Washington Nationals: 44 Games Later; And Nats' GM Mike Rizzo On The Nationals' Roster

Beck Diefenbach-US PRESSWIRE

After 44 games, the Washington Nationals are 23-21, 2.5 games out of first in the NL East with some good pitching, weak offense and at-times awful defense. Does anything need to change, or is it just a matter of waiting for everyone to get healthy and going as the season goes on?

After 44 games, the 23-21 Washington Nationals' pitchers, all of them, starters and relievers, have the 4th lowest ERA in the National League (3.43) tied with Atlanta behind Cincinnatti (3.37), Arizona and Pittsburgh (3.35) and St. Louis (3.18). They're 3rd in FIP (3.63) behind the D-Backs (3.56) and Cardinals (3.11), ninth in xFIP (3.89) and 4th in fWAR (+4.7) behind the Diamondbacks (+5.9), Rockies (+6.2) and Cards (+6.6).

The Nats' starters, separately, have the 3rd lowest ERA in the NL (3.25), the 4th lowest FIP (3.67), 5th lowest xFIP (3.90) and 4th highest fWAR (+4.0) with the Cardinals' +6.2 the NL's best. The Nationals' relievers are less impressive, with a 3.87 ERA (9th in the NL), 3.52 FIP (5th), 3.89 xFIP (8th) and +0.8 fWAR (6th).

The defense? The Nationals have committed more errors than anyone else in the National League. Their .977 fielding percentage is the NL's lowest. The 31 bases stolen on Nats' catchers (and pitchers in many cases) are the 4th highest. Their 4 CS are the 3rd lowest.

"We like the bullpen as is," Mike Rizzo said, "And we like the way the 25-Man roster is constructed. If there was any deal to be had, as always, it would be some type of depth for us." - Nats' GM Mike Rizzo on MLB Network Radio

The offense? It has some issues. The Nats' .230 AVG is the 14th out of 15 NL teams, ahead of only the Miami Marlins (.220). The Nationals' lamentable .292 OBP is 14th too, again, ahead of only the Marlins (.282). The .373 SLG is 13th of 15, ahead of the Dodgers (.361) and Fish (.317). The Nationals' 7% BB% is 9th overall amongst NL teams. Their 23.0% K% is second-highest behind only the free-swinging Braves from Atlanta (24.4% K%). The Nats' BABIP as a team (.278) is 13th out 15 NL teams, ahead of only the Mets (.274) and Marlins (.261). wRC+? 14th of 15. fWAR? 14th.

The Nats' -17 run differential is 2nd in the NL East, behind the Braves +34. After Sunday's loss in San Diego, Davey Johnson told reporters he still has faith in his team and thinks it's just a matter of time before they get it together, after all, they are two games above .500 and 2.5 games out of first in the NL East in spite of the poor defensive and paltry offensive production.

"You have to have a lot of patience sometimes in this job," the manager in his 17th MLB season on the bench said. "But the middle of the lineup is swinging that bat very good, and the other guys -- it looks like they're starting to come around. I like the way the pitching has been. Sometimes it just takes time to gel, to get it all together."

"For me to go out and get a left-handed reliever, it would have to be an extremely talented left-handed reliever and a guy that we can control for a period of time..." - Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo on MLB Network Radio

So if there was one thing they could change right now, a small move to address a weakness or "fill a void" as former Nationals' GM Jim Bowden asked recently, during an MLB Network Radio interview with Mike Rizzo last week, what would it be? "You know, I'm not sure," Rizzo said. "We like the team as is. Everyone looks at our bullpen situation and would like for us to have another left-handed relief pitcher in there. But for me to go out and get a left-handed reliever, it would have to be an extremely talented left-handed reliever and a guy that we can control for a period of time and can get left-handers and right-handers out. And those are few and far between."

"We like the bullpen as is," Rizzo continued, "And we like the way the 25-Man roster is constructed. If there was any deal to be had, as always, it would be some type of depth for us, that would help us in case of an injury to one of our regulars." As for the non-regulars, or the bench players, Rizzo said that the Nationals like what they have and the guys on the bench are working hard to get going in very difficult jobs that they did extremely well in last season.

"We like what we've got," the Nationals' GM said, summing it all up. "We like the way the team is constructed. There's an energy and a togetherness on the team and we feel good about where we're at. We haven't played up to our capabilities yet, but we're still in the hunt in a very tough division and we're looking forward to getting healthy, getting our lineup back in tact and taking off and making a run."

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