Confidence in the overall direction of the Washington Nationals is up to 78% in this week’s SB Nation FanPulse voting, the highest mark since Opening Day. Davey Martinez is up to a 71% manager approval rating, just slightly under the optimistic Opening Day mark of 73% which is still a season-high.
Nothing like a 32-13 run (since May 24th) to renew confidence in your team.
Martinez’s squad has the best record in baseball over that stretch, and they have won 14 of their last 18, 19 of the last 25, and 28 of their last 40 games to get back in the race in the NL East, and take over the first Wild Card spot in the National League.
While there may have been serious questions about where this team was headed after a 19-31 start to the 2019 campaign, according to GM Mike Rizzo, the run they’ve been on in their last 45 games has clearly put them in a position to buy as the trade deadline approaches at the end of the month.
“I think that we’ve been most recently in acquire-mode because we had a chance to win the last eight seasons and I think we’re in that mode again,” Rizzo told The Sports Junkies earlier this week, “but that’s not to say that you can’t be a hybrid, you can’t move some pieces and make yourself better for this year and beyond.”
In an MLB Network Radio interview on Friday afternoon, Rizzo elaborated on what the Nats will be looking to do as they consider additions to the roster over the next two weeks.
Mike Rizzo on the trade deadline: "We're going to try to improve our club."— MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (@MLBNetworkRadio) July 19, 2019
OK, let's try that again.
Mike Rizzo on the trade deadline: "Our priority is going to be pitching, probably bullpen."@Nationals | #Nationals | #OnePursuit pic.twitter.com/litadiyAhb
“When you’re giving away the assets that you have to give away at the trade deadline, you kind of like to get a little bit of control in the players that you acquire,” he explained. “So we’ll be looking towards that, like everybody else in baseball is, trying to get controllable assets that can help us this year and beyond, but I think that we’ve pretty much, with our play, have made it clear that we’re going to try to acquire some talent to help us win this year and beyond and we can do that in several different categories, and we’ll see what leads us to the best outcome and helps this team take the next step.”
The focus, as expected with the way the Nationals’ bullpen has struggled this season, will be on adding relievers who can bolster the relief corps and remove some of the doubt at the back end of the ‘pen.
“Our priority is going to be pitching,” Rizzo said, “probably bullpen arms that can give us some veteran leadership and possibly shorten the game up for our starting rotation.”
The voting members of SB Nation’s FanPulse polls agree about the Nationals buying at the deadline, and having watched this team through 95 games, they’ll likely agree that the big need is in the bullpen...
Where are you on these questions? If you didn’t participate in the FanPulse survey the first three weeks, you can still sign up above or HERE.