At this point in a season, the Nats have not been this bad on their winning percentage in nearly 11 years. You would have to go back to when they were 56-103 on October 1, 2009. They finished that 2009 season at 59-103 and got the 1st draft pick and picked a 17 year old named Bryce Harper the following year. That is the only silver lining when your team is “this” bad that you get a great draft position. Remember, the Nats did not even sell-off at the trade deadline.
“The frustration shows when we have an opportunity, a chance to do something,” manager Dave Martinez said during his postgame presser. “They all want to do it. They all want to be the guy. … Everybody’s trying to hit that five-run homer. I just want them to get on base for the next guy.”
Last night, you could see the frustrations boiling over. We saw batters swinging at pitches literally above their eyes. The unfortunate part for Adam Eaton swinging above his head on a pitch is that he is tanking his own value. Most likely his option held by the Nationals will be declined, and he will be a free agent after this season to search for employment with a -0.2 WAR, a .224 batting average and a .658 OPS on his resumé if the season ended today.
For Eaton, he was the only bright spot for the Nats on Opening Day with the team’s only hit — a home run, in a rain shortened game that completely foreshadowed what this 2020 truncated, COVID related, season would look like. Eaton is not the only one who needs to improve his resumé or as general manager Mike Rizzo calls it — the back of the baseball card. There is a lot of blame to go around. It is a team game. This team has seventeen players ranking as negative WAR — and that is hard to believe. But it is true.
The team has lost five straight games, and shutout for two consecutive games. Line drives that are normally hits seem to be snagged from out of nowhere. The BABIP defies logic. When it goes bad, it really goes bad. There is no reasonable explanation for swinging at pitches above your eye level, although F.P. Santangelo reasoned on MASN last night that swinging at the pitch above the zone was because the hitter was thinking it was going to break down. That is what we are reduced to on trying to explain what we are seeing. Here is the whiff per swing chart for Eaton from the last two games.
There is that saying in sports that you are never as bad as you look when you’re losing and conversely never as good as you look as when you’re winning.
Before last night in 18 starts against Phillies starter Zack Wheeler, the Nats were the one team that owned him with a career 5.01 ERA. Wheeler came out firing 99 mph heaters last night. Even when the Nats squared him up, the Phillies turned in Web Gems or were positioned perfectly to catch a line drive. Last season in 5 starts against the Nats, Wheeler was 1-2 with a 6.83 ERA. This year (yesterday), he is now 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA. That is so 2020.
Today is an afternoon affair at 4:05 pm first pitch in a salvage effort by your Washington Nationals to wrap things up in Philadelphia in 2020. Anibal Sanchez is on the mound sporting a 6.90 ERA.