The Washington Nationals just can’t seem to get on track so far and look nothing like the team that won an MLB best 98 games last season. They will be starting a three game series later this evening against the defending World Series champion S.F. Giants with journeyman pitcher Zach Duke on the mound in place the injured Ross Detwiler.
Duke happens to be the only lefty in the bullpen which makes starting him kind of surprising considering how manager Davey Johnson uses his bullpen. The Giants won’t have to worry about seeing a left-handed reliever during this three game set unless the Nats call somebody up.
The Nats are 3-4 on this 10 game road trip and 23-21 overall and trail the N.L. East leading Atlanta Braves by 2.5 games for the division lead. They’re in good shape considering how flat they have played this season and there’s a lot of baseball left to play. There’s no reason to panic because they have the time and talent to get themselves rolling.
Right now the Nats are struggling at the plate and come in hitting .230 as a team which is 29th in MLB and they’ve committed a league high 38 errors this season. When you combine those two things it’s a recipe for disaster and the Nats are lucky to be sitting two games over .500 in my opinion.
Earlier in the season it was the pitching staff causing the most alarm, but the staff has gotten itself back on track for the most part. Even Dan Haren has pitched pretty well lately except for yesterday’s shelling by the S.D. Padres that dropped him to 4-5 on this season.
Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman and shortstop Ian Desmond have combined for 16 of the team’s 38 errors with Zim’s throwing issues growing by the day. Something has to give because Zim is quickly becoming a defensive liability over there at third base. I’m rooting for him to get things straightened out and my gut tells me he will, but it needs to be soon.
How much longer can manager Davey Johnson continue to watch the horror show that a Danny Espinosa at bat has become? I’ve been a fan of Espy’s and love his slick fielding glove work at second base, but the guy can’t hit a lick. Young Stephen Lombardozzi has shown enough to get a shot to prove he can be an everyday player, but when will that happen? Or will Johnson keep him in his valuable utility role and call up prospect Anthony Rendon who has played some second base since he returned to the minors after Zimmerman returned from a stint on the D.L.?
I know Rendon’s the future third baseman and that Zimmerman will move over to first base down the road, but that won’t happen this season unless GM Mike Rizzo decides to shake things up with a trade. Playing second base may be the fastest way for Rendon to get his shot at proving himself. He didn’t do that bad during his brief appearance a few weeks ago.
If the Nats weren’t beating themselves and winning more games these issues wouldn’t be as noticeable. I don’t want to hear anyone try to use all the injuries as a reason this team is floundering because they had several guys go down last season and battled their way to 98 wins.