Nats hit the road after 4-2 home stand

After sweeping three games from the Marlins, the Washington Nationals concluded their home stand by dropping two of three against the Arizona Diamondbacks. With a 36-38 record, the Nats remain in third place in the NL East, half a game ahead of the Mets and one game out of a wild-card playoff berth.

Where’s the offense?

For the Nats to be serious playoff contenders – and I predict they will be – they need to generate more offense. Washington’s team batting average (.232) is among the worst in the National League, ahead of only the Cubs, Pirates and Reds. Over the past 15 days, the team has been led by Jesse Winker (.364), CJ Abrams (.350), Ildemaro Vargas (.333), Joey Meneses (.313), and Lane Thomas (.295). The other regulars have been mostly awful during this recent stretch. Other than Luis Garcia (.250), there is not a batting average higher than .176 among Eddie Rosario, Keibert Ruiz, Jacob Young and Nick Senzel.

Pitchers deserve better

The Nationals’ pitchers are keeping the team afloat; the team ERA of 3.83 is the NL’s sixth-best, and Kyle Finnegan’s 21 saves are the second-most in the league. Assuming that kind of performance continues, even a slight improvement in the offense would go a long way toward pushing this team into playoff contention.

Long road ahead

Washington visits Colorado (26-49) tonight to begin a nine-game road trip, with stops in San Diego (39-40) and Tampa Bay (36-39) to follow. The Nats have been a .500 team on the road this season, so expect the offense to pick up – especially against the woeful Rockies, whose 5.60 team ERA is by far the worst in baseball. Washington will return to D.C. with an overall record above .500 and a wild-card playoff spot in hand.

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