It’s been a very interesting season for the Washington Nationals so far. While they’re not tearing up the league like predicted, they have come back from a so-so April and had a breakthrough May so far to put themselved in a solid second place in the National League East.
Not only have Jayson Werth and Denard Span returned from the Disabled List (oh, hang on – Werth just got placed BACK on the DL!), but left fielder Bryce Harper has been kicking butt this month, winning National League Player of the Week honors for 2 weeks in a row.
Harper went 12-for-23 (.522) with two doubles, a triple, three home runs and nine RBIs last week. He drew nine walks, scored 10 runs and stole two bases. During that time, he had a .656 on-base percentage and a 1.087 slugging percentage.
May has been very good for Harper, who is hitting .411 with a .529 OBP and .982 slugging percentage during the month. He now leads the major leagues in runs (36), RBIs (37), walks (36), on-base percentage (.476), slugging percentage (.729) and OPS (1.206). Harper leads the NL in home runs (14) and intentional walks (5), In 11 games since May 6, Harper is 22-for-39 (.564) with 22 RBIs. So yeah, I’d say Bryce is kicking butt.
And what about that lights-out pitching rotation that everyone was drooling over in the beginning of the season? They’re doing OK – not great. Max Scherzer is leading the team with wins (4), strikeouts (66), and ERA (1.75), but they have had to rely heavily on their bullpen, since most starters are not pitching more than 6 innings per game. Drew Storen, the supposed closer, only has 11 saves, mainly because by the time a game gets into the ninth inning, the Nationals are leading by way more than 3 runs. It’s a nice problem to have when you’re a closer, but earning a save is one of those things that is sometimes out of your control.
So what’s next for the Nationals? Why a two-game series at home against the New York Yankees, three against the last-place Phillies, and a road trip to Chicago and Cincinnati. The key at this point of the season is to stay healthy (especially for Bryce Harper, who is finally playing without any musculoskeletal issues), because June and July are pivotal months with lots of travel and six more games against the first-place Mets (I know; who thought the Mets would be in FIRST PLACE?!).
What can you do as a fan aside from going to Nationals Park to support the team? Go ahead and vote for Bryce Harper for the All-Star Game, and while you’re at it, vote for catcher Wilson Ramos too (even though he won’t get the popular vote). Ramos has a nice 18-game hitting streak going, and he’s just one of those team players who is well-liked and respected. And while Ryan Zimmerman is doing an admirable job defensively at first base this season (a new position for him), he hasn’t been doing a whole lot of hitting so I’m afraid he’s not worthy of my vote. But it would be nice to see more than one Nationals player at the mid-summer classic – if Max Scherzer’s spot on the rotation allows for him to be there, it would be well-deserved.
So keep hitting (Bryce and Wilson), start hitting (Desmond), and let’s get some more wins (and may those pesky Mets lose a game or two along the way!).