Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
Was the Washington Nationals recent 14-5 stretch nothing more than a brief tease that got fans back into thinking they had turned a corner and a late season playoff push was at hand? It’s a little too early to say it was only a tease, but after watching these two home losses to a bad New York Mets team it’s a legitimate question considering the way the team has played this season.
The re-energized offense has went back into hibernation mode once again and manager Davey Johnson looks more out of touch than ever in my opinion. The only positive thing about the last two days is they only lost one game in the NL Wildcard race, but time is running out. To be fair, we knew they weren’t going to win every game the rest of the way.
I did a post last week when they had 32 games remaining and predicted they would need to go somewhere in the neighborhood of 25-7 or at the worst 24-8 to make this late season push successful. We’re only five games in and they’re 3-2 with both losses coming at home to a bad Mets team. It doesn’t look good, but you can’t write them off yet. With 27 games remaining they are sitting 7.5 games behind the Cincinnati Reds for that second Wildcard berth.
Considering the situation, I believe Sunday’s series finale against the Mets is a MUST WIN game now. They will be hitting the road for six games and it’s important to leave in a good frame of mind.
One thing I’d like to know is why Tyler Moore isn’t seeing more time at first base in place of the slumping Adam LaRoche? Moore’s been swinging a very hot bat since getting recalled (.444 batting average) compared to LaRoche’s unsightly .192 batting average since the All-Star break. I know LaRoche has a great glove, but he’s giving you almost nothing offensively and with the season on life support you must play the guy that’s producing. Plus I don’t think Moore’s a defensive liability playing first base.
If I was managing the team I’d demote pitcher Ryan Mattheus immediately because he’s clearly not right. He’s actually become liability in the bullpen right now. I’d also have a much quicker hook when it comes to pitcher Dan Haren because when he’s having an off night things tend to get out of hand rather quickly.
Even with these two losses there’s no reason to panic, but that could change very quickly if they can’t get back on course Sunday. There’s no way they can afford to be swept at home by the Mets and lose for the third time, only six games into this 32 game sprint to the finish. They play the Braves, Cardinals, and Diamondbacks a total of nine times later in September with six of those games coming on the road. I’d like to see the Nats keep some of these recent losses in their pocket as long as possible.