The Nationals honored their former face of the franchise Saturday when they retired Ryan Zimmerman’s number 11. Wasn’t it great to turn back the clock and revisit the 2012-19 era of consistent contention?
But baseball is a nine-inning game and a 162-game season and it was almost fitting that they celebrated the slugger during a season of struggling as Nats baseball was once “Ryan Zimmerman and a bunch of guys.”
You could say now that this team is “Juan Soto and a bunch of guys,” and these Nationals resemble the club that was building during the first part of Zim’s career (five third place finishes and one fourth place finish from 2005-10).
Sunday’s victory over Philadelphia not only averted a sweep but a winless week.
Meanwhile, the season of Stephen Strasburg has been put on hold again as the right-hander goes on the 15-day injured list after making just one start. That’s 31.1 innings over eight starts since tossing 35.1 innings during the 2019 playoffs.
Nobody expected Max Scherzer production when he signed the seven-year contract, but years one and two of the deal were reminiscent of what one gets in years six and seven of a contract. And there’s no telling how long this stint on the shelf will last.
Digesting the Division — the New York Mets (44-24) are on pace to win 105 games with Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom combining for eight starts. Credit an offense that leads the majors in batting average and runs scored led by Pete Alonso (19 homers with 63 RBI). Atlanta (38-29) finally lost a game in June (actually a pair) but are currently holding down the third Wild Card spot in the NL.
Philadelphia (36-32) scored 28 runs in their five-game series with the Nats while Miami (29-35) dropped back to back series last week. The Nationals (24-46) are eight games out of fourth place in the division and need to win their remaining eight games to post their first winning month since last June.
Break up the Birds — the Orioles aren’t holding any parades or hanging banners just yet, but Sunday’s win over Tampa Bay was their 30th of the season in 68 games. Last year it took 92 games for the O’s to reach that figure, and 97 games the previous full season.
Last Week’s Heroes — Josh Bell hit four homers in a 24-hour stretch while leading the team with seven RBI. Luis Garcia hit .344 with five runs scored. Josiah Gray tossed six scoreless innings in his lone start and Jackson Tetrault threw seven innings to post his first MLB victory. Ehire Adrianza even tossed a scoreless inning of relief in Thursday’s 10-1 loss to Philly, keeping at least one arm a little fresher for the next day’s doubleheader.
Last Week’s Humbled — Juan Soto hit .095, missed a game with a bad knee, and ran slowly to first on a grounder when he came back to the lineup. Nelson Cruz batted .133. It was a rough week for starters, who allowed a combined 32 runs over 25.2 innings over six games (11.22 ERA) from Monday through Friday.
Game to Watch — the Nats visit Baltimore Tuesday and Wednesday, with Patrick Corbin (3-9, 6.59 ERA) squaring off against Tyler Wells (4-4, 3.62) in the series opener. Wells has adapted well in his first season as a Major League starter and Corbin has won three of his.