The Nats are, as Buster Olney said, limping home for a weekend series against the White Sox. The team is now 5 games below .500. Since starting out 20-15, they have gone 11-21, which is just plain bad. Slight good mixed with quite bad means your leaning on the bad side. They have some issues, and while they’re not a bad team overall, one thing has really lead them into a major slump.

The Problem

The biggest problem over this stretch has been the starting pitching. At one point we were talking, and this is totally out of memory so I may be wrong, of something like 10 out of 11 games with a quality start. Or something near that. Now it is just the opposite.

In the month of June, the Nats have played 15 games. Stephen Strasburg has started 2 of them. Out of the remaining 12 games, there have been 4 quality starts – 2 by Livan, 1 by Lannan, and 1 by Stammen. That isn’t a formula for success, when just over half your games aren’t even quality starts. The starting pitching had failed this team, meanwhile the bullpen, despite some hiccups, has been among the best in the league. Without better starting pitching, just like we knew back in March, this team can’t win.

The Cure?

Well, Strasburg is going tonight, and he’s pretty much expected to pitch well. If something happens and he doesn’t, then your gonna see how well Riggleman can keep this team together. But don’t get yourself too far down in the depths of despair. The cavalry, it’s coming, although it’s still some time away.

  • Ross Detwiler – He’s pitching tonight for Harrisburg, coming back from his hip surgery. If things go well, he’ll probably be up in the next 2 weeks or so, but remember, despite some great success in September, we still need to see if he can do it for more than a few starts in a row.
  • Chien-Ming Wang – This week Rizzo said he’s on track to return in mid-July. The sooner the better, probably, but we still don’t know what he can bring. The de facto Ace of the Yankees staff for 2 or 3 years, he hasn’t been the same since he got hurt 2 years ago.
  • Jordan Zimmermann – The future #2 pitcher of this team, perhaps, is making great progress from his Tommy John surgery. But the team actually slowed down his rehab, worried that they were rushing him a bit. There is little doubt in my mind he’ll be very good when he comes back 100%, but I don’t know when that’ll be. We’ll likely see him this year, but 100% might not occur until the spring.

It’s heartening to see that the cavalry is coming, but, man, they are still quite a while away. Hopefully some of the other pitchers can step up in the meantime.

By Charlie