Washington Nationals Rapid Reactions: Lack of Offense Only Temporary for Nats

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The Washington Nationals (33-31) fell to the Tampa Bay Rays (36-29) Monday night to the tune of 6-1. The Nats left 12 runners on base and went 3-for-8 with runners in scoring position. On the season, Washington is hitting .253 with runners in scoring position, good for 17th in the MLB. Since the start of June, the Nationals have only scored 44 runs, putting them in the bottom half of the league.

With starters Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth on the disabled list, manager Matt Williams has been forced to be creative with his lineups on a nightly basis. Consistent contributors Bryce Harper, Yunel Escobar, Anthony Rendon, and Denard Span have been shuffled throughout the lineup, with Span as the only player not to have hit in multiple spots in the order.

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On the other hand, inconsistent hitters like Ian Desmond, Wilson Ramos, Michael Taylor, Tyler Moore, and Clint Robinson have created holes in the lineup that Williams has struggled to work around. Danny Espinosa has filled in the void at first base admirably, but the team is simply not putting enough runs across the plate.

What hasn’t been working for the Nationals offense? The team ranks 9th in strikeouts, 29th in stolen bases, and 19th in pinch hit batting average. Leading the way in strikeouts is Ian Desmond, who has accrued a massive 77 Ks. Denard Span, who only has six steals on the year, has stolen 35% of the Nats’ bases so far this season.

Now this team was built to sustain a couple of injuries, even to key contributors like Werth and Zimmerman (granted they were not performing well prior to their injuries). Desmond is not a .222 hitter, his production will improve. Ramos will hit  for more power, he just has to be given time. That is the beauty of a 162 game season. Midseason slumps can be meaningless when it’s all said and done. Once the lineup is healthy again, it should start to perform to its capabilities. General Manager Mike Rizzo should not be feeling any pressure at all to trade for a bat anytime soon. He would be much more well suited looking in other areas (*cough cough* the bullpen).

Not to worry Nats fans, this lineup is more than just Bryce Harper and Co. (although that already sounds like a pretty fearsome lineup in itself). There are talented hitters on this ballclub and no fan, coach, or executive should be worried about the final production at the end of the year.

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