1) When will all the guys come back from injury and is that even a good thing?
I think I agree completely with you guys. Span Strasburg and Rendon? Yes good. Zimm & Werth? ehhhh. But we are completely being led by what we've seen so far this year. The guys who did good will keep doing good! The guys who didn't won't! I think we all understand too, that if these guys are healthy enough to play they are playing everyday, damn the results.
One by one, if I want to be more soulless I'd say this:
Werth's injury is the most likely to keep affecting him into the season. We saw what happened to him and what happens to others with wrist injuries. They have no power. So the best we can hope for is a rehash of the 2nd half of 2012 where he hit .300 but had no pop. Of course that Werth was a 33 yr old, not a 36 yr old coming off of shoulder surgery so even an empty .300 might be too much to ask for. .270 with a lot of walks? I worry about his comeback most of all.
With Zimm's injury it usually is an issue or it isn't. It's a light switch. As long as the Nats don't force Zimm back he'll probably be a useful bat. Thing is I think Zimm and the Nats both want him back sooner rather than later so a forcing back is completely possible. We have to wait to see how he's hitting when he's rehabbing. If he looks good I'm enthused. If not, I put him in the Werth category.
Rendon may have issues with pop all year long. There's just too many separate issues (knee, oblique, quad) that he's trying to overcome. That's ok, he's young and showed he can still be a useful bat and I don't see the quad making things any different than they were at the plate. What I do worry about with the quad is re-injury. Unlike the knee or oblique the quad is tested every time he sprints or quickly changes direction. Given that he can't compensate for the quad by putting stress on other places because everything is recovering, I'm going to be on pins and needles from the moment he comes back. But I don't worry about his usefulness
Span is a bit less concerning than Rendon because the long-term injury history isn't there but in the past 7 months the guy had a sports hernia, hurt his abdomen, his knee, and his back. I think he needs extended time off. I think he should be fine when coming back though. I do note the power loss because while you can have low power, you can't have no power, or else you are putting a lot in the hands of BABIP luck. But I think it's injury related so I think he'll be back to normal. I think.
Strasburg - I think both sides are being overly careful. I think he'll come back and be fine and if it was late September he'd be pitching.
2) In the meantime, and after that, what to do about Desmond?
In the meantime nothing. He plays straight through September if that's what injuries dictate. Does Turner come up September 1st? If Ian is still this bad and Rendon is still out and Turner is killing AAA then yes. Any of those not taking place then no, sorry. I think both Turner and Giolito are May next year guys for the sake of the extra year of control. I think Difo, Cole and Ross all got calls because Rizzo saw them coming up this year anyway.
Ok now what if Rendon comes back in a week or two? I'd hate to be the one to make that decision. I feel like he has to sit but a lot of that is based on how Danny and Yuney are doing and how Danny and Yuney are doing is a bit of a mirage. We've talked about Yuney's BABIP luck but if he were simply having the best BABIP he ever had outside his rookie year his line would be more like .285 / .333 / .390. Better than Ian, yes but not a guy you have to have in the line-up. Not to mention his 3B defense has been nothing special. Danny on the other hand has spent the past month quietly reverting to more typical Danny. Lot more K's. Average around .220. If not for that timely 3 run homer vs Baltimore I think we'd be looking at him a lot more critically right now.
So I don't like Danny and Yuney in the long run, but Ian is really forcing our hands. There isn't a good decision but if Rendon is ready early and Ian isn't hitting, he kind of has to sit.
3) Any improvement to the bench?
I don't see it. Though let me tell you how god-awful Dan Uggla is. In the last month we're all crazy about how bad Ian is. Ian has hit .169 / .218 / .282. Uggla has hit .174 / .296 / .174. Since hitting that homer against the Braves, Dan Uggla, a guy brought in to perhaps provide pop off the bench has had 2 XBH. TWO! No homers! He can't field! He doesn't run! He's kept his head above water by taking a few walks but come on.
Anyway, I don't see Rizzo doing something here because of what I said. Guys will get healthy and when that happens the bench improves. Also he probably can't get anything he wants cheap or with control.
4) What about the pen?
OK I do see something done about the pen, which I guess is good since most of you want the pen addressed and not the bench. But I don't see a Chapman type that'll cost an arm and a leg. Instead I see them trying to get a Carson Smith or Brandon Maurer type. Someone under control for a few years, who might not cost as much (in dollars or prospects) but could easily slide into the closer role in a post-Storen world.
Not happy about my bench/pen predictions? Sorry. I don't think the Lerners want to add salary and I don't think Rizzo wants to trade prospects for rentals. If Rizzo can't get a guy he likes long term or if he can't just pick up someone he might like for next to nothing (say... Aaron Hill if the D-backs eat almost all his salary) then I don't see any movement. Not with the team in leading the division. Talk to me again if the Mets blow them out 5 of 6.
5) Can the rotation keep it up?
Depends what you mean. If you are asking if they can still be really good, yes. Definitely. I'll admit I like Scherzer to slow down a bit. I think he's overly control focused now, if that's a thing and as the season wears on him, his goal of not missing the strike zone is going to turn into not missing bats... on a very minor level. You've seen it recently in late innings. That'll expand as he gets tired. Nothing crazy here. He'll still be really, really good. I'm just thinking he might fall to like 3rd or 4th in the Cy Young race. ZNN I trust in. I already said I like Stras to be fine. Gio or Fister might falter down the stretch but not both.
Now can it carry the team... I don't think so. Not carry. Maybe they have one more two rotation turn go around like they had earlier but putting in a month or more like that? I'm not going to bet on that. They'll be the strength, the rock the team relies on. Alone they can keep them around .500 and if the Mets don't push that'll be enough. But alone make the Nats special? I don't see it.
6) Are the Mets legit threat or not?
If they get a bat, yes. If not, no. That's my opinion. While I said I don't think the Nats rotation can carry them, I do think DeGrom, Harvey and Syndergaard could carry a Mets team with an average-ish offense. They don't have that. They have two injured arms in Wheeler and Matz that could be dealt but they questions are the same one the Nats face - Will they take on salary? Will they trade the future for now? It's getting late in the year so if they don't do it soon, I don't see them doing it at all. There's only so much even the right trade can bring you with only 60 games left.