Hello, Nationals fans! Sorry I haven’t blogged in a while – we had a family vacation, my kids went back to school, and I went back to my school-year job; so life has been pretty hectic around here. But while all of us have been leading our busy lives, Major League Baseball continues, and as we enter the last month of the regular season, playoff races are heating up.
Not to be excluded from the hoopla are the Washington Nationals, who, despite not living up to preseason expectations, are still contending for the last Wild Card spot in the National League. They are currently 6.5 games behind the Cincinnati Reds for that last coveted spot, and have been playing some solid baseball as of late.
So what’s been going on with the Nationals? Here is a recap of what some key players have been going through lately:
Left fielder Bryce Harper is nursing a left hip injury, which has sidelined him on and off this past week. He has played OK through the pain, but hopefully will be in better shape after a few days off and will be ready for this weekend’s series in Miami against the Marlins.
Center fielder Denard Span has a career-long 16-game hitting streak going, where he has hit .491 with six extra-base hits, five walks and just six strikeouts. His defense continues to be Gold Glove quality.
Right fielder Jayson Werth is tied for fourth in the National League in batting, with a .320 batting average. He has hit 21 home runs and has an on-base percentage of .396. Not too shabby for a guy I called “Werth-less” a couple of years ago!
Right-handed pitcher Stephen Strasburg has had the strangest season of all. Fifth in the NL with a 2.85 ERA, Strasburg has a lousy 6-9 record. He has gotten no run support and has left very early in two recent games (against the Braves he was ejected after one inning for hitting two players, and against the Marlins he did not return after a rain delay despite pitching only two innings). He is sixth in the league in strikeouts with 174 and still has a wicked fastball. Fully recovered from Tommy John surgery, Strasburg will hopefully have a solid season next year.
So is it too little too late for the Nats, or do they stand a chance at reaching the playoffs? It’s so hard to tell with a team that has been so inconsistent. Their next 7 games are on the road against the Marlins and Mets, so they can certainly game some ground there. But they have no control over how the Reds do, and they’ll be hosting the red-hot Los Angeles Dodgers this weekend. I personally eliminated the Nationals from playoff contention several weeks ago, so if they do make it, it will be a nice surprise. In the meantime, let’s enjoy watching the new call-ups (Corey Brown, Sandy León, Xavier Cedeño and Jeff Kobernus) and keep hope alive!