Figuring out what has gone wrong with the 2018 Nationals is a multi-pronged study in disappointment. Few of the stars are starring, injuries have riddled the lineup and rotation and a certain swagger seems to be missing. Whether or not that’s because a certain bearded guy and a certain well-seasoned manager are both not around anymore, I’m not sure. But I’ve talked to numerous other Nats fans over the last few weeks and each one has mentioned how the boys don’t really seem to be enjoying themselves. Now, obviously, it’s a lot easier to have fun when you’re winning than when you’re losing, but there’s a malaise settling over this team that we never saw from the Dusty Baker-led group of 2017. Hopefully, that changes after Thursday night’s thrilling comeback victory over the Marlins.
But let’s not fool ourselves. The Nats are still just 45-44 and in a tight spot in the playoff race. The margin for error is gone already, a situation the team never even came close to facing last season. I decided to look back at the 2017 squad to try and figure out what the hell has happened this year.