July 26th, 2009

baseball

Turning the corner?

Listening to the Nationals was actually a pleasant experience this afternoon, not least because they managed to pull out a 3-2 win over the Padres in extra innings. I can't find any articles on line to back me up, but my gut tells me that this doesn't happen too often, largely because the Nats' bullpen has been horrible this year, but also because their offense has been almost as bad. Today the defense was good, the bats came through, and despite McDougal blowing the save, Joe Beimel came in and held down the Pods to get the win.

So at this point the Nats are 30-68, with exactly 64 games remaining in the season. If they play .500 ball for the remainder of the season, they'll be 62-100, so they need to step it up a little and play a little better than .500. They might be able to do that. This week, there's a four-game series against the Brewers, who are only a little over .500, and then four on the road against the Pirates. Three games out of four? (I'm not even going to think sweep, not even against the hapless Bucs.) August and September are mixed bags; there's some average and lousy teams in there, but also some very good teams, and it's anyone's guess whether the improvement in the pitching and defense (but I repeat myself) is going to be good enough to allow the Nationals to repeat the thumping they delivered to the Mets and Padres when they go up against the Brewers and the other mediocre teams in the NL Central.

I think one of the things that might help them is to look back at the last time a Washington team was in the World Series and see how many knuckleball pitchers they can find for the rotation. Dennis Springer has hung up his spikes, unfortunately, but Jared Fernandez is at loose ends, and the way R.A. Dickey has been pitching lately, the Twins might be open to an attractive offer. Put those two gentlemen together with John Lannan and Craig Stammen, and you'd have a decent four-man rotation, which would give you plenty of room to ease some kid from Syracuse in as a long reliever. Probably best of all for the Lerners, this could all be done on the cheap, and cheap is important. :)
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