The Nats shouldn't have had to escape Cincinnati with a win. But they did have to, and they did do it. Teams stumble during a season. You'd like it to be explainable but it's often not. For example, I pointed out this weekend that the Cubs have only lost 4 series this year. The most recent one, SF in SF is easily explainable, but the others are MIL (@ MIL) and COL and SDP at Wrigley. None of these teams are better than 5 under .500 and yet they all have a series win versus the Cubs to point to.
So the Nats lost a series to Cincinnati, big deal. The point isn't the individual series but the general trend. What's the general trend? Still positive, but teetering. Going into this 9 game road trip you'd probably have aimed for 5/6 wins. The Nats are much better than the Phillies* and the Reds and normal better than the White Sox**. They should win all the series but a slip-up in one, probably the White Sox one, would be acceptable.Given that outlook the Nats only need a single win at Comiskey. However, it's hard to feel good about 5 wins when you start the road trip with a sweep.
The macro view of the road trip doesn't change. Five wins is still be good. But the micro view does amend itself after the sweep. If the Nats don't win this series, it would again feel like the Nats have stalled out when they should be starting to really thrive.
On Trea? Looked good that first game. Looked ready to get a run playing in the majors. But it's not to be. Why? Ask Rizzo, not me. Best guess is they want him playing everyday but have no current plan to sit Espinosa. It's going to take an injury or Espy flailing for a couple weeks to get this guy up and starting everyday.
Strasburg was fine, but didn't win. Ok. Roark was bad but he had been good three games in a row and bad games happen. Ok. Gio though... this is three straight games for Gio where he had a poor outing. I noted about the time this started that Gio had feasted on bad hitting teams (ATL, PHI, MIN, KC, MIA, NYM) and had bombed against the only good offense he faced. If the rotation holds he'll get the White Sox and the Padres in 2 of the next 3 (Cubs in between) and they are below average offenses so hopefully he'll put together some good outings.
Felipe Rivero is floundering. Is it because of overwork? I think so. He's appeared in the 2nd most games in baseball. Last year he appeared in 57 games. He's already appeared in 29 this year and we're little more than a third through the year. I like riding former starters as relievers hard but Rivero made the switch at a young age and after injury. I'm not as inclined to believe he ever built up that arm strength.
If you're looking at a silver lining to the above note - Sammy Solis has pitched well recently. So there's potential just to keep him up and let Rivero work/rest in AAA for a few weeks.
The Nats are not exactly hitting well right now. Ramos, ZNN, and Bryce are the ones hitting over .300 the past week, but Zimm's been out and Bryce has been sitting so both of them have few enough at bats that one hit taken away puts them into "not hitting" So really only Ramos is doing real well. However the Nats ARE hitting home runs. Espinosa three hits in past week - 3 homers. Werth 3 hits past week - 2 homers. Muprhy cooling down - but 2 homers. Drew - barely comes up - hits a homer. This is helping to keep the runs coming in even as the team stops getting on base. Spin it positively : Good teams do stuff like this, have one thing compensate when another thing fails.
*Finally things are catching up with the lucky Phillies. 4-12 in their last 16. With the Cubs and Nats coming up could easily end up being a 4-18/5-17 run.
** Who themselves are 6-18 in their last 24 but they are a solid .500 ish team. 12 of those games were one-run affairs and they went 4-8 in them.