It has surely been an up-and-down week for the Nationals. In Cincinnati and the first game in Atlanta, the Nationals were on top of their game, hitting very well and seeing lights-out pitching from Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Tanner Roark. And then, every possible thing that could go wrong went wrong. In this post, I’ll dissect what happened last week and give a preview of the upcoming opponents that the Nationals will face this week.
The Nats started the season hot, sweeping the Cincinnati Reds with ease. On Opening Day, Max Scherzer went six strong innings guiding the Nats to the 2-0 victory. Then, on Saturday, the lethal offense started to unleash its’ wrath. They cruised to a 13-7 victory, and then Sunday consisted of a close 6-5 game. The quality of baseball played in Cincinnati was what we expected from the Nationals, and the Nats went into Atlanta with a lot of confidence. They had another big win on Monday, taking down the Braves 8-1. As I noted above, this was the last good game of the week. A mediocre Braves team then went on to absolutely demolish the Nats, 13-6, on Tuesday, and then did it again on Wednesday with a 7-1 finish in favor of the Braves. This came as a shock to Nats fans, as we usually underestimate the Braves. This came as a wake-up call to the team, as well, and needed to improve for the home opening series against the rival Mets. To say it frankly, they didn’t improve from those two embarrassments in Atlanta. In the limelight of the home opener, Stephen Strasburg wasn’t the same guy we saw in Cincinnati, and the Nats lost their third straight, 8-2 the final. The Nats came within one run on both Saturday and Sunday, but got unlucky both times. And, on Saturday, we learned that not saying a single word to an umpire can get you ejected from the game. The series of events got both Anthony Rendon (wrongfully) thrown out, as well as his manager for defending his star third baseman. Steven Matz pitched well, Travis D’Arnaud blocked the plate on that, and the Mets took the second game. And then Sunday, the Nats had a chance to win, but Tanner Roark gave up a grand slam to Asdrubal Cabrera, and his first-star effort led the Mets to the series sweep. Dave Martinez has a lot to ponder over this week.
Needless to say, the Nationals will have no easy task breaking their five game skid this week. They will face two young teams with a lot of power. From Monday to Wednesday, they will have a rematch with the Atlanta Braves, this time in Washington. They’ll stay here from Thursday to Sunday to face the Colorado Rockies.
We’ve already talked about Atlanta in last week’s video. But if you didn’t watch the video and are reading this instead, the Braves are irritating as they are a mediocre team that seems to have the Nats’ number each time they play us. They’re led by Freddie Freeman and Dansby Swanson on offense, and should have Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz, and Brandon McCarthy facing Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and A.J. Cole. The Cole-McCarthy game will be interesting, as I’m curious to see how A.J. Cole will rebound from his subpar game last week against the same Braves team. The Rockies, on the other hand, are a very dangerous team. Jeff Bridich, the Rockies’ GM, has done a great job of comprising a team that can hit for power in the thin Denver air. While this four game set will be played in D.C., Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, and Ian Desmond are still dangerous hitters at the plate. The Rox run on a relief-heavy pitching staff, headlined by Wade Davis and Jake McGee. It’s unclear this far in advance, but the Nationals will most likely face Antonio Senzatela, Jon Gray, Tyler Anderson, and Kyle Freeland. Aside from the Nationals, the Rockies are one of my favorite teams. They have a lot of young players in the lineup, and also have a lot of up-and-coming pitchers like Jon Gray, who the Nats will likely face. That being said, I think that the Nats and the Rockies will split this series.
This week is about redemption. Davey Martinez needs to be able to come back from a tough week and fight hard against good Braves and Rockies teams. I’m interested, also, to see how A.J. Cole does in his return. Will he be sent back to Syracuse in favor of Jeremy Hellickson or Erick Fedde? Or will he bounce back? That’s just one of the many questions that will be answered this week. For now, I’m Matt, and Let’s Go Nats! (And, Let’s Go Caps in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs!!)