It’s an annoying phenomenon. After praising the Nationals for changing their approach completely and ushering a new era into the season, the only offense provided since has relied on solo home runs, which have been far and apart, the bullpen has gone into complete turmoil and the errors from the early season have returned. Great stuff to see in June from one of the World Series favorites, right?
The Nats, for so long have been on the verge of greatness, of consistency and of dominance. It’s showed up in periods, and lasted for decent amounts of time, but it’s never been the way the magazines and websites and tweeters predict it in the early season. The Nationals’ struggles continue to baffle and annoy their fans. The team’s hitting almost is reminiscent of a high school boyfriend or girlfriend, always saying how they want to be better, and how they will be soon. Just like the Nationals, the solution works for a little bit of time, and falls apart later. Ryan Zimmerman, a career .282 hitter, is hitting a measly .213. Since the last expose on the brilliance of the Nationals batting this year, the Nationals have averaged roughly 2.5 runs a game.
It’s an infuriating sequence that fans have become all too familiar with over the past few years. But somehow, miraculously, the Nationals sit a mere 0.5 games behind first place, even with a record only two games above .500. There’s no question the subpar NL East deserves a lot of the credit, with the Mets’ current record only exceeding the Nationals in the wins column, by one game.
Many may argue that the loss of Jayson Werth is a large factor in this sudden offensive decline. It certainly is. But blaming an entire team’s batting average falling off of a cliff on one injury seems a bit excessive. And despite the return of Anthony Rendon, there’s still a lot missing from him we know he’s capable of, which will sooner or later appear. But a team must be able to pick up not having two bats in the lineup.
The bullpen, in a word, has been abysmal. Four spots on the board have been common, if not normal.
So, once again, Nationals fans are left with one question: is it time to jump the ship?
It never should be time to jump the ship. Slumps will happen, issues will happen, injuries will happen, and breaks sometimes won’t go your way. But Max Scherzer said it best: “You have to make your breaks. You have to find a way to dig deep and fight through it. We can win a ballgame with or without breaks. Find a way to do your best and bring your A game tomorrow. That’s the only way to bust out of losing streaks.”
And the errors and bullpen struggles may go away soon enough. But with the hitting, a different story, a familiar story is being written once again. There may be nothing to do but accept that this team is a team of solo home runs. We may not see a team that isn’t bipolar offensively for a long time. The Nationals have underlying problems to fix. If they fix them, that’s another story. But a lot can change between June and October.