18 Game Set Analysis

Good for Joe Ross.  A bright spot in a disappointing season.

The Nats have now completed 126 games. That’s seven of the nine 18-game sets in the season. They’ve had two really bad sets this year – they went 7-11 to open the season. And they went 7-11 in the first full 18-gamer after the ASG, including being swept at Citi Field by their main rival for the NL East crown this year, the Mets. After the first 18 games, Dan Uggla’s now legendary blast in Atlanta turned the season around and started a 12-6 bounceback stretch. After the completion of the 6th 18-game set, the loss to Colorado on August 7 in the first game of the series at Nats Park, they were 2 1/2 games behind the Mets. So they needed a similar quick turnaround to start the last third of the season.

Unfortunately, they didn’t get it. Instead they gave us in some ways the most frustrating stretch of the year. Failing to win a series against the bottom-feeding Rockies at home, then the disastrous visits to LA and SF and a 6 game losing streak. Then winning three series in a row for the first time this year, but against teams that needed to yield a sweep (or two) if they were to mount a serious comeback (the Rockies, Brewers, and Padres). Last night’s win just brought us to 8-10 for the set.

Unfortunately, this lackluster performance came at a time when the Mets were on fire, going 12-6 in their 6th 18-gamer. And so we go into the last 36 games of the season 6 1/2 games behind the division leaders. At this point, we don’t control our own destiny. Not only do the Nats need to catch fire, but the Mets need to stumble. Last night was the perfect example of the situation we’re in. A very nice win, leaving aside the injuries, but we gain no ground because the Mets won too. The MMN is now 30.

Bryce Harper’s play during this set was anything but lackluster, except perhaps in comparison to how he played in the previous 108 games. His slashline in the 17 games he played in this stretch was just .333/.442/.508/.949, with 2 HRs and 12 walks. After the game on August 16, his OPS for the year fell below 1.100 for the first time since May 6. Come on Bryce, we really need you to pick it up and bring home the MVP award. That may be the only thing Nats fans will be able to rejoice about at the end of this season.

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