We will be at the halfway point in the season this weekend, and it is hard to believe that the Nationals had suffered being shut-out only twice leading up to the Dream Gala. The opposite of a dream is a nightmare and it has been that way since June 9th. The very next day on June 10th the listless Nats were shut-out and each week since that day the Nationals have been shut-out. Since the Gala, there have been 5 shut-outs. The Nationals record — a nightmarish 4 wins and 11 losses from June 10th forward.
History has said the day after that Gala has always been an ugly game followed by some lethargic games, but now we are over two weeks removed from that day and what is the excuse now? Yesterday was no surprise that it ended up in a loss. Blake Snell has been the best pitcher in baseball in his home park this year where you would be lucky to get a run off of him, and Gio Gonzalez has been awful in June where he had a 6.20 ERA entering yesterday’s game and now is at 8.44 for the month of June and it is possible he could pitch on June 30th.
When will this nightmare end? Bryce Harper has not hit a home run since the afternoon before the Gala and now we are wondering what the Nationals can do to turn the tide? Each of those 4 wins have been close nailbiters by no more than a 2-run margin. The only blowouts have been at the expense of the Nationals like last night’s embarrassment. The last time a Nats starter won a game was on June 6th against these Tampa Bay Rays in an 11-to-2 Nats blowout win.
The first step to solving your problem is admitting you have a problem. Bad starting pitching is taking the offense out of the game quickly and stressing a bullpen that was on it’s way to becoming elite.
At some point you better figure out what you need to do to fix the starting pitching because you won’t win many games ignoring it. These issues go far beyond mechanical fixes. The more you keep pushing them out there — the more you push your bullpen to the brink of disaster. Tanner Roark and Gio have stressed this bullpen beyond reasonable limits. The rookies have gone further than the veterans. While Erick Fedde and Jefry Rodriguez aren’t aces, they certainly give you a chance to win games if you manage them like you have Jeremy Hellickson. You know what I’m talking about. You wouldn’t bring Hellickson out for the 7th inning at 97 pitches in a 2-2 game, but you did just that with Fedde and allowed him to self-destruct. The same happened in his first start.
Pitchers have limits and this has been a Washington Nationals problem going back a few years now. If Dave Martinez is an “analytics” guy, why does he ignore the basics of trend analysis and other forms of data? Something has to change and soon.
Luckily that is the perfect segue into today’s pitcher du jour for the Nationals. They have their ace of aces in Max Scherzer and a day-off tomorrow and luckily the entire back of the bullpen is fresh for today except Justin Miller.
The Rays have Nathan Eovaldi, and the Nats are thrilled to see a right-handed pitcher on the mound today. This noon start time and the day-off tomorrow should hopefully help get this team some much needed rest.
Washington Nationals vs. Tampa Bay Rays
Stadium: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida
1st Pitch: 12:10 pm EDT
TV: MASN; MLB App out-of-market
Nats Radio: 106.7 The Fan and via the MLB app
Line-ups subject to change without notice: