Nats' bats the biggest problem

Forget Strasburg, Washington's punchless lineup is a larger concern

Updated: May 11, 2013, 8:14 AM ET
By Mike Petriello | ESPN Insider

Adan LaRochePatrick McDermott/Getty ImagesAdam LaRoche just has not been the same player this year.

Through the first 30 games of this season, the Washington Nationals found themselves sitting right at .500. That'd be a fine start for a lot of teams, but not for Davey Johnson's club. After winning 98 games in 2012, general manager Mike Rizzo added starter Dan Haren, closer Rafael Soriano and outfielder Denard Span to a roster that was already bursting with talent. Consider as well that they'd get to reap the benefits of full seasons from Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg, and it's not difficult to see why the Nationals were the consensus choice to win the National League East, and seen as a potential World Series winner as well.

Though they'd won three in a row through Wednesday after dropping to .500, things still haven't fully come together yet for the team, as it treads water behind the Atlanta Braves in the division. If you ask the average fan why that is, in all likelihood he or she would reply "Strasburg." Most of the attention so far has been focused on the struggles of the Nationals' young ace, as he's battled inconsistency and right forearm tightness that at one point put his availability in question; in the seven games Strasburg has started, Washington has won just two. But for all the concern over his situation, he's still struck out nearly a man per inning and has an adequate-if-not-quite-electric 3.45 ERA. Overall, Washington's pitching has been fine, with a total 3.69 FIP that places the Nationals within the top 10 in baseball.


To see why the Nats' offense has been so bad to start the season, and whether they've got a chance to turn things around, become an Insider today.