Two days ago the Mets tried to make the game a blowout. In the last 4 innings they walked the Nats 8 times, including 6 times in the 6th and 7th innings. Yet the Nats only managed 1 run during those two innings and 3 in the last 4. Yesterday it took the Nats extra innings to get to 3 runs, and they didn't even drive in the final run. Part of it is a run of bad luck with RISP, but part of it is the fact that without Morse you are going to have some combination of DeRosa/Nady/Carroll/Ankiel hitting between the 5th and the 7th spot (why the catcher must bat 8th in Davey's lineups is anyone's guess). It's not a lineup conducive to scoring runs. So the question we usually ask is can the pitching hold down scoring enough for the Nats to make the playoffs. That might be the wrong question. Maybe we should be asking if everyone else's offense is even worse.
This isn't your twin brother's who happened to come out first National League. In 2006 NL teams were scoring 4.76 runs a game. It's steadily decreased from then; 4.71 in 2007, 4.54, 4.43, 4.33, and finally 4.13 last year. The NL league average is under 4 right now. I know it's very early but it fits with a recent trend. What if the average run scoring doesn't top much past 4 this year? Prince left. Pujols left. The best guy the NL got in return was Michael Cuddyer. Howard and Utley are down. David Wright's been hurt. Brandon Phillips (both timing nicely for the Nats). Buerhle came over. Papelbon. Gio. Assuming the pitching holds up (and it looks damn good right now) all the Nats really have to be is average for the league they are in. It's all about context.
Here are the NL East early season breakdown for R/G:
Again it's WAY early, and one big game or shutout can throw this all out of whack, but it feels telling that the Nats - who seem to be struggling to score runs - actually have the most productive offense in the NL East right now. I've said early on that things are actually going well for the Nats. Outside of the 2 OF spots you can't complain about the performances they've received at the plate. Even Zimm and Espy, who aren't hitting well, are getting on base. So things might get worse, but even then - there's still room to fall. Maybe by simply treading water without Morse, maintaining the level of offense they had last year, the Nats will become average because the rest of the NL will regress around them. Average with a great pitching staff would be enough and it does look like a great pitching staff.