Washington Nationals Rapid Reaction: Just Like That, the Nats Season is Over
83 wins ladies and gentlemen. The Washington Nationals fell to the New York Mets 1-0 Sunday afternoon in what will be the last game of the Nats’ 2015 season. Manager Matt Williams may be on his way out as manager, five key players will likely be departing via free agency, and an MVP-caliber season from Bryce Harper was put to waste. In what was supposed to be another 90+ win season and third division crown in four years, the Nationals have been nothing short of a disappointment.
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The Nats dug themselves into an early hole in April, going 10-14 and sitting six games back of the Mets. Jayson Werth and Anthony Rendon were sitting on the disabled list, a glimpse at what was to be a recurring theme throughout the season. Then on April 28th, the Nationals overcame an eight run deficit to beat the Atlanta Braves 13-12 in a game that looked like a turning point for Washington.
The Nats went on to go 18-9 in May, which ended up being their best month of the season. Harper broke out into the superstar everyone was waiting for him to be. Winning back-to-back National League Player of the Week Awards as well as the NL Player of the Month honors, Bryce took the league by storm and never looked back. It wasn’t enough to carry the offense however, as the team couldn’t put together much of a run from there. Ian Desmond had a colossally bad first half on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Rendon, Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, Denard Span, Doug Fister, Stephen Strasburg, and Casey Janssen all spent extended time on the DL. Wilson Ramos managed to stay healthy for an entire season, but had a down year offensively.
When the Nationals entered play on July 28th, they were 52-46, one game up on the Mets in the NL East. The bullpen had been experiencing issues, particularly in the 7th and 8th innings, so President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo traded for Philadelphia Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon, bumping closer Drew Storen to the setup role in the process. Storen had been having a stellar season up to that point, but his confidence appeared to falter after his demotion. The trade marked the beginning of the end for the Nats, as they finished the year 31-33 with Papelbon on the roster.
Looking ahead towards this offseason, the Nationals will have a lot of work to do if they hope to rebound from this lost season. They will most likely be looking to fill the managerial role as Matt Williams should be losing his job. The bullpen will need a complete makeover, with Papelbon hopefully on his way out. The number five spot in the rotation will most likely be decided by spring training battles, and the middle infield situation is still not set. Certainly capable of competing, only time will tell if the Nats will once again be playing meaningful October baseball. For now, fans will have to sit back and just wonder what could have been.
Next: Where Do The Nats Go From Here?