Things could be worse, right? I mean, the Washington Nationals dropped five of their first six games this season, they had a COVID crisis, and they’ve had injuries to key players on the roster with Jon Lester, Will Harris, Wander Suero, Stephen Strasburg, Juan Soto, Alex Avila, Yan Gomes, Patrick Corbin, Luis Avilán, Josh Bell, Kyle Schwarber, and more missing time or injured early this season, and they’re still, after a 4-3 homestand, just two games under .500 at 7-9, and they’re just 1.5 games back in the NL East after 16 games. So, there are, you know, positives to take from that, right?
“I don’t want to be 7-9, that’s below .500,” Max Scherzer said when it was suggested to him that, all things being considered, things are not that bad for the club that won it all in 2019, and followed the first World Series championship by a D.C.-based team since 1924 up with a disappointing 2020 run.
“Obviously as a team we want to be better than that,” the 36-year-old, three-time Cy Young winning starter said. “But, look at it just kind of day-by-day, look how we’re playing baseball.”
They are 6-4 in their last ten, with back-to-back wins heading into this weekend’s series in New York, where the 7-6 first-place Mets await.
“We’re starting to play better baseball,” Scherzer added. “I definitely would agree with that. We’re starting to do the right things what it’s going to take to make — winning with starting pitching, winning with offense, winning with defense. Everything it takes to win, we’re starting to see that. And so, as guys get more comfortable and we start to get in sync with the season, hopefully we continue to play better, and we continue to play better to our competition.”
Just don’t ask him to say that 7-9 is good.
“I’m not going to sit here and say I’m proud that we’re 7-9. That’s not the way you look at it. You want to be better than that. You always want to be winning and winning at a high level.
“For us, hey we did some things right today, let’s continue to do that. We’ve got a big series against the Mets.”
Daniel Hudson, acknowledging everything the club has dealt with over the first few weeks this season, took a positive view of where the club finds itself.
“We got delayed and then a doubleheader on the second day, and guys missing, missing from the lineup, missing from the bullpen,” he said.
“Soto goes down with an injury yesterday. We have had a lot thrown at us the first couple weeks of the season. Guys are battling, coming to the ballpark every day in a good mood even if we lose the night before.”
“We’ve had a couple of lopsided losses,” Hudson added, (which their -20 run differential in 16 games attests to), “and guys aren’t getting too down on themselves, and we come back the next day and play a pretty good ballgame for the most part after those losses I feel like, and it just shows the character of this team and hopefully we can keep this momentum going after a solid homestand. A couple games got away from us and hopefully we can go on to New York and keep playing well.”
Surely Davey Martinez, Mr. 1-0 Every Day, Mr. Positivity Himself, has a positive take on the results of the first 16 games, right?
“I’d much prefer being 9-7 or above .500,” Martinez said, “... but you know what, like I told [the team] again tonight, I said, ‘Hey, keep playing, keep grinding. Go 1-0 every day. That’s who we are. Don’t change anything. Keep plugging away. We’re going to be fine.’
“And these guys, like I said they come out every day and they play as hard as they can, and today we just needed one more than the other guys like we do every day, and all we needed was one.”
A 1-0 win in the series finale with the Arizona Diamondbacks in D.C. sent the Nationals off on the road on a good note, and now they meet their NL East rivals for the first time in 2021, after the planned season-opening series was postponed by the COVID crisis which hit the club on Opening Day.