Washington Nationals: A Random Night Of Thoughts
By Ron Juckett
A few random thoughts after the first seven games of Washington Nationals baseball. This is going to be one bumpy roller coaster of a year.
After seven games of this 2017 Washington Nationals season, every sign tells us things are not going as scripted.
It is sports and the best of reasons to watch is unpredictability, but some things have their limits. If you live and breathe Nats baseball, the first full week was as comfortable as chatting with your mother-in-law while getting a root canal.
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In no particular order, here are a few thoughts that crossed the old mind as Washington pummeled the St. Louis Cardinals:
–Yes, this offense is prolific. As a team, they lead the National League in batting average at .308 and on-base percentage at .385. Add 10 home runs and they are slugging a league-best .500. Although those numbers are not sustainable over a full season, imagine the production when everyone is healthy.
–Tough break for Trea Turner hitting the 10-day disabled list with his tweaked right hamstring. He probably can use the break as he slumped from his hot spring in the first week. The change to all the pomp and circumstance of two home openers along with the high expectations has him with an Adjusted OPS+ of -3.
–How bad is Anthony Rendon struggling? His Adjusted OPS+ after Monday night is -16. Did you know anyone could have an average of less than zero? Me either. Good thing Ryan Zimmerman is picking up the slack.
–A good sign for the offense is the Nats put 14 on the board Monday without hitting a home run. Bryce Harper had four singles and drew two walks in six plate appearances.
–Speaking of Harper, his batting eye is at world-class level. Despite six strikeouts, he is not chasing balls outside the strike zone. Pitchers can beat him with movement, but you trade those six whiffs for a .500 OBP.
—Tanner Roark is lucky the Cardinals are slumping. He drew his second win of the season despite allowing seven hits and 104 pitches over five innings. Yes, the defense behind him laid a dozen rotten eggs, but Roark struggled and somehow got the win.
–Here is Ricky Keeler’s take on the game. We do these every night on YouTube. Please like and subscribe.
–The focus of Washington’s bullpen problems is on the closer. Really, they should be on the setup squad. With proper rest, Blake Treinen is fine. The bridge from the starter to Treinen is the difficult problem. Matt Albers and Koda Glover pitched well, but Shawn Kelley allowed another home run.
Next: Rendon Must Move Down Batting Order
–From Friday’s near-meltdown in Philadelphia to last night, the offense can bail out the pitchers so often. The good news is most teams have bad bullpens. The bad is this is how arms become tired early. Dusty Baker must find pitchers he can trust and alternate them. As we saw with Treinen last week, overuse hurts and the margin for error is slim.