I didn’t want to write this piece.
No one did.
In fact, writing this piece this early in the season could backfire as royally as my prediction of Jayson Werth’s decline in 2016.
But following a Stephen Piscotty home run in the ninth inning of Wednesday’s loss to the St. Louis Cardinals courtesy of Joe Blanton, it feels like I have no choice.
This year Washington will need to have a top-three offense and unstoppable starting pitching to win games. I have faith that Dusty Baker will find a way to patch things together in the late innings of games, but the 2017 version of the Nats bullpen is (so far) a travesty.
In this particular game Max Scherzer was not as dominant as he normally is and the Cardinals took advantage, getting his pitch count up early. By doing this, Mike Matheny and his boys cracked the code in D.C. If managers and teams can figure out a way to hang in there against Washington’s starters, they’ll find a hitter’s promised land in the bullpen.
So far this season Washington has given up less than four runs in only two of their games. Within that sampling there was a 17-run game (an anomaly to be sure) and three six-run games. It’s gotten to the point when Dusty pulls his starter I watch the remainder of the game through the gaps in my fingers.
Believe it or not though, this isn’t an article instructing people to panic. In fact it is calling for the exact opposite. I am going to force down my worst instincts as a fan and claim that the hitting and starting pitching can make up for deficiencies in the bullpen, at least for the time being.
It would take more space than is allotted to me in this article to chronicle the offensive majesty that is the 2017 Nats. Adam Eaton and Matt Wieters have already been a revelation to me, and the baseball gods must have answered all our prayers since there doesn’t seem to be a single sign of regression in Daniel Murphy. Bryce Harper is back to his old self and it looks like Trea Turner will take some (just a little) of the sting out of seeing Bryce in pinstripes in a few years.
This baseball season is certainly going to be a fun one in the nation’s capital. The offense is almost historically good and the starters are solid to studs. But make no mistake, the bullpen is a disaster that will need to be addressed sooner or later and preferably, for my sanity, sooner.Tags: Nationals, Nats, Washington Nationals