The Nats have been maddeningly inconsistent this season. I’ve said it a million times. They won four in a row and now have lost four of five, and seem to erase any gain they make just as soon as they make it. At the beginning of the season, the Nationals were waiting for their luck to turn around, and for them to play to the potential they had. Then they were waiting for Bryce Harper. What are they waiting for now? It makes no sense that the Nats are a .500 team, given how well they played last year and how well some players are playing, like Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, and Ian Desmond. There is a cognitive dissonance, a sort of logical disconnect between the Nats we know and the Nats on the field. It is confusing, but at what point do we accept that these Nationals, for whatever reason, are a .500 team? I don’t mean to endorse this view now, with 69 games remaining, but how far into the schedule do we have to be to accept that we were wrong? 100 games? 120? If the Nats keep playing like they are, it’ll have to happen at some point. The Nats have the potential to be better, we all know, but meltdowns like tonight’s affirm that they aren’t yet, and no change is in sight with the All-Star Game just two games away.
Most Important Nationals Hit: Adam LaRoche‘s two-run double (+16.4%)
For all the sadness and frustration this game elicited, it started off pretty well. The first three Nats reached base, and LaRoche came to the plate with one out. His double scored two runs, and put two runners in scoring position for Jayson Werth. Werth grounded out to score the inning’s third run, and the Nationals scored the most runs in the first inning since also scoring three via a LaRoche home run in the first against Kevin Gausman and the Orioles.
Most Important Nationals Pitch: Marcell Ozuna‘s triple (-24.4%)
Strasburg ran into trouble early and often against the light-hitting Marlins. He walked three of the first four batters he faced to load the bases with one out for Ozuna. Ozuna quickly took advantage of the opportunity, tripling home all three runners to destroy the lead the Nationals had just built. The Marlins would get three more hits in the inning, two of which drove in runs and one by Marlins starter Nathan Eovaldi. After allowing two more runs in the second on a Giancarlo Stanton home run, Strasburg was pulled.
Champ of the Game: LaRoche (+14.2%) was just 1-4, but had two RBIs with his first-inning double and the outs he made later were when the Nationals trailed by four and five runs, rendering them nearly inconsequential. Similarly, Ozuna (+23.4%) was 1-4, but takes this crown on the strength of his first-inning three-RBI hit.
Chump of the Game: Strasburg (-59.7%) had what is undoubtedly the worst outing of his career. He allowed seven runs, a career high, in just two innings, and put on nine baserunners, four via the walk. He likely ruined any shot he had at taking an All-Star Game spot from Zimmermann. Marlins catcher Rob Brantly (-5.4%) was 1-4 with a strikeout.