Nationals Prospects Invade Los Angeles, Still Get Swept by Dodgers

The Washington Nationals not only got to see at-bats from Bryce Harper this weekend at the major league-level in Los Angeles, but highly touted first base prospect Tyler Moore got the call up on Sunday when Mark DeRosa was sent to the 15-day DL for an oblique strain. It made for an incredibly young line up for the Nats, and yet another game with virtually no offensive production. There were still quite a few fun points, though.

Gio Gonzalez had yet another outstanding start. He got derailed a bit in the sixth inning when he walked three consecutive batters, but ultimately he gave up two runs in that inning, the only two he gave up all game, on three hits and struck out seven. His scoreless streak ended at an astounding 25 innings. The big problem with this outing? Five walks. This is what concerned people about Gio from his numbers in Oakland. When you put up a 1.82 ERA, you can get a little bit of slack with your walks, but you can’t walk five guys in six innings.

With the 2-0 loss, the Nats are tied for first in the NL East with the Atlanta Braves. It’s the first time since April 11 that the Nats didn’t have sole possession of first place in the division. Now in April, that’s pretty irrelevant, but it’s worth noting anyway. The Nats also were swept in the series and have lost four straight, doubling their previous longest losing streak of the season. Remember, it’s a 162-game schedule and the Nats have played just 22 games. Don’t jump off the bandwagon yet.

Some Thoughts:

- Tyler Moore made his MLB debut, and he got to make his mark on the Nats in left field. Moore has always been a first baseman, but after just three games in left field in Triple-A Syracuse, he got the start in left. He got a putout early in the game and made it look easy. He also earned his first MLB hit, a single, in the fifth inning. He ultimately went 1-for-3. It’s not clear how long Moore will stay with the big club, but keep an eye on his slugging percentage. Oh, and I wouldn’t recommend watching him run the bases. He runs like a catcher/first baseman.

- Bryce Harper got his second career MLB hit on Sunday, but that wasn’t the big news. Harper sacrificed his body in his first career start in center field by running full speed into the wall in deep center to make a catch on Juan Uribe. It was pretty remarkable. He also made a terrible throw home in the sixth inning when Gio Gonzalez was struggling, though it didn’t cause any extra runs to score.

- Danny Espinosa is playing staggeringly bad offensive baseball, and hitting him third in the order on Sunday didn’t do anything but magnify his struggles. He’s hitting .205 with 27 strikeouts in 78 at-bats. he has a .569 OPS. No every day player for the Nats has a lower OPS. He looks lost from the dish every time he’s up there. The problem is the Nats don’t really have any other options with Steve Lombardozzi covering for Zimmerman at third unless you want Chad Tracy playing third every day, but they do have to move him down in the line up. Way down….

- The Nats really, really need Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse back in the heart of this line up. The Nats scored 74 runs this April as opposed to 98 last April with an ice cold Morse and Werth and no Ryan Zimmerman. On a positive note, the pitchers gave up 106 runs last April and gave up just 59 this April. Talk about improvement.

Joe Drugan

About Joe Drugan

Joe is the Managing Editor of The Nats Blog and host of the Nats Talk On The Go podcast. He's been blogging about the Nationals since 2010 and with The Nats Blog since 2011.