Normally this is a weekly installment, but Washington has a couple off-days now before having a loaded schedule in the coming weeks.
The Nationals kicked off a three-game series in Atlanta on Monday. They fell just short in the opener (7-6), but rebounded to win the following night (8-5). Erick Fedde was set to start the rubber match on Wednesday, but the game was postponed due to inclement weather. The Nationals, who could’ve benefited tremendously by taking two out of three from the Braves, had to settle for a two-game split.
It was a wild week for the Nationals, in more ways than one. They played seven full games, plus the continuation of Sunday’s suspended game against the Orioles. They were in a hole at the resumption of that matchup and fell 6-2, but went 4-3 otherwise, splitting four contests against the Mets and taking two out of three – other than the suspended game – from Baltimore.
The biggest news from the week may have nothing to do with the standings, though. Sam Freeman, Sean Doolittle, Starlin Castro and Stephen Strasburg were each placed on the IL, paving the way for Seth Romero, Dakota Bacus and Luis Garcia to make their big league debuts.
At this time a week ago, the Nationals were 3-4 in the midst of a four-day break; Juan Soto, Stephen Strasburg and Wander Suero were approaching their returns; and with five games against the Mets and Orioles on deck, things appeared to be looking up.
It didn’t exactly play out that way.
Washington avoided the top starting pitchers – Jacob deGrom, Alex Cobb, and John Means – yet they only went 1-3 (not including Sunday’s suspended game, in which they trail 5-2), getting outscored 27-11. Most of the lineup stopped hitting, the starting pitchers were fine but far from dominant, and the bullpen imploded on multiple occasions. Worst of all, the team was met by 19-31 level panic from reporters and the fanbase.
The biggest topic of criticism will be revisited shortly, but let’s take a look at player performance first.
It was a bizarre week across major league baseball, and the Nationals were as affected by it as almost anyone. They were scheduled to play seven games – two at home vs. the Blue Jays, two in Toronto (which later became Buffalo), and three in Miami vs. the Marlins. Instead, they played four straight home games against the Blue Jays and sat at home for the rest of the week due to COVID-19 concerns.
Without delving into the weeds of the disease, it’s safe to say that the Nationals were fortunate to only be affected by it as minimally as they were. Nonetheless, they’re three games behind where they would’ve otherwise been if the Marlins were healthy enough to play.
In terms of on-field play, the Nationals split the four-game series with Toronto, losing the two “home games” (4-1 and 5-1) before rallying to win both “road games” (4-0 and 6-4), bringing them back within one game of .500 (3-4), just like they were when Week 1 ended.
We started the “Week in Review” series last season, and we’ve decided to carry it into 2020.
This week was a short one for the Nationals in terms of on-field action, but there’s also plenty that’s happened surrounding the team recently that merits discussion.
The Nationals dropped two out of three games from the Yankees in their opening series of the season. The first loss (4-1) came in a five-plus inning, rain-shortened Game One. Washington rebounded to take the next game (9-2), but lost the finale (3-2) to fall back below .500 to start the year.
The MLB season opens with Max Scherzer and the Washington Nationals facing Gerrit Cole and the New York Yankees on Thursday, July 23. Aside from preparing for the likes Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and company, here’s what it seems like D.C. fans should expect to see.
In case you forgot, MLB rosters were agreed to be expanded for the 2020 season.
The Player Pool
At 4 p.m. ET today, all MLB teams were required to unveil the list of 60 players who would be a part of their Spring Training roster. As is likely the case for most teams, the Nationals’ player pool looks very intriguing, including many of their top prospects – most of whom weren’t even on the 40-man roster, not to mention pushing for a roster spot – prior to the league shutdown.
The state of the NBA is anything but normal right now. Even the postseason structure is muddier than usual, but the Washington Wizards are – in a way – part of it. They’re one of 22 soon-to-be “bubble teams” that will participate in the shortened restart of the regular season, and they’ll have a chance to compete for a top eight seed in the Eastern Conference. One player who won’t be participating in that battle, however, is sharp-shooter Davis Bertans.
On the surface, that’s bad news for the Wizards because it hurts their playoff chances. After all, he’s the team’s No. 2 scorer and only true threat aside from Bradley Beal that opposing defenses feel much of a need to respect.
On the other hand, what has the mantra been for the Wizards all season? Perhaps this is an opportunity to step back and remember the bigger picture.
The one-year anniversary of the Washington Nationals started the season 19-31 took place just over a week ago. Revisiting this topic might seem unnecessary after the improbable run the Nationals went on in last season, but there’s some interesting revisionist history developing that might need to be reconsidered. Although it may have been premature to suggest that Dave Martinez absolutely deserved to be fired (which I did), the beginning of his tenure — not even just the 19–31 start to 2019 — wasn’t exactly spectacular. Continue reading “Why the “Fire Dave Martinez” Crowd Wasn’t Crazy”→
Not long ago, Greg Stroman was one of the anchors of the Virginia Tech football program, serving a starring role as a kick/punt returner while also developing into a high-quality (and eventually NFL-draftable) cornerback. Now his legacy has a chance to live on through his brother Jalen.
Greg and Jalen aren’t substantially different players, but Jalen may not play quite the same role(s) Greg did at Tech. On top of that, Jalen also bucked a significant trend in Prince William County football, and it has a chance to become something the Hokies revisit with some degree of regularity. Continue reading “Jalen Stroman’s Impact on the Hokies and NoVA Football”→