Washington Nationals: Catcher and starting pitcher still glaring holes
By Tom Sileo
At the trade deadline, the Washington Nationals failed to remedy two desperate needs ahead of this week’s crucial series against the Atlanta Braves.
After the MLB Trade Deadline, Washington Nationals managing principal owner Mark Lerner stated in his recent letter to Nats fans “we just couldn’t give up on this team”. But despite this, the team failed to address glaring holes in the roster.
With the Nats facing a huge series this week against the archrival Atlanta Braves, Mike Rizzo plans on calling upon Jefry Rodriguez. The idea of calling on Rodriguez, who has surrendered 15 earned runs in less than 20 MLB innings, seems ill-advised.
The last time the right-hander appeared in the big leagues, the 25-year-old rookie was torched for six runs in a July 9 blowout loss. It has been clear that he isn’t quite ready for the big leagues just yet.
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Yet with only seven remaining head-to-head games to gain ground on Atlanta, one of the NL’s most productive offenses, Washington’s decision to start the rookie highlights the issue with the rotation even more.
Yes, it’s a doubleheader. Yes, Rodriguez’s only strong multi-inning outing was a relief appearance against the Braves in early June. But with the division on the line, and Rodriguez’s struggles so far, it leaves the Nationals vulnerable.
Amid Stephen Strasburg‘s latest stint on the disabled list and the ongoing struggles of Gio Gonzalez and (until recently) Tanner Roark, starting pitching was an obvious need at the trade deadline.
The Nats had another chance to address the issue by claiming former All-Star Tyson Ross. The brother of injured Nats pitcher Joe Ross instead went to the Cardinals on Sunday via waivers.
Letting Ross end up in St. Louis, a team that’s neck-and-neck with Washington in the Wild Card race is contrary to Lerner’s words. Put simply, this organization has seemed inactive when trying to solve its biggest problems since adding Kelvin Herrera in June.
Much has been written about the Nats needing a catcher due to the ongoing hitting woes of Matt Wieters, but the front office stood pat there, too.
While the price for budding Miami Marlins superstar J.T. Realmuto may indeed have been too high, another All-Star catcher, D.C. fan favorite Wilson Ramos, was available for next to nothing in return. To make things even worse for the Nats, Ramos wound up on the first place Philadelphia Phillies.
While ownership’s win-now rhetoric may sound nice, one need look no further than Tuesday for clear evidence of the front office’s inaction. Wieters, who is currently hitting .197, will be in the lineup for at least one game. Rodriguez, who’s never won an MLB start, is scheduled to pitch the doubleheader’s first game.
These glaring holes could have easily been filled before this week’s key series against the Braves. By failing to act, the 2018 Washington Nationals have not done themselves any favors.