CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

Futures Guide 2014 is Now Available in Paperback and Three E-book Formats.

Premium and Super Premium Subscribers Get a 20% Discount at MLB.tv!

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Daily Roundup: Around ... (07/08)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article What You Need to Know:... (07/03)
Next Column >>
Premium Article What You Need to Know:... (07/09)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Minor League Update: G... (07/08)

July 8, 2013

What You Need to Know

The NL East Gets Interesting

by Daniel Rathman


The Weekend Takeaway
At the midway point of the regular season, the Nationals were 41-40, and their -19 run differential suggested that they were fortunate to have notched even that mediocre tally. A week earlier, they were a game under .500, at 37-38. And two weeks before that, they were a season-high eight games out of first place in the National League East, a division that, before Opening Day, they were widely expected to win.

Playing a month without Bryce Harper did not help. Neither did the apparent flop of Dan Haren, in whom general manager Mike Rizzo invested $13 million to complete a dominant rotation. And the prolonged slump that befell fellow newcomer Denard Span, who was supposed to be the sparkplug for a potent lineup, rippled through an offense that instead underwhelmed for weeks.

Harper returned from his 35-day battle with knee bursitis on July 1 and promptly homered to kick off a 10-5 drubbing of the Brewers, which came on the heels of a 13-run outburst at Citi Field. The Brewers held the Nats to one total run over the next two games, but after a 48-hour nap, the offense woke up in time to take the series finale over Milwaukee and put a 24-run hurting on the Padres over the course of a weekend sweep.

Span went 2-for-5 with a double at the top of the order in Friday’s opener, helping the Nationals chase Andrew Cashner after two-plus innings in a game they eventually won 8-5. The center fielder chipped in two more hits and a walk in Saturday’s 5-4 victory, catalyzing the seventh-inning rally that turned a one-run deficit into a one-run edge. And he added another pair of knocks and another free pass in Sunday’s 11-7 sweep-clincher, in which Harper went 3-for-4, Ryan Zimmerman cranked a grand slam, and Anthony Rendon tacked on a two-run blast.

The day before the Padres came to town, Wilson Ramos—fresh off the disabled list after missing more than a month and a half with a hamstring strain—went 3-for-5 and drove in five runs, including three on a game-winning homer in the bottom of the seventh.

If the offense was a sleeping giant, the alarm clock apparently went off on Thursday, just in time for Davey Johnson’s club to climb back into the East division race—and just in time for the Baseball Prospectus event at Nationals Park yesterday afternoon. Coupled with the Phillies’ series win over the Braves, the four-game winning streak has brought the Nationals to within four games of first place, the closest they have been since May 20, a week before Harper was forced to the shelf.

The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.

Not a subscriber?

Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.


Cancel anytime.


That's a 33% savings over the monthly price!


That's a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

2 comments have been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Daily Roundup: Around ... (07/08)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article What You Need to Know:... (07/03)
Next Column >>
Premium Article What You Need to Know:... (07/09)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Minor League Update: G... (07/08)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Fantasy Article Free Agent Watch: Week Four
Premium Article Minor League Update: Games of Wednesday, Apr...
Premium Article Skewed Left: The Squandered Promise of the D...
Premium Article Explaining Spending
Premium Article Pebble Hunting: Platoonies Never Say Die
Overthinking It: The Obligatory Article Abou...
Premium Article What You Need to Know: Pineda and Pine Tar, ...

MORE FROM JULY 8, 2013
Premium Article Monday Morning Ten Pack: July 8, 2013
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: One Less Marlin, and a...
Premium Article Painting the Black: The Outside Man
Premium Article Minor League Update: Games of Sunday, July 7
Premium Article Daily Roundup: Around the League: July 8, 20...
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit List: Monday, July 8
The Week In Quotes: July 1-7

MORE BY DANIEL RATHMAN
2013-07-11 - Premium Article What You Need to Know: Dodgers Back at Break...
2013-07-10 - Premium Article What You Need to Know: Chicago Firepower
2013-07-09 - Premium Article What You Need to Know: Tigers Back on Top
2013-07-08 - Premium Article What You Need to Know: The NL East Gets Inte...
2013-07-03 - Premium Article What You Need to Know: Bailed Out By a Homer...
2013-07-01 - Premium Article What You Need to Know: Buccos Bucking Losing...
2013-06-28 - Premium Article What You Need to Know: Pandamonium Cools wit...
More...

MORE WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
2013-07-11 - Premium Article What You Need to Know: Dodgers Back at Break...
2013-07-10 - Premium Article What You Need to Know: Chicago Firepower
2013-07-09 - Premium Article What You Need to Know: Tigers Back on Top
2013-07-08 - Premium Article What You Need to Know: The NL East Gets Inte...
2013-07-03 - Premium Article What You Need to Know: Bailed Out By a Homer...
2013-07-02 - Premium Article What You Need to Know: No Trouble with the C...
2013-07-01 - Premium Article What You Need to Know: Buccos Bucking Losing...
More...