Nats at the break
There is no question that the Nats are very far from being out of contention. The teams they are chasing are proving to be very flawed and they could be caught by a team with superior talent such as the Nationals if the Washington team plays up to its potential.
The Nats will start the 2nd half with their full pitching rotation that started the season, admittedly Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark (especially Tanner Roark) have been a large part of the problem and one hopes that the return of Matt Wieters will help stabilize the veterans who do after all have a track record of success.
The team is nearly back to full health with Stephen Strasburg returning after the break and Ryan Zimmerman starting a rehab assignment. Of course Howie Kendrick is lost for the year but relative to the 1st half and even other teams the Nats are a healthy team right now. Adam Eaton and Daniel Murphy are both contributing to the offense and they look more comfortable at the plate with each passing day.
Michael Taylor has been relegated to pinch hitting and right handed specialist duties and it looks like with the current configuration that’s as much work as he’l get. Brian Goodwin’s role is even more limited, and his position is extremely tenuous given Zim’s imminent return.
The all star break could not come any sooner for the Nats. With Sean Doolittle injured and the starting rotation still shaky the pen has been stretched to the limit and has responded well except for Kelvin Herrera who has looked very unsteady lately.
The Nats current position likely indicates that they should not be pursuing rental players. Unless they are quite a bit closer by July 31st there is no logical reason to sacrifice the future for a very uncertain present. Any move should be for the present and future. At the same time don’t expect the Nationals to abandon ship and go into full scale sell mode. There has been too much of a financial investment in 2018 to give it up in July. Should there be any moves, look for the Nats to try to decrease the payroll rather than increase it in an effort to get below the tax threshold.
The Nats (Rizzo) must do a better job with roster management. In the past several weeks they have played needlessly short on a couple of occasions for several days by promoting starting pitchers days before their scheduled games and occasionally forcing the manager to use his A bullpen in blow out games. That can’t happen.
Finally, there can be no denying that the Nationals have a Byrce Harper problem which seems to get worse by the week and is likely a much bigger negative than is admitted by the organization. There is no need to get into this in detail because it has been discussed ad nauseum for a long time. Trading Harper should not be looked upon as a ‘selling’ move but rather an attempt to rescue the season.