This past week was very representative of what the Washington Nationals season has looked like in the 2nd half. There were some nice wins bookended with ugly losses. The team continued to struggle getting consistent starting pitching in games not started by Max Scherzer although Tanner Roark and Stephen Strasburg have mostly been able to keep the team in games. The bullpen continues to be “pot luck” with some heroic effort coupled with blah performances. Put all that in a mixer and you get .500 baseball.
The week saw the departure of longtime National Gio Gonzalez who was a constant lightning rod continuously producing frustrating, hard to watch baseball, but when all is said and done, Gio was a very good Nat in his tenure and his numbers in Washington through the years have been very good overall. Also leaving town was setup man Ryan Madson who gave us a good 2017 but never got it together in 2018 culminating in the big implosion on a Sunday night in Chicago.
The list of pending free agents of course was finalized at 6-departures with the latest 2 joining Brandon Kintzler, Shawn Kelley, Daniel Murphy and Matt Adams. The list of callups includes returnees such as Sammy Solis and Pedro Severino, but now we are perhaps beginning to see a glimpse into the future with interesting pitchers such as reliever Austen Williams and starter Kyle McGowin along with uber outfield prospect Victor Robles.
As we continue to play contending teams like the Cards and the Cubs, it will be interesting to see if manager Dave Martinez trusts his new players in high lev situations. It will also be interesting to see if rookie starter Jefry Rodriguez and Erick Fedde continue to get regular starts as we consider options for the 2019 rotation. Another fascinating returnee is Joe Ross coming back from his 2017 TJ surgery to hopefully be a big piece of the team going forward.
To real baseball fans this continues to be an interesting time of year. The Nats are mathematically still in it and yes stranger things have happened but it’s still hard to see where a big winning streak is coming from so we take great wins like we saw yesterday and Saturday night and hope that they are a preview of what’s to come in 2019.