If the playoffs started today, here’s what the match-ups would look like (and frankly the odds of this setup changing seem slim; maybe SF catches Chicago for the 2nd WC but otherwise this seems like it will be the line-up):
- Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh for the wild card
- St. Louis hosting the WC winner
- Washington traveling to Los Angeles.
And in said short series, with the Nats traveling to Los Angeles, they’d likely face Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke again in games 1 and 2.
Here’s what the LA 1-2 punch just did to our hapless lineup, on the road no less where Kershaw has a significantly worse stats:
There’s not a pundit in the game who doesn’t think the Nats aren’t going to win the NL East. That they’re in first place while their #1, #2, #4 and #5 hitters sit on the D/L is pretty amazing (or, perhaps more to the point, a pretty bad indictment of our division in 2015). But the toll is being seen; between outings against Kershaw, Greinke and (just before the all-star break) Johnny Cueto, we now see the effect of such a weak offense. MLB-wide Aces will absolutely dominate the Nats. To the point where we could have Cy Young himself throwing and not have a chance. If there’s just one or two legitimate hitters in your lineup, you can pitch around them and attack guys who otherwise would be in AAA or on the bench. As we just saw.
The question is this: can the Nats offense turn this around? We have now seen this team make the playoffs twice, each time with the best record in the league, and then each time flail out of the playoffs while barely hitting. In 2012 they hit .232/.290/.393 and in 2014 they hit .164/.222/.258.
Yes we plan on getting everybody back. Most of our D/L guys are on rehab assignments as we speak actually. Can they get their expected form back and make this team respectable on offense? Can Jayson Werth regain his stroke despite recovering from a broken wrist? Can Denard Span regain his batting stroke despite a chronic back issue? I’m less worried about Zimmerman and Rendon; they just need time and luck to stay on the field despite leg/foot issues, and both those guys profile as the kind of middle-of-the-order hitter that would give the Nats lineup some potency back (not to mention some protection for Bryce Harper).
Will it be enough? Are you worried about looming playoff match-ups?