The Good with the Bad: MIA Series Takeaways

The Good With the Bad is a segment in which Alyssa Wolice and Citizens of Natstown contributor Luigi (Ouij) de Guzman (@ouij) break down the negatives and positives for each series, respectively. You, the reader, can then decide to see the glass half empty - or full - with each series wrap.

The Nationals won two of three in Miami and now hold a 54-46 record atop the NL East. Even more, the Nats saw the return of Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman, and the addition of closer Jonathan Papelbon. So what does it all mean?

THE GOOD

The boys are back, the boys are back. 97 games into the season, Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth finally returned to the Nationals lineup Tuesday evening. Their bats weren’t enough to overcome pitcher Jose Fernandez’s incredible success at Marlins Park, but the two went 2-for-3 with a double and 1-for-4, respectively. Zimmerman’s bat, in particular, played a key role in the Nats’ Curly W Wednesday, and the first baseman went 4-for-11 in the series.

Harper reigns supreme. Bryce Harper’s NL-leading 28th and 29th homers of the season came Wednesday night, breathing new life into the Nats’ oft-sleepy offense. Harper has certainly enjoyed batting off Marlins right-hander Tom Koehler—against home he has five career homers. But, Harper’s career success against Koehler shouldn’t take away from the Nats’ win, either. After all, Koehler has held a sub-1.70 ERA at Marlins Park this year.It only takes a swing. Sure, the Nationals’ offense has had its ups and downs this season. Thankfully, with Max Scherzer on the mound Thursday afternoon, the Nats were able to top the Marlins with just one swing. Scherzer bounced back after a rusty outing against the Pirates to allow just three singles through seven innings and 109 pitches thrown. He would have walked away with nothing more than a no decision had it not been for Ryan Zimmerman’s solo shot over the left-field wall in the second inning.

The “Storen-Papelbon” Strategy Worked. Regardless of where one stands on the Papelbon vs. Storen debate, in the Nats’ first opportunity to try out the new duo, the tactic worked like a charm. After the Nats acquired Papelbon in a deal with the Phillies Tuesday, the new Washington closer earned his first save in a Nationals uniform, backing up a solid eighth-inning performance by Storen. Stay tuned to see the outcome of Papelbon asking to see Storen's slider.

THE BAD:

It's all fun and games until someone loses their cool. The Nats’ decision to go all-in for Jonathan Papelbon came as a surprise to many, given Drew Storen’s fantastic performance as the Nats’ closer. Papelbon’s numbers this season have been fantastic: through 37 games, he’s maintained a 1.59 ERA and earned 17 saves. But, Papelbon carries with him a reputation for being hotheaded and downright crude. From the infamous crotch-grabbing incident and resulting suspension, to the mere fact he took Doug Fister’s number upon arrival... Nationals fans can hope his numbers will carry through to the end of the year—and the postseason, which one can assume is the main reason the Nats picked him up. But, in a clubhouse that already boasts several strong personalities, one can’t help but wonder if Papelbon’s presence is a ticking time bomb.

Even in wins, the Nats’ offense struggles. In their 4-1 loss to the Marlins, the Nationals conjured up seven hits—two of which came off the bat of Ryan Zimmerman. But, they also went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10 basemen in the course of a night. In the team’s 1-0 win, four Nationals went 0-for-4 on the day—two of whom struck out twice. No team can showcase powerhouse offense for 162 games straight, but the Nats need to deliver on the promise that the return of beloved players would spell the return of a consistent offense.


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