All season long, we’ve been patient. We’ve been waiting for the Nationals to click and get everyone going on all cylinders. A few times, it looked like it was going to happen, but then they’d fall flat again. But I haven’t worried, and I’ve been waiting for them to get it going, to really hit their stride, that they’d come around eventually, they had time.
The All-Star Game has come and gone, Bryce Harper is the Home Run Derby champ, the tyranny of the American League is still ongoing, and the second half has officially begun. Will the Nationals reset, finally find themselves, and make that second-half push they’re going to need?
A players’ meeting the night before. Very quickly getting out to a daunting nine-run deficit. It seemed like the same old story, and the Nationals were going to lose badly yet again, and to a bad team, no less. The same old Nats, and it looked like things weren’t going to get better.
For the majority of the 2018 season, the starting pitching has been the rock. The one thing the Nationals could rely upon when all else faltered (which it has, many a time). However, that rock hasn’t been so steady as of late.
I’ve been one to advocate and campaign Nationals players for individual awards in the past. Tanner Roark for Gold Glove, Gio Gonzalez for a Cy Young nomination, Michael Taylor for Gold Glove, Ryan Zimmerman for Comeback Player of the Year. This year, I have a new campaign: Max Scherzer for Silver Slugger.
Usually, there’s a pretty clear picture of all the prospects in the minors that the Nationals can call up if they need to. When a reliever gets the call, usually there’s a feeling of “I’ve heard of that guy before.” But Justin Miller? He came out of nowhere. The only thought when he came up was “Who?” Now we seek to answer the question: Who the heck is this man?
Continue Reading Where the Heck Did Justin Miller Come From?
With Ryan Madson’s activation from the DL, Trevor Gott got the short end of the stick and was sent back to the minors. The Nationals are due to get the cavalry back from the DL very shortly and will activate a number of important, formerly injured players. With all these players to add back to the roster, who should get the ax to make room?
The players believed to be returning soon are Brian Goodwin, Daniel Murphy, Matt Grace, and Adam Eaton. That means two outfielders, an infielder, and a reliever should be sent back to the minors.
There are a number of relievers the Nats can choose from, the most likely candidates being Tim Collins, Justin Miller, and Wander Suero. The Nats can go a few different ways with this decision, depending on how they want to balance the bullpen. Grace is a lefty, and Collins is the only one out of that selected group who is left-handed, so that would be a natural replacement. He has, however, been effective in his limited appearances this season. In 2.2 innings over 5 games, he struck out three batters, walked one, and allowed zero runs. He has also had a few Tommy Johns, which could be a factor in his workload down the stretch.
Justin Miller is a relatively under-the-radar pitcher who could easily be sent down, but he’s also performed well in a limited amount of time. In 2.1 innings over 3 games, he struck out five, walked none, and given up zero runs. There’s a lot unknown about him, but if you look at his numbers, his career ERA is 4.86, so that could be a reason for demotion. It has also been two years since he’s pitched in the big leagues, and he could be turning a new leaf. We just don’t know.
Wander Suero is the youngest of the three, and perhaps has the biggest upside. Unlike Collins and Miller, this is his first go-around in the bigs, and there is a lot of potential for him to grow. On the flip side, maybe it means he needs more seasoning in the minors. He has pitched pretty well in the big leagues. In 10 games, he has a 2.70 ERA with 8 strikeouts, 4 walks, and a WHIP of 1.30. Pretty solid, especially for a player of his age. Suero would probably not be my pick to take off the roster, but he’s on the list. Admittedly, I don’t know anything about contract situations and who has an option so this decision could be taken out of their hands due to that.
The easiest decision to make is in the infield: when Daniel Murphy comes back, Adrian Sanchez leaves. I like him and he’s a great guy to have on the bench, but there’s no question here. The rest of your infield roster consists of Matt Adams, Wilmer Difo, Anthony Rendon, Matt Reynolds, and Trea Turner. Sanchez plays the middle infield and third, he’s the natural person for Murphy to replace, and that’s what’s going to happen. Murphy will slide back into the lineup, probably splitting some time with Difo as he gets back into game shape. See you next infield injury or for September call-ups, Adrian.
The outfield is sticky. On the one hand, the first decision is quite easy. No matter whether Goodwin or Eaton comes back first, they’re booting Andrew Stevenson back to the minors. He’s a good kid, but there’s just no room for him. And when the second guy comes back…the Nats are probably going to have to send Juan Soto back to the minors. Soto has been superb, and he’s really provided a spark, but he’s young, and, like with Stevenson, there’s just not enough room in the outfield. His call-up was completely unexpected anyway, and he’ll tear up the minors and become even better. I don’t like it, but it’s what I see has to happen. The silver lining is that if he’s in the minors, it means Eaton is back and healthy, and Spanky is perfectly capable of setting the table and providing a much-needed spark in the lineup.
It’s going to be difficult to say goodbye to some of these guys, as they’ve done yeoman’s work while the regulars had the plague, but this team is getting close to being healthy, and they’re finally going to be in top condition and ready to explode.
Everyone is injured and dying. I can barely keep track of who we have on the bench. I don’t recognize most of the people currently in the bullpen. After about Doolittle, Kintzler, and Solis, I just look at the reliever trucking out to the mound with a face of confusion and go, “Huh?” The injuries are starting to get a little worrying.
The Nats’ bullpen has been in flux for most of the season, what with injuries and inconsistency. It’s been better of late, but the reality is that the Nationals are going to have to make some changes if they want a rock-solid, scary bullpen, and especially if they want a chance at making a deep run into the playoffs. Last year, their bullpen was their biggest weakness, and they don’t want that to happen again this year. At the deadline, they’re likely going to have to make a move to shore up that bullpen. My proposed solution: bring Craig Stammen back to the Nationals.