The Washington Nationals finally won a series again! For the first time since taking two of three against the San Francisco Giants on April 18th, the Nats came out victorious in a series, snapping a streak of seven series without a win.
Despite dropping the opener, the Nationals rallied in the next two against the New York Mets, who are having their own set of problems this season. There were definitely positives to take from the series unlike some of the others we’ve had recently.
Here are the main takeaways from the three-game midweek set...
Robles owns the Mets
It’s still very early in his big league career, but Nationals rookie Victor Robles is already becoming a thorn in the Mets’ side. He continued that theme in this series.
Combined over the three games, Robles went 4-for-13 with two home runs, four runs, and three RBI. That brings his season slash line against the Mets up to .333/.405/.788 with four long balls, 12 runs, and seven RBI.
Arguably the most surprising part of Robles’ season so far is the power that he’s been able to display. He sports eight homers on the season, which is tied for third among all major league rookies, and also one more than a certain Bryce Harper has hit in 2019.
We’ve talked about how raw the young centerfielder can be in the field and on the bases, but his talent in all facets in undeniable. Sadly, he doesn’t get to play the Mets every game, but we’re seeing another potential superstar beginning to blossom on this team.
Turner’s return looming
Perhaps one of the most promising pieces of news to come during the series against the Mets was the fact that Trea Turner is nearing his return to the big leagues.
Turner played in two rehab games with the Potomac Nationals during the week before staying with the major league club on Thursday. Though manager Dave Martinez didn’t confirm it, it did sound like his activation could come on Friday.
The shortstop has been missed on both sides of the ball, so although his return is a little rushed, it’s easy to see why.
Both Carter Kieboom and Wilmer Difo have struggled to fill in for Turner, slashing a combined .201/.267/.306 heading into Thursday’s game while also posting a combined -11 Defensive Runs Saved. It’s safe to say it’s been a huge downgrade.
Don’t expect Turner to hit right away. We’ve seen both Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto start sluggish in their return from injury. However, it will finally give the Nats some stability in the field, and when he does hit, it gets their lineup close to full health again.
No Parra no party
The legend of Gerardo Parra goes on! The signing that raised some eyebrows when it was agreed has certainly paid off in the early going of his Nats tenure.
Though he went 0-for-4 in the series opener against the Mets, he stuffed the stat sheet in the finale on Thursday. Filling in it at first base, Parra went 3-for-3 with a double, a home run, three RBI, and a stolen base.
He’s been lightning in a bottle in his short time as a National, boasting a lofty .294/.368/.765 slash line with two home runs and seven RBI. And let’s not forget the defensive side of things, impressing at first base despite a lack of extensive experience at the position.
Sure, Parra is going to cool down and be the slightly below league-average hitter he’s been for most of his career. But at the very least, Mike Rizzo has plucked a good fourth outfielder, who adds a much needed left-handed bat to the bench, from the scrap heap.
Soto shaking off the rust
From this year’s dynamic rookie sensation to last year’s, Juan Soto continued his mini-scuffle over these three games. He was only activated on Saturday after spending the minimum 10 days on the Injured List and the rust is still evident.
Against the Mets, Soto went just 1-for-12 with only one RBI. Even further out of character for the outfielder was the fact that he struck out five times while walking just once.
It’s not quite been the sophomore campaign that Soto had hoped for so far with a measly .228/.345/.415 slash line on the year as major league pitching adjusts to him. With a strikeout rate that has jumped up over seven percent, Soto now needs to adjust back.
If there’s anyone that can get back on track and figure out opposing pitchers plans against him, it’s Soto. Expect a breakout for him again soon. But until then, maybe a day off where he cedes left field to Parra may help clear his head.
Back end of the rotation struggles continue
Despite the addition of Patrick Corbin this offseason, it was obvious the Nationals still needed more depth in their rotation. In an attempt to get that depth, the Nats went on to sign Aníbal Sánchez and Jeremy Hellickson.
Unfortunately, neither has been up to the standard expected of them. Hellickson really struggled again this series, giving up a grand slam to Wilson Ramos in the first inning of his start. Meanwhile, Sánchez had to depart in the second inning due to a hamstring injury.
That injury creates an interesting dilemma for the Nats, who now need to fill the right-hander’s spot in the rotation. Erick Fedde is likely the favorite, even though he did surrender four runs in relief of Sánchez. Kyle McGowin, Joe Ross, and Wil Crowe are the other options.
Regardless of who fills that spot, the Nats have to get more production from the bottom of the rotation. With the team already in a huge hole to start the year, they need to start winning three or four games of five most times through the rotation.
Next up: Things get tougher for the Nationals this weekend as the Chicago Cubs and their 25-16 record come to town. Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Jeremy Hellickson are the expected starters for the hosts who hope to slowly claw their way back from the abyss.