Yesterday afternoon, the Washington Nationals were hitless but not lifeless through six innings. Starting pitcher Erick Fedde turned in another one of those starts that did not look pretty, but really was when you looked at the scoreboard. Fedde held the Marlins to just two runs over those six innings, and the team’s best player this year, Josh Bell, broke up Pablo Lopez‘s no-hitter on the 85th pitch of the game. In fact, Bell would later score the Nats’ first run soon after, and the game would be tied at 2-2 going into the eighth inning when Bell would put the Nats on top 3-2 with a home run.
If you saw the game, you know that Tanner Rainey blew the save with two outs in the 9th inning in a two strike count, and many turned off their TVs or left the game, and missed the Nats mount a spirited 9th inning comeback to tie the game, but couldn’t walk-off and win it. The 10th inning unraveled on some awful defense or was it awful Carl Edwards Jr. pitching? Maybe a little bit of both. The ghost runner started at second base in extra innings and a flyball fell in front of Victor Robles then a 95.3 mph grounder was hit directly to Cesar Hernandez at second base. As we have seen too often, he didn’t center the ball in front of his body and went for the matador play and hit hit off of his glove. What should have been a tailor-made double play was ruled a gift single by the official scorer, and Edwards melted down on the mound. When all was said and done, three runs had scored and the Nats lost.
With three losses in a row to the Miami Marlins, the Nationals finished the first half of this 2022 season with a 29-52 record. Just two days ago, the Lerner ownership group handed out 2023 contracts to manager Dave Martinez and general manager Mike Rizzo, and you have to wonder what they all think of this mess. Not one walk-off win for the Nats this season. Just 29 wins on the season. Their biggest three names on the roster, Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, and Juan Soto have combined for just 2.4 WAR, and that seems generous considering Strasburg only pitched in 4 2/3 innings with a 13.50 ERA, Corbin’s ERA is an horrific 6.06, and Soto isn’t even batting his weight at .226.
Soto was removed from Sunday’s game due to left calf tightness, and his status is unknown. He was just starting to heat up it seemed. On June 22, he was batting .214 and in the last week Soto has slashed .389/ .607/ .667/ with a 1.274 OPS. That’s the Soto worth $500 million, not the imposter who had occupied his body for most of the season. In a down year for offense, Soto was fine if he was a “no name” outfielder, but this is the guy who wants the largest contract in MLB history, and he is not carrying this team. Bell is doing that time and again, and the first baseman probably will not be in a Nats uniform a month from now.
A quick check of the top first basemen in all of baseball on FanGraphs are Paul Goldschmidt (4.1 WAR), Freddie Freeman (3.2), and Bell (2.5). Strangely, I don’t know how Freeman is ahead of Bell given Bell’s .919 OPS towers over Freeman’s .886, and Bell beats him in every one of the triple-slash categories.
“I can sit here and talk for days about Josh – not only on the field, but off the field as well with his teammates. He’s awesome, and he’s playing the best I’ve seen him play,” Martinez said.
For today’s lineup, Soto is out of the lineup, and we will wait to hear on the results of Soto’s MRI on his injured calf.
Miami Marlins vs. Washington Nationals
Stadium: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.
1st Pitch: 11:05 pm EDT
TV: MASN; Bally Sports Florida; MLB App (out-0f-market only)
Nats Radio: 106.7 The Fan and via the MLB app
Lineups (subject to change without notice):
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) July 4, 2022