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.
It’s a drizzly night in DC, and Anthony Rendon, mellow as ever, is sitting in the dugout, waiting for his turn to hit. Trea Turner approaches his favorite player and asks him what his approach is going to be in his at-bat. Rendon shrugs and answers, “I’m going to drive in all the runs tonight.”
The Nationals bullpen is… well… underperforming. No one has taken the closer’s role by the horns. There’s a void at the back end of the bullpen as wide as the Grand Canyon. Yet, I legitimately think that there is an answer for that void in the Nats organization: Joe Ross.
Ross has struggled this year as a starter. He has an ERA and FIP well over 5.00 entering Tuesday’s game against the Mariners, his home run rate is astronomical, and his velocity is way down… late in his starts. If only there was a role that existed in a major league organization where a pitcher didn’t need to throw 100 pitches and could empty the proverbial tank with elite stuff before getting tired… Oh, wait, there is. And the Nats desperately need someone who can do that.
As has been mentioned in every single article about the Nationals for the past four weeks, their bullpen is bad. But for once, this is an article that isn’t (directly) about them.
Welcome back to the latest in a series, in which we review the previous week in Nationals baseball and power rank the players according to their performance. This is an extremely unserious exercise; at no point should it ever be confused with actual baseball analysis. Don’t worry, I will do my best to make sure that is obvious. Without further ado: your Washington Nationals, ranked according to power.
Oliver Perez: number 46 on the roster, number three or four-ish in our hearts when the situation calls for a lefty specialist, and number one in foul line jumpers. Saturday, the relief pitcher became the number one enemy of rain. As the grounds crew struggled to pull the tarp over the field at Sun Trust Park, Perez, like a baseball James Bond, stepped in.
Continue Reading Oliver Perez Shines in Tarp Application Outing
The Nationals are extremely dramatic, and their performance swings are exhausting, but they are lovable anyway, and this is a run-on sentence to designed to communicate that and that they did some things this week.
It might seem like the third time is the charm for Michael A Taylor. Handed a starting role when Adam Eaton went down with a torn ACL, MAT has nearly picked up where Mighty Mouse left off. Since getting plugged into a starting role in Center Field on April 29 through the end of Thursday’s game, Taylor is hitting .328/.369/.557. He’s getting on base and hitting for power, with four doubles, two triples and two home runs, a combination that has him hitting 41% better than league average. He has even swiped two stolen bases to zero caught stealing. Maybe it took a couple turns for Taylor to put it all together, and 2017 is where everything finally clicks?
If you’re reading this you already know that the Nationals bullpen has been bad; like really bad. Despite the the offense leading the MLB in nearly every major category, the bullpen (or lack thereof) has been the defining storyline of the Nationals 2017 season so far. I’m not going to beat a dead horse: We all know that the bullpen has been holding back what appears to be an all-time great Nationals offense and will continue to be a major issue as the season progresses. Finally, on Tuesday night, the front office took a drastic step towards fixing this problem; transitioning Erick Fedde, the organization’s top pitching prospect, out of the rotation and into a relief role.