Don’t look at this graph. Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.
Most Important Nationals Hit: Bryce Harper‘s two-run home run (+0.164)
While some things on the Nats seem unstable, Bryce Harper is a constant. In ten games, he has five home runs and is hitting .400. He got an intentional walk even though he hits ahead of an All-Star. Every Nationals fan should feel fortunate that he is hitting in our lineup. However, he can’t win games on his own.
Most Important Nationals Pitch: Ramiro Peña’s two-run home run (-0.490)
Oof. It is absolutely far too early in the season to jump to any conclusions, but the bullpen apart from Ryan Mattheus has looked pretty dismal in these first ten games. Five of the pen’s seven relievers have ERAs of 6.00 or above: Zach Duke (16.88), Henry Rodriguez (7.71), Craig Stammen (who allowed this home run, 7.20) Tyler Clippard (6.35), and Rafael Soriano (6.00). Clippard, Drew Storen, and Stammen combined to walk five batters and allow five runs in three innings tonight, and had a combined WPA of -0.717, meaning the Nationals were 71.7% less likely to win thanks to their contributions. Peña’s home run completed tonight’s unbearable collapse, that saw the bullpen turn a 4-1 lead into a 6-4 loss in three innings. This paragraph is not intended to call for change, not unless that change is getting rid of Rodriguez and his apparently contagious lack of control*. It is simply intended to call attention to an early-season issue and complain a bit too. In the words of Clippard himself, “We need to do better.”
Champ of the Game: Ross Detwiler (+0.213) was stellar, pitching seven innings and allowing just one run on four hits, two walks, and five strikeouts. For Atlanta, Peña was an incredible +0.611 after going 2-2 as a pinch hitter, including the game-winning home run.
Chump of the Game: Stammen (-0.419) allowed Peña’s home run. With Craig Kimbrel ready to close it out for Atlanta, allowing runs doomed the Nats. Julio Teheran (-0.236) got shelled early, but did not allow another hit after giving up four runs in the first two innings.