Thursday, June 24, 2021

A Million to Juan


The NL East picture has shifted slightly. After last night's Phils-Nationals bloodbath, the Atlanta Braves have moved to 2nd place, the Washington Nationals have lapped the Phillies for 3rd, and the Phils are plunked into fourth. 

Which means, in the words of Lurch from Mulholland Drive, It Is Happening...Again.

Yep, it's mid-June, and the Nationals have won 9 of their last 10 games, and slowly approaching .500 for the first time this season after being a last place team for the majority of it. Does this sound familiar to anyone? Didn't this just happen in 2019, and then...lead to a ring for them? And if I recall correctly, weren't the Nats really damn annoying about it in 2019 as well? Like, every week they'd go 'OOOP, WE HAVE THE BEST RECORD IN BASEBALL SINCE JUNE 18TH'. Yeah, you guys ready for some more of that shit if they take off?

Of course, this is a very different team from the 2019 WS team. First of all, Stephen Strasburg, as he's been every year since 2019, is hurt right now. There's also a heavily depleted bullpen, more of a dumb-power emphasis in the lineup, and Juan Soto is...ONLY reaching a 1.8 WAR. This is the most human year so far for Juan Soto, and while he's not doing BADLY at all, the 22-year-old has aimed higher in his first three seasons. He's only hitting .279, has negative baserunning numbers, and has only 29 RBIs. For most people, these are kinda normal numbers, but this is Juan Soto. This guy has accomplished more before his 23rd birthday than...most, uh, South Jersey-based sports card bloggers [what's that? I'm 26 in 5 months? SHIT!].

At least Trea Turner and Max Scherzer are having excellent seasons, to par for their usual stuff. And lately we've had people like Yan Gomes and Kyle Schwarber absolutely heating up at the plate. Plus, having Ryan Zimmerman and Gerardo Parra surging from the bench could give the team the 2019 feel they're looking for. But this team is still very empty in places, have too many 'okay' pieces, and aren't competitive enough to really contend with either the Mets or other Wild Card candidates.

So maybe they'll be good for a bit, but...I don't see this leading to another Nats World Series win. And please don't make me come back here and laugh in October.

Coming Tonight: Byron Buxton's back on the IL, which means the Twins' other former-All-Star contact hitter needs to step it up. 

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