Baseball pundits expected the world of the Washington Nationals this season. They were just an inning away from moving to the NLCS just last year, and this without their ace, Stephen Strasburg, who had controversially been shut down late in the season to make sure his surgically repaired elbow did not suffer unnecessary strain. So slam dunk, they’d either win the 2013 NL East or be a strong Wild Card team. Especially if the Philadelphia Phillies regress (check) and if the brothers Upton don’t make that leap to stardom (double check). So what’s going wrong?
Well tonight was an example. Strasburg got roughed up with a capital “R”. He endured a 5-run first, and it didn’t get better with a 2-run secon featuring a DEEP home run by equally young slugger (on a team with much less expectation) Giancarlo Stanton. Their World Series manager winning Davey Johnson is in his last season. Their heir apparent Bo Porter went to the Houston Astros this offseason. So now what?
Well they’re not that far out of the playoffs. Only 6 games out of the Division and fewer out of the Wild Card, and there are teams ahead of them (Braves, Pirates, Cardinals) that have some serious questions, at least in terms of going the full 162 at this level.
So do they trade? If so for what? I would say they need to shore up the rotation but not necessarily the lineup. Keep Anthony Rendon in the lineup (dude is raking, near Puig level). Seriously consider moving or benching Adam LaRoche. Hope that Wilson Ramos, Jayson Werth, and Bryce Harper’s health mean a “new” potent lineup.
In the end, don’t be surprised like the Dodgers took charge since the Puig call up, that the Nationals can’t do the same.
But they’re going to need Strasburg to look more like he should. Just didn’t happen today.
– David Whitlock (@lhd_on_sports)
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