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Struggling Washington Nationals’ offense needs key players back from COVID IL

Waiting on Josh Bell, Josh Harrison, and Kyle Schwarber with losing streak at five...

Washington Nationals v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

Now that the Washington Nationals have dug themselves into a 1-5 hole to start the season, it’s an ideal time to add some new players to a struggling lineup.

Unfortunately, struggling isn’t quite the right word for the Nationals’ offense, shut out three of the last four games.

In that time, the team has left 27 runners on base, scoring just five runs.

This lineup is practically on life support.

“What often happens is that when your team is not scoring runs you put a little added pressure on yourself to be the guy to drive those guys in,” manager Davey Martinez said after the club’s loss in LA on Sunday gave the Dodgers a three-game sweep.

“I’m seeing a little bit of that right now. Guys are really pressing, just because they want to win.”

Not only are the Nationals at the bottom of the National League East standings, their 17 runs scored to date ranks next to last in all of baseball. The only good news there is that they’re in familiar company. The New York Mets are last with 16, and they and the Nats have three fewer games than everyone else. The Miami Marlins are just seven runs ahead of the Nats, giving the National League East the three lowest-scoring offenses in all of baseball.

A dubious honor, indeed, but there are signs of life.

The Nats are third in baseball with a .282 team batting average on the young season. But of their 44 hits, only 10 have gone for extra bases — six doubles and four home runs. Of those 10 extra-base hits, six belong to Trea Turner and Juan Soto.

On Sunday, Soto came to the plate four times with a chance to drive in runs. But Dodgers’ ace Clayton Kershaw could afford to challenge Soto with no serious power threats behind him, and Soto left with a rare 0-for-4 day, stranding five runners on base.

So as the Nats begin the second leg of their six-game road trip on a five-game losing streak, they are in need of some big bats to back up Soto and Turner. Prized off-season acquisitions Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber, along with infielder Josh Harrison, have their work cut out for them to jump start the offense.

“Today we were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position,” said Martinez.

“We’re getting hits, we’re not getting those timely hits. But then again, we’re missing some big bats in our lineup. Hopefully we get those guys back soon.”

Those bats could be back in the lineup, but it’s still unclear whether Bell, Schwarber and Josh Harrison will be able to come off the COVID Injured List. Confined to their own homes and backyards since the start of the season, they’ve been doing their best to stay in shape on their own. But with the team gasping for breath, they are needed badly.

Still as the team headed for St. Louis, Martinez, who told reporters before yesterday’s game that the club could get some players back against the Cardinals, if they’re cleared, said he’d had no word on if the key players would return.