Filtering by Tag: Nationals Retrospective

Nationals Retrospective: Week 17

“It’s been done before.”

Those were the words of Mike Rizzo in a phone interview he gave to CBS’s John Morosi when commenting on the Nationals’ (52-54) ability to come back from their current 8 ½ game deficit to the Atlanta Braves. There is no doubt that this is a factual statement. But if it’s going to be done, the Nats need to string together a scorching August if they have any hope of staying in the race. I said going into the week that 6-2 was the ideal record coming off this 8 game homestand, with 5-3 being the absolute worst case scenario. They ended up going 4-4, which is what they deserved considering they were absolutely dreadful in their opening 4 game set against the Pirates (in which they lost the first three) before rebounding nicely to take three of four from the reeling Mets. At this point in the season, 4-4 just won’t cut it. True, the Nats have now won four of their last five games. But everytime the blogosphere thinks this team has turned the corner, the Nats have two or three rocky games that essentially kill whatever momentum they acquired in the prior series. I believe in this Nats team, and I believe in their talent, but they need to string together more than 5 games for me to believe that they have a fighting chance. Fortunately, they get Strasburg and Gio on the mound for a two game set in Detroit, before a three game set against the Ryan Braun-less Brewers, who have been pretty dreadful of late. I think they need to finish this week above .500, so 4-1 should be the expectation – and it is doable considering their facing Annibal Sanchez, a struggling Justin Verlander, former National Tom Gorzelanny, long reliever Donovan Hand, and Kyle Lohse. That’s not a murderer’s row. It can be done.

All that being said, this more than an eventful week in Natstown. Rick Eckstein was fired as the hitting coach, against the wishes of manager Davey Johnson. Former closer Drew Storen was demoted to Triple AAA Syracuse after another rough outing on Friday (don’t worry – I have a lot more to say on this). Taylor Jordan earned his first professional win on Sunday after the 14-1 massacre that was the highest offensive output for the Nationals all season. Jayson Werth had the best statistical month of his professional career this past July. And Dan Haren may have pitched his best game as a National, going 7 innings of one run ball to earn his first win in his last ten outings on Saturday. There were definitely some positive takeaways from this 4-4 week, so without further ado, let’s take a closer look at some of the outstanding, the mediocre, and the terrible from this week in Natstown.

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Nationals Retrospective: Week 14

Bryce Harper is back. Wilson Ramosis back. Dan Haren is (unfortunately) coming back. Despite the loss of Ross Detwiler to the DL with a lower back problem, this was a strong week from the Nationals, who posted a 5-2 record with a disappointing four game split against the Brewers followed by an impressive sweep of the lowly Padres. With all the position players back and fully healthy, the offense has really come alive, scoring 43 runs in 7 games, and has been able to overcome some mediocre bullpen work to give the team four straight wins for the first time since early May. With seven games left before the all-star break (on the road against the Phillies and Marlins) and the NL East leading Braves only four games ahead, the Nats have done an impressive job cutting the division lead down in a short amount of time. Still, despite the myriad different positive takeaways one could make from this week, a couple of observations were disheartening and will hopefully be remedied in the weeks (and break) ahead. Through all the good, the bad, the meh, let’s take a closer look at how the Nats got to 46-42 and sit poised to make some serious noise in the coming NL East race.

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Nationals Retrospective: Week 13

If youhad told me going into this week that the Nationals would take two of three from a very good Diamondbacks team while facing Patrick Corbin in one of those games, then take two of three from the Mets while facing Matt Harvey in one game and starting rookie pitcher Taylor Jordan in another, I would have been ecstatic. So all in all this was a pretty good 4-2 week for the Nats who now sit one game above .500 (41-40) and are now 6.5 games back of the Braves at the half-way point of the season. There were certainly more positives than negatives to take away from these six games, so I’m not totally discouraged, but this was a week that saw a couple missed opportunities that might come back to haunt this team if they’re in the thick of a division title race come September. Still, all we can ask of this team is to keep winning 2 out of 3 and keep playing around .600 ball – it will be the only way we have a shot of making things interesting on the backend of the season. With all that said, here’s a closer looks at the good, the bad, and the meh from this week in Nats baseball.

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Nationals Retrospective: Week 12

Ugh.

I think that’s the collective feeling from Nats fans everywhere given the performance of the team as a whole, but this week in particular was yet another in a long list where the team appears to take one step forward, followed by two steps backward. The Nationals (37-38) had a 3-4 week, losing two of three at Philadelphia before splitting a four game set with Colorado despite winning the first two games of the series. Given the collective struggles of the NL East, which has now been relegated to the worst of the NL divisions, this was a week where the Nats had a serious opportunity to make up ground on the Atlanta Braves (44-33) and close the gap on our fiercest division rivals, who somehow only managed to gain a half game on the Nats this past week. There were some good moments and good things that happened this week, but as many Nats fans and beat reporters have written about this team’s “stuck in neutral” gear, there is a floating sentiment that this team just won’t be able to put together a substantial run that could get them in playoff contention. Nonetheless, through the good, the bad, and the meh, let’s take a closer look at this past week in Nats baseball.     

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Nationals Retrospective: Week 11

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This past week was, how should I put it, middling for our beloved Washington Nationals, as they went 3-3 while on the road against two fairly average teams in the Colorado Rockies (37-33) and the Cleveland Indians (34-34). The Nats were able to take two of three from Colorado despite not swinging the bats well in situational moments, and they were essentially gifted those wins thanks to an incredibly fluky Ross Ohlendorf performance on Wednesday combined with terrible injury luck/bad umpiring to hurt the Rockies on Thursday. In Cleveland, the Nats were two-hit in game one (scoring their only run on a wild pitch) and shutout in the final leg. The win they got in Cleveland came after blowing a five run lead and was secured on an Anthony Rendon home run that should have not happened if Nick Swisher was competent defensively. The Nats have not swept a series since they took down the White Sox in the third series of the season, and their series win in Colorado was their first road series win since they downed the Pirates in the first weekend of May. Put simply, their offense continues to struggle in increasingly embarrassing fashion, and anytime this team seems to gain momentum, they lose it within the next two games. Still, there is optimism on the horizon, despite my cynicism. Let’s take a quick look at some observations from the past week, from the good to the bad to the NL East in general.

 

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Nationals Retrospective: Week 10

This past week was anotheremotionally rollicking roller coaster, as the Nats eked out a 3-2 record despite facing sub-par competition from the likes of the New York Mets and the struggling Minnesota Twins. It was a weird week scheduling wise as rainouts on both Wednesday and Thursday forced the Nats to schedule a Sunday doubleheader, which ended up benefitting an injury ravaged Nationals roster. With about 1/3rd of the season completed, the Nats were able to secure the extra win to give them a .500 record (31-31) as they gear up for a big road trip against the Colorado Rockies, Cleveland Indians, and Philadelphia Phillies. While the record might not be the most positive indicator, this was a critical week for a Nationals team that is looking for any and all momentum possible to make a run at the Atlanta Braves for the division crown. Let’s take a closer look at why the Nats might look back on this week as the most critical for the future success of the ballclub this season.

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Nationals Retrospective: Week 5

The Nats were 4-3 this past weekwhile facing tough competition in the division rival Atlanta Braves and the up-and-coming Pittsburgh Pirates. Even though the Nationals just barely stayed above .500, there were many encouraging signs coming from the team that many deem as ‘underperforming’ thus far on the young season. Let’s take a look at all that’s been going on in Natstown.

Observations:

Adam LaRoche is turning things around

LaRoche came into this past week sporting a dismal .135 avg. Even beyond the numbers, he just looked completely uncomfortable at the plate. But this week, Adam went 6-for-21 at the plate. It’s still nothing fancy, but considering LaRoche didn’t record one hit in the previous week, this is progress. The veteran first baseman also walked seven times this week, including three times in Saturday’s win against the Pirates. If Washington is to perform more consistent offensively, it's no shock that LaRoche has to get things going. You can’t have your cleanup hitter underneath the Mendoza line. Unless your name is Mark Reynolds or Carlos Pena, then it seems to work out for you.

LaRoche raised his average by 30 points this week. Every sign is pointing towards a more comfortable LaRoche.

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Nationals Retrospective: Week 4

It was a tale-of-two-Nats this past week.  After leading off the fourth week of the season getting brutally swept by the St. Louis Cardinals, the Nationals battled back to take three out of four games from the Cincinnati Reds.  Fans were lifted from panic to elation.  The rollercoaster ride of last week gives us plenty to talk about as we take a look back at all that has happened in Natstown over the past seven days.  

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Nationals Retrospective: Week 3

Facing the Marlins and Mets thispast week theoretically provided the National a chance to steamroll over some division foes and beef up their record. Fans eyes lit up with the prospect of getting the team’s offense and pitching to be more consistent against two teams that aren’t necessarily expected contenders. A 3-3 record on said road trip is just fine, but the Nats had multiple opportunities to make that a 4-2 or even a 5-1 and put themselves right on the heels of Atlanta.

It is important to throw out there; the Nats are not imploding or showing serious signs of long term disappointment. Even after a week where Washington played .500 ball, the team is sitting in second place in the division with a 10-8 record, three games behind the rival Atlanta Braves. Even though there is no reason to grab the torches and pitchforks just yet, Nats fans have certainly been watching a good team play badly.

With that said, let’s take a look at the past week and all the ups and downs that have come to define the Nats young season:

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Nationals Retrospective: Week 2

Yikes. It seems like almost acentury ago Nats fans were rejoicing over last week’s 3-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox. I guess that’s what happens when the division rival Atlanta Braves come in to your house and knock the wind out of you. In the grand scheme of a 162 game season, this past week will likely fade into the big-picture of a strong and dominant season. But this week did create some cause for concern within Natstown and gives us plenty to talk about. Here is a good look at all that happened in Washington over the past week:

What happened to the pitching?

We all know it’s early. The Citizens of Natstown staff is definitely not rallying our torches and pitchforks. But the pitching performances practically across the board this week were undoubtedly underwhelming. As a whole, the Nats bullpen has a 5.90 ERA, allowing 26 earned runs in just under 40 IP - good for second worst in the Major Leagues.

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