[ed. note - “We sent the following along to the SB Nation’s Chicago Cubs site, Bleed Cubbie Blue as part of their series preview, but figured we’d reprint our rant-y “What you should know about the Nationals” offering along with today’s lineup. We’ll add a link to their entire series preview when it goes up.”]
A few things you should know about the Nationals?: One, not all Nats fans believe the narrative that Joe Maddon broke Bryce Harper last season by walking him 13 times in 19 plate appearances in Wrigley Field.
Dusty Baker noted after the series that Harper was struggling before the walk-fest with the Cubs, starting in late April really, before he even went to Chicago.
What really hurt in that series was that Maddon was able to get away with what he did because Ryan Zimmerman didn’t make the Cubs pay for putting Harper on in front of him over and over.
Zimmerman is a different player this year. He’s starting the series with a .350/.391/.657 line on the year, 21 doubles, and 19 home runs in 67 games and 275 plate appearances, after he put up a .218/.272/.370 line, 18 doubles, and 15 home runs in 115 games and 467 PAs in 2016.
Also, both Harper (.315/.420/.591, 17 doubles, 18 HRs, 305 PAs) and Zimmerman are healthy now, though Harper has never admitted to actually being injured last season.
Two to watch you might not expect: Michael A. Taylor and Brian Goodwin have been hitting the ball out of the yard in the last few weeks.
Daniel Murphy (.342/.393/.576, 22 doubles, 13 HRs, 305 PAs) is continuing to hit like the 2015 postseason never ended.
Also: Nationals’ pitchers started the day on Sunday leading the majors in Ks and they were second in the NL in WHIP and opponents’ batting average.
Oh, and no one really trusts anyone in the Nats’ bullpen.
But really: I don’t want to have to endure four days of people talking about Maddon walking Harper that whole series.