The Washington Nationals are not a very good baseball team right now. They may not turn into one for the remainder of the year, either. The hope is, they do become a winning team, or at least a competitive one.
In a four game series with the Chicago Cubs, where the Nationals dropped three games, not once did I feel confident with the Nationals winning any game of the four. Not after they were scored upon first in three straight games. Not after they took a 2-0 lead in the series finale. Not with Max Scherzer on the mound. Not with a three run lead in game three.
Take out the Nationals 17 run output against the Diamondbacks and they are averaging just 3.5 runs a game. In 11 of their last 16 games they’ve scored three runs or less. The Nationals were shutout in five of their first 19 games. When they fell behind early in Chicago, there was little hope of a comeback, especially when the Cubs hit the four run threshold.
Too many missed opportunities in the Windy City left the Washington Nationals losers in three of four games.
When Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber homered in game four, it proved to be the only runs of the game for Washington. Eight innings without pushing another guy across. The Nationals just don’t score runs. Scherzer is pitching lights out, potential Cy Young caliber. He was at 100 pitches after five innings, leaving four innings for the bullpen. Leaving the ninth inning to Brad Hand. This team lacks confidence and I’ve lost confidence in them.
Between caught stealing, and grounded into double plays; failing to score runners from third base with less than two outs and not hitting with runners in scoring position, the Nationals neither play small ball or long ball.
The hitting is poor, though the pitching is as much to blame as the lack of bats. Three Nationals’ starters are in the top 10 in home runs allowed. Brad Hand has given up runs in four of his last five games. Sam Clay has allowed base runners in his last four appearances, with multiple base runners in three of those contests (two of which he recorded just one out). There is not one aspect of Nats baseball which is clicking right now.
A vital three game series with the rival Baltimore Orioles awaits. In the marathon which is baseball, being forty games into the season is the equivalent of just one lap around the track. While the Nationals are just 4.5 games out of first place (sitting in last place in the National League East), they have let too many winnable games slip away thus far in the early going.
For the Nationals to get back on track, the results need to turn, and turn quickly.