Washington Nationals Rapid Reaction: Nats Do Not Look Like a Playoff Team


Seven games into a ten-game road trip, things have not gone well for the Washington Nationals. A 1-6 record; six straight losses; one game under .500; and outscored by a combined score of 39-20. This road trip was supposed to make or break the Nationals season, and at this point, the team looks broken.

For the better part of the season, the Nationals just haven’t been able to get all aspects of their game in sync. When the starting pitching was good, the bullpen could not hold a lead. Once the bullpen got its act together, the offense went on hiatus. And when the offense finally came back, the starting pitching fell apart.

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But at this point, it looks like nothing’s working. Where once there was at least something positive to take away, even in a loss, now every aspect of the Nationals’ game seems to be crumbling. There’s nothing to build on, nothing to point to as a sign that a turnaround is imminent. The offense is scuffling, the bullpen always seems to give up something no matter what the situation, and the started pitching, once praised as the best in the business, can’t hold up its end of the bargain.

Sunday was just the latest in a long chapter of disappointment. Joe Ross, who replaced a disappointing Doug Fister in the rotation, could not even manage to get out of the fifth inning, surrendering four earned runs and running his ERA up to 3.86. Casey Janssen surrendered a home run in the seventh (to the pitcher, no less). At the plate, the Nationals collected a mere three hits.

At one point, this sort of game would have come as a surprise, a one-off that was no cause for concern amongst fans. Now, it’s almost expected. Night after night, the Nationals have put together games that looked so much like Sunday’s performance that it’s starting to become the norm.

Which begs the question: at what point does this team go from underperforming to just bad?

With just a month and a half left in the season, the Nationals sit 4.5 games back in a division that they were once expected to run away with. If they hadn’t reeled off that one hot streak early in the season, who knows how far back they’d be. Ten games? Fifteen?

At this point, the only thing that’s even keeping the Nationals alive in the race for the division is fact that the Mets have been merely okay, going 5-5 in their last ten. If New York had managed to put together just one good winning streak over the past week, the Nationals might be up the proverbial creek. As it stands, they’re barely clinging to the last shreds of hope, a hope that fades with every passing day and every disappointing loss.

A sweep of the Rockies might help to ease some of the concern that this road trip has created, but the Nationals will need all hands on deck. There’s still time to right the ship before they take on the Mets in three weeks in a series that will likely carry heavy postseason implications.

But if things continue to break the way they’ve broken so far this season, the Nationals will be sitting at home in October. And at this point, that looks like what they deserve.

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