The Nationals, who opened up this season as the World Series favorites, have a giant problem. Their defense sucks, plain and simple.
The Nats allowed the Red Sox to accomplish something on Tuesday that you won’t see very often. Washington gave up three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, but Boston didn’t even register a hit to score any of those runs. The Nationals defense collapsed on its own, allowing the Sox to come away with an 8-7 victory that was practically gift wrapped for them.
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If you followed along with the summary of the bottom of the seventh inning above, you can see that Washington had three errors and hit two batters with pitches during the meltdown that lost them them the game. Defense was also a huge issue for them at Fenway just one day earlier in their 9-4 loss as well. Mookie Betts probably did enough to win the game for Boston in the first three innings alone, but the Nats’ fielders didn’t do much to help attempt a comeback, letting routine foul balls fall to the ground.
The team now has NINE errors on the young season, which has been a massive part of their disappointing 2-6 start. Shortstop Ian Desmond is to blame for six of those errors –which is totally unacceptable — but there’s more to it than misplaying balls like Desmond has. Fly balls have routinely dropped between confused Washinton defenders as they shrug their shoulders at each other out in the field, something that doesn’t even count as an error, but is probably an even worse play.
But even with the 10 unearned runs the Nationals have allowed through just eight games, the pitching has not been nearly as good as we expected from a star-studded rotation. Stephen Strasburg boasts an ERA of 6.75 through his first two starts of the season, while Jordan Zimmerman has been even worse in his starts, posting an 8.64 ERA. Beyond the starters, the bullpen is also just 2-for-6 in save opportunities. So when errors haven’t been enough to let a game slip away from Washinton, pitching certainly has in all aspects.
We’re only eight games into a 162 game season. Plenty of time to turn this around. But this start has been far from ideal for a team that we had really high hopes for. The Nationals have been a complete mess.
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