Hey everyone! Series win! Like I said last time and on twitter after Friday's game, I'm not going to make pronouncements after any one loss. The Nats are going to lose games. The Nats are going to lose games to teams they are better than. That's just baseball. They key is to keep winning series. They lost the first game, won the next two, series win. Mission accomplished. Now the next mission starts.
The best thing to come out of the weekend beyond the wins was the play of Werth and Rendon. Werth was 4-11, with a double and 2 walks. Rendon was 3-9 with 4 walks, a double, and 2 homeruns. Are they back? Hard to say after one non-Rockies series but I think you can start asking the question, which is a positive. We'll see if the good hitting continues in this series and/or next before judgments are made.
The Nats didn't pick up ground on the Mets thanks to the Rockies being terrible. In fact despite going a very nice 4-2 in the past week the Nats actually lost half a game in the standings. Again, this is the hole the Nats dug for themselves. Simply playing well will not be enough. They have to hold their own in the remaining head to head games and be consistently better in the rest; or they have to dominate the head to head games and be no worse than the Mets in the rest. That's what they have to do. There isn't room for the Nats to either play consistently worse than the Mets or to lose more of the head to head games than they win. It won't work that way.
Mets are at the Phillies, Nats are hosting the Padres. Both those teams are playing a little better recently.
I wrote something over the weekend for Vice Sports about the Nats. You can read it here. Pay no attention to the factual error at the start (it wasn't me! really!)
The crux of the whole Nats not meeting their expectations thing is that a team is a series of defenses. Offensively first the starters have to fail, then the bench does, then you have to be able to fail to upgrade. On the mound first the rotation and a couple key relievers have to fail, then the middle inning guys, then the manager, then again you have to fail to upgrade. Usually these defenses are more likely to fail the deeper you get. That's the way it was for the Nats, that's the way it is for most teams. Fiscally it just makes sense to put more money in those first lines of defense.
What made the Nats different is (1) offensively because of big injury issues, that first line of defense was fairly likely to fail*, (2) we had real questions about Williams' ability to work a bad pen situation, and (3) there was a strong likelihood of having difficulty upgrading due to likely financial constraints. If the rotation, for some reason, didn't live up to it's billing (and arguably starting pitching is pretty variable in itself) then things could get very bad very easily. That's what happened.
Lesson to be learned : really pay attention to injury concerns. Regression to means and regressions due to age are real things but they generally follow a slow curve. Injuries can take a player from sixty to zero in no time flat. That type of season changing event should not be taken lightly, even if the team is telling you it's not an issue. Never believe the team.
*Especially for a 95+ win team.