Hello, Washington Nationals fans! I know it’s been a while since I’ve blogged, but there hasn’t been much excitement in Nats Nation lately – the team remains solidly in third place behind the Miami Marlins and the division-leading Atlanta Braves, and they still have some key players on the Disabled List. It’s kind of a ho-hum time for Nationals fans as we wait for Gio Gonzalez, Ryan Zimmerman, and Bryce Harper to come off the DL.
On the bright side, leadoff hitter Denard Span has been more aggressive lately, going 5-5 in a recent game against the Cincinnati Reds and stealing 8 bases so far. Jayson Werth continues to be his consistent self, batting 290 and having an impressive OPS of .776, and catcher Wilson Ramos is back from a wrist injury and has been hitting well. It was refreshing to see the Nats score 19 runs in their first 2 games against the Texas Rangers last weekend, but of course, on the third game (which my husband and I attended), they were shut out thanks to Yu Darvish’s 12 strikeouts in 8 innings.
Pitching-wise, the Nationals don’t seem to be as commanding as last season, but the bullpen continues to do well (now that reliever Tyler Clippard has settled down) and the number of errors committed by the defense has finally started to dwindle. Doug Fister has been very good in his last 2 starts, and Gio Gonzalez should be off the DL soon after his upcoming rehab start in the Minors.
The keys to the Nationals’ success this season is plain and simple: They need to win when they play the Braves and Marlins, and they need to stop leaving so many runners on base. The Nats went 6-13 against the Braves last year, and so far this season they’re 1-5, with 12 more games against them this season and 10 more against the Marlins. The Nationals need to depend less on the long ball and more on “small ball” – getting on base, stealing bases, moving the runners,, and actually bringing them home. Yes, it’s nice to see Ian Desmond hit a home run, but it would be more exciting if he hit a double with 2 guys on base or if the bases were loaded with 2 outs and the guy at the plate didn’t actually strike out.
The Nationals are getting ready for a 3-game series at home against the last-place Phillies before heading west to face the Padres and Giants. They always do well after a day off, and with Ryan Zimmerman back, they will hopefully be refreshed and excited and ready to take all 3 against the Phillies. I sure hope they play well, because they don’t always do very well when they go out west, and if they continue to play below .500, I’m going to have a tougher time trying to find positive things to write about in this blog. Come on, guys; please win so you can make my job easier!