In anticipation of the start of the Washington Nationals' four-game set with the visiting Chicago Cubs in the nation's capital, Al Yellon, site manager over at the SB Nation's Cubs site, Bleedcubbieblue.com, asked if we would sum up the state of the Nationals in two or three paragraphs. That kind of brevity is a serious challenge for us, but we did our best to briefly bring fans of the Cubs up to date on the Nats, while acknowledging the fact that the two teams just played a tightly-contested three-game set in Wrigley Field a week back in which the Nationals took two of three.
Here's how we summed up the Nationals right now, though we wrote it before Anthony Rendon was reinstated, and you can check out the rest of their series preview below:
The Washington Nationals are in a weird place right now, coming off an 18-9 month of May. While they were rolling for a while, they lost four of the last five games (heading into the series finale with Toronto on Wednesday), dropping three straight to the Reds in Cincinnati this past weekend after they took two of three from your Cubs in Chicago last week.
Over the last two-plus weeks, they lost Jayson Werth to a wrist fracture, missed Denard Span for two games with patella tendon soreness and the Nats' offense, which was on a tear for a while there, (led by Bryce Harper -- 31 for 86 with a .360/.495/.844 line, four doubles, a triple, 13 home runs, 28 RBIs, 22 walks and 17 Ks in 109 plate appearances in May) has cooled down some as they've worked Michael Taylor, Tyler Moore and Clint Robinson into the lineup with Werth and Span both missing some time.
They've also been dealing with the absence of Doug Fister and the struggles of Stephen Strasburg, who ended up joining Fister on the DL after he suffered a strain of the left trapezius muscle in his neck during the series in Great American Ball Park. With Tanner Roark filling in for Fister and Strasburg struggling to go far in a few starts, the bullpen has been taxed too, and the Nationals made one change since last week with Felipe Rivero coming up in place of Matt Grace, who gave up the walk-off hit in the Cubs' one win last week.
It looks like it's going to be a bit of a stretch for the next few days/weeks until Anthony Rendon, Fister and hopefully Strasburg can return where they're going to have to get by with the players they have available and try to keep winning until everyone is back and healthy.
• You can check out the rest of Bleed Cubbie Blue's series preview here, and as always, if you do comment over there, please represent us well:
And while you're waiting for the start of tonight's game, why not listen to FBB's Doghouse and I talk about last night's loss to the Blue Jays... and Doghouse's odd love for the tv show Castle... and my inexplicable love for Frank Miller's movie "The Spirit", which is really all kinds of great and occasionally disturbing... What? You've never watched "The Spirit"? Here's a quick taste of what you've been missing:
And here's a link to last night's Nats Nightly: