In a rare crossover, Dan Zaudtke and Court Swift have teamed up to tackle some of Natstown’s hottest questions from opposite viewpoints. Enjoy!
As the Nationals play beer league softball against one of the lightest hitting teams in the league, the annoyance with the team’s struggles is palpable on social media. Fans are frustrated with the bullpen, the lack of situational hitting, Wilmer Difo’s unbelievable brain fart, some of Dusty Baker’s choices, the bullpen, the bench, and the bullpen. This slump is coupled with the Mets getting a couple of players back healthy and winning four in a row. This is baseball. Every team goes through this. The Rangers series was brutal, but if Difo runs this is a different conversation. Continue Reading Everybody Struggles
What to make of Michael A. Taylor? My esteemed colleague Joseph Seib echoed many analysts’ feelings in his piece on Taylor three weeks ago. Many have figured he would have come back to Earth by now. Buoyed by an unsustainable .400+ BABIP, a 35% K rate, and 5% walk rate most of the year, he seemed destined to revert back to his 0-fer nights with multiple strikeouts, and a Mendoza line batting average. But here he is, fresh off another solid offensive performance against the A’s, going 4-13, slugging .846 and striking out just twice. Everyone expects him to crash, but will he?
Right now, the Nationals are running away with the NL East. They are in the enviable position of not having a real competitor, currently sitting a comfortable 11 games up. The Mets are the closest thing but cannot stay healthy and cannot get out of their own way. In fairness, they won that game, but wow, that was bad. Since Max Scherzer lost to the Braves on May 20, lasting just 5 IP on 106 pitches, the Nats have won nine of 11. Max has pitched 17.2 IP in his last two starts — one out away from consecutive complete games. In fact, just twice has a starter failed to pitch into the seventh inning — Joe Ross, who lasted less than five against the lowly Padres, and Gio Gonzalez, who posted 5 1/3 IP against the Mariners.
Pain. As we reach the quarter point of the season, the Nationals have hit their first real rough patch, losing four of six to teams that are a combined 12 games under .500. The Pirates, who have the second-worst offense in MLB, scored 20 runs over the three-game series. The Braves were one of the most power deficient offenses in the league—especially so without Nat-killer extraordinaire Freddie Freeman. Atlanta hit six home runs in their two victories before Strasburg dealt them the Ace of Spades and shut them down over 7.2 IP. For all the good the Nationals have, there are some cracks in the foundation. For the starting pitching, the bullpen, lineup, and bench, we will look at the areas of concern, and how significant they are.
Mike Rizzo might have a new strategy when marketing to potential free agents. “Have you been treated poorly by your current, team? Well, you might want to consider joining the Washington Nationals!” This week, Matt Wieters walked off his former club. Through the first three games of the contrived “MASN Cup,” which carries about as much weight as the Mystics Attendance Banners, Wieters has put together a sparkling .385/.429/.462 slash-line. He is carrying on what has become a fine Washington Nationals Tradition: beating your former club in fun and torturous ways.
Before we begin, let us pray. Dear baseball gods, please accept this sacrifice of ye fatted calf, to appease thee of any undue hubris. In Scherzer’s name, Kmen.
Since Alfonso Soriano had one of the greatest seasons in Nationals and baseball history in 2006, joining Barry Bonds, Jose Canseco, and Alex Rodriguez in the 40-40 club (and adding another 40 doubles), the Nationals have been looking for a permanent solution to two revolving doors: the leadoff spot and centerfield. Continue Reading Spanky and the Burner
Every Nats fan knows June 8, 2010. The immortal Charlie Slowes bellowed the now-famous line: “Remember where you are, so you remember where you were!” It was voted one of the Five Greatest Moments in Nationals history. The “Natinals” were a laughing stock after the incredible 50-31 run in the first half of 2005, compiling a 362 -529, a paltry .406 winning percentage since. Stephen Strasburg’s debut was the first tangible fruit of “The Plan.” His debut filled Nationals Park with a playoff-like atmosphere, and he did not disappoint.
By Dan Zaudtke
Hey, remember Opening Day? Stephen Strasburg pitched seven solid innings, and Sammy Solis and Blake Treinen retired all six batters they faced. Blake made both Justin Bour and Marcell Ozuna look dumb with some nasty filth. Those were good times. It was also the last time the bullpen went without giving up an earned run, before holding the Phillies scoreless before Daniel Murphy’s walk-off.