Where to begin? I will start with the continued poor managing out of Davey. Let's look at last night's loss to the hapless Brewers. Tie game in the 7th, Strasburg dealing like the ace we all want him to be. Rendon gets a hit then Suzuki makes the 2nd out. Your starter has thrown 105 pitches and has allowed 0 runs. You take Stras out (mistake #1) and pinch hit Chad Tracy for him (mistake #2). For anyone that doesn't already know, Tracy is hitting .143, SO IS STRASBURG. Are you really improving your chances there? No you are not. Stras had another inning in him easy and for my money, having him pitch the 8th in a 0-0 game is better than taking him out to use Chad "I can't hit a ball on a tee consistently" Tracy as the pinch hitter. I mean, we know the Nats offense is horrible. Why mortgage the game on a pinch hitter there? Let your guy pitch you one inning closer to the end and get your 1-3 hitters the chance to put a run on the board via a home run. The odds have to be better than relying on Chad Tracy to do something.
Then you bring in Storen, who promptly CHOKES under the pressure (sound familiar?). Storen's inning went like this: hit, stolen base, walk (flyout), 2 run double to deep center...you would think this is where the inning ends for Storen right? I mean, he is clearly completely ineffective at this point, so you need to cut your losses, limit the damage and any other cliches that sound right. Instead, Davey leaves him in. His inning continues with a hard lineout, followed by another double to deep left, scoring another run. Nope, he still doesn't get pulled. Then he gives up another RBI hit. Great, the Nats are down 4-0 just like that and nobody is even warming up in the bullpen. GAME OVER.
Then tonight's game. Detwiler does what Detwiler has been doing for weeks. He gets through the lineup once then the wheels come off for him. He is good for about 4 innings, then he becomes the most hittable pitcher not named Dan Haren. Want the proof, look at his game log here: http://espn.go.com/mlb/player/_/id/28895/ross-detwiler
What does Davey continue to do? He continues to stick with him for 3-5 batters too long. Why does Detwiler get this treatment yet Strasburg goes 7 and gives up 0, and gets the hook?
The best was the postgame press conference where Davey once again sounded like the 70 year old he is, bumbling over words and finally admitting that he "doesn't have any answers" for why the offense sucks. If your manager is saying this, then it is time to make a change. We are more than half way through the season, 7 games out in the division, 6.5 out of a Wild Card and having just lost 2 in a row to a team that was 17 games under .500, who has given up the most runs in the NL yet somehow held the Nats scoreless over 15 innings and only giving up 1 run in 2 games.
On top of the last two games, the team's babying of Strasburg is embarrassing. Taking him out early, sending the trainer out to the mound every time he sneezes, I mean come on. Strasburg is becoming a national punchline and his reputation is taking a major hit, and it is not justified. The handling of the recent "injury" that landed him on the DL was the worst. He was pitching fine, throwing hard and very effective when they pulled him from the game against the Braves. The story changed multiple times before the team settled on a strained back muscle. The organization is turning this guy into what the rest of the world sees as a big baby, and all he is trying to do is go out and be the ace of the staff. Matt Harvey isn't any better than Stras, but the impression is that he is ten times the pitcher right now and that is based on perception, not statistics. His numbers are slightly better, but not by a lot, with the exception of strikeouts and Stras has made a conscious effort to pitch to contact this year instead of striking guys out. Perception is reality and the Nats have done everything they can to have Stras perceived as a fragile kid. Newsflash, he is a stud, let him pitch.
It was great seeing Harper hit the home the other night, but how about the 0-11 since. On top of that, there is the missed catch last night and the error tonight. Both plays should have been made without question. Clearly he is still affected mentally from the wall crash. Not to mention that his batting average has dropped from .373 to .272 in his last 24 games played. Some of it due to playing hurt for a while, but regardless, he is slumping hard. Its sad to see.
So Haren looks to be coming off the DL next week and Davey has already proclaimed that he will be back in the rotation. WHY? He wasn't really hurt. He flat out has lost it (since my last post where I praised him). If Taylor Jordan goes out tomorrow and pitches another game like he did in NY over the weekend, how can you not give him another start? He had some control issues, but was much more effective than Haren has been lately. It sounds to me like the organization is more interested in their ego than winning. The $13 million dollar mistake that is Haren will continue to get starts even though they are not deserved. Speaking of the $13 million man, tonight the Nats got a taste of a guy they could have and should have signed, Kyle Lohse. Out of fear of giving him a 3 year deal at age 34, they signed Haren who was coming off an injury plagued season in which he was terrible when he was healthy. But, they had no problem giving him $13 million. The team has money and the draft pick compensation is not much of a factor since the team is very young and shouldn't be getting any high draft picks anytime soon.
Meanwhile, Lohse signed for $33 mil over 3 years. This is the same Lohse who finished 7th in the Cy Young voting last year, has had above average numbers in 2011 and 2012 and whose numbers this year are night and day compared to Haren (3.43 ERA versus 6.10, 1.16 WHIP versus 1.44).
I am really sick of Davey making excuses night after night. "We played a good ball club right there." "We faced a good pitcher." If you only paid attention to his postgame comments each night, you would think the Nats have played the toughest schedule in the history of the game, against pitching rotations that feature Cy Young, Sandy Koufax, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux and Bob Gibson. What happened to the 98 win Nats from last year? What about that "World Series or Bust" proclamation? If this team was supposed to be so good, shouldn't they be capable to stepping up and winning games against these world beaters (according to Davey) we seem to play every night? There isn't going to be a World Series this year, just a bust.
I have said it before and will say it again, humble and hungry is how you should conduct yourself. The Giants do it and they have won 2 out of the last 3 World Series and could have won 3 if Posey didn't get his ankle crushed in 2011.
For everyone who likes to point out that the Tigers and Giants were around .500 midway through recent seasons before going gangbusters and making World series runs, do not discount the fact that both teams have championship pedigree. The Nats do not. One division title and a NLDS meltdown loss do not count as a championship pedigree.
Strasburg, Gio and Zim can't keep going out there and throwing brilliant games just to see our offense do nothing to support them. Gio and Stras should have much better records than they do. So is it Eckstein? Is it Davey? Is it the players? It has to be someone. I don't want to hear about how hard they try. They are MLB players, coaches and managers. They should try harder than any of us every night and if their best isn't good enough, then move aside because I do not believe in moral victories. The game is about winning, not trying hard. Put up or shut up. If it was about how hard you try, then a lot of us who are not blessed with the physical traits would be All Stars because we would certainly try really hard. Teams and fanbases like the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, Cardinals...they get results. they find the will to win more than they lose. The Nats...they just try hard.
Someone is going to comment here and say I don't offer any solutions. I don't. I don't because I don't think there are any solutions. I think this is what we get. A .500 team. Maybe last year was a fluke. I will be sitting in the ballpark tomorrow assuming we are going to lose because I have no reason to believe we are capable of winning. I will be there on Saturday as well, thinking the same thing. I am resigned to the fact that something is preventing this team from being great. I don't know what, but I do know that the status quo isn't working.
Parting stats...the Nats haven't been 3 games over .500 since May 18th and have just one 3 game winning streak since May 11th.