The Washington Nationals have not had their entire, projected lineup together once this season, and because of Wilson Ramos’s torn ACL, they never will. But the return of Jayson Werth has gotten them closer to that ideal than at any point this season. Once Ian Desmond comes back in a few weeks, then they’ll have as complete a version of themselves as they can. As one Nats coach put it, “We’re gonna be pretty [stinking] good.”
Thing is, the Nationals have been pretty good no matter what. Regardless of slumps or injuries, the time of year or the kind of opponent, the Nationals have won. The fuller they are, the better. They are, for example, 24-9 when Werth plays, including 6-0 in games he’s appeared in since he returned last week from his broken wrist. And they are 37-22 when Michael Morse plays.
But the Nationals’ balanced lineup and, probably more than anything, their dominant starting pitching has allowed them to keep winning no matter the circumstances. Manager Davey Johnson and hitting coach Rick Eckstein have implored Bryce Harper to not put so much pressure on himself. Well, he has hit .182/.270./.273 since the all-star break, and the Nationals are 18-9 since then. They are not reliant on any one player.
The Nationals have weathered injuries to several crucial players, and they have thrived regardless. Even back in May, the Nationals played 22 games without both Morse and Werth as Ryan Zimmerman hit .262/.333/.357, and they still went 11-11. Consider the Nationals’ record under the following scenarios:
Without Ian Desmond: 15-6
Without Michael Morse: 30-21
Without Jayson Werth: 43-34
Without Wilson Ramos: 51-34
Without Ryan Zimmerman: 8-7
With Drew Storen on the DL: 53-36
In April: 14-8
In May: 15-13
In June: 15-11
In July: 17-9
In August: 6-2
Interleague play: 10-8
At home: 32-22
On the road: 35-21
The Nationals are balanced and deep, and a starting rotation that has a 3.20 ERA conceals just about any deficiency. They should be thankul their top five starters, including Ross Detwiler and not counting Chien-Ming Wang, have missed zero starts due to injury.
They will not have Desmond back for another two or three weeks, but their history this season says that will not stop them, or even slow them down.
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