This has been an up-and-down week for the Washington Nationals. Tough losses, games played in lousy weather (with rainouts and rain delays), the debut of several young players and the return of pitcher Stephen Strasburg.
The Nationals started the week with a heartbreaking 6-3 loss to the New York Mets. What made it difficult was that the loss went to starting pitcher Liván Hernandez, who may have pitched his last Major League game. The 36-year-old veteran has a career record of 174 wins and 176 losses - and while my 7-year-old’s fastball is faster than his, Liván has indicated that he still wants to keep playing baseball.
However, the Nationals want to spend the rest of the season showcasing their young pitchers, like Tom Milone (who hit a 3-run home run in his first Major League at-bat last Saturday), Brad Peacock (who pitched an inning in relief last Tuesday), and Atahualpa Severino (who faced one Dodger this past Tuesday and struck him out).
Liván Hernandez is one of the best-fielding pitchers in the game, and can bunt like nobody’s business. I think he would make an excellent middle reliever, but the old man has said that he really wants to remain as a starter. It would come as no surprise if Liván was picked up by another team during the off season. Good thing my son got a baseball from him earlier this year!
The game that the Nationals did win this past week was on Labor Day, which I was fortunate enough to attend (they beat the Dodgers 7-2). It was great seeing Michael Morse hit two home runs. Even Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond each hit one as well to get into the act. While it may seem like the only way the Nationals can score lately is with the long ball, (I’ll take the win) - it would be exciting to see some good base running or an occasional stolen base here and there.
Oh, and how can we forget the return of Stephen Strasburg to the mound this past Tuesday night? The game was sold out, but hardly anyone showed up because it had been pouring rain all day and no one thought the game would be played. Strasburg was impressive, striking out 4 in five innings while allowing two hits and no walks. But alas, the offense couldn’t keep the lead, so the Nationals lost that one 7-3.
Finally… how about Steve Lombardozzi and Corey Brown? They both came up from AAA-Syracuse and are ready to see some action in the next few weeks. Lombardozzi has even been listed as the leadoff hitter for tonight’s game against Houston, so let’s hope that plays well and can help get the Nationals win.
One problem the Nationals may face next year, if Lombardozzi has a good Spring Training, is where to put him. The Nats love Ian Desmond at shortstop, and Danny Espinosa at second base is a future Gold Glover. You KNOW they’re not going to bench Ryan Zimmerman at third… so perhaps Lombardozzi will be a utility infielder like Alex Cora?
So the Nationals’ future stars are looking pretty bright, providing us fans with a whole lot of hope for next season. Despite the fact that they are playing with the lineups in order to give some experience to the young guys, I still want the team to win a few more games. This is a much improved team than last year’s, so they could finish the season way better than last year’s 69-93!
About the Author
Written by Marien Hornyak
I was born and raised in Puerto Rico but have lived in the continental US for 22 years. I have a BS in Athletic Training and a MEd in Sport Management, where I did my thesis on "The History of Baseball Litigation." I am a wife, mother of 2, and self-proclaimed "Baseball Nerd." My favorite baseball players include Roberto Clemente, Kirby Puckett, and Iván Rodriguez.