After a 3-4 homestand, the Washington Nationals go on the road looking for more wins.
After taking 3 of 4 games against the Cincinnati Reds last week, the Washington Nationals had a pretty decent time at home. Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmerman both pitched one-hitters and Bryce Harper continued his home run-hitting ways. My headline for this week’s blog was going to be “That’s More Like it!” Then the Nationals went to Atlanta, and things fell apart again. It wasn’t awful, but the Nationals lost to the Braves for the eighth consecutive time, this time by a score of 3-2. Can they ever beat this team?
Stephen Strasburg had a so-so outing, striking out 8 batters in six innings but having little control over his fastball. Strasburg also seemed to have some “stiffness” in his throwing arm according to Nationals’ manager, Davey Johnson. It’s still too early to determine whether Strasburg will miss his next start because of it, but regardless of the status of his arm, there’s no hiding from the fact that he has an uncharacteristic 1-4 record with an ERA above 3. Let’s hope this arm issue is a non-issue and he can find his fastball again very soon.
After Atlanta, the Nationals go on to Pittsburgh, where whaddya know! The Pirates are in first place in the NL Central! The Nationals just got catcher Wilson Ramos off the Disabled List and will get third baseman Ryan Zimmerman back sometime next week., so hopefully they can regroup and take at least 3 from the Pirates.
One player I wanted to mention (because of his inefficiency this year compared to years past) is relief pitcher Tyler Clippard. “Clip” has walked 7 batters in 9 1/3 innings, which is not acceptable for a setup guy. He seldom has a 1-2-3 inning and tends to slow the game down. Yes, he has abs of steel and chiseled biceps (I would know – I’ve felt them!), but he needs to have better control of his pitches. I don’t know if batters are figuring out his changeup, but it doesn’t seem like Clippard is as dominant as he was last year. The rest of the bullpen seems to be OK – Storen, Stammen, Duke, and Matthieus have been IK, and Rafael Soriano, while not as dominant a closer as Cole Kimbrel or Jim Johnson, he gets the job done.
In sports, all streaks must come to an end. Let’s hope the Braves’ 8-game winning streak against the Nationals comes to an end this week – I can’t stand that “tomahawk chop” that they do at Turner Field!