In the 9 games since the All Star break, the Nationals have only won 4 of those games. Yet things are looking up for the team as the team starts to get healthier by the day and some players are on the verge of turning their seasons around. With a three game lead over the New York Mets for the division lead, these developments are vital to hold off the upstart Mets. 2014 MVP candidate Anthony Rendon returned to the lineup on Saturday after missing 25 games with a strained quad, Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman are days away from returning and Stephen Strasburg is possibly 2 weeks away as the Nats could be the healthiest as they have been all season.
One recent development could alter the season as well and that is the recent renaissance of Ian Desmond. Desi has been in a season long funk, he has seemingly turned things around with a 6 game hitting streak. During that streak he has homered four times and has 10 hits in his last 19 at bats, small sample size obviously, but he looks very confident at the plate and everyone hopes he can continue this torrid pace for the stretch run. But before we can hope for the positives, one pressing issue must be addressed, and that is the bullpen. Right now, this bullpen is not capable of being trusted in tough situations. They have had issues keeping close deficits, they have had issues keeping close leads, and at times they have just imploded. General Manager Mike Rizzo knew going into the season that the ‘pen was a question mark. The question has been answered. Now with the Trade Deadline in less than a week, will Rizzo sacrifice some of the young talent in the minor leagues to acquire a veteran bullpen arm or two? I certainly hope so. The losses of Tyler Clippard (off-season trade) and Craig Stammen (season long injury) have been the preeminent scapegoats for most fans, I, for one, believe more than those losses, you can attribute their struggles to youth. Most of these guys just havent been in this situation before and maybe the “trial under fire” will help the franchise in the long run, its not helping TODAY unless they make a quick turnaround.
After facing pitching rich teams like the Dodgers, Mets and Pirates in consecutive series, the season long road trip continues with a 3 game set in Miami vs the Marlins and a 3 game set vs the aforementioned Mets. It would be nice to add a couple of games to the division lead, but we don’t live in a perfect world, the way this season has gone, splitting the 6 games would suffice any Nats fan.