Hey guys! Hope your week is going well. There’s a pretty good chance I’ll be taking a final while y’all are reading this, so uh, I don’t think mine is.
The Nationals lost 5-2 to the Rockies last night, despite a decent performance from Patrick Corbin on the mound:
8 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 3 SO, 7.16 ERA
8 innings pitched is the deepest any starter has gone this season for the Nats. The 9 hits are unfortunately still a bit of a problem, though.
Washington’s only runs came courtesy of a Cesar Hernandez RBI single in the 3rd inning and a Lane Thomas solo homer in the 5th. A disastrous fourth cost the team 5 runs and decided the game.
While the Nationals are not great, just like we all predicted, there have been some bright spots as of late. Josh Bell is batting .349, good enough for fourth best in the National League and behind only Nolan Arenado, Manny Machado, and…Eric Hosmer?
You know what, that’s a discussion for another day.
Point being, Bell is on a tear and on pace for the best start of his career, which makes it pretty tempting to think about the return the Nats could get by trading him at the deadline if he keeps this up.
Yadiel Hernandez is another surprise, lacing two hits tonight to bring his total for 2022 to 23. Hernandez joins C. Hernandez, Bell, Juan Soto, Makiel Franco, and Keibert Ruiz as the members of the Nationals to have accumulated 20+ hits so far this season, and currently sports a .371 batting average (he hasn’t had enough at bats to qualify for the leaderboard, but if he did, he’d be second behind Hosmer in all of baseball). All he does is hit!
Yes, there are 6 members of the Nationals with 20+ hits this season, which is quite impressive. Only four other teams have that many:
The Blue Jays, Braves, Mets (7), and Rockies.
Yes, the Nats are in that exclusive club of teams with a variety of consistent hitters to open the year. But they have the worst record of the five! With all these great at bats, why in the world are we losing so many games?
The problem is simple. This team is weird.
So we have 6 guys with 20+ hits? That can’t replace the likes of Alcides Escobar still plugging up shortstop with a whopping .194 average and a -4 DRS. Why is Luis Garcia in Triple-A during a rebuild again?
The Nelson Cruz experiment is not going so well right now either, with the veteran batting .143 to start the year and carrying a measly .442 OPS. So much for a big deadline haul. And after a bit of a hot streak, Victor Robles is back to struggling on offense. He’s hovering at .238 with a .617 OPS, around his career average. More regression to the mean going on here.
While the bats that aren’t hitting are a big issue, that’s not preventing the team from at least putting up some offense, as the team scored double digit runs three times in five days between Friday and Tuesday. It would just really help if everyone else got going to, especially on days like yesterday when the offense wasn’t in the groove.
The big problem here is just what we all knew it would be. The pitching. Ugh. Sure, this was expected, but that doesn’t mean watching the Nats combust on the mound every night is any less frustrating.
Josiah Gray has put together a decent 3.12 ERA campaign to open the year through 5 starts and 26 innings pitched. Just focus on that and ignore the fact the Nationals are twenty-ninth in team ERA in 2022 with a whopping 4.89. The only team worse is the Reds with 6.68.
Joan Adon has shown some promise, but a 5.56 FIP shows how much he’s struggling on the mound. Josh Rogers has had a similar problem. Victor Arano has shown some promise, but he’s also not quite there yet. With how this team’s reputation for developing arms has gone, how can we trust that the young guys filling out the pitching are under proper guidance? At least Tanner Rainey’s back to form, sporting a 0.00 ERA with 3 saves so far this season.
Erick Fedde and Austin Voth are both somehow still here, and nobody wants to see them anymore. Stephen Strasburg will be back eventually, but how will he look? There are so many reasons pitching on this team was obviously going to be terrible, but the organization still chose to stay put and make no major moves other than signing Steve Cishek to work in the pen.
So yes, this team is weird. But what’s the point of all this? Just to rehash all the things we hate about the 2022 Nationals? That we have to just buckle down and get used to this strange roller coaster ride that’s going in the wrong direction?
Well, yes. There’s not much else we can do as a fanbase.
We’re going to have guys continue to crank out hit totals while we lose games off of pitching and poor fielding. And while it’s aggravating, try your best to enjoy the sideshow. We’ll laugh about this someday in the future, when Luis Garcia is batting .280 with 20 homers and we recall the Escobar years, and when Josiah Gray is going for his third straight strikeout title. One day, some day in the future, this rebuild might have just been worth it. The payoff will come someday. But there’s something we have to remember along with that thought, and it sucks.
That day isn’t today.
Good luck, fellow Nats fans. We’ll all need it as this season goes on.