On April 27th, the Washington Nationals (17-15) were 7-13, sitting in last place in the National League East, eight games back of the red-hot New York Mets. Losers of six straight, the highly touted preseason favorites were beginning to feel the pressure from the fans and the media about handling the hype. Since then, Washington sports the third best record in baseball, going 10-2 in their last 12 games, and most recently, completing their first sweep of the season over the Atlanta Braves. They have now won four straight, sit 3.5 games back behind the Mets, and are hitting as well as any team in baseball.
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What was the turning point for the Nationals? None other than the eight run comeback over the Braves on April 28th that has seemed to light a fire in the Washington offense. Since their six game losing streak, the Nats have scored 67 runs, which is the third most in the majors. They’ve also only allowed 41, tied for the 9th fewest in the league over that span. The team now sports a positive run differential (+7), and their stock continues to climb. Let’s take a look at some of the key players for the Nationals over the first month or so of the season.
-SP Max Scherzer → 2-3 in 42.2 IP with 2.11 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 49 SO, and 5 BB
-RF Bryce Harper → .300/.435/.655 with 11 HR, 6 2B, 28 RBIs, 26 R, and 27 BB
-CL Drew Storen → 9/10 (saves/save opportunities) in 14.0 IP with 1.29 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 14 SO, and 3 BB
-3B Yunel Escobar → .311/.362/.396 with 33 H, 10 RBIs, 14 R, 9 BB, and only 13 SO
-SP Doug Fister → 2-1 in 37.2 IP with 2.87 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 17 SO, and 9 BB
-C Wilson Ramos → .327/.350/.408 with 32 H, 6 XBH, 13 RBIs, and only 15 SO
The Nationals open up a 7-game road trip, traveling to face the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres. Following a two game set with the New York Yankees, the Nats are then set to face the Philadelphia Phillies, struggling Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Toronto Blue Jays, and the Cubs again, this time at home. This 25-game stretch features opponents with a combined 109-116 record and -8 run differential.
"“We’re the team to beat. Everybody knows that. We’re going to get hot. Everybody knows that too.” –Bryce Harper (h/t:The Washington Post)"
Well, why not? The team is on fire, and with how hot this Washington club has been playing, the National League is wide open. It’s just up to them whether or not they go out and take it.