Good morning Nats fans!!!
Well, we are finally through easily the hardest 4 days I have endured all season. Don’t get me wrong, i’m not complaining, because normally i’ve viewed the All-Star Break as a, well, break from Nats baseball for a myriad of reasons, although I have always loved them. Now, I am incredibly excited for the second half to begin, and there is no shortage of storylines going into the second half. This team has proven itself in the first half that they are going to be around, if not on top, for the long haul. Here are some big storylines for the Nats as they are set to face the Marlins in a 4 game wrap around set tonight, with Jordan Zimmermann facing Josh Johnson:
Drew Storen: The Nats 43 Save Closer of last season is going to make his return from Bone Chip surgery in a day or so. Davey has been on record saying he may not automatically make the flip-flop of Tyler Clippard and him. Davey is a big continuity guy, so I cannot say I am surprised Davey said that. The key is going to be how Storen is when he returns. If his rehab stats are any indication, it looks like he’s going to be just fine.
Jayson Werth: The Nats big money Right Fielder will be returning in roughly a month, maybe less. These moves are going to force the Nats to make some tough decisions with players. Does Tyler Moore get demoted, or does he take Xavier Nady’s spot as the Righty Bat off the bench? Another interesting move is going to be where Davey bats him. Bryce Harper could be moved down to maybe 5 or 6 and Werth could be their 2 hitter with Morse and LaRoche healthy, which is probably what i would do. If i’m Davey, my card probably looks like this:
1) Espinosa 2B
2) Werth RF
3) Zimmerman 3B
4) LaRoche 1B
5) Morse LF
6) Harper CF
7) Desmond SS
8) Flores/Solano C
Imagine that lineup, especially with the way Desmond is hitting, batting him 7th? Wow, that would be fun. Of course, I prefer a righty/lefty balance, and Davey could go with the hot hand with Desi in the middle. Hell, Davey could bat LaRoche 6 and Harper 5. It’s a fun issue to have.
Trade Deadline: Does Mike Rizzo deal for another Starter to take the place of Stephen Strasburg once shut down, and would later take the place of Edwin Jackson if he decides to sign elsewhere, or does he call someone up, like a John Lannan or maybe hope Chien-Ming Wang puts it together? Personally, I don’t believe Rizzo wants to bring up Lannan, and I think he wants to deal the two guys I just mentioned, and with the prospect of guys like Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, Zack Greinke, Wandy Rodriguez, along with some second tier Starters available, I think Rizzo believes he has some better options out there, with an idea of what he would have to part with.
Bench Players: Chad Tracy and Xavier Nady will be returning as well, and will (hopefully) be 100%. Tracy was a very good Left Handed Bat off the bench when he was healthy, and him and Bernadina is a nice combo of power and speed guys to have. Nady’s wrist has been barking, so if he gets that taken care of he could provide a nice boost along with Tyler Moore.
The Nats start a stretch tonight of 13 straight games against Miami (4), New York (3), Atlanta (3), and New York (3) again. The Nats have to pick it up against the Marlins, since they were swept the last series they played them, and they need to continue their play against Atlanta and they need to take advantage of the incredibly unfortunate New York Mets, whom I only root against when they play the Nats. Otherwise, I want the Mets to continue proving me right, as they have all year.
This is an important stretch for the Nats, and they need to realize that and capitalize on it.
I have all the faith in the world that they will.