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Signs of hope will come slowly in a lost season for the Washington Nationals

Skipper Davey Martinez: “I’ve got 26 guys on the roster here, and they’ve got to go out and compete each day.”

Washington Nationals v Chicago Cubs Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

The month of August is getting to be a dreary time to be a Washington Nationals fan.

If the Juan Soto trade and the death of broadcasting legend Vin Scully didn’t get things off to a bad enough start, there’s the current six-game losing streak, fueled by a four-game mugging by a Phillies team without Bryce Harper.

The Washington Nationals 2022.2 are enough to trigger flashbacks to August 2021, when the Nats won just seven games after bringing in many of the young players who might be expected to lead the Nats back to the postseason in a couple years.

While it’s nice that Luke Voit, the only veteran major leaguer the Nats got in the Soto deal, has gone 7-for-17 with a pair of homers (.412/.500/.765) in five games, it’s also understood that the best parts of the deal are minor leaguers who won’t make it to the majors this season.

And while manager Davey Martinez is driving his current collection of veterans and young big leaguers to play as hard as they can, nobody expects the Nats to win many more games this year.

“We’re keeping a close eye on some of our young guys, our prospects, and they’re doing better,” manager Davey Martinez told reporters before Monday’s 6-3 loss in Chicago.

“They’re pitching better, they’re playing better. But we’ve got to be very careful. Like I said, we’re building for the future. We want to make sure when we bring these guys up, that they’re ready.

“Whether it’s next week, two weeks, three weeks or next spring, we’ll make that decision when the time comes.

“But for right now, I’ve got 26 guys on the roster here, and they’ve got to go out and compete each day.”

Instead, we have to look for highlights from the Class-A Fredericksburg Nationals, where outfielder James Wood went 5-for-15 with a long homer in his first two games, or High-A Wilmington Blue Rocks, where Robert Hassell III went 0-for-13 in his first four games.

We’ll be checking up on the Rookie League FCL Nationals when Jarlin Susana starts pitching there.

The two prospects we’ll likely see the soonest are shortstop C.J. Abrams and left-hander MacKenzie Gore, who have both played in the majors this season.

Abrams hit .232/.285/.605 in 42 games with the Padres this season, and Gore was 4-4 with a 5.40 ERA in 16 games after going 4-1 with a 1.50 ERA in his first six starts.

When Abrams is promoted, Luis García will move to second base, weeks after he was promoted from Class AAA Rochester as the team’s shortstop of the future.

“C.J. is coming up here one of these days,” Martinez said Saturday in Philadelphia. “He’s gonna play some short and we want Luis to play some second.”

“He’s already been over there [at second] taking ground balls, like I said, just in case we do bring Abrams up here,” Martinez continued. “So, he’s been taking ground balls over there. And all of our infielders actually have been taking ground balls throughout the infield now, so it’s kind of nice.”

Gore hasn’t played since arriving, as he recovers from what he called “just some discomfort,” in his pitching elbow.

“So yeah, everything’s fine. Just kind of building strength back and getting everything 100% and should be fine,” he told reporters upon joining the team in Philadelphia.

Martinez said Saturday he expects to see Gore on the mound soon.

“He wants to come back. He’s going to start throwing on Friday, start playing catch, so we’ll get him going and then we’ll see where he’s at after that.”

So we might see some of our prized new prospects before September, and a few are still years away.

For the rest of the season, we have watch for diamonds in the rough while hunkering down for another finish like last year’s 17-38 or worse.

If you still need something to look forward to after watching the Cubs hitting homers, taking extra bases, and stranding Nats’ base runners all night, there is this weekend’s series against San Diego.

It certainly does raise the question of whether general manager Mike Rizzo was looking at the schedule when he decided to pull the trigger on Soto and Josh Bell, because he probably sold a lot of tickets to people who didn’t want to see either or both of the Nats’ superstars go.

A lot of fans are likely to show up to say a last goodbye.

We just might see an entire series at Nationals Park where the loudest ovations are for an opposing player every time he comes to bat.