I don’t know what to make of this week. On the one hand, the Nationals finished the week going 4-3, taking two of three on the road from the Marlins and splitting a four game series at home with the Cardinals. They went 2-1 against the Jose Fernandez, Adam Wainwright, and Michael Wacha gauntlet. If they go 1-2 against that trio, you feel good about the one win, so that’s all a positive. On the other hand, there’s the sloppy fielding, the playing from behind, and the inconsistency from the starting pitching.
So, I think of U2’s “Running to Stand Still” when I look back on this week.
After last week ended with an Atlanta sweep, the series win against the Marlins seemed like a big boost for the club, especially considering the way they fought back against Fernandez on Wednesday with another Jayson Werth dramatic home run to tie the game and a Zach Walters pinch hit home run to go ahead. My fan-crush on Anthony Rendon was rewarded with his continued strong play. Bryce Harper was hot early in the week, cooled off in the Cardinals series, then was pulled because he didn’t run out a ground out to the pitcher on Saturday afternoon. Ugh. Short of Danny Espinosa coming alive in the Cardinals finale, that’s it for the hitting. It was a rough week with the bats.
It was also another rough week with the gloves. Collectively, the Nats made seven errors on the week, which just so happens to be the same number of errors short stop Ian Desmond now has on the season after making two in the first game against the Cardinals. Well, at least he’s hitting the ball . . . well, at least he recorded a hit in five straight, which means that his .234 batting average is probably higher than his fielding percentage.
Jordan Zimmerman contributed two good starts this week, pitching 14 total innings with 13 strikeouts and three earned runs. After a rough outing against the Marlins, Stephen Strasburg rebounded nicely against the Cardinals in the finale. Still. He never really goes deep into games, not making it out of the seventh inning this year, and he’s alternated good starts with bad. So far this season, it’s difficult to tell which Strasburg is showing up on a game to game basis. Speaking of bad starts, Taylor Jordan has now turned in two in a row, getting knocked around by the Cardinals this time and making Nationals fans hope for Doug Fister to survive his rehab starts intact.
Nats starters did provide three quality starts (six innings of work with three or fewer earned runs) in a row to close out the Cardinals series. The relievers have tossed the fifth most innings in the Majors this year, and a continued run of competency would go a long way from keeping Tyler Clippard’s arm usable by summer.
Next week the Nats continue their home stand with three against the Los Angeles Angels and four against the San Diego Padres. This week will mark 20 straight games without an off day, except for Harper who stays fresh with light jogs down the baselines and early showers.