Since May 10, the Washington Nationals have been miserable/depressing/dreary/dull/lackluster… pick your own negative adjective as you please. They lost a series (1-2) to the Chicago Cubs at home, lost another (1-2) to the Dodgers on the road, split a series (2-2) with the Padres in San Diego, and are looking to avoid a three-game sweep today to the Giants as they have lost the first two in San Francisco. Over the course of these 12 games they have been outscored 54-36. The Nationals have plated just 36 runners in 12 games, for an average of 3 runs — which is accurate to their average for the season — just a hair better at 3.4 runs per game.
Every team has their woes over the course of a 162-game season. The Nationals have been bit by the injury bug. I do think this team can and will turn on the sticks when they have a healthy lineup with Werth, Zimmerman, Harper, and Desmond all in the order together. However, what I don’t understand with these early season struggles is how Davey Johnson is handling them. When your team is slumping and losing ground on the division leading Braves day-in and day-out, why are you not fielding your best possible team?
- Why is Jhonatan Solano catching?
Again, Ramos is injured and catchers need rest more than any other position player. Until this club can get out of this funk, Suzuki or Ramos (when healthy) should be behind the plate. They give the team the best option to win at that position. Monday would have marked Suzuki’s fifth straight start, and a start after a day game. I understand it’s typical to rest catchers on day games or the night after day games, but again, we are talking about a struggling baseball team.
- Why are you starting Zach Duke?
— who, previous to Monday’s start was carrying a 8.40 ERA. Here’s the kicker: after Monday’s start, believe it or not, he managed to increase his ERA to a whopping 8.84, allowing 4 earned runs in 3.1 innings. I understand that Detwiler is injured. But wow, there HAS to be a better option (Craig Stammen? Nathan Karns? Chris Young? ANY of their prospects in the minors?) than Zach Duke. If not, I am seriously worried for the Nationals this year. You can’t cross your fingers and hope to retain a healthy starting rotation over the course of a season.
- Why are you bringing in Yunesky Maya in a tie ballgame in the 10th inning?
Maya is a 31(!) year-old pitcher, who, after last night’s appearance now flaunts a 5.80 career ERA in 59 innings pitched. He recorded just one out before allowing a single to the red-hot Marco Scutaro and eventually a walk-off homerun to Pablo Sandoval. He’s not a young pitcher the team is trying to mold into an eventual reliable bullpen reliever. He’s 31 years-old, with little experience pitching in the bigs, and is being asked to come in and deliver for a struggling club. Someone please explain this.
Hindsight is always 20/20 but this just doesn’t add up. When your club comes into the season with such high expectations and you are sitting close to .500 after 40+ games, this isn’t a time to experiment with the lineup. If the Nationals were winning and had a comfortable lead in the division, I could learn to accept these decisions a bit more. The Nationals are 4.5 games out of first place in the East and now sit in second place in the NL East with the Phillies just one game in back of them.