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.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.