“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.Read More