The Nats are 10-11 and have simply sucked eggs in their past two home series. They have been swept by a combined score of 27-9, first at the hands of the Atlanta Braves, and then by their NLDS nemesis the Saint Louis Cardinals. I don't see how this could have played out worse for Washington.
After 3 weeks of baseball, the reigning National League East Champions are chasing the New York Mets for the runner-up spot behind the Atlanta Braves in the National League East division.
The Mets feature "Captain America" (David Wright) and absolutely no one else.
Wait a second Metalbrain, Matt Harvey is the best pitcher in baseball....ever!
I don't even know how to respond to that. Harvey has made four starts this season and won each of them, but only improving his career record to 7-5. If he wins 20 more by the end of the season, we can talk about where he ranks. But not just yet.
Here's what I know about pitchers in general; once batters have faced them a few times, the field levels off exponentially. Give it some time, Harvey will show that he is fallible.
I'm not saying that Matt Harvey isn't a formidable opponent, but I expect Matt Harvey's season to follow a story line more similar to the 1950 Mary Chase film Harvey, and less like the R.A. Dickey, Cy Young performance from a year ago.
The Washington Nationals were universally hyped in the off-season for the first time in their brief history.
When the baseball world considers a team to be the odds on favorite to win it all, naturally a lot of pressure is placed on that team, and that pressure can become oppressive, especially when the group of players is so young. The Washington Nationals are the 5th youngest team in the Major Leagues, second youngest in the NL and they have responded in kind.
The Nationals currently rank 23rd in MLB in batting, 19th in MLB in team ERA, and they rank 30th in MLB in fielding. (30th is dead last for those of you keeping score at home)
The Nationals have committed a league high 19 errors in 21 games, 11 of which belong to Ian Desmond and Ryan Zimmerman. In fact, Desi has committed more errors, by himself, than each of the following teams; D-Backs, BoSox, and Tigers. Defense is about confidence and this ball club has been rocked by expectation. The good news is that confidence is very salvageable.
The only real bright spot for the Nationals has been Bryce Harper. "Bam-Bam" is hitting .351 with 7 dingers and 15 RBI. (oh! my bad, you already know this, all that information is right above this posting) His OPS (on base percentage plus slugging average) of 1.118 ranks 5th in the Majors and 3rd in the National League, not too shabby for a guy who won't turn 21 years of age until next October.
So what happens now? Do Washington fans throw in the towel as they have been trained to do over decades of failing seasons in multiple sports? No! Not just yet.
Keep the last four years in mind:
- In 2009 the New York Yankees won the World Series after starting the season 15-17.
- In 2010, San Francisco was 41-40 at the halfway point after beginning their campaign 22-21, before eventually winning it all.
- The 2011 World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals began 17-14.
- The 2012 San Fransisco Giants kicked off their road to the Championship with a 15-17 record.
|No one would listen to Manny Acta in Cleveland|
Ask Manny Acta (former manager of the Washington Nationals and the Cleveland Indians) how important a fast start was to his career.
On May 24, 2012 the Indians were 26-18, holding on to a 3.5 game lead in the AL Central and for once the city of Cleveland rejoiced. The Indians went 42 and 76 the rest of the way, finishing 20 games back and of course, they sent Acta packing.
In football, offense sells tickets but defense wins championships. In baseball, champions are crowned when talent, experience and chemistry collide at exactly the right time.
The Nationals have the talent, that much is obvious, and experience is no longer a huge issue as it grows with every passing day. So the team's chemistry is what we are all waiting to see evolve and evolution, simply by its nature, takes time.
The three outfielders still need to get in sync, the bull pen needs to gel a little bit, and the starters just need to trust their arms a little more. Make no mistake that Mike Morse and Sean Burnett are missed, they each added immeasurably to the elements that brought this group of young men out of the shadows and into the limelight, but please, do not second guess the off-season roster moves just because this team hasn't clicked yet. Time will effectively put the method behind the madness on display.
Mike Rizzo has brought us this far and I expect him to continue to deliver. It is gonna take a few defensive plays to shake the newness off of this team and once they get to know each other just a little bit better, and allow their confidence in each other to mature, you better hold on tight.
Since it seems that the Braves are who will be chased, keep in perspective that Atlanta has 8 starting players who have combined to play in a total of 55 play-off games. (36 of those come from players with the name Upton on his back and none of those games were for Atlanta).
The Washington Nationals by contrast have 3 players on their current roster who have not played in the play-offs at all (this includes Rendon who will certainly be removed when Ryan Zimmerman returns) and the Nationals starting 13 (position players and pitchers) have amassed a total of 105 play-off appearances.
It is in no way shape or form time to dismiss this team or even start looking forward to the Redskins picks this weekend. (The Skins won't pick until tomorrow, they traded picks for RGIII) There is much work left to do at Nationals Park and the fan base will be required to participate.
|Washington Senator great Walter Johnson|
The Senators stormed Fenway for the night cap, sending their ace Walter Johnson to the mound and flexed their baseball muscles as their offense plated 10 runs in front of the shocked Boston crowd. The Senators won their next three en route to finishing 92-62 culminating their season by winning Washington's only World Series Championship to date.
What would have happened had they given up after the 15-19 start? We will never know, because they didn't, neither should the Washington Nationals nor their fans give up on this year.
In 1924 the up-start Boston Red Sox, who had at one time led the Senators by 6 games, finished 67-87, 25 games behind Washington and just .5 games out of the cellar.
Washington heads to Atlanta next week and the Braves are sure to still be in first. I can think of no better place, to turn it around. Can you?
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