The Washington Nationals (14-12) have the opportunity to close out April on a strong note.
They will travel to Texas to play a two-game series against the Houston Astros (9-17), who finished 2013 with the worst record in baseball (51-111) and currently hold the worst record in the American League.
Their low winning percentage is a result of poor performances from both hitters and pitchers. Their .210/.281/.365 offensive slash line ranks worst, second worst and eighth worst, respectively, among major league teams. They have struck out the fourth most of any team (229), and have scored the second-fewest runs (88).
Despite their mostly lackluster performance at the plate, Houston’s offense has been buoyed somewhat by slugging, as they have hit the sixth-most home runs (29). As of Sunday they were 8-7 in games with homers, but had not yet won a game without hitting one.
The pitching staff’s collective ERA is 4.82, fourth worst in the majors. Their 1.44 WHIP is sixth worst, and their .259 opponent batting average is seventh worst.
Overall, the Astros are not a formidable team, and the Nationals would do well to take advantage of the chance to add some wins to their record, especially before playing their next three series against the Phillies, Dodgers and Athletics, all of which have records above .500.
The Nationals played disappointingly during their most recent series against the San Diego Padres, whose unimpressive stats rank similarly with the Astros’. They split the series, but left an atrocious number of men on base, despite the offense producing hits.
Nationals’ right fielder Jayson Werth said he wasn’t concerned with the Nationals inconsistent performance in the first month of the season, according to an interview with MLB.com.
“I would say it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” Werth said. “You can’t really put too much weight on what happens in the first half [of the season], because what happens in the second half is where you make your season.”
However, he followed that up by saying teams need to give themselves a chance at succeeding in the second half of the season by playing well in the first half. Werth said he thinks his team is playing great. But, they will need to continue to convince their audience that they are capable of winning by beating lesser teams such as the Astros.
In The Zone
Jayson Werth (RF) .370 AVG, .393 OBP, .481 SLG, 3 RBI, 3 2B (last six games)
Jonathan Villar (SS) .412 AVG, .412 OBP, .765 SLG, 2 RBI, 6 SO (last five games)
Jose Altuve (CF) .333 AVG, .357 OBP, .519 SLG, 3 RBI, 0 SO (last six games)
George Springer (CF) .095 AVG, .269 OBP, .143 SLG, 1 RBI, 7 SO (last six games)
Matt Dominguez (3B) .238 AVG, .304 OBP, .381 SLG 2 RBI, 4 SO (last six games)
4/29, Gio Gonzalez (3-1, 3.00 ERA, .211 BAA, 29 SO, 11 BB) vs. Jarred Cosart (1-2, 6.12 ERA, .217 BAA, 19 SO, 13 BB)
4/30, Jordan Zimmermann (1-1, 4.05 ERA, .279 BAA, 28 SO, 7 BB) vs. Brett Oberholtzer (0-4, 4.61 ERA, .269 BAA, 22 SO, 8 BB)