I have steeled myself for this version of the Washington Nationals. After the Great Talent Dump of 2021 (you knew the Nats had given up when they traded away Trea Turner), the upcoming pain was apparent. In fact, the Nats have been one of baseball’s worst teams since winning the World Series in 2019, as a combo of pitching injuries, trades of talent for prospects and declining skills among veterans have conspired to sink the team.
The current version of the Nats is 4-6, about where you’d expect them to be as a winning percentage for the entire year, and have disappointingly lost two out of three to the Pirates as of this writing. Only six team members are hitting above .200, although Juan Soto is still Juan Soto, and Josh Bell has started out hot. Victor Robles, once the organization’s biggest propsect, is 0 for 18. Carter Kieboom, he of the multiple failed attempts to make it in the bigs so far, is out indefinitely with a forearm injury. Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin, two big reasons why the Nats won the 2019 series, are hurt again and possess an ERA of nearly 11, respectively.
But the bullpen has looked OK and it’s fun to have Sean Doolittle (who has looked good so far) back in town. Erick Fedde, Josh Rogers and Josiah Gray have been solid starters. Anibel Sanchez is on the cusp of returning (whether he’ll be effective is another matter), Strasburg might pitch again in a few weeks and Joe Ross also might be back in June.
But for now, we grind. I desperately hope we don’t become Orioles South and echo baseball’s most incompetent franchise — one so bad that it hurts the Nationals through their terrible O’s-controlled joint TV network and the long-outstanding TV payments the Orioles have foot-dragged. O’s fans: You definitely deserve better.
It’s sometimes hard to pick out the path ahead with what looks like a pieced-together team. But there are some rays of sunshine in here, and it’s not absurd to think this Nats team will at least be reasonably competitive and entertaining.