There might be gray skies headed to Washington, and at some point Josiah Gray should be on the mound to face the Atlanta Braves when the skies are not threatening rain. In Gray’s last start, it was against these Braves in a game that he held them to one earnie over 5.0 innings of work, with an impressive 10 K’s. A game the Nats won in dramatic fashion after a two-run bomb by the newbie, Riley Adams in the 9th inning.
For the Braves, they have the veteran righty Charlie Morton on the mound to try to get them back in the W column. The Nats wins and losses are having an impact on the NL East pennant race with series this past week against the Braves, Phillies and Mets, teams duking it out for the NL East crown. Right now, it looks like the NL East winner will take the division with mid-80s wins. The Phillies are 60-55, just 5.0 games over .500. If they go 27-20 they would finish with just 87 wins. That is the big “if” to speak to suddenly performing better than their previous winning percentage that would have them with an 85-77 record. But one team has to take it. The Braves and Phillies face-off in the final three games of the season. The Mets are 59-55, and the Braves are 59-56 currently.
While Atlanta faces the Nats, the Mets have to play the hungry Dodgers, and the Phillies play the hungrier Cincinnati Reds. With about 47 games remaining, each win and loss could be the difference in the race to the finish.
The Nats are not mailing in these games. Manager Dave Martinez is trying to put together his best starting eight that he has, and as mentioned, Josh Bell‘s slump in this past week, could not come with worse timing to see him bat .105 with more doubleplays hit into, and Gerardo Parra is hitless with 4 Ks in his 8 plate appearances.
But the rest of the roster removing the pitchers, Bell, Parra, and Stevenson are batting a combined .284 in the past week. You would think that would be enough to rack up some wins — but unfortunately not with three losses in the past week at the hands of the bullpen. Yes, one loss was aided by a crucial error by Carter Kieboom, and two more by poor starting pitching. The Nats offense has put up over 4.0 runs per game in the past week, and four of the losses were by just one run.
You just cannot put your finger on one issue as it is many issues, and also not unexpected after the trade deadline sell-off. And that should not surprise anyone in a lineup that features inexperience and only one star, Juan Soto, and a rotation where the two best pitchers weren’t even around 3 months ago in Gray and Paolo Espino. The starting rotation is held together by a group of pitchers that only has one from the 2019’s World Series season in Patrick Corbin and his ERA is highest of all of the starters at 5.83. Now you have Gray (1.80), Espino (3.74), Joe Ross (4.17), and Erick Fedde (5.12) as the other four starters.
What evaluators need is for the cream to rise to the top to determine who can be part of the solution going forward.
Atlanta Braves vs. Washington Nationals
Stadium: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.
1st Pitch: 7:05 pm EDT
TV: MASN2, Bally Sports Southeast, MLB.TV
Nats Radio: 106.7 FM The Fan; SiriusXM® ( Streaming Internet 869)
Line-ups subject to change without notice: