Since I was gone all week (Salt Lake City for work if you must know) I've accumulated some thoughts that I wasn't able to talk about. Why not force all those thoughts down at once? A thought buffet to pick at over the entire weekend?
Nats falling to 2nd - Like erasing the correct answer and putting down the wrong one, I called it and then I didn't. On May 18th I wrote "the Nats taking the lead soon, losing it again, then having a back and forth before finally pulling away around the 4th (of July)". But then when they Nats went ahead and took the lead when I thought they should be slower to do so I went ahead and called the season.
Of course I can see an obvious reason I was wrong; injuries but hey that's the risk you take making any sports prediction.
Are the injuries/falling to 2nd a big deal? I don't think so, I just think it reverts back to my original thoughts. The Nats should bounce around with the Mets for a while but their easier schedule going into the All-Star break on should provide the break they need to put distance between them and the Mets.
But the Nats last year... - Someone, I think it was Wagner tweeted that you should basically not worry about the Nats because last year they were worse at this time and they were fine. I noted that the year before that they were better than in 2014 and things didn't turn out right. The point wasn't "you should be worried this could be 2013 all over again" but "take each year individually". 2015 isn't 2014 but it isn't 2013 either. They lack the bats they had last year to put up that half of the season long streak they put up last year. LaRoche is gone. Zimm isn't Zimm last year. Werth isn't Werth last year. BUT at the same time there are no 2013 Braves lurking to take the division and they have, with Max, an ace pitching like one which they didn't in 2013 (Stras, ZNN, and Gio all took steps back from great years to very good that year). BUT this year finally SP injuries are happening to a team that had been cannily and luckily avoiding them since 2012.
Take each year as it is. This one so far has seen a hobbled and bumbling Nats team unable to get themselves away from the WC-ish area of the league where it happens that the Mets reside.
Bryce v Trout - Just to follow up Bryce finish May .360 / .495 / .884 which bests any month Trout has had but doesn't quite top his .500 OBP for a month.
If you think he's slumping, he's not. He's hitting .357 / .438 / .500 in June which is great. It's just not team carrying like his May was.
Offense slowing - Told ya. Even with this terrible slump the Nats overall for the season are 4th in RS in the NL and the rank is a fair indicator of their overall success. Yes, Bryce got so hot that even with just one or two other Nats hitting well (Span and Espy with Yuney providing some singles and Ian providing some pop) that the May numbers were crazy. But you can't just write it off. Perhaps that can happen again. But in general beware rankings talk. Or at least look into it. A favorite of some people is to note the Nats were 3rd in RS in the NL last year. True! But the use of rankings makes us assume equadistance between steps. In other words, they should be as close to 2nd as 4th, as close to 1st as 5th. It's just the way the mind works. But it isn't like that usually and in fact in 2014 the Nats were as close to 2nd as they were to 6th. As close to 1st as they were to 8th. They were far more "second tier" than "top". 2013 was similar. 6th in the NL but as close to 5th as 10th. They've been deceptively ending up at the top of bunches such that rankings make them seem better than if you look at the raw numbers.
This year numbers are fair (right now). about as close to 3rd as 5th, 2nd as 6th. So 4th is about right. Now is that fair to expect for a season? For every 35 games that are cold are the Nats going to have 20 games that are blistering hot? Maybe? But I'm guessing it won't play out that way.
Rendon back - Yay! If you are curious Rendon was out 85 days after the initial diagnosis of "day to day" I like what I saw of Rendon last night. Line drives, good at bats, so I don't have any real worry he'll perform ok. My real worries are all about re-injury. If he's ok and Bryce keeps being 2015 Bryce the offense will be ok enough regardless of if Zimm/Werth are never going to be right this season and if Yuney's magic singly tour comes to an end (BABIP some GB% increase, but mostly luck)
Bullpen thoughts - Get someone else. Forget the fact no one has succeeded enough to set roles. The facts are that no one has been good enough (outside of Storen and Thornton) so far this year to do so. The team and fans have tried to spin it but you can't say things like "it's ok that he was crappy this game because he was good for 3 games before that". A 25% failure rate for a reliever is a no go because bad leads to loss with far more certainty than good leads to win with relievers. You have one inning. You do your job you help out the team a little, you don't you hurt it a lot.
Strasburg - It's ok to say Stras is unlikable and not living up to his potential therefore I don't want him pitching for the Nats. Sports is entertainment and if someone is not entertaining you because of the way he comes across it's fine to want to watch something else. But please please please don't go from "He's bad at entertaining me" to "He's bad at pitching" because before this injury he most certainly was not bad at pitching.
If he actually couldn't handle pressure, or let things effect him than sure that would matter, but the fact is there is no data that backs it up. For example, there isn't data that backs up he pitches noticeably worse after errors (though a cluster at the beginning of ... was it last year? is what sticks in your head). Don't be fooled by appearances into thinking he's bad, but also don't let someone tell you that you have to like him either.
Anything else I'm missing?