The Washington Nationals are unarguably in the toughest division in the Majors. The National League East (which consists of the Marlins, Braves, Mets, Phillies and Nationals) is currently led by the 30-22 Nationals, who share a three-way tie with the Mets and Marlins. The Braves are only 2 games out, and the last-place Phillies are 3.5 games out of first place. All five teams have winning records and all five teams are quite capable of making it to the World Series.
If the Nationals are to even make it to the playoffs in October, their hitting needs to improve. In this past weekend’s two-game series against the Braves, the Nationals were out-hit 15 to 10, with the heart of the order (Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche and fresh-off-the-Disabled-List Michael Morse) going a combined 0-for-23. Bryce Harper, the National League’s Rookie of the Month for May, has hit safely in 12 of his last 13 games and seems to be the only Nats players who is hitting consistently.
This is not my first time complaining about the Nationals’ lack of offense. I have been harping about it since the season began, and I would stop talking about it if there was a noticeable change. It is the Nationals’ stellar pitching that has kept them in first place, but you can’t expect the pitchers to keep the team afloat for four more months. Stephen Strasburg has been pitching very well, and the National League’s Pitcher of the Month for May, Gio Gonzalez, is fourth in the Majors with a 2.31 ERA. Gio should not have lost Sunday’s game. He is my favorite Nationals player this season, and I don’t like when he loses because his offense was asleep.
One thing that is nice is having Michael Morse back from the Disabled List (even though he’s 0-for-8 since his return). “The Beast” led the Nationals last year with 31 home runs but had not played all season because of an oblique strain. Personally, I would have made him play more than just two rehab games in the minor leagues, but no one asked me. Let’s hope Morse heats up soon in the cleanup spot, because Adam LaRoche has fizzled after his hot start. And why isn’t Ryan Zimmerman hitting? Is that what happens when you sign a contract extension through 2017?
The Nationals have a much-needed day off today and then host the New York Mets for three games before leaving for inter-league play against the Red Sox and Blue Jays. Let’s hope the Nationals’ pitching can stop David Wright and that Johan Santana is worn out after his 134-pitch no-hitter last Friday. The Nationals need to win against other NL East teams, because a team in that division can go from first to last place in just three games!