Washington Nationals: Offense stalling in September

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MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 01: Jason Werth
MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 01: Jason Werth /
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The Washington Nationals have one of the most complete lineups in the league, but they have struggled in September and are running out of time to figure things out.

The Washington Nationals’ offense has been outstanding all season, despite battling a myriad of injuries. They have the third-best batting average and have scored the third-most runs in the National League. These are great numbers and definitely should not be taken for granted.

However, the offense has stalled in September and has been very frustrating to watch at times. Obviously, missing Bryce Harper did not help. However, teams will not feel bad for the Nats and they must figure out how to perform with Harper at less than full-strength.

Throughout September, the Nats’ offense has combined to hit just .227, which ranks 27th out of 30 MLB teams. They have also scored just 95 runs, which ranks 25th.

To put things in perspective, the New York Yankees have scored the most runs in the MLB in September, scoring 156 runs in 25 games. That’s 61 more runs than the Nats, or 2.44 more runs per game. The Yankees are in the American League, so they have a DH, which helps, but it should not add an extra 2.44 runs per game.

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Another contributing factor to the Nats’ offensive struggles are the fact that they punched their ticket to the postseason early. With September games being practically meaningless for the Nats, Dusty Baker has filled out some Spring Training-esque lineups, which struggle to produce much offensively.

Alejandro de Aza, Adrian Sanchez, Pedro Severino, Andrew Stevenson, and Rafael Bautista have all played a decent amount this month, and are all hitting below the Mendoza line (.200).

What is discouraging, however, is the regulars who are struggling. Howie Kendrick, Matt Wieters, and Jayson Werth are all hitting below .230, and should all assume large roles in October. If they don’t turn things around over the next week, it could be extremely detrimental.

While the Nats offense has struggled, the team has continued to win. The offense has ranked near the bottom of the league in nearly every category, but the team is still 14-11 throughout September thanks to their outstanding pitching staff.

The Nationals’ pitching staff has combined for a 3.64 ERA throughout October, which is good for third-best in the National League. Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Tanner Roark form an elite rotation and set the tone for the entire staff.

In addition to the starting rotation, the Nats’ bullpen is coming together nicely. Sean Doolittle, Sammy Solis, Brandon Kintzler, Matt Albers, Enny Romero, Joe Blanton, and Matt Grace all have ERA’s under 2.00, which is absolutely outstanding.

Pitching and defense win games in the postseason, and the Nats’ pitching staff is pitching as well as they have all year right now. This should be extremely beneficial come October.

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While the Nats’ offense has been among the best in the league all season, they have struggled throughout September, which is unfortunate timing. Thankfully, the pitching staff has picked up the slack, which has helped the Nats continue to win. If the offense turns things around in the next week, this team is capable of steamrolling through the postseason.

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