It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of institutional depth, it was the age of debilitating injuries, it was the epoch of of domination, it was the epoch of helpless defeat, it was the starting rotation of light, it was the starting rotation of darkness, it was the series of hope, it was the series of despair, we were all going direct to the playoffs, we were all going direct the other way.
While just 13 games into the year, the Washington Nationals 2014 campaign has really been the tale of two seasons. One season, a blazing hope of undefeated success. In seven games against the New York Mets and the Miami Marlins, the Nats literally cannot lose, and have both hit the ball better than anyone else in baseball, and pitched phenomenally. Against the Atlanta Braves, on the other hand, they have not only looked like a bottom of the barrel MLB team, but also have seemingly been in their own heads, making mistakes no one should make.
This roller coaster beginning of the year has caused great concern for many Nats fans. In general, an 8-5 start would be considered very good by most measures of success, but given how the Nationals have performed against their arch rival this past weekend, there seems to be a feeling of a rough road ahead if the club isn’t able to figure out their problems.
The Nats did their best to ease concerns last night, as they rolled to a convincing 9-2 victory over the Miami Marlins. Jordan Zimmermann, who had previously been shelled in his last start, also against the Marlins, bounced back allowing just two earned runs over seven innings. He also struck out seven batters. Blake Treinen also came in to pitch two scoreless frames to finish out the game. To this point he has pitched four scoreless MLB innings.
The real story on Monday however was the bats. With a lineup that was missing Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche, Jose Laboton, and Denard Span, Washington tallied 16 hits, 11 of which were for extra bases. Main contributors were Bryce Harper (three extra base hits), Tyler Moore (two extra base hits), Danny Espinosa (two extra base hits), Sandy Leon (first career home run), and of course Anthony Rendon (two extra base hits).
- While everyone under the sun was raking in extra base hits last night, Kyle Frandsen managed to go 0-4. He did, however, hit the ball hard several times. Sometimes you have a stretch where you a re ungodly lucky, as Frandsen did, then you come back down to earth. The good news is he’s still hitting the ball hard and driving it across the diamond. As long as he’s doing that, the hits will come.
- Bryce Harper is a fascinating player. As we all know he has a swing that does not seem like any reasonable player should be consistently successful with. It’s almost like watching Happy Gilmore tee-off, its incredibly powerful, but can’t be replicated. When he is healthy and seeing the ball right, he takes that swing and turns just about every pitch into a line drive somewhere in the stadium (or out). When he’s been hurt, or early this year not seeing the ball well, he looks hopeless. He showed Monday night, however, that he’s absolutely locked in. He crushed the ball three times, and murdered a few balls foul as well. We are starting to see the Bryce Harper of last April, and if he is here to stay, that is very very good news for the Nationals.
- Tyler Moore proved yet again that he produces far better as a starter than a bench player. After previously failing to record a hit as a pinch hitter this season, Moore got the start today for LaRoche and proceeded to go 3-5 with his first home run of the year. Nationals fans know there is huge potential there, when he plays every day he has seasons like the one he did in 2011 in the minors where he hit .270 with 31 home runs. The problem is there is a damn good everyday first baseman on the club already, and even after he leaves, there is a strong possibility that Ryan Zimmerman will move across the diamond. Where does that leave Moore? Not just for the future, but also this season if he is unable to produce of the bench?