Following one of the worst weeks of one of the most disappointing years in Nats history, most of us have long since concluded that this season is a lost season (I think I said something like ‘let’s be real it ain’t going to happen’). Well, I’ll take another look.
The Nats latest slide started with 2 brutal loses in Chicago which also claimed 2 relievers. It continued with losing 3 of 4 in St.Louis including several more bullpen meltdowns and it concluding with the ignominy of losing 2 of 3 to the lowly Miami Marlins including a 12 – 1 embarrassment yesterday leaving the team 7 games behind the front running Braves and 6.5 behind the 2nd place Phillies with 37 games left to play. So how can a sane person conclude that there is even a shred of room for optimism from this?
Let’s examine. The Atlanta Braves just endured a 4 game sweep at home by the Colorado Rockies including a game in which they led 3 – 0 with 2 outs in the 9th and the bases empty, take away the Braves domination of the Marlins and there are more cracks there than there are in a dried out piece of swiss cheese. The Phillies last 4 series; lost 2 games to 1 to Arizona, lost 2 games to 1 to San Diego, split a 2 game series with the Red Sox and lost 3 games to 2 at home to the Mets. Take away their domination of the Marlins and you get more swiss cheese.
I am not naïve enough to believe that a comeback is easy or even likely. It’s actually quite a remote possibility but the corpse still has some life in it at least until the next series which happens to be against the Philadelphia Phillies. Any result other than a 3 game sweep and I am ready for the funeral but at least between now and Tuesday I am ready to have some faint hope.
The Nats will be starting their top 3 pitchers against the Phills and there is reason to believe that Kelvin Herrera will also return for this series (his effectiveness is another story). The Braves will travel to Pittsburgh where the Pirates have yet to call it a season and could continue to present problems to a reeling Braves team after just stealing two games from the Cubs who have been dubbed by many as the best team in the NL.
If you ask me who starts the games in NY next weekend I will tell you that I have no idea, it’s likely to be Jefry Rodriguez, Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark only because there aren’t many other options — but let’s cross that bridge when we get there, it might not matter anyway.
Lastly, I would like to address a common theme around the blogosphere. Sports fans are experts on what coaches and managers are doing wrong or not doing but they are normally pretty short on solutions. For example it was a unanimous outcry to get Gio the heck out of the game fairly early but as we all saw later his replacement wasn’t much better (4 runs vs 8 runs) and as we saw the night before, the bullpen does not have a single reliable shut down arm (please spare me the angst about trading Brandon Kintzler, he isn’t any good either). Sometimes you have to admit that the manager was dealt a lousy hand.