With a 9-2 loss to the Dodgers today, victims of a series sweep and losers of six out of their last seven, the Nationals fell to 48-50 in third place in the NL East. Jayson Werth provided all of the offense this afternoon with two solo home runs; the rest of the lineup had just two hits (both singles) in 29 at-bats. Starter Jordan Zimmermann had the worst start of his career, allowing seven runs in two innings of work. As Adam Kilgore put it, “They may now know what the abyss looks like.”
Werth wasn’t willing to be pessimistic.
I think at any moment, this team could take off,” Werth said. “But I’m not going to get into the doom-and-gloom stuff, because we’ve got way too many games to play. I believe in this team. I’ve said it from the beginning. We got a long way to go. We’ll be fine. We’re a good team.”
You can understand Werth’s point of view as well, as he was a member of the 2007 Phillies when they overcome a seven-game deficit with 17 games left to play in the 2007 season to overtake the Mets for the NL East crown. In 2008, the Phillies were 3.5 games behind the Mets with 16 games left and again took home the division title en route to winning the World Series.
Manager Davey Johnson, however, isn’t happy, but appreciate’s Werth’s perspective.
“There’s a good attitude,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “I’m the one that’s frustrated. I’m the one that has trouble sleeping. I feel like we’re going to be fine.”
The Nationals will play a four-game set against the similarly-slumping Pirates. Since the mathematical halfway point of the season, the Buccos are 6-9.
Left-hander Brian Duensing signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Cubs on Friday, per a report from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman.
The free agent spent the bulk of his 2016 season with the Orioles after receiving a call-up from Triple-A Norfolk in early June. He underwent elbow surgery several weeks later when a freak bullpen injury revealed cartilage chips and inflammation in his pitching elbow, but recovered to finish the season with a 4.05 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings for the club. The Orioles utilized him for a final out during the AL Wild Card game, during which Duensing recorded a five-pitch strikeout in the ninth inning of their 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays.
The 33-year-old is currently expected to bulk up the Cubs’ left-handed relief corps, with fellow left-hander Mike Montgomery slated for the rotation in 2017.
According to an official team announcement, the Nationals have acquired catcher Derek Norris from the Padres in exchange for right-hander Pedro Avila.
Norris, 27, batted a career-low .186/.225/.328 in 458 PA with the Padres in 2016. He hit career highs with 14 home runs and nine stolen bases, but his dismal production rate through the second half of the season spelled the end of his time in a starting role in San Diego. Norris’ departure from the Padres also confirms 24-year-old Austin Hedges‘ spot on the roster, as reported by MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell:
Heading to San Diego is 19-year-old right-handed starter Pedro Avila, who was acquired by the Nationals as an international free agent in 2014. The 19-year-old spent his first season in Single-A Hagerstown and went 7-7 with a 3.48 ERA and 2.42 K/BB rate in 93 innings.