Well that was an inauspicious beginning to the WC hunt, wasn't it? Nats lose. Reds win. D-Backs win.
Another game, another wasted pitching effort. Here is what Strasburg and Gio have had to put up with this year. The Nats have scored 2 or fewer runs in ten of Gio's starts. That's about right considering they've done this over fifty times this year, but they've scored 0 or 1 run in eight of those ten. Strasburg has been given 2 or fewer runs fifteen times this year.
Gio has had some games go in his favor and his run support is actually ok. Strasburg on the other hand has the 2nd worst run support in the majors and in 22 starts the Nats have scored more than 3 runs for him only four times. Ugh.
Some are focusing on the RISP slumps but those are going to happen. Here are some stats for you
Nats 2013 : .241 / .300 / .385
Nats 2013 RISP : .237 / .320 / .368
It's really not that much different. It's not that the Nats can't hit with RISP, it's that the Nats can't hit.
Think about it. If you're team is hitting .241 with a .385 slugging, getting two hits with RISP in eight tries and having one be an XBH is performing sightly above expectations.Let's not forget with that slash line, what exactly are the chances of you getting 8 runners in scoring position anyway?
We all think that this offense should be good enough. So what's the problem? Well, one problem is this offense isn't hitting together enough. Suzuki comes in for Ramos? Big drop. Tracy comes in for LaRoche? Big drop even though LaRoche hasn't hit well. Lombardozzi comes in for anyone? Big drop. The Nats lineup is not strong enough to absorb hitters who are as bad as the Nats bench has been.
Since Ramos came back, when the Nats have had the expected line-up (Ramos, LaRoche, Rendon, Desmond, Zimmerman, Werth, Bryce, and either Span or Hairston depending) the Nats are averging 4.5 runs a game in14 outings. That's good. Take out the 14 run game and they still are averaging 3.8 runs a game which isn't good but it's in the general vicinity of all the other below average teams. When they have to sub anyone in, which has happened 15 times, that average drops to 3.06 runs a game. That's "put away the bats and hope to HBP your way to a win" terrible.
What should the Nats do? Forget mixing things up and do exactly what you think you should. Start the base 7 every game. Start Ramos as much as you can, three out of every four games, four out of every five. Platoon Hairston and Span to take advantage of Hairston's lefty mashing. Keep doing this over and over. If you have to rest a good player and put in a bench guy, do it on a Suzuki day. Don't spread out the pain. It may not make the Nats a good offense, but it will keep them from being an awful one for the rest of the year.