The Good with the Bad: COL Series Takeaways

The Good With the Bad is a segment in which Citizens of Natstown contributor Luigi (Ouij) de Guzman (@ouij) and Alyssa Wolice 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 dropped two of three to the Colorado Rockies at home and now trail the first-place New York Mets by 1 1/2 games in the NL East.

OUIJ'S TAKE:

The Saddest of Possible Words. Permit me to riff on a poem that's been much on our minds lately:

They are the back of the Nationals' 'pen:
Janssen and Storen and Pap.
Trio of Closers, gods among men,
Janssen and Storen and Pap.
Trying to get that day's starter a win
Holding the margin, no matter how thin,
If they get a save--O, how Matty will grin!
Janssen and Storen and...

Crap. Drew Storen doesn't get saves in his new role, but he can blow them--and he blew two saves this week. On Friday, he gave up a monstrous grand slam to Carlos Gonzalez. On Sunday, he was BABIPed to death. Were either of these losses really his fault? No, not really. It's ridiculous to expect Drew Storen to pitch perfect 8th innings.

The Nats could have, and should have, swept the Rockies handily. They swung the bats well, scored at least four runs in every game, and got good starting pitching performances. They still lost the series.

Let this be a cautionary tale: random chance being what it is, the Nats are going to lose a bunch of games that they probably should win... Even in games where literally everything was going the Nats' way, the Nats still lose. Storen entered Friday's game with a 4-1 lead. Janssen had done his bit. Only six outs separated the Nats from a win. One awful inning put the game out of reach.

The Nats will travel West to LA and San Francisco, where things are definitely not likely to break so uniformly in their favor. They will face Greinke and Kershaw and Cain.

ALYSSA'S TAKE:

Welcome back, Strasburg. Stephen Strasburg wasted no time going to work on his first day off the disabled list. The right-hander celebrated his best outing of the year, striking out 12 Colorado Rockies and allowing one run on three hits. As icing on the cake, he went 3-for-3 on the night—and was the only Nationals batter to tally three hits, in fact. The good news is that the Nationals fared better against Rockies starter Eddie Butler—most specifically, the middle of the Washington batting order. Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond each celebrated two hits on the night, and Danny Espinosa contributed two runs by way of two walks earned.

Zimmermann did his part. Lo and behold, Drew Storen blew a save for the Nationals in the eighth inning Friday night and again Sunday afternoon. But, before bullpen troubles showed face on Friday, Jordan Zimmermann kept the Nats in the running for a Curly W. Through 6.2 innings pitched, Zimmermann allowed just one run on four hits while striking out six batters. He even managed to retire 18 of the first 20 batters he faced. For his hard work, Zimmermann walked away with nothing more than his eighth no decision of the season. Max Scherzer, on the other hand, gave the Nats a middle-of-the-road performance Sunday, allowing four earned runs on eight hits and one walk through six innings pitched. But, the Washington bats kept at it just enough to match the Rockies until the dreaded eighth inning arrived.

The Nats should have swept the Rockies. True, it’s not positive news to report: the Nationals should have swept the Rockies with flying colors, and instead, they lost the series, 1-2. But, a quick glance through rose-colored glasses will reveal that the Nats only narrowly lost two of three games against the Rockies this past weekend—and both losses resulted from one common denominator.

To start, the Nats cruised through the first seven innings of Friday’s contest thanks to Jordan Zimmermann’s pitching and offense provided by Nos. 2 through 6 in the batting order – all of whom either knocked in or scored at least one run. The problem that surfaced should have been expected: Drew Storen struggled in the eighth inning, in his new role. If no one had anticipated a rough outing by Storen on Friday—an outing in which he allowed a grand slam to Carlos Gonzalez—it became a safe bet shortly after the start of the eighth inning Sunday. The Nationals’ offense kept pace with the Rockies’ to hold a 4-4 tie into the eighth inning of the rubber match until Storen took the mound. That’s not to guarantee the Nats would have emerged the victors had the pitching situation been reworked, but the eighth innings of both Friday’s and Sunday’s matchups were the clear difference-makers.

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