The Nationals, who came into the season expected to run away with the NL East are below .500 and in fourth place in the division, what has gone wrong?
We entered the season expecting the Washington Nationals the cruise to a third straight division title. The only question mark was whether they would choke in the playoffs again. They fired Dusty Baker to try and ensure this didn’t happen but they are off to a frigid start removing all hope.
Something we didn’t anticipate was the Nationals choking before the postseason. It’s only the first month of the season — peak knee-jerk reaction season — but Washington is below .500 and in a spot we didn’t expect.
The only thing that has gone as expected is Bryce Harper, the Nats broken-bat home run hitting superstar. Entering his contract year, he’s leading the National League in home runs, OPS, wOBA, win probability added, and many more categories. There is no arguing whether or not he has done his job. It even looked like he was getting help from Adam Eaton this year. Through 8 games, Eaton had scored 10 runs, acting as a great table setter for Harper. It looks like Eaton has lost a step and has found himself back on the DL after just these 8 games.
There has been nobody helping the Nationals make one last push to the World Series with Bryce Harper. After Ryan Zimmerman looked like he resurrected his career last season with a .930 OPS, he is only hitting .122 this year. Trea Turner hasn’t been much better, hitting only .203. Turner, at least has a .356 OPS that he can say is contributing.
What is ridiculous about the fact that the Nationals have only won 7 of their 16 games is that Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg have started 8 of those games. That means they have likely had the pitching advantage in half of their games. In years past, the bullpen has been awful but not this year. Both Shawn Kelly and Sean Doolittle have WHIPs below 1 and are getting people out.
All in all, there is a lot of confusion regarding the Nationals losing. They have the 15th best ERA in baseball and have scored the 13th most runs. They aren’t playing bad, but they haven’t been good either.
They’re going to need either the pitching or the offense to step up if they want to make a run. Whether or not Ryan Zimmerman, Trea Turner, and co. start hitting is yet to be seen, but one would imagine as the weather gets warmer they will turn it around.