The “dog days” of August are stupid, mostly because they are misleading and provide no extra dogs for petting or looking at on the feeds of Nationals players’ instagrams. What I’m trying to say is the Nats were relatively quiet this week on social media, but there was lots of on-ish, but technically off, field stuff to takes its place. Max Scherzer protested Jayson Werth’s freedom, Mark Melancon discovered GIFs, and Shawn Kelley became a campaign manager.
Trea Turner has taken the big leagues by storm. Coming into Tuesday night’s game against the Phillies, Turner was hitting .341/.361/.538 with 17 stolen bases before tacking on two more hits and a stolen base. Over those 42 games, he’s already accumulated 2.1 WAR, according to Fangraphs. It’s obviously early in Turner’s career, but those early returns suggest that Turner is set for a long career in the big leagues.
Baby humans, baby dogs, and gold medals are probably among the world’s greatest natural healers. The Nationals dropped four games in a row this week, once again leaving the burden of healing on off-field things.
In a move to bolster the bullpen and fry spell checks across the DC Metro area, the Nationals traded for the Athletics’ Marc “Scrabble” Rzepczynski. (Control-C, Control-V.) Rzepczynski gives Dusty Baker another left-handed reliever in the pen, something the team was hurting for with Sammy Solis on the DL and Oliver Perez battling nagging injuries and a bout of ineffectiveness. To acquire Rzepczynski, Mike Rizzo had to trade away prospect Max Schrock and send Reynaldo Lopez back to the minors to make room.
The assumption has been always been that Bryce Harper is and should be a baseball player. Okay, fair. But Wednesday night Katie Ledecky may have revealed his true calling, discovering just how good he is at proudly displaying her five Olympic medals, the proof of her mermaid-dom.
Fresh off dominating and demoralizing the souls of the best swimmers in the world at the Rio Olympics, Ledecky — a Maryland native and likely a descendant of Ariel herself — took on Nats Park to throw out the first pitch. After decorating Harper with the medals like the Christmas tree he was always meant to be, she threw a strike that would at the very least have Renee Rivera swinging with the MVP standing tall next to her.
Jayson Werth’s record-setting on-base streak came to an end over the weekend. He set the Nationals’ team record, surpassing Ryan Zimmerman, and tied the franchise record of 46 games, set by Expo Rusty Staub. After Werth’s slow start to the year, the streak served as a reminder of the impact Werth can still have on this team.
Life is full of surprises. It’s also full of things that aren’t surprising. One of the things that has recently moved into the latter category is the Nationals crushing the collective soul of the Atlanta Braves. Friday night’s 7-6 win – keyed off by a two-out Clint Robinson RBI single in the ninth inning – is only the latest in what has become a pattern of dominance exerted by the Nats over their division rivals.
This week’s Nationals’ schedule had far fewer off-days than last, but the team was still able to squeeze in a few off-field exploits. Danny Espinosa’s dog was reunited with a best friend, Mike Maddux was introduced to his doppleganger, and Sammy Solis switched things up to play softball.
As every Nationals fan knows, some days the team gets Good Gio and some days it’s Bad Gio on the mound. In Gonzalez’s 23 starts coming into Tuesday’s game, he’s actually allowed three or fewer runs 15 times. That’s not to say he hasn’t had a couple of clunkers, though, as he’s had three starts of allowing over five runs. Those big blow ups have resulted in a disappointing ERA of 4.24 and frayed the nerves of Nats fans.
Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg are two of the top pitchers in all of baseball. Thanks to his ability to induce soft contact, Tanner Roark has solidified his hold on the #3 spot in the rotaion. With Joe Ross still on the DL, the question then becomes, can the Nationals rely on Gio Gonzalez down the stretch?
Andrew laid out a solid case for why Trea Turner could live up to the lofty expectations Nationals’ fans have set for him. Everyone is certainly pulling for him to be the star he has looked like so far this season. But baseball is hard, especially for rookies. The history of the league is littered with rookies who made big impacts right off the bat, only to come crashing back to earth after the league made a few adjustments. The honeymoon phase is starting to wind down on Turner, and he’s going to have to prove he can adjust to the league’s approach to him.