Washington Nationals 2011: The Opening Weekend That Was
Can we just pretend Sunday didn't happen? If my optimism meter was at a nine on Saturday night, it's at four on Monday morning.
The question is, was Sunday's debacle a fluke or something we will be seeing for the next six months? Hopefully, it's the latter.
After watching those first two games—with the slick defending and all—I don't think I can go back to watching the Nats of 2010.
You know what they say: Once you go legitimate baseball team, you don't go back.
They say that, right?
Anyway, let's get on with it...
The Nats opened 2011 against the Braves on a rainy Thursday at Nationals Park with a 2-0 loss. On Saturday, Washington worked around a 55-minute rain delay to take care of Atlanta, 6-3. The Braves came back with a vengeance in the rubber match Sunday, winning 11-2.
Game of the Week
Saturday's 6-3 win over Atlanta
This was not hard to pick as it was the Nats' only win. But really, the Nationals put on a baseball clinic. Somewhere Tom Emanski was smiling: runners were being moved, squeeze bunts were being laid down, relievers were get outs, balls were being caught. It was like Sunday's game—only the complete opposite.
Player of the Week
John Lannan (1-0, 5 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 3 K, 1 BB)
I was going to do the corny thing and give it to the entire defense, then Sunday happened. So I went with Lannan over Werth because of what he went through last year and the fact that he isn't being paid $17 million a year. Lannan was better per dollar, so there you go.
Dud of the Week:
Ian Desmond (.000/.000/.000, 0 H, 0 BB, 3 SO)
Desmond is hitting .000 with an OBP of .000. I don't think you have to be a member of SABR to realize that that is not the type of production you want in a leadoff hitter—unless you're Jim Riggleman, I guess.
Should the Nats officially name a closer?
This week on a scale of 1 to 10:
I'm giving this week a solid 6.5. Before Sunday, it would have been an 8.5, but for the purposes of this feature, Monday is the beginning of the week, so Sunday counts. The one concern no one seems to be talking about is the overall lack of power. The Nationals hit just one home run over the weekend, and that was a wall-scraper by Rick Ankiel.
Random diatribe of the week:
It's looking more and more like the Nationals have chosen Sean Burnett to close games out this year, but they have yet to officially announce it, which is fine by me. I don't see the point of defining roles when neither Storen or Burnett are complaining. There's no need for Riggleman to commit himself at this point. What if one these guys starts struggling? Then you have to officially switch things up, which will further destroy the confidence of that guy. The current system allows for mixing and matching without insulting any of the players.
NL East Power Rankings
Who is the Worst Team in the NL East?
The Phils took care of the Astros with relative ease after their walk-off win on Opening Day.
2. Atlanta Braves
After watching them play three—which is too early to make judgments, but I'll make some anyway—I'm worried about the top of their order and their infield defense. Other than that, they are a very good team.
3. Washington Nationals
I picked the Nats to finish third in the division, and a respectable effort against the Braves gives me no reason to drop them.
They may have lost the series to the Mets, but it's going to take more than that to drop them.
The Mets managed to come back from a loss on Opening Day to take their series with the Fish. They're inching their way up to fourth in these rankings, which I'm sure they care about.
The Nats are in Miami for a three-game series against the Marlins. From there, the team travels up to New York for a weekend series with the Mets.
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