Monday, July 2, 2018
Soto: A Nationals Story
The Nationals should be very happy that their newest wunderkind prospect Juan Soto happened to pop up at the exact right moment this season. Without him, I don't even know if they'd be in the conversation.
I have no idea what happened, but the Washington Nationals just don't have it this year. Their flagship star, Bryce Harper, is limp as all hell this year, with a .216 average. Yes, he hits home runs, but so does Mark Reynolds, and at least he's smart enough to figure out how to stop striking out. Harper has struck out 84 times this year--that's four more than Michael Taylor, who was also supposed to help carry the team this year.
A lot of the people that Dave Martinez put trust in to work like hell this year, like Harper and Taylor, Matt Wieters and Ryan Zimmerman, have all disappointed. Even Howie Kendrick and Matt Adams have wound up on the DL. I mean, good news is that Mark Reynolds is your everyday 1st baseman, which is not a bad deal whatsoever, but...Pedro Severino is the starting catcher, and he's hitting under the mendoza line. And yes, Daniel Murphy is back, but he's also sub-.200, forcing Wilmer Difo's simply-alright stuff to be the choice at 2nd base.
There is a strong core of Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon, Adam Eaton and Soto. The four of them are all pretty nice this year, even if Rendon's numbers are more human than we've been expecting. The problem is that the strength of this core doesn't extend to the rest of the team, especially the lead star that people are paying tickets to see.
The good news is that this is one of the most strikeout-friendly pitching rotations in baseball, and Max Scherzer will be lobbying hard for a fourth Cy Young award. Gio and Roark are fine, and Jeremy Hellickson finally has his 2016 material back, but with Strasburg injured, we may have to deal with Erick Fedde in that last spot for longer than we'd like. Yes, the 8th-9th platoon of Kelvin Herrera and Sean Doolittle seems to be potent, but there are still minor holes in the bullpen and rotation, which, while not to the extent of those in the rotation, aren't...lovely to work with.
The team's flawed, the Phils just kicked their ass a few times, and...I don't know if they're gonna get better than third. Remember, we all thought this would be the year they'd win the playoff match. And I don't know if that's gonna happen anymore.
Coming Tomorrow- If it weren't for a certain unstoppable Yankee pitcher, I'd say with confidence that he'd be on the way to a Cy repeat himself.