Long Road Update:
Early Games : Goal 19-16 Actual 12-22
Current Stretch : Goal 2-1 Actual 0-1
There's no way around it. The Nats really blew it. They managed to hold onto a decent record for a good 20+ games or so in this "long road", but in a stretch of games against the bottom half of the NL and AL they managed to barely eek out a couple of wins. 8-5 was the goal for Pirates, Mets, Orioles, Brewers and Padres, 3-9 ended up being the reality (rainout vs the Pirates lost a game). If not for the horrific Astros and the "What the hell is going on there" Twins, the Nats would be fighting for last place overall as well. Who knows, maybe if we give them enough time they'll crash harder.
This shouldn't be a surprise though. The team was relying on Zimmerman, Werth, and LaRoche to provide the core of the offense. Zimmerman has been out over a month, LaRoche might as well have been. Without offense the team is going to have a hard time winning regardless of how well the pitching staff is doing. There's little to do right now other than throw up your hands and take whatever happens between now and Zimm's return. No team can afford to lose a star bat.
This crash is reminiscent of last year, but there is a clear distinction. Last year the team was near .500 and had a star coming in with Strasburg. This year's team has been hanging on by it's fingernails while the ledge falls apart. Last year, oddly enough, there was real hope that they could go on a decent run. This year it was more of a pipe dream. How long could the Nats last without Zimmerman? Can they make one last push to stay relevant until he gets back?
About 20 games and no. Those are the answers we have now. Focus on Desmond, Espinosa, Ramos, and ZNN. Don't worry about wins and losses until Zimmerman returns.
Maya was roughed up in his first outing of 2011. If you're an optimist, then he faltered because of a combination of weather, nerves, and a high pitch count outing in his last minor league game. If you're a pessimist, then the weak-hitting Padres solved him the second time through the line-up. (The realist has no opinion - it's one game)
As bad as Bernadina has been in the past week, Ankiel has been worse. Coming back from injury or not, he should be doing nothing more than providing the random night off to Roger.
For all the complaints about Riggleman, at least he is not overworking the bullpen. It's strange as someone who follows the Nats to look at an "Appearances" leaderboard and see the top Nat listed as tied for 14th.