Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Nats Collapse

Perhaps a better choice of words is implode. Or drop like a rock. Whatever phrase you want to use the bottom line is the Nats are just doing horribly. That a team with such talent is doing this bad is sad.

When I go to games I always want the Nats to win. Don't want to go and see a loss. But sometimes they are going to happen. What I hate seeing is a loss where the game was very winnable. Last Friday comes to mind. Ahead 4-1 at the top of the 8th by the bottom of the 8th the Nats are behind 5-4. If you load the bases you need to get at least one run across the plate. The Nats had that exact same problem two day later. They were behind by two runs. The Nats are up in the 9th bases are loaded with one out. There is only one out. A hit ties the game might even win it. Instead the next two batters are outs. End of game. The loss to a team ten games under .500.

Two week ago the Nats were three games ahead of the Mets. As of this morning they are 4.5 games behind. I think that number is only going to grow in the coming days. The Nats have not won back to back games since they beat the Marlins July 29-30.

So what's the problem? What isn't the problem. Here's one of the biggest: until last night (when the line up was reworked) the 4-5-6 players had horrible averages. Ryan Zimmerman .226, Jayson Werth .185, Ian Desmond .222. At least with Zimmerman and Werth they are working their way back from injuries and will hopefully play better with time (the problem is that time is running out).

As for Desmond, he's just been in one long slump the entire season. There have bee flashes of his former ability but only flashes. It reminds me of the downward spiral that Danny Espinosa went through several years ago. I like Desmond a lot. When he is on he is a great player. But I think after this season fans are glad he did not sign a contract extension with the Nats. I don't see how he's a National next year. It's sad but that's the way things work out.

Here's a little perspective from the Post:
Seven weeks remain in the Washington Nationals’ season. But Friday felt like the gut-wrenching nadir. Even their best pitcher, Max Scherzer, couldn’t stop the slide. In fact, his recent struggles dug the Nationals into a five-run deficit to the San Francisco Giants. Even their best player, Bryce Harper, couldn’t save the day. His three-run blast trimmed nearly erased Scherzer’s mistakes, but the Giants tacked on two late runs in the Nationals’ 8-5 loss.

The Nationals, in their current state, look little like a playoff aspirant. They are 10-18 since the all-star break. Friday’s defeat was their fourth straight. Their National League East deficit remained at 4 1/2 games because the New York Mets also lost. But the most concerning question about the Nationals is when will this slow bleed stop?

“There are 40-some games left,” second baseman Danny Espinosa said. “We have to win. We can’t let this slip any further. We’ve been on a tough little stretch. Now it’s time to turn it around and win ballgames.”

Sluggish much of the second half, the offense came to life, but the pitching sagged. When one unit of the team is clicking, the other isn’t. Friday’s loss, in some ways, felt like the season all in one night: some excitement sandwiched around disappointment.
What to do to solve this problem? If I knew that I'd be managing a baseball team. But it seems to me, with so little time left, the line up needs to be changes to the line up. That's what happened last night and it did produce five runs. So maybe keep trying that and see what happens. As to the pitching that's a bigger dilemma. There is the idea of pulling the starting pitcher if he seems to be faltering. But does that then deplete the bull pen. I'm not sure what the answer is for that.

One thing is sure time is running out for the Nats. The only way they get to the playoffs is by winning the division. They just need to get hot which I've seen them do in the past. It's what they did in May. Hopefully they can start playing that way again soon.

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