Mid Season Report: State Of The 2019 Washington Nationals
3. What is one thing the Nationals must change in the second half?
Tom– Without a legitimate 8th inning setup man, the Nationals cannot win the division and will have a hard time even reaching the Wild Card play-in game. While the team’s fatal flaw can be covered up while playing against the Marlins, Tigers, and Royals, offenses like the Braves, Phillies and even the Mets will continue feasting on Wander Suero, Matt Grace and others late in games. While Tanner Rainey certainly has setup man potential, his inexperience and ongoing control problems are dangerous while trying to protect a late one or two run lead. The addition of Fernando Rodney has certainly helped, especially as a fill-in closer for the chronically overused Sean Doolittle, but Washington absolutely must land an 8th-inning reliever to compete down the stretch.
Ross– Start the transition to Kurt Suzuki as the primary catcher. Yan Gomes and Patrick Corbin have worked well together, so that can stay, but Suzuki’s offense is night and day better than Gomes’. If the Nats want to make another run, they’ll need Suzuki’s offense in the lineup most days.
Danny– I would imagine most of us are going to have the same answer here. If the bullpen doesn’t change, the Nationals won’t make the playoffs. It’s that simple. Fernando Rodney and Jonny Venters have been a nice spark so far, but it’s been against sub-par teams and in a limited sample. After going 6 straight scoreless appearances, Wander Suero has been unreliable again over his past 3 outings. Tanner Rainey has also been having a rough time since around mid-June. There are not many inspiring arms out in the bullpen aside from Sean Doolittle right now. The issue is, about 10 other teams, along with the Nationals, are going to be looking for significant bullpen upgrades this trade deadline. With a depleted farm system, the Nationals aren’t going to be able to get into a bidding war, so it’ll be interesting to see what they end up with and who they have to part with to get a deal done.
Monty– The Nationals first half has been quite the roller-coaster. The Nats went 19-31 in late May to 47-42 and in possession of the first Wild Card spot at the All-Star break. One thing that’s hindered them all season, however, is the bullpen. The Nationals are worst in the majors with a 6.08 ERA. General Manager Mike Rizzo will add an impact reliever somehow, despite a depleted farm system. Will Smith, Shane Greene, and Alex Colome are just a few of the relievers that should be on the move near the deadline. The Nats must make a change in the bullpen to make the playoffs.
Corey– Washington has to become more effective with a setup pitcher to bridge the gap between starters and Sean Doolittle. The overuse of Sean Doolittle in the first half of the season has been evident by blown saves and missed pitches. If the nationals intend On compete in the rest of the way they have got to find a decent reliever who can come in in the sixth seventh or eighth inning and Ease Doolittle’s workload. Fernando Rodney could be that pitcher for the 8th but not as an everyday option. Tanner Rainey does have potential as well to close games when Doo needs a rest but the consistency isn’t there as of yet.
Matt– If the Nationals want to make the postseason, they cannot do it with their current bullpen, plain and simple. They have had some guys be able to settle the ship down a bit in Tanner Rainey, Fernando Rodney, and Johnny Venters, but as they stand currently they are just not good enough. Mike Rizzo will need to get creative to make a deal to acquire an outside reliever. Keep an eye on Chicago White Sox closer Alex Colome, if I had to pick right now who they acquire he would be my guy.