The Nationals, in many ways, had a good off day. Major League Baseball passed on discipline for Jordan Zimmermann but suspended Cole Hamels. The Phillies lost with Roy Halladay on the mound, sinking them to 14-16, five games back of the Nationals. The Braves lost, keeping the Nationals in first place alone by one game.
Barring a surprise, the Nationals will show up at PNC Park in Pittsburgh with Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche set to return to the lineup. They will, however, begin life without Jayson Werth. The Nationals have had trouble scoring with Werth, who has been the Nationals’ second-best hitter behind LaRoche.
The real shame of Werth breaking his wrist, an injury that will likely keep him sidelined for 10 to 12 weeks, is that he had been having exactly the kind of season the Nationals needed from him. Werth had punched up a 123 OPS+, one tick better than what he produced in 2008, the year he rose to prominence and the Phillies won the World Series. He had found great comfort in Washington and in the Nationals’ clubhouse. Taking park and era factors into account, he was back to being Jayson Werth.
Without him? Well, the Nationals can still go as far as they want if Zimmerman returns to his form and their pitching can even come close to maintaining its incredible performance. It cannot be repeated enough: the Nationals pitching staff, one month in, has been outrageously good.
The Nationals’ rotation has a 2.17 ERA at the moment. It would be unfathomable for them to finish the year with an ERA that low, but for context: The last starting rotation to finish a season with a 2.17 ERA or better was the 1918 Chicago Cubs. Three of their starters have an ERA of less than 2.00. Edwin Jackson’s 3.69 ERA is solid, but you just can’t tell compared to his rotation mates. (Jackson’s FIP, by the way, is 2.80.)
The Nationals’ rotation have relied on their pitching all season. With Werth out, they may just have to rely on it a little more.
FROM THE POST
Nationals-Phillies emerged as rivalry this weekend, and rhetoric following the series that included Mike Rizzo calling Cole Hamels “fake tough” ratcheted it to another level.
Tracee Hamilton says it’s on between the Nationals and Phillies.
FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Syracuse was postponed. Chien-Ming Wang will make a rehab start Wednesday for Syracuse, which could be his last before coming to the majors.
Richmond 2, Harrisburg 0: Jeff Kobernus went 1 for 4 with his 23rd stolen base. Mike Ballard allowed no earned runs in five innings on seven hits and a walk, striking out four.
Potomac was off.
Hagerstown 11, Augusta 3: Cutter Dykstra went 4 for 6. Jason Martinson went 2 for 5 with a double. Matt Skole went 1 for 3 with a double and two walks. Wirkin Estevez allowed three runs in seven innings on seven hits and three strikeouts.