Jun 6, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcherJoe Ross
(41) throws to the Chicago Cubs during the fifth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit:Brad Mills
-USA TODAY Sports
The last couple of weeks have been rough for the Washington Nationals. The team fell from being the hottest team in baseball just two weeks ago to a ball club that is only clinging on to first place because the teams behind it have been playing just as poorly.
Washington has lost seven of its last 10 games, stands just four games over .500 and has seen its division lead narrow to a slim half-game margin. Of course, the Nationals’ recent struggles are just part of the team’s overall inconsistent start to the 2015 season.
The Nationals were playing like one of the worst teams in baseball throughout the month of April—a far cry from the sky-high expectations that a team with World Series aspirations brought into the season. In May, however, the Nationals played like the best team in baseball and appeared to be on the fast-track to the very top of the National League standings. Now the team has run into another rough patch, and there are several reasons behind the current slump.
For one, the injury bug that plagued the Nationals early in the season has come back stronger than ever. Though the team did see Anthony Rendon return from the disabled list earlier this week, Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister and Jayson Werth have all been out for a while and their absences are beginning to hurt the Nationals badly.
The pitching staff is paper-thin right now because of the injuries and the Nationals are constantly having to tap into minor league reserves just to have enough arms to make it through the day. Werth will be out until August, and the Nationals have yet to find a permanent solution in left field. But the biggest reason behind the team’s struggles is that the offense has been all but inexistent in recent weeks, and yesterday’s game against the Cubs was no exception.
Yesterday’s game, the third of a four-game set against Chicago, was one of those games in which the injuries to the pitching staff and the struggles of the offense combined to sink the Nationals, though the latter certainly played a larger role. The Nationals lost the game, 4-2, and were unable to give themselves a chance to win the series this afternoon at Nationals Park. Instead, they’ll be hoping to earn a series split before they go back on the road.
The Nationals lost last night’s game for the same reason they’ve lost a bunch of games this season: the offense just wasn’t there. There were some bright spots, however. Joe Ross pitched well in his MLB debut and held his own in place of the injured Strasburg. Harper also hit his first homer in a while, stretching his NL-leading home run total to 19. But the Nationals still came away with the loss, and the continued offensive slump is certainly concerning.
With this in mind, lets break down a few of the key parts of yesterday’s loss to the Cubs.
Next: Joe Ross Solid in Major League Debut