Shawn Kelley is broken.
The Nats bullpen is a dumpster fire with no end in sight. Blowing late inning leads is not what World Series dreams are made of. The question is: How much longer can they realistically afford to survive on the strength of their offense and starters?
Last Tuesday I discussed the state of the Nationals offensive depth, and what it could mean for the rest of the season. While I said I would write a follow up discussing the pitchers in a couple days, work and life got in the way (as they do) and I’m getting this to you a little late, so I apologize for that. Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the Nationals pitching depth.
The struggles of the Nationals’ bullpen has understandably garnered most of the negative headlines around DC lately. The bullpen isn’t the only facet of the Nationals performing at near league worst levels, though. The combo of Matt Wieters and Jose Lobaton has quietly been undercutting Nationals’ pitchers this season, one pitch at a time.
Last year, the biggest stories with the Washington Nationals were the relative disappearance of Bryce Harper and the incredible results from the former Met and present Met killer Daniel Murphy. Today, Murphy and his infectious grin and amusing on-field screams are seemingly forgotten among the many other interesting narratives surrounding the NL East leader. Still, Murphy deserves the proper attention as he continues to showcase that he is one of baseball’s most consistent and effective hitters. In preparation of the impending series with the Mets, allow me to rave about him for a few minutes.
By all accounts, the Nationals had a good draft. In the part that really matters — Day 1, which is composed of the first two rounds — they did what has worked so well for them in the past: Pick players (usually pitchers) who fall for reasons other than ability. The selections of lefty Seth Romero and righty Wil Crowe meet those criteria to a T, as Romero fell due to character concerns and Crowe fell due to medical concerns after his return from Tommy John surgery. In the part that matters least — Day 3, which is rounds 11-40 — they did what every team does: Select enough players to fill out your minor league teams, with a few unsignable high schoolers and your executives’ grandkids thrown in.
I know what you thought. The date was May 14, 2017. Thirty-four games and 154 plate appearances into his season, Bryce Harper was on an unholy tear through the 2017 season. His slash line of .384/.500/.752 with 12 HRs wasn’t unbelievable. In fact, it was very believable if you were one of those people waiting for Harper to repeat his 2015 monster season. On that day, you sat back in your chair, blithely put your hands behind your head, started off into the distance, and smiled. Once again you, learned prognosticator of baseball, were right again. Bryce, without a doubt, was back.
That is, until he wasn’t.
Erick Fedde’s career has taken another step forward. On Tuesday, the Washington Nationals promoted the right-handed pitching prospect to Triple-A Syracuse, a move that comes after his excellent run at Double-A Harrisburg.
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
It’s a narrative that Nationals fans have become all-too familiar with this season. The starters pitch a quality game, the offense scores enough to be able to win. And then in comes the bullpen, and suddenly that lead is gone. It feels like it happens instantly, and like it’s a given. One or two of these games is okay; it’s bound to happen over a 162-game schedule. But to have the constant fear of the bullpen even entering the game for fear of a lead slipping away every game is a major concern.