The Nats are very lucky to still be in first place in the NL East. They are not a first place team, as I have said consistently since early Spring Training. Either the Mets or the Marlins will win the division, but the Mets will have to pull off 1-2 big trades by July 31 to win it. At this point the Marlins look like the team to beat. They would help their cause though by acquiring one more good starting pitcher.
Tommy Boswell published a telling article in the June 10 POST. He had used a fairly new statistic called “batting average on balls in play” (BABIP) to measure how luck affects both batting and pitching. Basically it factors into the mix how many balls a team’s hitters hit well but right at the other team’s fielders. By that metric the Nats hitters have been unlucky this year, while their pitchers have been blessed with unusual luck.
The Nats started June on a hot streak, but lately they are coming back down to earth. Situational clutch hitting has been bad to terrible all season long; they rank near the bottom in all of baseball in batting average with runners in scoring position. Winning teams HAVE TO BE GOOD at this! Year after year this has been the main reason the Nats have not succeeded in either winning the division or of going nowhere in the playoffs. Folks, it is time Mike Rizzo found a new hitting coach! (something I’ve said several times over the past 10 months).
Also, surprise, the bullpen has been mediocre ever since they acquired “the DC Strangler.” If they don’t get a new closer by July 31, they will not win the NL East. For a long time It looked like Felipe Rivero would be a great late-inning setup man, but that appears not to be at this point. He needs to spend time at Syracuse to find himself again.
And then there is Gio Gonzales. For him this has been the year of two Gios! He began the year as one of the top pitchers in the NL. Now he is in the middle of a bad losing streak. I think he is out of options to be sent to Syracuse to try and get back to his early 2016 form. Sad. Maybe Rizzo can put him on the DL and get a replacement.
Dusty is doing a great job with a flawed roster!