Washington Nationals: Offense Disappears in Doubleheader

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 13: Howie Kendrick
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 13: Howie Kendrick /

The Washington Nationals offense could not get going after a long layoff, as the Los Angeles Dodgers won both games of the doubleheader on Saturday.

The Washington Nationals were defeated by the Los Angeles Dodgers in both games of Saturday’s doubleheader. Game one saw a dominant outing from Dodgers reliever turned starter Ross Stripling. He hurled six innings of one-run ball with nine strikeouts.

Nats starter Tanner Roark countered by throwing seven strong innings, allowing three runs with eight strikeouts. But it wasn’t enough with the Nats losing 4-1.

Game two got off to a weird start after Dodgers starter Rich Hill left the game after throwing just two pitches. The Dodgers left-hander managed to re-aggravate the blister problem that caused him to hit disabled list just over three weeks ago.

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On the other hand, Max Scherzer allowed a first-inning run before settling in afterwards. He went on to throw seven innings of two-run ball, while recording 13 strikeouts.

The Nats eventually took a 3-2 lead on Matt Adams’ pinch-hit, two-RBI double. And then Scherzer helped his own cause by driving in a fourth run to extend the lead to 4-2. But Sean Doolittle blew the save in the top of the ninth and the Nats lost 5-4. A devastating loss.

Outfield depth depleted again

In the eighth inning of game one, Howie Kendrick was transported off the warning track and into the clubhouse. Then after game two, it was announced Kendrick ruptured his achilles, due to have surgery Monday, and missing the rest of the season.

The Nationals outfield already had been stretched thin, and now they will be stretched even thinner. Kendrick joins Adam Eaton, Brian Goodwin, Victor Robles and Rafael Bautista on the outfield disabled list.

Bautista tore the ACL, LCL, and meniscus in his left knee on Thursday and will miss the rest of the season.

With this in mind, Kendrick’s injury has resulted in the call up of prized prospect Juan Soto to the big leagues. Soto should see plenty of time in left field, as they are unlikely to have called him up without intentions to start him for the majority of games.

Starting rotation anchors the team

It’s no secret that the Nationals have one of, if not the best pitching staff in the major leagues. But it’s even more clear, with the offense scuffling, that it’s the primary reason keeping the Nationals in the playoff race.

The Nats’ starting staff ranks 3rd in innings pitched, 2nd in K/9, 2nd in ERA and 2nd in FIP.

Scherzer, Gio Gonzalez, and Stephen Strasburg are among the top 25 in pitching WAR and have been integral members of the Nationals success this season.

That’s without mentioning Jeremy Hellickson, who has been nothing short of spectacular despite his “third time around” shortcomings. Without him, the Nats would likely have a gaping fifth starter problem, and the bullpen might be even more overworked.

Next: Fedde developing in Syracuse

On Sunday, Strasburg will square off against Alex Wood to wrap up the Dodgers series. Following that on Monday, the last-place San Diego Padres will visit Nats Park for a three-game set.