Nationals' April Recap

The first month of the 2009 MLB season is officially over, with your Washington Nationals finishing with a dubious 5-16 record. While there is no question that the club is improving, time will tell whether the 2009 Nats meet the same fate as the 2008 club; that is, losing 100+ games and finishing with one of the worst (if not the worst) records in the majors. Looking back, lets look at some highlights (and of course, lowlights) of the Nats' first month of 2009.
  • The New Stadium Honeymoon is Over: The Nats' drew 40,000+ fans to their home opener against the Phillies on April 13th. While this was encouraging, attendance since the home opener has been absolutely pitiful. The home opener itself drew a significant number of Phillies fans, but home series against the Marlins, Braves, and Cardinals have drawn poorly. The erratic weather, success of the Capitals, and dismal team performance have without question taken fans out of the seats. Couple that with the fact that progress on the new "ballpark district" has slowed due to the economic downturn, and you have a solid explanation for why the fans aren't coming. Simply put, its a long way to go to Southeast D.C. to sit and watch a team get shelled.
  • Pitching, Pitching, Pitching: The Nats' starting rotation has been thoroughly inconsistent, and the bullpen looks like something out of a bad baseball movie (if Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn is available, he may be improvement over some of the Nats' current relievers). Cabrera and Lannan, the apparent "ace," are still searching for their first wins, and the bullpen, highlighted by the failures of Saul Rivera and Joel Hanrahan has blown several games, including three straight in a home series against the Marlins.
  • The Magic of the Zim: The Nats signed "face of the franchise" Ryan Zimmerman to a long-term extension, and he has responded well. Zimmerman had 14 home runs last year, and has hit 5 already. He's hitting over .300 and has been solid defensively. I've never been big on the Zimmerman bandwagon, but I'm hoping he can turn in an all-star caliber year. Jordan Zimmermann, who had a rough outing on Friday against the Cardinals, has been otherwise stellar. I wouldn't be surprised if Zimmermann moves up in the rotation soon.
  • Offensive Improvement: Nick Johnson is also over .300, which is encouraging to see. Dukes and Dunn have also helped contribute to a significant improvement in the Nats' offense. For a team that finished in the bottom of the ranks in most offensive categories last year, its nice to see some "pop" in the lineup for once. Then again, unless Manny Acta and the Nats can solve their bullpen woes sooner than later, these offensive successes may all be for naught.

The Nats wrap-up their current homestand with one more game against the Cardinals, and then two against the Astros. After this, its off to the West Coast for games against the D'Backs, Dodgers, and Giants, then an extended homestand with games against the Phillies, Pirates, and interleague play against the O's. The Nats wrap up the month on the road against the Mets and Phillies. More to come later.

No comments:

Post a Comment