Win #27 of 2019; The Nats are streaking!

Photo by Lynn G for TalkNats

Click here to watch Nats win #27 on June 4th on MASN via MLB.TV at 6:30 pm tonight with the rest of us. Just a quick reminder of what we are doing if this is your first time: As a group, we are going to be re-watching all 105 wins from the Nats 2019 season in chronological order at 6:30 pm each night. We will all try to sync up to the same point in the game, and this is a work in progress to maneuver to the same point in the game. Feel free to ask in the comments section where everyone is in the game so you can sync up. Many people are joining in at different points, and most people are not commenting — rather just following along.

The MLB.TV library is unlocked and free to everyone for the 2018-2019 season courtesy of MLB. This win #27 came in the 60th game in the 2019 season, and the Nats took the a 26-33 record into this game. This is where manager Dave Martinez started preaching “Go 1-0 every game” and eventually the Nats turned a losing record into a winning record. It took the Nats until June 28th to reach a winning record and they got to 12 games above .500 on August 21st. They dug themselves a deep hole and it took much longer to dig out of it. 

The draft was in full motion while this game was happening as general manager Mike Rizzo and his staff were hunkered down in their war room. The Nats sent Stephen Strasburg to the mound in this inter-league game against the White Sox and former Nats fireballer Reynaldo Lopez. The Nats are going for a 3-game winning streak and Strasburg’s 100 career win.

As you will see as you watch this one, Strasburg was not at his sharpest, but the Nats offense took it to their former teammate, Lopez, who was traded in the blockbuster deal for Adam Eaton.

While Eaton had a solid game, it was Anthony Rendon who carried the offense with help from Victor Robles and Howie Kendrick who subbed in off of the bench.

The last five game had dramatically changed how the Nationals, the media, and their fans were looking at them recently as they readied themselves for this game tonight against the White Sox. Sure, the Nats just drafted Jackson Rutledge in a pleasant surprise, but also found themselves 6 ½ games away from first place as the Phillies got blown-out the night before and were mired in a 5 game losing streak. At the same time, the Nationals had won 4 of their last 5 games to go from 10 games behind to where they are now.  It seemed improbable a week before to make up that many games in that span but the Nats finally found themselves with what seemed like a good opportunity with the weaker part of their schedule in June.  The Phillies were one loss with an Atlanta win away from being in second place.

Just five days before, there were fans and prominent media who were discussing a sell-off, and on that day, I could at least see a little ray of optimism, okay, more like cautious optimism because the Nationals dug themselves quite the hole and had to dig their way back from a dozen under the .500 mark on May 23rd to where they were on that day in early June which was seven under “even” and 6.5 games back.

That trendline was looking good for the Nats and Braves but not so good for the Phillies and Mets. With 102 games to play it might come down to who can make up ground in the month of June as I wrote on that day and how right I was. The Nats had a hot June and finished up over .500 on the season and marched forward after that. The Nationals needed one of those long winning streaks, and the longest winning steak they had so far was three.

In the midst of the amateur Draft, general manager Mike Rizzo has taken a lot of heat for failures in the Draft and particularly in this article in Washington Post, but Lucas Giolito who would be sitting in the opposite dugout tonight was proof the draft was working and what was lacking in my opinion was the player development with regards to pitchers. You can look at Robbie Ray, Nick Pivetta, and bullpenners like Blake Treinen and Felipe Vazquez. Other teams have now figured out the analytics to make Tanner Roark and Gio Gonzalez into usable parts of their rotations. While the jury might be out on Giolito and those other ex-Nats pitchers, time will tell as the 2020 draft approaches.

Reynaldo Lopez with 17-year-old Juan Soto who made his first visit to Nationals Park as the pair watch Bryce Harper receive the ceremonial first pitch in 2016. (Photo by Steve Mears for TalkNats)

While Rizzo was back in his “war room” preparing for Day #2 of the draft, his team hoped to continue their winning ways.

“It’s not a crapshoot,” Rizzo responded to Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post back in 2006. “It’s a science. It’s an art.”

The Nats now have Jackson Rutledge to add to their top prospects. The draft should not be a crapshoot in the first round, but pitcher development must show improvement in the Nationals system.

“Hearing my name called was kind of an out-of-body experience,” Rutledge said. “It’s something you dream of and it only really hit me until it happened.”

Chicago White Sox vs. Washington Nationals
Stadium:   Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.

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