They are good enough to possibly win the NL-East division. But the Mets seem to have all their starting pitchers healthy and also have a chance to win it. The Braves and Phillies are better. So this division is up for grabs. The Nats are slightly better now than they were at this time last year, but not by much.
They need the following: a 5th starter and a stronger bullpen. Their starting pitcher depth is not strong at all; they have Hellickson and Jackson who are nearing the end of journeyman careers, and they have A.J. Cole and other AAA arms who are not ready for The Show.
Are they ready for October? Not really. To get past the first round of the playoffs they need to acquire a stronger #3 starter; Gio has never won a game in the playoffs. The Nats need to do what the Astros did last year at the trade deadline, go get a starting pitcher who can win playoff games. In addition they need to upgrade the bullpen by 2 better arms than they now have. As the season plays out up to the trade deadline and some teams realize they are not going to be playing in October, candidates for the above needs will likely appear on the market.
Sweeping Cincinnati gave the Nats a great start to the new season. In general the pitching, defense, hitting and base-running have looked pretty good. Adam Eaton has been phenomenal as he played a major role in getting the Nats on the scoreboard in the first inning of each road game. That is huge in any away from home series, but to start the season in this way, and with a new manager, can pay dividends in so many ways. For sure the starting pitchers love that!
I strongly support Dave Martinez batting Trea Turner down in the order. With his penchant for swinging at anything near the plate, not working the count and resistance to bunting, he does not belong near the top of the order. I hope the new hitting instructor will help him with a more productive and mature approach to hitting. Turner played a leading role in ensuring the Nats failed to get past the first round last October.
Both the Nats and the Os won home-field advantage for initial round of the playoffs by winning more games than anyone else in their leagues in the regular season. But both went 0-2 for those 4 home games! And most of the baseball pundits predicted both would roll over their weaker opponents who were very lucky to even be in the playoffs.
Tom Boswell, as usual, comes through today with another excellent article. As he says, “Luck and breaks prey on minds at this time of year.” And some players and teams get hot while others don’t. And it’s also interesting that Las Vegas has been betting on the teams that have been losing this year! This shows us once again that Pete Rose was betting on the wrong sport.
The 2012 Nats playoff performance was way better than that of the 2014 Nats! The players who performed up to their ability this time were few: Harper, Rendon, Strass, JZimm, Fister, Cabrera, Blevins and —are you ready—-Soriano. 8 out of 25. Maybe we should bring Davey Johnson back. The Giants didn’t play much better than the Nats either.
Matt Williams cost them game 2, by removing JZimm when he was one out away from a victory! And bad defence played a major role in the losses of games 1 and 4. But the biggest problem was the near lack of any offense.. And most of the Nats played with little EMOTION! They often looked like robots. Maybe that is partly a reflection of William’s managerial style; he rarely shows ANY emotion. He tried explaining why he took JZimm out in the 9th inning of game 2 by saying that was his game plan he put together before the game even started! One wonders if he has any “feel” for how the game is flowing or how his players are feeling. JZimm had thrown 8 and 2/3 innings of a three-hit shutout and was looking strongly in control of what he was doing!
Nope, the Nats/Giants playoffs were not fun to watch. I find myself looking forward to watching the Orioles/Royals playoff series. Both teams are playing exciting baseball as if they really want to get to the World Series.