The Nats have played 18 games, or 1/9th of the season. While we wait patiently for the big away trip coming up (just win the Phillies series) to see exactly where we should rank the Nats on the list of NL teams (right now - probably a tentative runaway 2nd), are there any other things we can watch for?
Is Ramos for real? He's cut his K-rate down from last years career high of 20% to 12.5%. His swinging strike rate is at an all-time low (7.8%) It seems too like he's more discerning as his swings at pitches outside the zone are at an all-time low too (26.6%) On the other hand he's not walking anymore - in fact that's a career low too (1.7%), and pitchers are challenging him in the zone. He's seen more pitches in the zone than he ever has, and that could explain some of the above. He's also not necessarily hitting the ball harder according to his LD% and speed of the ball off the bat. So is he a more discerning hitter able to make more contact? Or are other teams just daring him to beat them and for now he's getting lucky with balls dropping in?
Has Werth turned a corner? Someone else has to hit in this lineup. Sure they scored 8 and 6 runs versus the Twins but that 6 was in almost 2 games worth of innings. In the last 8 games they've scored 3 or fewer 5 times. Werth has hit three homers in the past 2 weeks, and has gotten on base 6 times in the last 4 games, only striking out 3 times. Given that Rendon and Zimm have yet to really show anything, Werth may be the best chance right now at getting another bat going and maybe getting some consistent output from the offense.
Can Danny get his power back? Danny's offensive worth was never in batting average so a ~.200 BA you may be able to live with. But to do that you need him to be patient and have pop. Espinosa isn't actually hitting that bad, or at least he shouldn't be. He's striking out a lot less (still a lot but a lot less too) and walking a lot more which is helpful. But he's hitting a ton of flyballs... which are all staying in the park. No homers yet this year. If he can't start getting a couple of those to go over the fence Trea Turner can tell the moving trucks the exact date he'll need them.
Is Max ok? As we noted last time he seems to be a little off. The walks are explainable - that's probably who he is more than last year's control master. But he's been a little too hittable, given up a few too many homers. A bad game from any other Nats starter would be a throw away - Ross, Stras, Gio it's going to happen at some point. Roark - well jury's still out but it's not a surprise. But a bad game again for Max and the worry continues to grow. It's not really a worry about 2016 either - as the Nats look strong rotationally and should be able to weather an off-year from Scherzer. But it is a worry for the future as Max is here for years and was expected to help cement the rotation with Giolito and now Ross.
Is this already the end for MAT? He's still not hitting. He's still striking out a ton. And Chris Heisey seems perfectly decent to play the few games between now and whenever Revere comes back. Does Taylor get shifted to the bench?