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Squandered opportunity

Aug 15, 2015, 6:00 AM EDT


The Mets had already lost in extra innings to the Pirates, cracking open the window ever so slightly for the Nationals to gain a game back in the standings. Max Scherzer was on the mound in San Francisco, handed a 1-0 lead before he ever took the mound. And the Nats would wind up adding four more runs in the fifth inning, including a gargantuan blast from Bryce Harper that felt like it had the potential to be a major momentum swing for this ballclub.

So how did all that turn into yet another squandered opportunity by the Nationals late Friday night, an 8-5 loss to the Giants that simply can be added to the list of head-scratching losses suffered by this team over the last 2-plus weeks?

It starts with the man on the mound, the ace who was supposed to rise to the occasion when his team needed him most but instead fell flat with his worst performance of the season.

Scherzer was given a 1-0 lead when he toed the rubber for the bottom of the first. By the time he walked back to the dugout at the end of the inning, he trailed 2-1, just as Stephen Strasburg did the previous night.

Except unlike Strasburg, who on Thursday kept the deficit at 2-1 and wound up battling his way to a quality start, Scherzer only poured more gasoline on the fire the longer he stayed out there. He surrendered four more runs in the bottom of the second via four doubles and a hit batter. Then, after manager Matt Williams gave him one last shot at a clean inning before ending his night, Scherzer served up a third-inning homer to Hunter Pence that made it 6-1 San Francisco.

This was a nightmare start for Scherzer, who couldn’t command his fastball at all, leaving a bunch right over the heart of the plate. But it also didn’t come out of nowhere.

Over his first 16 starts this season, which included the most-electric stretch of pitching in Nats history, Scherzer gave up a total of 24 earned runs. His ERA at that point was 1.82, his WHIP of 0.78 was challenging all-time records and he was striking out nearly 10 batters for every walk he issued.

Well, over his last eight starts, Scherzer has now given up 26 earned runs. His ERA during this stretch is 5.05, his WHIP a pedestrian 1.21.

What happened to the $210 million ace, the guy who had positioned himself as the early season Cy Young Award favorite? Did he burn himself out too soon with all those 8-plus-inning starts in June and early July? Can he not handle the workload down the stretch? Or is he simply dealing with a rough patch, just like basically everybody else on the roster?

The shame of Scherzer’s clunker is that his teammates were putting together a rally that sure seemed to have some potential for staying power. They manufactured a run in the top of the first on a walk, stolen base and two sacrifices. Then they got that huge blast from Harper, who took a flailing Matt Cain into the deepest part of AT&T Park to bring his team to within a run at 6-5 in the fifth inning.

That was Harper’s long-awaited 30th homer of the season, putting him in some exclusive company. He’s the sixth player in Nationals history to hit 30 in a season, finally crossing the threshold in Game No. 115. (For comparison’s sake, Alfonso Soriano did it in only 95 games in 2006 en route to his club record, 46-homer campaign.) Harper is the 37th player in history with a 30-homer season before his 23rd birthday, the first left-handed hitter that young to do it since Boog Powell in 1964.

The good vibes from Harper’s homer, though, didn’t last long. In keeping with a recurring theme, the Nationals bullpen was unable to keep the deficit at 1 run. Matt Thornton gave up the all-important insurance run in the sixth via a double, a hit batter and then a sharp grounder to first that left Ryan Zimmerman hesitating oh-so-slightly and thus unable to throw out the lead runner at the plate.

Add the extra run allowed by Jonathan Papelbon in the bottom of the eighth inning, and the Nationals bullpen has now been scored upon in 12 of its last 15 games. Yes, protecting a lead is important. So is maintaining a tie game into the late innings. But sometimes keeping a deficit to one run can make all the difference in the world. The Nats’ relief corps hasn’t exactly performed well in this department.

Then came some poor at-bats late when the Nationals were trying to mount a last-ditch rally against the Giants bullpen. Anthony Rendon, out of the lineup but called upon to pinch-hit in the eighth, put forth the kind of at-bat we rarely (if ever) saw from him last season. Facing San Francisco veteran right-hander Sergio Romo, Rendon struck out, not even coming close to making contact.

And so you end up with an 8-5 loss. There were several positive developments along the way, some of them wiped out by various events on the field.

In the end, though, this one falls on Max Scherzer’s shoulders. Give an ace a run before he takes the mound and five total runs of support in the game, and you expect a quality pitching performance.

Scherzer didn’t come close to pulling that off Friday night, and so the Nationals find themselves right where they started Friday morning: 4 1/2 games back in the NL East, owners of a 4-11 record over the last 15 days, not to mention a 58-57 overall record that surely can’t intimidate any potential opponent at this point.

107 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. tswphoto - Aug 15, 2015 at 6:57 AM

    I didn’t really see the game. Why did Williams PH Werth for Robinson? Robinson was 2 for 2 and hits lefties well. Werth doesn’t hit anyone well lately.

    • hummel26 - Aug 15, 2015 at 5:40 PM

      MW has a primitive understanding of match ups and stats, and is pretty rigid about roles. He gets hung up on left/right match ups, thinks you always put your speedster OF at leadoff (no matter what his OBP), and until recently, was inflexible about how he used his BP. He’s cost the Nats a few games, for certain.

      But I blame a lot of this on Rizzo. The rotation he constructed is the only area I don’t fault him. He hurt the bullpen when he traded Blevins and Clippard. He let his bench be conspicuously weak (especially after injuries put key bench players in the starting lineup–he didn’t adjust for this), and he took too long to realize that Werth and Span were barely going to be able to contribute this year (not sure he realizes it even now). He didn’t stock up on any insurance players, and the Nats were caught flat-footed when the massive holes opened up in the offensive lineup.

      Unless Werth and Rendon (I don’t think Span’s coming back in time) wake up their bats, the Nats have no chance, even if they make the post-season.

      With Scherzer regressing (did MW overwork him–maybe…he’s been on pace to break his career IP high), the BP back in flux with Storen’s last three disastrous outings, and the offense in a lasting funk, this Nats team is not going to meet expectations. Wish it weren’t so, but it’s true.

      The Mets aren’t that deep, though, and maybe Rendon will get hot….wishful thinking?

  2. Jfmii - Aug 15, 2015 at 7:33 AM

    What’s wrong with Max?

    • Another_Sam - Aug 15, 2015 at 7:45 AM

      Overworked during his hot streak and just after.

      • veejh - Aug 15, 2015 at 7:51 AM

        Running out of gas this early? Doesn’t seem right for a seasoned ace.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 15, 2015 at 10:14 AM

        He didn’t pitch well but made things worse through poor pitch selection.

        We watch our own players who are suckers for breaking pitches like Desi and MAT so why would you throw Maxwell a fastball in the zone in a 2 strike count when you get him with a slider?

        Where was this improved changeup?

        1st pitch changeup to Gregor Blanco and poor location?

    • veejh - Aug 15, 2015 at 7:48 AM

      Lost his mojo for sure. Just another issue to add to the pile of crap that is Natstown right now.

  3. Sam - Aug 15, 2015 at 8:07 AM

    Sure, let’s throw the reason the Nationals still have ac chance at winning the division under the bus for a couple of bad starts. Unbelievable…

    I am not confident in the Nationals’ ability to make the postseason this year, but I would never say a bad word about Scherzer. He kept us alive through the rough patches this team had when everyone was injured (Harper too, obviously). He’s on a cold streak currently, but he’ll bounce back. I just hope it’s not too late when he does.

    • Joe Seamhead - Aug 15, 2015 at 8:23 AM

      I think that he is actually trying too hard. He’s over throwing, and when you do that you develop serious command/control issues, not to mention it screws with your mechanics.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 15, 2015 at 10:29 AM

        You can overthrow when you are doing it to strategically to change speeds like a reachback fastball but you’re right, he’s overthrowing his fastball to get velo and is losing movement but his biggest issue is missing location.

        Scherzer threw a career high 132 innings in the 1st half, but it’s the games that he stayed in longer than necessary to prove to the world he could go deep in games. Leyland and Ausmus knew he could go deep in games but you must look at the big picture that baseball is 32 starts then you have the playoffs. Every extra inning you stay in its just not the pitch count but also the pitches between innings in warmup and then waiting to get iced down.

        There were some games early in the season that Scherzer begged to stay in that were meaningless and I immediately commented that it wasn’t a good idea. I was actually shocked that he would even ask. Know your body and arm.

        With Fister in the bullpen, it might be prudent to insert Fister for a spot start and allow Scherzer to skip a start and hope that helps.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Aug 15, 2015 at 11:09 AM

        Agree with much of what you’ve written, but also remember that some of the games in which Max Scherzer (and others) staying in for an extra inning (or two) were games in which the Nats bullpen was — to be generous — suspect.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 15, 2015 at 11:16 AM

        This bullpen is still suspect but I sure don’t blame Thornton for that run scoring and Papelbon was victimized by a swinging bunt and then his own failure to cover 1st on a bunt.

        I went thorough Scherzer’s log where he went 5 times longer than necessary.

      • therealjohnc - Aug 15, 2015 at 1:54 PM

        Of course, Scherzer was so efficient in the early going that, while his innings pitched was ahead of last year’s pace, he had actually thrown fewer pitches. So fatigue is the easy, facile answer but may not be correct.

      • texnat1 - Aug 15, 2015 at 3:52 PM

        He had several starts in a row well over 100 pitches, iirc including one at or above 120, which is widely regarded as a no no. As to the bullpen issue, that shouldn’t even be a consideration as early in the season as it was. You don’t risk a 210 million arm to increase the odds of winning a couple of games in May or June. Like ghost, I had no idea why he was being allowed to throw that many pitches at the time.

        But that sis, it could be that it has nothing to do with his current troubles. Who knows.

  4. Joe Seamhead - Aug 15, 2015 at 8:20 AM

    Max’s control and command looks like that of a guy with a tired arm. Hopefully he is not damaged goods already.

    Since Zimmerman got moved to 1B he has played remarkably well for a guy that never played the position at any level, but last night’s miscue was a one that was bound to happen eventually. That was one of those nuances that exposes a player that didn’t spend thousands of hours practicing/training to play that position. There are drills first basemen practice for those situations as to what sequence you execute to make that play.Yes, he’s a veteran, but he is still learning the fine art of playing 1B.

    Michael Taylor needs a break. But how do you give him one. I hate the idea of switching Harper to CF, even for one game. Sure, he could handle it, I just don’t like the idea. When Denard was playing CF I was adamantly opposed to pulling Taylor in LF to put Danny in the outfield. The situation has changed. But, though I’m sure Danny can catch ball/throw ball, I am not confident that he would play a smart outfield.

    I have come close to reaching the point of resignation with our lads. Hopefully they haven’t reached it themselves.

    • nats106 - Aug 15, 2015 at 8:25 AM

      Short bench is going to create the problem you refer to regarding Taylor, who does need a break. One of the so called Trolls has pointed that out and denDekker is wasting away in AAA.. Being short in the OF just doesn’t work at this level, and obviously re-tooling corner guys to the outfield at the age of 30 has its own series of issues.

    • zmunchkin - Aug 15, 2015 at 8:31 AM

      Or at least don’t put him in as the lead-off hitter. Put Jayson there as he is more selective.

      I just downloaded the gameday data for yesterday and looked at Taylors ABs:

      – He saw 21 pitches in 5 ABs
      – Of those 21 pitches, according to PitchFx, 15 were balls and 6 were strikes.
      – Of the 15 balls, 10 were fastballs, 4 were sliders and 1 was a curve. So the sliders and the curve might have looked like strikes.
      – He swung at 8 of those 15 balls: 4 swinging strikes, 3 fouls, 1 in play – out.

      I saw a clip where MW said part of the Nats problems is they were not aggressive enough with fastballs they could hit. I think MAT took his comments to heart and got way too aggressive.

      • nats106 - Aug 15, 2015 at 8:35 AM

        Good point. After all, this is a guy who was supposed to “season” another year at AAA and got thrown into the fire and I believe he has performed well. You want to put people in positions where they can be successful, or have the best opportunity to be successful.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 15, 2015 at 11:00 AM

        Good point on MAT. Other than mistake pitches they’ve schooled him like the original scouting report where he will get himself out on a breaking pitch out of the zone or the high cheese.

        Problem is Justin Maxwell has the same scouting report and Scherzer threw him a fastball in the zone and JMax torched him.

        One team has exhibited the ability to execute pitches and defensive positioning and besides the obvious Cain pitching mistakes that only CRob, Espi and Harp capitalized on the Nats leadoff, 2nd batter and clean-up men all had 0-fers!!!!!

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 15, 2015 at 8:56 AM

      I’ve thought Taylor has needed a break for a while. Shame that all the bench OF options Nats had, are injured (Johnson and McLouth).

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 15, 2015 at 10:38 AM

      “Since Zimmerman got moved to 1B he has played remarkably well for a guy that never played the position at any level, but last night’s miscue was a one that was bound to happen eventually. That was one of those nuances that exposes a player that didn’t spend thousands of hours practicing/training to play that position. There are drills first basemen practice for those situations as to what sequence you execute to make that play.Yes, he’s a veteran, but he is still learning the fine art of playing 1B.”

      Disagree. Zimmerman is a 10 year veteran of the infield. No excuse needed, he screwed up on a play that was easy when you saw on replay that Blanco was going on contact. You are taught to check the runner and in that case you go home. Questionable he turns the 3-6-3 as a righty and why would he step on 1st taking away the force at 2nd then look that way? Either you field it and go to 2nd immediately where you have the force then cover 1st for the return throw as it was hit hard but step on 1st then look to 2nd makes no sense? Just a huge blunder all around. There was 1 out and men on 3rd and 1st and the ball was hit hard to him. He had enough time to step on 1st and throw home if he doesn’t turn his body to look at 2nd. If CRob did that, I would understand better as he’s a rookie but I still wouldn’t be happy. Too many excuses for a veteran player even though this is a new position.

      • Joe Seamhead - Aug 15, 2015 at 11:16 AM

        We’ll have to agree to disagree on this. No biggie, but I think veteran, or not, that was a mistake due to inexperience of playing the position. Just my opinion.

        As to throwing Justin Maxwell a fastball? I’ve watched him since he was about 13 years old. Throwing him a fastball in that situation is a low percentage approach. Big difference between JMax and MAT is that Justin virtually never shortens up his swing. Taylor often exibits a terrific short, compact swing, but he still often reverts to a looping swing, which gets him into trouble. I’d like to see Michael attack more aggressively on 1st pitch fastballs. He gets 2 strikes and he’s usually toast.His selection as to what to swing at was poor last night. I think he’ll improve because I think that he’s smart, and coachable.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 15, 2015 at 11:18 AM

        It’s cool. Like I said I don’t even know if I’d give CRob on that play if he was playing 1st

  5. joemktg - Aug 15, 2015 at 8:36 AM

    The Rendon AB was strange: as if he just wasn’t seeing the ball at all.

    Five runs with Max should’ve been an automatic W. But he’s gone into a second half swoon a la Rafael Soriano last year.

    Anyway, nice write up from MZ. Appreciate the extensive look.

  6. Section 222 - Aug 15, 2015 at 8:41 AM

    Just took a look at the end of the game post. Bitter and critical comments about Max, about Werth, about Papelbon, about Schu (Schu, really?), and of course MW. Those comments were made by the so-called “trolls” and also by the “regulars” who share their opinions day in and day out here. We’re united in our despondency.

    We’re all upset and discouraged by the Nats’ play over the last several weeks. Can we agree that all commenters have the right to express their opinions without being judged and criticized by others?

    • dcwx61 - Aug 15, 2015 at 9:20 AM

      Ict bin ein troller

    • abqnatsfan - Aug 15, 2015 at 10:35 AM

      I can agree with that. We all get frustrated and have a right to our opinions.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 15, 2015 at 10:42 AM

      Going after MW and Schu was laughable. Criticizing Werth as a pinch-hitter? No issue. Criticizing bringing in Papelbon was also laughable.

      Critical comments of Max Scherzer was warranted.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 15, 2015 at 10:42 AM

      Going after MW and Schu was laughable. Criticizing Werth as a pinch-hitter? No issue. Criticizing bringing in Papelbon was also laughable.

      Critical comments of Max Scherzer was warranted.

      • Section 222 - Aug 15, 2015 at 12:26 PM

        So you’re the judge as to what is laughable and what is warranted. Ok, glad that’s clear.

        My point is that no one here gets to judge that. It’s fine to disagree with a comment, and to state that position clearly and even with a bit of snark, but to call the person “garbage” for making it, or tell him to go away, or to stand in judgment of whether someone is really a Nats fan or should be permitted to speak on this blog, shouldn’t happen.

        I find it interesting that the most recent arriving “troll” has been repeating a position — that MdD shouldn’t have been sent down — that several “regulars” are coming around to. Or at least many people agree that the short bench and lack of a real 4th outfielder, is a problem. Yet that person, whose style and repetitiveness I find annoying too, has been ruthlessly and personally attacked. Yet other posters whose style and repetitiveness are also annoying get a pass, and even participated in the attacks.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 15, 2015 at 12:38 PM

        Welcome to what NatsInsider has become with a lack of moderation. Personal attacks are a regular occurrence and the Trolling is enough to get even the most mild mannered teetering on the edge.

        If that doesn’t get you going the Nats play on the field can turn some of the most positive to negativity. I give many a pass but just below there’s someone getting on MW for inserting Werth against a Lefty. If MW didn’t make a move there I woukdve been disappointed. Just because a move doesn’t work out doesn’t mean it was wrong.

        Bochy didn’t pull Cain with 2 on and Bryce coming up while he had his lefty ready.

      • tmac777 - Aug 15, 2015 at 3:24 PM

        God bless you, Section 222. This site is the most mean-spirited Nats site out there. (Mr. Zuckerman take note if you care). There are 4 or 5 people that tell anyone who disagrees with them to leave. This Ghost person clearly doesn’t get it. You ask him to stop being judge and jury of the website but he says someone’s comment about pinch hitting for Clint Robinson was so egregious that he had to do something. A reasonable argument could be made that Clint Robinson against a lefty is a better option that Werth right now against anybody. I saw the regulars on this website support the move to intentionally walk Cespedes to pitch to Duda, which was rightly ridiculed by the NY media, Federal Baseball and MLB’s Brian Kenny, so no one’s perfect. But nuance gets lost on this website.

      • dcwx61 - Aug 15, 2015 at 6:54 PM

        one man’s troll is another’s analyst

  7. JT - Aug 15, 2015 at 8:45 AM

    I took a lot of grief from these “fans” in SF for my Nats gear, but whatever.

    We have the best GM and raining manager of the year. Things will turn around.

    • nats106 - Aug 15, 2015 at 8:49 AM

      It’s raining managers, hallelujah!


      Yeah, when I have my Nats gear on in St Louis I get grief also. I think around here because everybody was a fan of some other team for 30+ years there is a tendency to be more forgiving of other teams fans.

    • natsguy - Aug 15, 2015 at 10:39 AM

      Not this year. Yes Rizzo is a good GM, but he hasn’t done a good job of constructing this team. Way too many holes.

      1. Third Baseman playing 2b.
      2. SS playing 3B
      3.SS should be elsewhwere
      4.1b is OK fielder but is still damaged goods.
      5.LF cannot hit any more
      6.CF has great talent but is green as grass.
      7 RF is carrying the team.
      8.Catcher cannot frame pitches, call pitches, or catch the ball at the plate. And for added attraction is no longer hitting.
      9.There is no middle of the bullpen
      10 Why was Papelbon acquired? The whole world wonders.
      11.Storen is pissed and discouraged.
      12Starting staff has generally been getting hit and hit hard.

      Think about it. Way, way too many holes.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 15, 2015 at 10:46 AM

        You call yourself “natsguy” and there are very few comments I agree with. Baseball isn’t a perfect world and you improvise.

        #11 might be your funniest comment. Give him a mirror and a pity party.

  8. Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 15, 2015 at 8:48 AM

    I cant believe the Nats are only 1 game over 500.

    • nats106 - Aug 15, 2015 at 8:56 AM

      Yeah. I have relatives (Die hard Cardinal fans) that keep saying, no the Nationals will pull it together soon and still win the division. They certainly know their baseball, but they also haven’t seen us play lately.

      I’ll be curious about their take on our prospects for the postseason in a few weeks when we travel there in a couple of weeks. Maybe I need blind faith to carry me.

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 15, 2015 at 8:59 AM

        Yesterday, I wasn’t ready to concede. But today, I’m feeling like it’s over. Which is a shame in itself. Nats needed to take 3 of 4 from the giants. Hell, seems Nats will be lucky to split.

        I will still watch for the enjoyment of Nats baseball but at this point, I do not expect post season play.

    • natsdial8 - Aug 15, 2015 at 10:22 AM

      You can’t believe as in “good” or “bad” ? 😁

    • natslive - Aug 15, 2015 at 1:18 PM

      I was optimistic before the road trip – heck I posted they would go 5-2…..just had the numbers backwards….very discouraging….going to be away for a week so maybe since I won’t be watching they will do better but looking more and more like not happening…..when Max was pitching all those innings earlier some of us questioned it as maybe having an effect later but many said it didn’t matter as it was early, we are now seeing the effects….Werth and Rendon both need more ABs in the minors but rushed back as the magic fix along with ZMan….we miss Stammen in the BP and MWs handling is not his strength….still time but at this point not much to be encouraged about

  9. ccallahan15 - Aug 15, 2015 at 8:53 AM

    Dear Nationals,
    When we decided to celebrate 10 years of baseball in Washington this year, we meant for you all to play up to your potential, go far in the postseason, and perhaps win the World Series. That all has a nice movie script quality to it and would bring joy to you, your families and your fans.
    We did not intend that you should honor the inaugural season by repeating it – going 81-81 in the same manner.
    Now that you’ve so successful played out the “dramatic slide” part of the script, today might be a good day to start the awe-inspiring comeback so we all get our storybook ending.
    That would please all of you and all of your fans. So let’s get on with it…what do you say we (by which I mean, you) go make a movie and I’ll pay to watch it.

    • rlndtln - Aug 15, 2015 at 9:08 AM

      Again as pointed out here we are playing short one man.The reason for it is Fister would not go down for 3 weeks until September I have been saying until everyone is tired of hearing it that denDeker could have helped.When I say that others criticize by saying we need a better player.I think we do also but until that happens he is a good defensive outfielder that could play late in games in LF and give MAT a day off as he can play CF.My other issue has been we are too right handed and suggested MW play the lefties.Danny,Lobo and Robinson had great ABS last night.These are average to below average lefties.Imagine if we could add good ones.For now Robinson should platoon with Jason and Danny should get time resting Desi and Rendon.For next year we need to Sign Denard and replace Jason with a strong left handed power hitting LF like Cargo.I know it would be tough trading Jason and we would have to eat some of his salary and maybe include prospects or Esco which would have Danny play 2nd,Rendon back to 3rd where he belongs and Turner at SS,This would give us 4 lefties and 4 righties in our line up.Again getting rid of Jason will not be easy.

      • NatsLady - Aug 15, 2015 at 10:03 AM

        No, that’s not the reason. The reason we are playing with an extra man in the bullpen is a long, draining West Coast road trip culminating in three at Coors Field–which destroys pitchers.

      • NatsLady - Aug 15, 2015 at 10:07 AM

        I believe it has already been pointed out to you that Jayson has a no-trade clause. He is not going anywhere.

      • natsdial8 - Aug 15, 2015 at 10:24 AM

        And who exactly will be lining up to take Werth off our hands ?

      • Joe Seamhead - Aug 15, 2015 at 11:17 AM

        And how does anybody know that Doug Fister refused an assignment?

  10. Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 15, 2015 at 8:54 AM

    Bryce hit a bomb of a HR. It was something else. I was watching the game and thought he would hit a HR last night since his first at bat was at the warning track.

    This has been a disaster of a season. Idk if Max arm is tired or not but we needed another strong pitching game from him and we got a dud. Just unfortunate.

    • joemktg - Aug 15, 2015 at 9:02 AM

      Don’t think the season’s a disaster, as there is still 6-7 weeks of play, esp. two weak homestands and games vs. Mets.

      Weird season? Yes. Disaster? Can only judge after the season is over.

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 15, 2015 at 9:15 AM

        That is your take. And mine is that it’s a disaster.

      • dcwx61 - Aug 15, 2015 at 9:23 AM

        a disaster in the making ?

  11. legnatsfan - Aug 15, 2015 at 9:13 AM

    I’m a long time reader but seldom post. My baseball knowledge is not that strong but I’ve learned so much from so many of you. Thank you for sharing everyday.
    In a span of less than 2 weeks I’ve gone from total confidence that our guys would turn things around and right the ship to complete panic. Can someone tell me how does an entire team fall apart at the same time? When our Cy Young award winning “ace” from the first half, the one we could count on to give us a excellent chance to win every 5 days is losing it, does this mean we’ve hit rock bottom? If not, I certainly don’t want to find out what rock bottom is! Gio is pitching better than Max these days. Drew who was lights out is completely falling apart. Pappelbon is not sharp. What more can be said about the offense? Who would have predicted that CR and Espi would be hitting better than all the regulars (except Bryce and Esco.) Someone please explain this to me.

    • dcwx61 - Aug 15, 2015 at 9:24 AM

      the curse of the bambino

      • ccallahan15 - Aug 15, 2015 at 9:41 AM


      • veejh - Aug 15, 2015 at 10:03 AM


      • Nats Fan Zee - Aug 15, 2015 at 11:09 AM

        Steven Souza Jr. Is the bambino?

      • ccallahan15 - Aug 15, 2015 at 12:15 PM

        No, MW not doing the homerun trot he said he’d do last year if they one 10 games in a row. Of course it’s nearly impossible to gather all of the 2014 Nats who are owed the opportunity to witness that event live.

        Run Matt Run while you’re in SF

  12. Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 15, 2015 at 9:21 AM

    2 weeks ago, I didn’t think it could get any worst… and it seems like it has.

    Please Nats string some wins together.

    • abqnatsfan - Aug 15, 2015 at 10:53 AM

      It can always get worse. You just hope it doesn’t.

  13. raleighnat - Aug 15, 2015 at 9:33 AM

    All I can thnk about is all our hype, confidence, and even braggadocio…all of the high expectations and dismissal of the Mets….the “we are the team to beat”, “best rotation” in whenever, our “window”, “will run away in a weak division”, “where’s my ring”….and I get sick to my stomach

    • NatsLady - Aug 15, 2015 at 9:47 AM

      You should read the Mets blogs/commentators. They are indulging in EXACTLY the same sort of blather, dismissing the Nats, saying they’ve got the Division for years to come because of their young studs, and that the September series will already be “meaningless,” by the time the teams meet again.

      • Met fan - Aug 15, 2015 at 9:55 AM

        Well it would certainly be boring if that series meant nothing but yea you guys have got to start winning so we can have a exciting series

      • Section 222 - Aug 15, 2015 at 10:01 AM

        The sad thing is, NL, that there is a very good chance that those Mets fans and commentators are right, both about the September series and about the years to come. Harvey, DeGrom, Syndegaard, Matz, and Wheeler is a very, very scary rotation. It will easily rival, and probably exceed, Max, Stras, JZnn, Gio, and Fister in hype.

        Of course, look how that turned out for us….

      • abqnatsfan - Aug 15, 2015 at 10:55 AM

        The future for the Mets looks bright. Tough nothing is sure, and even good teams rarely hold up every year. The Nats have a fairly bight future also – I just don’t think it is the written in stone future some think.

  14. richardp6 - Aug 15, 2015 at 9:43 AM

    I think they will have to examine his arm. This is way too big of a turnaround since his no no and 1 hitter. I think that did some damage. He really hasn’t been the same since. First not quite so dominating, then downright bad. It’s time for Strasburg to step up to the ace role and nice surprise that Gio has actually been the man. Can they skip a rotation start with Scherzer or is that worse?

    • abqnatsfan - Aug 15, 2015 at 10:58 AM

      I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he is hurt. Would be very disappointed. “Tired arm” over the years has usually meant “hurt but not yet diagnosed”. Hope not though, he is fun to watch most of the time.

  15. NatsLady - Aug 15, 2015 at 9:44 AM

    When I look at championship seasons, I see luck, health and talent. We have the talent, but luck and health have been MIA. Recent example: We had a series of good pitching performances where five runs of support would have been plenty–but when we get the five runs the pitching collapses to the point where you need nine runs! This game bothered me, but not as much as some of the other losses. The only game our boys have won on the road trip is the one Don Mattingly gave us. We should have had this one and the previous one, according to my plan. 😦

    With regard to the short bench. We’re stuck with that until after the Rockies series, for the reason that Coors is very hard on pitchers. There is no off-day before the homestand, no break for the bullpen, so I expect we’ll make use of the extra man, and then someone will go on the DL or to Syracuse and perhaps den Dekker will come back up. By that time it will be only a few days until September 1 and roster expansion. Unfortunately, one of our best guys to help out in September, Taylor Jordan, is on the minor-league DL with forearm soreness.

    The Pirates somehow grabbed a game that Happ started. They have good chances for the next two. But we need to win games. Win games. Win games.

    • NatsLady - Aug 15, 2015 at 10:20 AM

      I meant there is no off-day between the Colorado series and the start of the homestand. There is an off-day on Monday before the Rockies series. Also, the Thursday game is a night game, so the boys will get in at some absurd hour Friday morning.

  16. natsnatsnatswoo - Aug 15, 2015 at 9:55 AM

    Bryce Harper: “Where’s my ring?”

    Dan Uggla: “I dunno, bro. But I just got mine. Wanna try it on?”

    • NatsLady - Aug 15, 2015 at 9:58 AM


    • natsdial8 - Aug 15, 2015 at 10:39 AM

      Good one !!!

  17. NatsLady - Aug 15, 2015 at 9:58 AM

    It may be fatigue with Max, it may be an arm problem. But I wonder if he didn’t get overconfident, also. He went on a great run, then when he had that first bad outing (Jul 24) he brushed it aside, saying he wasn’t going to worry about it, it was just one time, and no need to stew about it unless it happened again. Then he had a scoreless outing, and could be forgiven for thinking he was back on track…

    Then it happened again. And again. Was Max cruisin’ for a bruisin’? Because he had a lot of confidence ordering all those bottles of chocolate syrup. Max has the reputation for tremendous hard work and game prep. Maybe a dose of humility for Max is not the worst thing, and not the worst thing for Gio and Stras, who got put in the shadows.

    • dcwx61 - Aug 15, 2015 at 10:09 AM


  18. scnatsfan - Aug 15, 2015 at 10:33 AM

    Did anyone else get an insane number of emails fron Nats insider posts yesterday? I mean like 400.

    • NatsLady - Aug 15, 2015 at 2:32 PM

      I don’t have it set to get emails, so I didn’t get any. 😉

  19. natsdial8 - Aug 15, 2015 at 10:37 AM

    Sadly our team is dysfunctional in almost every area . It’s been Murphey’s law at its best( or worst).

    I must point out however that Matt’s decision to put all the returning injured starters at the same time was really going against probabilities . He shook up a lineup that was keeping them in first to insert guys who almost for sure would be rusty . Better ti have worked them in a little at a time.

    It does appear that the overall coaching situation has become a major problem .

    I continue to be a big Mike Rizzo fan but wonder why he didn’t hire a proven manager as this team was ready to win and Matt seems not up to it.

  20. dcwx61 - Aug 15, 2015 at 10:43 AM

    rintin is on nats talk

  21. philipd763 - Aug 15, 2015 at 11:38 AM

    Sending Jayson Werth up to bat for Robinson is proof positive Williams is lacking in intelligence.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 15, 2015 at 11:50 AM

      I thought it was a good move that didn’t work out. He almost worked a walk.

      • rlndtln - Aug 15, 2015 at 12:03 PM

        Nstlady.The reason we are playing one man short is we are dumb.This only came up when Fister went out of the rotation.Why would anyone in there right mind not have a OF to replace Jason late in a game.We have had many tough stretches all year and never went to a 4 man bench until Fister went out of the rotation.Some coincidence.

  22. nattygoats - Aug 15, 2015 at 12:01 PM

    58. 57 is surely a disaster. Mrs b is right. This team is a complete mess. People talking catching the Mets. How about just winning a game. Or heaven forbid 2

    • rlndtln - Aug 15, 2015 at 12:14 PM

      Should use the same lineup as last night.The 3 lefties against the righties had 4 hits and a HBP.

  23. micksback1 - Aug 15, 2015 at 12:25 PM

    I saw Bryce’s shot at the casino last night, so when it was 6-5, I was thinking the Nats will comeback and win and this would be a catalyst for turning things around. Obviously I was wrong and come to find out that Desi, once again failed to hit with men in scoring position and that our BP SUCKS, period!!!

    After 115 games played, there are certain points and facts about this team that seem clear:

    1) Ramos has been healthy all season and many, myself included thought having a healthy Ramos would keep the lineup explosive. man was I wrong, I am hoping that Matt Weiters is pursued by Rizzo in the off season.

    2) Since it is clear that JZim is gone and Desi (THANK GOD!!), my recommendation for Rizzo is to resign Span (unless he is seriously injured), Go after Cepedes and another power hitter in the off season.

    Let Desi, JZim and Fister go bye bye . Take you chance with a rotation of Stras, Ross, Gio, Max and Roark (Gioloto, let’s wait until 2017).

    3) use the money the team will have to resign Span and the 2 offensive players they need. let Michael A play and platoon with Span.

    4) Unload Jayson if possible, I know that will not happen but if they could, I would in a heart beat. he is terrible and his season has been an extension of last season’s post season. Jayson Werth, who I will always thank for providing one of the greatest moments in DC sports history needs to go. He hurts this team in the field and is an automatic out and is NO LEADER, PERIOD!!

    5) I said before my vacation last week Nats would be under 500, and 6 back. I have 6 more days to go of vacation and unfortunately, I am looking correct as Nats could be 7 back. When Nats are under 500 by September, why not play Difo, Turner, etc? I would play Espi and Clint in that mix as well and I bet Nats would score at least 3 runs a game. Nats have nothing to lose at that point?

    6) Everything has fallen apart at once, Max’s slump puts an exclamation point on a failed season. Mike Rizzo and the Nats are at the cross roads come 2016, the Nats can rebound in 2016, but Rizzo has to be smart and the Lerners can not be cheap. The first thing Mike can do is fire MW by Labor Day and admit, “we made a major error in judgment”

    MW’s post game conferences remind me of Bush 41 “stay the course, 1000 points of light” over and over again LOL

    • rlndtln - Aug 15, 2015 at 12:30 PM

      Agree with most you said but need a left handed power hitter.MW post game since you made it political remind me of Obama in complete denial.

      • micksback1 - Aug 15, 2015 at 12:34 PM

        fair enough and I agree about the left handed bat, I forgot to add that

      • rlndtln - Aug 15, 2015 at 12:36 PM

        I was in favor of a top reliever but only to co -close with Drew and I thought Chapman was the real deal.Not being able to get him I would have rather gotten Clipp and had Drew close.This way the Mets would not have gotten him.When I look at Pap I see better stuff from Drew.Yes Drew has had a tough time lately but I think that may come from the hosing he got.Now looking ahead Drew will be out of here and we will be left with an aging closer.This did not work.Before you get all excited about co-closing with a lefty righty combo it would be perfect to use them in the 8th and 9th depending on who was batting.

      • unkyd59 - Aug 15, 2015 at 1:20 PM

        (JayB auto post service):


  24. peewilly - Aug 15, 2015 at 1:08 PM

    Right now the Nats are a classic case of being out of sync. When the pitching is on we’re losing 2-1, 3-1. When the bats come alive we lose 8-5, 6-4. There’s no easy fix, may not be a fix at all. It’s just how it goes sometimes for struggling teams. Just not getting the key hit or shutdown inning. Besides, if the Mets keep playing .700 baseball we aren’t gonna catch them. Just have to keep hoping for that 8-game winning streak and put pressure back on the Mets.

    • NatsLady - Aug 15, 2015 at 1:25 PM

      Yes, that’s what I meant when I said we weren’t getting “luck.” Out of sync is a better way of phrasing it. Can’t seem to get the lineup, rotation, bullpen and defense all functioning at the same time. Game where the bullpen put up scoreless innings we lost 5-0. Game where we got five runs, we needed nine because the starter imploded. Game where Stras was solid we couldn’t get any offense against a bad pitcher. And so on.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Aug 15, 2015 at 5:27 PM

        True story: When my daughter was five or six, I tried to give her an elementary lesson in probability. Pulled out a quarter and flipped it. Got heads. Flipped it again. Heads again. And again. And again. I got something like twelve or thirteen straight heads before we got tails. Sometimes everything lines up against you at the same time.

  25. letswin3 - Aug 15, 2015 at 1:22 PM

    I haven’t read any of today’s post or any of your comments yet, but I just wanted to say that I now know that I am a true Nat’s fan. As bad as the last couple of weeks has been, I still watch the very late west coast games every night to the bitter end. I dislike the recent results, and reckon that there might be better answers, but the Nat’s are my team and I will support them. As an aside, I liked the lineup shakeup that MW threw out there last night … it ain’t perfect, but it was an improvement. Danny and Robinson are improvements right now, and Taylor is our best choice for leading off (regardless of his K’s) until Span returns or Rendon is back in the grove.

  26. NatsLady - Aug 15, 2015 at 2:34 PM

    Played King Felix twice this season in draft kings. Both times he got plastered. Anything I can do for y’all?

  27. everendp - Aug 15, 2015 at 2:59 PM

    Heard you on Nats Talk, Roland.

    • natsjackinfl - Aug 15, 2015 at 3:08 PM

      Is that Roland the headless Thompson Gunner?

      • Eugene in Oregon - Aug 15, 2015 at 5:15 PM

        Now that’s a cultural reference to which I can relate…if someone can’t, here’s a link…

      • bluejeener - Aug 15, 2015 at 5:22 PM


      • natsjackinfl - Aug 15, 2015 at 5:23 PM

        Thanks. I appreciate that.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Aug 15, 2015 at 5:28 PM

        RIP Mr. Zevon.

      • 3on2out - Aug 15, 2015 at 5:50 PM

        And may our own Werewolf of London find his way to Mayfair.

      • dcwx61 - Aug 15, 2015 at 7:00 PM

        Turner, Gio and money, the sh.. has hit the fan

    • dcwx61 - Aug 15, 2015 at 6:55 PM

      i thought it was ruination

    • dcwx61 - Aug 15, 2015 at 6:56 PM

      i thought roland was rintin

    • dcwx61 - Aug 15, 2015 at 6:58 PM

      he talked about the balance of lefty in the lineup, resigning span, trading escobar and werth for a lefty power hitter…
      That was Nats Jack!
      What part of Jersey you from

  28. natsguy - Aug 15, 2015 at 6:08 PM


    When did you start becoming the Cliff Clavins of this site. I used to read your comments with a modicum of respect. But you have become very similar to Peric. Time to tone it down. Apparently I am not the only one who feels that way. There is no room for personal shots. If you need to do that go somewhere else

  29. tmac777 - Aug 15, 2015 at 6:50 PM

    Amen, Natsguy. Ghost questions your title “Natsguy” because he disagrees with you, as if he is the Lord of Nats fans. He calls the opinions of anyone he disagrees with “laughable.” But Ghost said Matt Williams should have walked Cespedes (bad against righties) to pitch to Duda (good against lefties in 2015 and the hottest hitter in MLB at the time). You know who was laughing at that time? Mets fans on Twitter, laughing all the way to a 3-game sweep. Since his opinions are truly laughable, maybe he should leave the site instead of anyone who has the unmitigated temerity to disagree with him.





As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...

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