Honestly, I just haven’t had the energy to post lately. It’s a combination of getting into the final month of studying for the CFA and the continuously horrible outings of the Nationals. As if the weekend when we lost three to Florida in three consecutive ninth inning blow-ups wasn’t enough, I watched last night’s game as we hammered the Phillies for 11 runs and it still wasn’t enough as the bullpen, again, came out throwing garbage to the heart of the Phillies’ order. They gave up two grand slams in one game, which would be unbelievable if I didn’t see it with my own eyes.
Last year, the team suffered deficiencies in almost every aspect of the game (hitting, slugging, scoring, defense, starting pitching, relief pitching). This season we have no trouble scoring runs…it’s the pitching and defense that remain elusive. Although to be fair, last night’s conflagration was all a lack of pitching, as the Nats ended the night without committing an error. I sat and watched the final two innings, deep down knowing that without Joe Beimel to set up the eighth, the bullpen was well-prepared to screw the pooch. And sure enough, in 15 minutes I witnessed one of the worst displays of relief pitching thus far as Mock and Hanrahan pitched around batters and ended up walking them or allowing them to advance by wild pitches. Nobody’s going to swing at a slider that hits the groub a foot in front of the plate…only in cricket.
In 15 minutes not only was the 4 run lead gone, but it had morphed into a 2 run deficit. We hit five home runs last night and that still wasn’t enough to prevent the bullpen from handing the game to the Phillies. As a fan, I know my knowledge of the team has a natural upper bound, so my prescrptions for what ails the Nationals is going to be ill-informed. But really, we’ve played at least 5 games this season that we should have won and that were lost by poor relief pitching. It’s really as simple as that. Defense has been a culprit as well, but when your pitcher gives up the only hit that could spell disaster for your team night after night, it’s evident there are big problems in the bullpen. Should Hanrahan be taken out of the closer’s role? Maybe. Although who do you put in there? Beimel is fantastic as a set up man, but he’s also on the DL for another week so let’s set him aside. Perhaps using a closer by committee would have to do for the next week, although Wells or Tavarez could fill in thanks to their veteran status.
Regardless, Hanrahan doesn’t have the mental toughness right now to be the closer and end a damn game. He does have it, but for some reason it’s gone right now. Put him as a middle relief guy for a while, anything to get him away from the ninth inning where he’s been so helpful to opposing batters.
For the love of God, I can’t watch us play6 or 7 good innings because that will lead to a loss, well, 14 times out of 18, apparently.