June 2, 2022 [LINK / comment]
The adverse outcome of the Nationals' series against the Mets was no surprise, given that the Mets are overloaded with high-salary talent this year, but the margin of defeat added insult to injury. After losing by eight runs on Monday (in spite of scoring three times in the top of the first inning), the Nationals failed to score at all in the next two games, as the Mets won by scores of 10-0 and 5-0. In Wednesday's game the Nationals got six hits but were 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position. A 24-year old rookie named Evan Lee started the game for the Nationals, and he at least made it into the fourth inning before being replaced. Not too bad for a major league debut. (See the note on roster changes below.)
It was the first time that the Nationals had been shut out in consecutive games since April 7 and 9, 2021. (There was no game on April 8.) I was curious how many times that had happened before, and here is the list I came up with:
|Date||Consecutive shutout |
WINS by Nationals
|Total winning margin||Consecutive shutout LOSSES by Nationals|
|Total losing margin|
|Aug. 27-28, 2005||STL||12|
|May 29-30, 2007||LAD||15|
|July 21-22, 2007||COL||6|
|July 26-27, 2008||@ LAD||8|
|July 17-18, 2010||@ FLA||3|
|June 3-4, 2011||@ ARI||6|
|Apr. 1 & 3, 2013||MIA||5|
|Aug. 2-3, 2014||PHI||15|
|Sep. 25-26, 2014||NYM & MIA||6|
|May 2-3, 2015||NYM||2|
|Aug. 11-12, 2015||@ LAD||8|
|Apr. 27-28, 2016||PHI||6|
|June 10 & 12, 2018||@ SF & NYY||5|
|June 25-26, 2018||@ TB||12|
|Aug. 23-24, 2018||PHI & @ NYM||5|
|Aug. 24-25, 2018||@ NYM||6|
|Sep. 1-2, 2020||@ PHI||9|
|Apr. 7 & 9, 2021||ATL & @ LAD||3|
|May 31-June 1, 2022||NYM||15|
"@" = away games.
When dates are separated by an ampersand (&), no game was played on the intervening date.
There was a double-header on September 26, 2014.
Of note, in the other pair of games in which the Nationals were shut out by a 15-run total margin (May 29-30, 2007), the scores were the same as in this sorry episode: LAD 10, WSH 0 and LAD 5, WSH 0. Unlike the series just concluded with the Mets, however, in that 2007 series against the Dodgers, the Nationals won the third and final game, 11-4. That series was also at home, but in RFK Stadium; Nationals Park was still under construction at the time. In only two other instances were both games of consecutive shutout losses by the Nationals at home: Aug. 27-28, 2005 (vs. STL) and Apr. 27-28, 2016 (vs. PHI). The latter series was the only time the Nationals were shut out in consecutive games during a year in which they went to the postseason.
Also of note in that table, the Nationals were shut out in three straight games from August 23 to 25, 2018, and were it not for Josh Bell's solo home run in tonight's game against the Reds in Cincinnati, they would have repeated that disgrace. The Reds (18-32, .360) have edged ahead of the Nationals (18-35, .340) in terms of winning percentage among National League teams, and the Kansas City Royals (16-33, .327) are now at the bottom among all MLB teams. The Reds have improved markedly since their awful 3-22 start to the seeason, with a record of 15-10 since May 7.
In order to come up with the above data, I first I had to determine how many shutouts the Nationals had won or lost each year, and that is summarized in the table below:
|Year||Nationals' shutout WINS||Nationals' shutout LOSSES|
* Due to the covid-19 pandemic, only 60 games were played in 2020, rather than the usual 162.
** Through June 1.
ORANGE background denotes years in which the Nationals went to the postseason.
Since just under one third of the 2022 season has been played, the numbers for the first two months could be extrapolated to 6 shutout wins and 18 shutout losses for the year. That would be nearly as bad as the National's worst year for shutouts, 2008. The above table (or a modification thereof) may eventually be included on the Washington Nationals page, which has just been updated to include totals for the month of May. Photos of many of the regular starting players on that page are still missing, however. Chances are very high that I will see a game or two later this month, and will thus be able to fill in all those gaps. It's hard to keep up with teams that are in "rebuilding" mode.
The Nationals' front office is clearly aware of how bad things have gotten, in response they made some big roster moves in the past few days. Relief pitcher Austin Voth was designated for assignment, just as was done for starting pitcher Aaron Sanchez after the game on Saturday. Voth had given up multiple runs in his last five appearances, erasing any hope that he might soon improve enough to at least be tradeable for younger prospects. In Wednesday's game against the Mets that was started by Evan Lee, one of the relievers was a new guy named Jordan Weems, age 29. In the eighth inning he gave up a two-run double, pretty much dooming the Nats chances of averting a sweep. Meanwhile, infielder Luis Garcia (age 22) was called up from the minor league Rochester Red Wings. He has played with the Nationals in about half of the games for the last two years, showing great promise with the bat, but he committed an error in tonight's game against the Reds. The Nats had kept him in the minors so that he would improve his defensive skills, but shortstop Alcides Escobar hurt his leg while making a great throw to second base in Tuesday's game, so they hastened Garcia's call-up to the big leagues.
On Tuesday it was announced that starting pitcher Joe Ross will need Tommy John surgery after all. That possibility has been discussed since he went on the Injured List last summer, and it now seems likely that he won't pitch for the Nationals any more since his contract expires after this season. Stephen Strasburg may be ready for major league duty later this month, but with the 2022 season in shambles, there's really no rush.
And lest there be any doubt, General Manager Mike Rizzo declared unequivocally that Juan Soto will NOT be traded! Whatever value in return that might come from such a trade would be far offset by the demoralizing effect on the rest of the team. In spite of his mediocre numbers this year (.227 batting average), Soto is the only real star player on the team right now. He becomes eligible for free agency after the 2024 season, but until then will be eligible for arbitration in salary negotiations.
The "Washington" "Commanders", formerly known as the Redskins, have put money down on an option to buy 200 acres of land near Woodbridge, Virginia, a suburb about 20 miles south of downtown D.C. I can't imagine a less suitable location for a new stadium, so I assume that it is just a real estate maneuver aimed at getting better bargaining terms with governments in either Maryland, D.C., or Virginia. The General Assembly in Richmond decided to postpone a vote on a bill that would have offered incentives to the Commanders to build a stadium in Virginia. The Commanders' lease at FedEx Field (located in Landover, Maryland, a few miles east of the D.C. line) expires after the 2027 football season. The obvious solution of building a new stadium on the site currently occupied by RFK Stadium is being held up by political discord within the D.C. government. They can't even decide when to begin demolishing it, even though it is now essentially abandoned.