A co-worker asked me this morning about the Washington Nationals. He’s a casual fan going to the Sunday game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, whom he expected to be a better opponent. I suggested that the Dodgers were better than their record now that Yasiel Puig was on the team. I also suggested that the Nats were less than the sum of their parts thus far this season. The lineup, incomplete for so long, is finally healthy so perhaps the players can start hitting around their statistical norms. Even Bryce Harper is slumping a little bit, but who knows, maybe finishing 2nd in the Home Run Derby will get him going. The lack of situational hitting is the biggest problem, a relapse to the 2005-2011 Nats that seemed to lead the NL in runners left on base annually. Well, maybe not in 2008 and 2009.
We are also really overdue for a Ryan Zimmerman walk-off.
On the pitching front, Stephen Strasburg is having an “off year” while sporting an ERA of 2.99. Gio Gonzalez has settled into a groove after a mediocre start while Jordan Zimmermann is an All-Star (and rural American!) who hasn’t been quite as good of late, but clearly the leader on the staff. The backend hasn’t been good with Ross Detwiler on the DL twice and having trouble getting through the order a third time. Dan Haren, on the other hand, has had trouble getting through the order once, though has shown signs of improvement.
The Nats are six games back of the Atlanta Braves and catching them over the next 67 games is certainly possible, some even say probable. But it probably won’t happen all at once if it does — read Nats Pennant Push for more as you watch games while breathing into a paper bab. and September scheduling favors the Braves.
They can win the NL East, but it will likely be a slog. I thought that some of the preseason predictions of greater than 98 wins was wishful thinking, but 48-47 at the break was not something I anticipated. On Opening Day, I predicted 94 wins and I think that’s optimistic at this point.
Of course, if the Nats just wear their red caps and the Braves don’t wear their alternate jerseys, it’ll all work out!
Washington Nationals storylines to watch in second half – The Wash. Times
2nd half storylines – CSN Washington
FIRST HALF HIGHLIGHTS
They found a few!
It starts up again at 7:05 tonight — 11 game homestand. Time to get going.