Every year in April, I think about how ridiculous the term “dog days of summer” is. How do people become bored and uninterested when it comes to a baseball team they love and every game matters so much and counts the same as any other? Then August rolls around. I’ll admit it: I was entirely indifferent towards the result of a Harper-less, Turner-less, Werth-less (no pun intended, but fitting) Wednesday night game against the Angels. As I said to my mom as we drove across the country to move my stuff back into school for senior year, “honestly I’m just listening to the game so I know if anyone else gets hurt.” Granted, part of this comes with the benefit of a double-digit division lead with no real competition for the NL East title since May. Still, as an aware baseball fan, the games that matter that don’t include men in a curly W are worth following. To help Nationals fans, I put together the August Awareness Guide (with the understanding that unless you have MLB.tv, many of these games can’t be watched) so you can know what scores to keep an eye on over the next two weeks.
Another trade deadline has come and gone, and Mike Rizzo did what he does best: bolster the Nationals roster without selling the farm. While teams like the Cubs, Dodgers, and Yankees made major moves, the Nationals made less heralded moves that fix the major issues with this team: bullpen and bench outfielders.
This has been a great week to be a Nats fan living in Chicago, let me tell you. All corners of the Windy City are ablaze with #HotTakes as talking heads and fans alike panic about the Nationals’ B-team going to Wrigley and taking care of the Cubs in two of three games. For good reason, too: Erick Fedde shut down everyone besides Willson Contreras and “closer of the future” Carl Edwards Jr gave up a grand slam to light-hitting Matt Wieters, neither of which inspires confidence about a ball club. While ESPN Radio Chicago spent the week with entire afternoons dedicated to lamenting the Grand Canyon-like gap between the Nats and Cubs, rational thinkers considered the true impact of a series two months before an NLDS game with at least a half-dozen major contributors not playing a single inning. Some immediately said that nothing about it mattered at all, but I got to wondering: Did Washington actually luck out by not allowing their likely playoff foe to see the top of the rotation?
(Author’s note: All stats as of 08/07/17, he has had two walks while I wrote this…..so, yeah)
“…any other man stops and talk, but the walking man walks.” — James Taylor
What happens when a baseball player is one of the best in the league at a certain skill set, a career building skill set, and then suddenly he stops doing it? Perhaps the answer is that a baseball demi-god becomes mortal.
This trade season has been an active one for Mike Rizzo, who acquired a total of four players in an attempt to fix the much-maligned bullpen and add to the teams dubious position player depth. As the dust settled Monday afternoon, the Nationals were left with a transformed bullpen and a bolstered outfield with the additions of Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson, Brandon Kintzler, and Howie Kendrick. Despite the flurry of additions, the Nationals still have a number of questions looming over them as the postseason slowly approaches. Stephen Strasburg’s elbow health is of the utmost importance, the bullpen still has a number of question marks, and the infield depth remains precariously thin. Luckily for the Nationals, trades are still possible until the end of the month so they can still add to the roster if they feel it necessary. Because players traded in August have to pass through revocable waivers, many of the seemingly available players all have performance or salary issues. Should they decide to take a risk, whether out of competitiveness or desperation, there are still valuable players that the Nationals could look to acquire this August. Let’s take a look at some of these players.
There are 53 games left in the regular season. Fifty-three games to get through until the games really matter. Fifty-three games for some guys to get healthy, some to get hurt, and others to either play their way on or off the playoff roster.
With about two more months to go until the regular season ends, and with the postseason picture becoming more clear, it’s become obvious that unless something changes drastically, the Nats are going to play the winner of the NL Central in the playoffs. And right now, it’s looking like that team is going to be the Cubs (unless the Brewers can fulfill my chaos-fueled wishes and unseat the Cubs).
I’d like to start by apologizing for writing this piece one week ago — I didn’t intend for Max and the Nationals to actually try to test how replaceable Scherzer actually is… I have not had good luck with these sorts of posts: On June 8th, I opined that the bullpen was no longer awful. Over the next six days, the pen gave up 18 earned runs. On April 27th, I wrote about how to organize Trea Turner and Adam Eaton at the top of the order. Three days later, Eaton collapsed at first base with a torn ACL. This, of course, doesn’t actually mean anything. Just in case, however, do not be surprised if you see me writing about the Cubs and Dodgers later in the year. I’m a team player, after all.