For a team some baseball writers believe has not yet hit its stride, the Washington Nationals’ (12-10) meeting with one of the worst offenses in baseball, the San Diego Padres (10-12), could be the momentum boost they need.
The two teams will play a four-game set in Washington, as the Nationals continue to strive toward the level of play they should be capable of, as manager Matt Williams said on Wednesday night.
“I don’t think we’ve played well yet,” Williams said, according to MLB.com. “That’s what I see. There’s been spots of good. There’s been spots of great. We’ve seen big comebacks, things like that. But over the course of a number of games, I don’t think we’ve put it together, yet. I do believe that we will. But as of right now, that hasn’t happened. We continue to work hard to get to that point.
Though playing well against a sub-par team doesn’t necessarily indicate that a team is playing well by baseball’s overall standards, games against the Padres and the Houston Astros over the next week could provide a confidence boost that could help the Nationals roll into May on a high note.
Though Nationals fans have often grumbled about the disappearance of the Nationals’ offense in multiple games this season, as well as last season, looking at the Padres’ stats is a reminder that it could be worse.
The NL-West fourth-place Padres have the fourth-worst batting average in the majors (.225) and the second-worst on-base (.276) and slugging percentages (.346). They have walked only 49 times, have 53 RBIs and 60 runs, all of which rank worst in baseball.
In comparison, the Nationals are tied for the sixth-most runs scored (95), the eighth-most walks (78) and the 10th-most home runs (23). Their team slash line of .245/.321/.401 ranks 14th, 15th and ninth in each respective category.
Though those numbers aren’t good, they certainly aren’t as bad as the Padres’, and they have been keeping the Nationals afloat through the first month of the season.
For the Padres, pitching has been the sustaining force.
Their team ERA is 2.82, good for fourth in the majors. They have allowed the second-fewest home runs (13), and are tied for the third-lowest opponent batting average (.221).
But, the Padres do not strike out an abundance of batters (169 strikeouts – tied for 16th), and have historically struggled at Nationals Park. Over the last two seasons, the Padres have pitched for a 6.59 ERA with a 1-4 record on the Nats’ home field.
The Nats’ pitching staff has struck out the most batters among major-league teams with 212 strikeouts. However, most of their other stats fall near the mean.
The team ERA is 3.52 ERA, which ranks 11th. They have allowed the 14th-most home runs (19), have the 12th-lowest opponent batting average (.255) and a 21st-place WHIP (1.33).
The Nationals are better than many of their numbers suggest. And as Williams has said, “If they’ve shown anything, it’s that they fight.” If the team can keep fighting and working toward playing to their caliber, the odds are in their favor to shut down the limp San Diego offense.
In The Zone
Adam LaRoche (1B) .364 AVG, .440 OBP, .409 SLG (last six games), hit walk-off single Wednesday vs. Los Angeles Angels
Chris Denorfia (RF) .429 AVG, .455 OBP, .714 SLG, 1 HR, 2 RBI (last seven games)
Seth Smith (LF) .300 AVG, .375 OBP, .300 SLG, 1 RBI, 3 R (last six games)
Will Venable (RF) .192 AVG, 192 OBP, .231 SLG, 7 SO, 0 BB (last seven games)
Jedd Gyorko (2B) .048 AVG, .167 OBP, .048 SLG, 5 SO, 3 BB (last seven games)
4/24, Jordan Zimmermann (1-1, 3.92 ERA, .293 BAA, 23 SO, 20.2 IP) vs. Eric Stults (1-2, 4.35 ERA, .286 BAA, 9 SO, 20.2 IP)
4/25, Stephen Strasburg (1-2, 5.33 ERA, .269 BAA, 42 SO, 27.0 IP) vs. Robbie Erlin (1-2, 4.15 ERA, .206 BAA, 17 SO, 17.1 IP)
4/26, Tanner Roark (1-0, 3.80 ERA, .289 BAA, 18 SO, 23.2 IP) vs. Andrew Cashner (2-2, ERA)
4/27, Taylor Jordan (0-3, 6.23 ERA, .320 BAA, 17 SO, 21.2 IP) vs. Ian Kennedy (1-3, 3.60 ERA, .214 BAA, 28 SO, 30.0 IP)