The Nats came out of the All-Star break needing to win. Then the second half began with a loss Friday, despite a quality Strasburg start. It continued with another loss Saturday, despite masterful stuff from Gio. The wheels fell off Sunday as ZNN lasted two innings, and Werth was the only guy to get a hit. They’re lucky to be seven back of Atlanta.
This is a pattern for the team so many picked to win the World Series: pitch at an elite level, hit like shit. I’m not sure people realize how special that dichotomy is, though.
It’s hard to be where the Nats are now (48-50) with pitching that good (fifth-best ERA in the league). Here’s the full list of teams that finished top-five in ERA and below .500 in the past 10 years:
— 2011 San Diego Padres (third-best ERA, .438 win percentage)
That’s it, and they finished last, which is what happens when your HR leader hits 11 and only one player has more than 45 RBI. The ’13 Nats seem to have a better lineup, but they’ve scored the third-fewest runs in the league, same as those ’11 Padres. The Nats also have the second-most errors, which is another factor at play here.
So where do they go from here? I’d say a top-five ERA is more likely than a sub-.500 record, but faith is getting thinner.