Other than you should not have sing-alongs to the Dave Matthews Band lest you tempt my wrath.
1) Gio Gonzalez is also having non-ignorable problems. Hidden behind the "There's something wrong with Strasburg" and "Where did ZNN's fastball go?" lies "Gio is having problems, too.". Stras' issues seem fixable to some degree because Stras in likely injured (in my mind at least). ZNN's you can sort of wash your hands at because he is almost certainly gone next year. But Gio? Gio is a guy you were hoping to have on the cheap through 2018 and his problems seem like the dreaded "steady decline".
His WHIP is way up - part of that is BABIP (now .387, isn't going to last) as I noted a couple days ago - but part of that is how he's pitching now. He used to be a FB guy. If you can get them to hit flyballs but not homers (and Gio has done that since 2010) you get a lot of outs. This year he's given up way more GBs (58.2% when his career average is 47.1%). GBs go for hits more often than flyballs. Strikeouts are a bit down, walks a bit up. Maybe he's going through a mid-career conversion to a crafty lefty... but I doubt it. Crafty lefties tend to have great control. That's not Gio.
I'm not crying DOOM here but part of the "dominant Nats scenario" was having 5 starters who would be another teams #1 or #2. The original three are all failing at that right now and given Gio and Stras' importance for the next few years, there's a lot of pressure on the now.
2) It's nice to have an actually good 4th OF. Remember when they sent down Michael Taylor because Mike Rizzo loves the vete.... I mean Taylor needed daily at bats? Yeah that was stupid. We said it then, I say it now, Taylor belongs in the majors spot starting, covering for Werth on D late in games, and otherwise filling in for the Nats OF crew. He's a possible starter now, which means he's the perfect fourth outfielder on a team that fancies itself a championship favorite. Or do you still favor Clint Robinson (.205 / .244 / .282), Reed Johnson (.222 / .263 / .278), or Tyler Moore (.207 / .281 / .448)*?
Now can the Nats find and will they pay to get the IF equivalent? Or will they just hope Espinosa and Escobar are still hitting real well when (if?) Rendon comes back? (forget about the C equivalent - Lobaton is fine, not THIS good certainly, but as fine as you'll get for a back-up catcher)
3) They may be stretching out Roark. He was a late inning guy for a few weeks and seemed to be getting the hang of it. Yesterday they had him throw almost 2 full innings. My gut says they expect Stras to land on the DL and Roark will take his place. Of course as we talked about before that leaves a late inning hole in the pen. The Nats tried to fill it with Barrett. Didn't work. They don't have another dominant arm in the pen so we're looking at musical chairs if what we think is going to happen happens. It won't be pretty but hopefully the Nats can keep up the decent offense and make late inning hiccups nothing to worry about.
4) The Nats are almost over the hump. The Mets lead is down to 1.5 games. They've played poorly (but not like an exact inverse of their start) and the Nats have played great. But here comes the real test.
NYM : 1game v CHC, MIL, STL, @PIT, PHI, MIA, @SD, @ARI, SFG
WAS : @SD, NYY, PHI, @CHC, @CIN, TOR, CHC, @NYY
The Mets play 8 games versus teams currently over .500 over the next rough month. The Nats play 15. It's probably true that Pittsburgh (who the Mets play but Nats don't) is better than their .500 record, but it's also probably true that SF (ditto) is probably worse - giving the Mets some more easy games. MIL, PHI, MIA (imo), ARI, SFG are all should win series for the Mets. PHI and maybe TOR are should win series for the Nats.
What's it all mean? Here's the deal. The Nats have done exactly what they needed to, beating the Mets in the head to head series and fattening up on NL East teams and a bad Arizona team. In turn they've watched their rival, the Mets, flounder against a harder schedule. That's basically how the Mets climbed to the top in the first place. For the Nats now the goal is simply not to lose a lot of ground. This may be their hardest extended schedule stretch of the year. This may be the Mets easiest. If the Nats hang around the Mets and come out the other side only a couple games out then you have to really, really like the Nats chances to overtake the Mets for good sometime well before the season is through. (there are schedule chunks right before the All-Star break, in mid August, and mid Sept where I like the Nats to gain ground, Mets have shorter chucks where I like them an the beginning and end of August)
In turn if the Nats lose a lot of ground, well then it will doubtfully be enough to panic (one of these two teams would have to go on a 10-0/0-10 ish run to do that), but it will likely make the climb season long.
*Yes Tyler Moore hit a home run. Anyone who's read this blog for a couple weeks knows I don't like Tyler Moore. But if you've read it for at least a few months you know I admit that he will probably hit some homers if you give him enough at bats. But he brings nothing else to the table. He is not patient. He will not hit for average. He does not run well. He does not field well. The Nats are good but they cannot afford such a one-dimensional player on the team. Really they need to complement Michael Taylor and since he can field, run, hit for decent enough average and power - they need a patient bat or a contact bat. Preferably lefty. Again this is not Moore, not close.