of their roster is not.