It’s almost over, the Nationals are on their way to ending the season. With 18 games to go, they have little time to accomplish anything other than finishing in last place. Of course, as Nats Farm Authority points out, there is still the possibility of a Pittsburgh or Baltimore or someone else finishing in last. But I’m pretty sure it aint happening. Individuals on this team, however, still have time to accomplish something other than losing more games than everyone else. There are the arbitrary numbers things, then there are the more important, but perhaps less fun and intersting thing. Let’s start with the arbitrary:

  1. Will John Lannan finish with an ERA below 4.00? He’s currently at 4.08, with probably 3 more starts to go. If he were to go average 6 innings and give up 2 ER per start, he’ll finish with a 3.98. If he only goes 5 IP per start, he’ll need to give up 4 ER total, just above 1 per start. If he give up 5 ER in the next 3 starts and goes 5 innings each, he’ll be on the nose with a 4.00 ERA.
  2. Will Adam Dunn hit 40 HR?Padres Nationals Baseball He’s only done it the last 15 seasons. Actually, the 29 year old is vying for his 5th consecutive season with exactly 40, sixth in a row with 40 or more. 18 should be enough, but he’s on a power outage recently. His ISO power up until Aug 30 was .296, since then it’s been .137. Of course, a couple of HRs would change that quickly.
  3. Will Ryan Zimmerman hit 30 HR? One more to go! 30 HRs from a GG 3B is downright impressive. Even if he stays at 29, the face of the franchise, at least in terms of position players, turns 25 in a few weeks. Assuming he stays healthy, he should be a top tier player for quite a few years to come.
  4. Will Adam Dunn finish with an OBP over .400? An AVG over .280? Both would be career highs. In fact, and AVG over .266 would be a career high. He’s currently batting .282/.411/.562.

Enough of the arbitrary number marks, here are some real things to look at. These also include some numbers but they are more telling:

  1. What happened to Elijah Dukes‘ power? 2 of his 3 “slash” numbers looks good – since coming back from injury on Aug 1, he’s hit .275/.379/.408.  That isn’t what you’d expect from a guy built like that. If they are going to count on him as their starting RF next year, you’d like to see more.
  2. Is Ian Desmond going to play? Is he going to continue to hit? First of all, Riggleman has to play him, preferably at SS. This whole “trying to win with vets” thing is ridiculous and should be grounds for a firing. You have to do what is best for the team, and this team needs to see who can help them win next year. Meanwhile, he’s hit great in 3 games, but he needs to play more, see more pitchers, and we need to see what he does against them.
  3. Can Josh Willingham recover? Remember this guy, the star of the middle month of the season? Well he’s worn down, and it isn’t pretty. Since August 15th he’s hit .198/.307/.395. A few weeks at the end might be nice for going in to next year.
  4. Can Cristian Guzman hit anymore? I used to be a big time detractor. But in ’07 and ’08 he really hit, and then the first half of this year he was good – .320/.337/.434 up until July 1. After that date, he’s hit .262/.292/.369! That is not enough, period. I’m wondering if they need to move him, not to second, but off the team. It’s just terrible, and drags down an offense. This is almost a half a season now of this.
  5. Which young pitcher is going to step up? They’ll need pitchers next April other than Lannan and whoever they sign this offseason. Like, probably 3 more. Of course, we’ve been wondering this for months now.
  6. Can the bullpen… oh never mind

In Other News

Unfortunately, Jesus Flores is hurt once again, although this one doesn’t look to be a brand new injury. It keeps him out until Spring Training, meaning there will be a question mark in the position. So an unanswerable question this offseason will be is Flores going to be the starter, and can he stay healthy all year? One way to judge Rizzo’s offseason acquisitions will be how he answered this question. If he believes a young starting catcher who has been good for half a season and has been hurt for more time than that is going to play all of 2010, I would be surprised. They need to sign competent backups, if not a semi-starter. We’ll see what happens there.

By Charlie