Coming into 2015, the Washington Nationals were the one team that nearly everyone thought was going to make the playoffs. They were in a so called “weak” NL East division and they were far and away better than their divisional counterparts.
Thus far in 2015, however, it has not been the Nationals team we expected at all.
They went out and signed ace Max Scherzer and in the beginning of the season, he was looking like the indisputable winner of the NL Cy Young. In addition to Scherzer, Bryce Harper was having one of the best seasons in the Majors and things were looking good in the nation’s capital.
The Nationals were battling through some injury problems, but it looked like they were staying afloat and could win their division with ease.
Before the All Star break, Washington was leading the East and things were seemingly looking up for this team. After the break, this team has been falling, and falling fast. They hold a record of 14-22 since the Midsummer Classic and they have lost their division lead to the New York Mets, currently one of the hottest teams in baseball.
Part of the problem might be that they haven’t had their projected Opening Day lineup take the field together this season until last night. They’ve battled through the injuries of Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth, Anthony Rendon, Stephen Strasburg and Denard Span. It took 124 games, but when Span was activated prior to last night’s game, the Nationals finally played with their full projected lineup.
They now hold a record of 63-61 coming into Wednesday August 26th and find themselves 5.5 games behind the division-leading Mets. In the Wild Card, they are fluctuating around 10 games out which is a race being dominated by the Cubs and Pirates.
You have to ask the question now; is it getting late, early for the Nationals?
The only move they made at the trade deadline was to acquire Jonathan Papelbon from the Phillies which took Drew Storen out of the closer’s role. Since that move, Storen has had problems as the eighth-inning guy and that has been one of the major issues for Washington.
If they are going to get this thing turned around it needs to happen very quickly. The Mets don’t seem like they are slowing down, and the wild card is too far out to reach.
August has been their worst month of the year as they are 8-14 so far after coming off of a July that wasn’t too much better.
The Nationals have some big series coming up as they still have six games left with the Mets, but other than that, they only play two other teams with a winning record, the Cardinals. Taking advantage of those games against the lesser teams is extremely important and something they have to do in order to get back to the postseason.
A lot of this blame will be put on manager Matt Williams if they can’t get it done, which means that he could be coaching for his job if they can’t reach the postseason. The Nationals have the players in place, but in the end, it will come down to them getting the job done and being able to close games out.
With their full healthy starting lineup back in place, don’t be surprised if Washington starts to get hot with a favorable schedule down the stretch.