Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo talked to 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies in his weekly interview on Thursday about the Nats’ sputtering offense and what, if anything, he would do to try to turn things around. His answer, while obvious, got to the truth of what’s been plaguing the Nationals during the last month (and entire season really).
“Guys got to play better, play up to their standards, and that’s the key,” Rizzo said, “... and I have all the confidence in the world that they will, you know. We’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: You’ve got Daniel Murphy going through Spring Training in the end of June, you’ve got Adam Eaton trying to get his sea legs underneath him and going through his Spring Training. You’ve got Matt Wieters down, you’ve got Ryan Zimmerman down, you’ve got Matt Adams down. Those are big offensive cogs that you don’t have or that aren’t playing up to their potential yet. So, we’re just trying to survive until we get some rhythm in the lineup, till we some synergy in the lineup, till we get guys like Eaton and Murphy to get enough at bats for them to perform, and you get Wieters and Adams and Zimmerman back and I think the offense will look much, much different.”
They also need to get players like Bryce Harper (.220/.360/.476 overall, .188/.305/.313 so far in June) producing like they can at their best, though Harper isn’t the only one who’s been struggling. But until all of the things mentioned above do happen, the Nationals have to find ways to win.
“Right now we’re grinding out wins and we’re beating teams in unconventional ways,” Rizzo said. “Some days it’s the bullpen that comes through, some days the starting pitching that comes through, and sometimes you score a lot of runs to make our jobs a little bit easier.
“That’s kind of the way we’re looking at it right now. We’ve had a rough June to say the least so far, and we’re 3.5-games out of first going into this series with the Phillies. We feel really good about where we’re at at the end of this thing.”
After last night’s loss they’re 4.0 games back, and 8-15 in June, but judging by what he’s saying, in a public forum, Rizzo doesn’t seem to think that there was any need for drastic measures, (you know, other than bringing a 19-year-old outfielder, Juan Soto, up to play every day, which has actually worked out really well so far - .318/.436/.564).
“I’ve been through this thing a long time,” Rizzo said, “... and you don’t make a whole lot of knee-jerk reactions at the end of June, you assess your team going into the trade deadline and figure out what your needs are and try to fulfill them. As of right now, our needs are to get healthy and get our lineup in tact for the first time all season.
“We haven’t had a semblance of the lineup that we envisioned going into Spring Training yet this season, so we’re looking forward to that day, and until that day comes, the young guys have to grind through and win games for us.
“We talked about it after that Tampa loss a couple days ago, nobody wants to hear that we’re trying hard, we’re playing hard, we’re this, it’s win. It’s perform.
“This is a performance league not a try hard league, so we’ve got to score more runs than the opposition any way, shape, form that you can, and win baseball games.”