Washington Nationals Fan's Confidence Tested.

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 26: Wilson Ramos #3 of the Washington Nationals is congratulated by teammates after hitting a home run in the second inning against the New York Mets at Nationals Park on April 26, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

The Washington Nationals ended their last homestand with a three-game sweep of the visiting Milwaukee Brewers, but since then they dropped two of three to the St. Louis Cardinals, two of three to the Pittsburgh Pirates and the first two of the three games against the New York Mets, with the third game of the series with NY tonight in Nationals Park. The Mets leave town following tonight's game, then Tim Lincecum and the World-Series-winning San Francisco Giants come to the nation's capitol for a four-game set, after which the Nats go on a nine-game road trip against the Philadelphia Phillies, Florida Marlins and Atlanta Braves...

A loss tonight against the Mets would be the Nats' fourth straight and seventh in the last eight games. As Dave Nichols of the Nats News Network has pointed out recently, the Nationals are now 1-13 in games in which they fail to score five or more runs, with the one win with less than five runs a 4-3 win over the Brewers. The Nats have the second-lowest team AVG in the National League (.227) ahead of only the Padres. They're 27th of 30 NL teams in BABIP (.263) ahead of the Braves and Padres. Will a resurgent Jayson Werth and a returning Ryan Zimmerman turn the offense around? Is Michael Morse starting to figure things out at the plate? When do Adam LaRoche's slow starts usually end? 

While the Nationals' starters have gone 5.0IP+ in each of the first 23 games, they still haven't gone past the seventh, averaging 5.88 IP per start, good for 26th out of 30 NL teams for IP by starters and Nats' Skipper Jim Riggleman still seems reluctant to leave his starters in to battle out of trouble. Tom Gorzelanny was lifted after just 85 pitches last night in a start in which he held the Mets to one run on five hits, and only an error (ruled a hit) by Jayson Werth put a runner on in the seventh. Tyler Clippard got the final two outs of the inning, but when he came back out from the eighth, he gave up the HR to Daniel Murphy that tied the game after a bad call at first robbed Jose Reyes of a triple. There's no way to know if Gorzelanny would have gotten the final two outs of the seventh...or if Clippard would have been stronger if he wasn't asked to get five outs...

Can the starting staff keep up their strong start, which while impressive compared to season's past, still isn't enough to keep them out of the NL East's basement? Will the Nationals settle on one closer? When will Ryan Zimmerman return? Can one player turn things around, or are the Nats headed for another fifth place finish in the NL East? Are you confident that Nats' Skipper Jim Riggleman's the manager who'll lead the Nationals to their first playoff appearance when they're ready to compete...whenever that is...?

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