Do or Die Time For Dave Martinez’s Nationals Coming Fast
After another demoralizing 8-3 loss to the San Diego Padres Saturday, do or die time is coming very soon for the 2019 Washington Nationals.
Coming into the 2019 season expectations were high for the Washington Nationals. Many people, myself included, believed despite the big offseason loss of superstar Bryce Harper, the team made enough moves to be frontrunners to rebound and win the National League East.
25 games into the 2019 regular season, Washington has looked closer to a last place team than a division champion. After an 8-3 loss to the San Diego Padres on Saturday afternoon, in which the bullpen once again completely imploded, the Nationals are guaranteed to lose their fourth series out of their last five. That is not winning baseball.
Teams that win divisions do not lose four out of five series, and if that trend continues, the Nationals could be looking at a seven to ten game deficit in the division by the end of May.
Now you can take the perspective of saying look, it is only 25 games and this team can turn things around. On April 27, 2018, the eventual National League Champion Los Angeles Dodgers were just 11-13, one game better in the loss collum than the 11-14 Nationals.
In some respects, it makes sense to be patient. Juan Soto will start to hit for higher average once he adjusts to all the offspeed he is seeing, Ryan Zimmerman will get hotter as the weather warms up like his statistics show he always does. Once Trea Turner returns the lineup will become much more dynamic with him at the top.
This team has star power in Max Scherzer, Anthony Rendon, Stephen Strasburg, and Sean Doolittle at the top, and they are all going to be able to help this team win games, but there is one thing that will not change.
The Nationals bullpen is more than a mess, I do not think there is a word for what the Washington bullpen is right now, and that is not going to change.
As much as fans can plead the Learners to go out and break through that luxury tax to sign All-Star Craig Kimbrel, it’s not happening.
With the Rendon contract extension looming, the Learner’s history of not spending on a bullpen, and not being willing to break the luxury tax for even Bryce Harper. There is a multitude of reasons why Kimbrel will not be a National, no matter how wrong it may be.
Nationals manager Dave Martinez and this inept Washington bullpen are stuck with each other. Matt Grace, Joe Ross, Wander Suero, Tony Sipp, Justin Miller, and Kyle Barraclough. That is what you got, and except maybe some minor changes, that’s it.
Martinez and the Washington bullpen are a marriage that for better or for worse is gonna work out one of two ways. The first way is Martinez improves in his managing of the bullpen and guys who have proven track records bounce bad to being who they are and the Nationals as a team improve.
Or the ladder. This mess continues and the sinking ship that is the Washington bullpen pulls Martinez right down with them.
So after all this, the Nationals, mainly their bullpen, are left with only themselves to look at for answers. Superman, aka Craig Kimbrel, isn’t walking through that door, and likely no one outside the organization is until maybe July.
In six days the Nationals will start a 10 game road trip which will be by far the most challenging of their season. They will face the Philadelphia Phillies for three, the Milwaukee Brewers for three, and the Los Angeles Dodgers for four. You could make an argument these are the three best teams in the National League, and the Nationals have to play them back to back to back.
The chain has run out of slack. The leeway period is over. If the Washington Nationals want to make the postseason and make a deep playoff run, it is do or die time in our nation’s capital. This 10 game road trip likely will tell the story of how this Nationals season will go. Dave Martinez is the captain of the ship, now its up to his troops to see if they and their captain will sink or swim.