Strasburg is dealing with a moving target right now. Remember how it was the first inning that was Strasburg's issue? Then that cleared up so everyone moved onto first batter of an inning? And that wasn't an issue yesterday so it is now composure after an error is made? I'm going to guess next start, he loses 3-2, he's fine after two errors are made but he gives up 2 homeruns so now THAT'S the issue with him.
Everyone expects him to be great so if he's good, that's not good enough, and if he's not good like on Saturday, it's the most terrible thing in the world. It's unfair. It's also the life of an ace pitcher. He reminds me a lot of Zack Greinke. Zack had a breakout year in 2009, and since 2010 he's been the 8th most valuable pitcher in regards to WAR. We can quibble about one thing or another but he's pitched like a #1 but thanks to a little bad luck, a couple bad teams, and an attitude that doesn't mesh with what we expect from our ballplayers he's not seen in the same light as some of his contemporaries (at least by the fans).
Strasburg didn't sign a big contract. He's not the veteran arm. He's not the only young important player struggling. Yet he's the guy getting singled out. You want to be the best this is how you are going to get treated.
Part of me thinks though this is a smokescreen to cover up the fact that even though they are in the worst division in baseball the Nats still are only 3 games over .500. That's right worst division in baseball. Oh ok, the AL West is giving them a run for their money but here is how each place team ranks by winning percentage against their counterparts in other divisions.
Braves .568 - 6th out of 6
Nats .541 - 5th out of 6
Phillies .462 - 6th out of 6
Mets .412 - 5th out of 6
Marlins .289 - 5th out of 6
The Marlins might be the worst team in the majors. The Mets pitching behind Matt Harvey is terrible (their 2nd best starter has a 4.63 ERA). The Phillies offense looks every bit as old as you expected. And the Braves offense has moved past the crazy Justin Upton start but is not yet over the terrible BJ Upton one.
And yet here the Nats are, presumptive 100 win team and World Series favorite, just better than middling. Thank god for the AL Central (5-0 vs Sox and Tigers), am I right?
The Nats have scored 2 or fewer runs in 18 of 37 games. 18! The only team worse is the Marlins. You don't win those games. It's not one thing its everything. Some of it is timing. Bryce is super hot? LaRoche can't hit. LaRoche starts hitting? Bryce slumps (really - .107 / .235 / .214 over the past 2 weeks - that's how hot he was that his stats still look good). Some of it is injuries. They had injuries last year, but the bench has gone from best to worst. Werth is presumably slowed again by injuries, bad since mid April and now out. Some of it is just bad hitting. Danny still hasn't found his stride and Span and Suzuki have been just as bad for roughly a month, cooling down fast after hot starts.
The short answer though is they don't walk enough not to hit. When they don't hit they don't get on base and when they hit the occasional XBH (their power is still ok) there's no one on base to come home. They are perfectly ok with RISP (6th in the NL in OPS) but they never get the chance to have these at bats (dead last in the NL in PAs with RISP). The team needs to start hitting better because they don't have the type of player that will work a lot of walks, nor do they inclination to teach patience.
7-3 for May which is still good but it's also exactly where I pegged them to be, except they'd be coming off a sweep of the Cubs. Predicted 6-4 for this away trip. Let's see what happens. A few quick losses and this could get ugly fast.