Did the Nats play? I suppose they did but for two games at least it didn't seem like it. Zimmerman, who's bat was so key to the pre-Mets surge, still hasn't played since the last game of the ATL series and at this point why bother? Bryce had to come out of the last game and unless he's 100% you don't trot him back out there. For some reason they trotted Joe Ross out for the 6th on Saturday. It was his first time on the mound since his last start. I'd shut him down at this point but I suppose if you want to wind him down by pitching an inning or two every few games that's ok, he's just under 150 IP this season.
Why isn't Taylor starting? Or Cole or Jordan getting a start? They should. Over the past weekend the Nats' "chances" went from merely historic to needing possibly the greatest comeback in the history of sport. The series loss to Miami while the Mets swept now tied for worst in the majors Atlanta (Oh so THAT'S why the Nats swept) have the Nats now 9 1/2 out with 20 to play. Even for teams who like to play seasons until the buzzer sounds so to speak, that's gotta be a breaking point, no? If that isn't enough in of itself, the Nats play PHI (twice), MIA, BAL, ATL and a one-gamer vs Cincinnati*. None of those teams are near playoff contention so it doubly doesn't matter who's playing right now. Everyone gets rest all the time from here on out. You can start everyone again in the last series of the season against the Mets where HFA for the Mets/Dodgers series may be decided (we'll have to see where that stands).
This weekend Boz wrote a column about how Matt Williams would be more of a scapegoat that anything if he ends up getting fired. While the first half of his premise, "Look how good the team did last year!" is nonsense**, the second half "It really isn't his fault this team is around .500" isn't. Matt Williams is just one thing wrong with this season, and not even a big thing. He's easily replaceable though, so if you don't think he's a big time manager there really isn't a reason to keep him on. Unless...
Unless you rebuild. I mean you gut this team and start over. Rizzo is trying to bridge the gap between the current window and what I imagine he sees as the Bryce/Rendon/Max/Giolito window where the mass talent exodus (Ian, ZNN, Fister, Span, Thornton this year; Papelbon, Strasburg, Storen, Ramos, Stammen - and maybe Yuney and Gio, next) will be countered with savvy signings and potentially a trade or two to keep the Nats in the playoff hunt without interruption. If this is the case, you kind of have to fire Matt because he's been at his worst in pressure situations and you are forseeing more of them in the near future. But if you scrap the slow leak / slow fix plan and instead let all the air out at once, maybe you keep Williams. If you not only let those guys who could leave go, but you trade the talent leaving in 2016, you could reap in a very nice package of young players. Stras and Ramos? Gio and Papelbon and the renewed Escobar? Those are immediate big improvements for some teams.
This may not exactly work. Bryce, Rendon and Giolito should all be ok age wise but Max may age out during these years. But let's face it, neither may trying to bridge the gap. The only thing you know is a vague sense of how good the team on the field should be next year if healthy. (I'd peg the Nats around 88-90 if everyone leaves and no one replaces them) So, trading everyone is not a terrible idea. If you do go down this path then there wouldn't be a big reason to get rid of Matt Williams. He could absorb the losses (think Acta) and you could evaluate if he got any better over the course of a year or two. If not, when things are lining up you toss him to the curb. Easy Peasy. I know I said he should be fired but in this instance, I wouldn't be mad at the Nats at keeping the lug around for a year or two.
*That's a Monday 3:05 game that is SOOOOO tempting to drive up and go to because it is going to be ridiculously empty in the park.
**Basically he's saying if you hand Matt Williams a great team and have barely anything go wrong injury-wise or surprise drop in talent, that he'll win games. Yeah, ummm, I'm thinking that goes for pretty much everyone. You shouldn't get congratulations for not actively destroying greatness.