The Nats currently stand with a record of 58-98, with 6 games remaining. 3 of them are at home, so if you haven’t had a chance to see the new stadium, I highly recommend taking a trip out there. There’s only one first season of the new stadium, every crappy performance after this week will be just another crappy game by any old crappy team. There are a few things worth looking for over the next 6 games, the team has a chance for a couple of things:
- Finishing with less than 100 losses. Gotta win 5 out of 6, not likely, but possible. Not that going 63-99 is so great.
- Alternatively, finishing in last place, aka #1 in the 2009 draft. Seattle’s currently just ahead in the race to last place at 57-99, while San Diego is a few games behind at 61-95.
- Christian Guzman has 178 hits. In 6 remaining games, since he never walks, he could easily get 25-30 more ABs. If he can get 12 more hits, hitting somewhere between .400 and .500 for the rest of the week, he’ll finish in the top 10 in hits for a single season for the franchise. Pretty impressive for a guy who will end the season missing about 20 games.
- Who’s going to lead this team in HRs? Ryan Zimmerman, Willie Harris and Elijah Dukes each have 13 HRs. Lastings Milledge has 14. The only other teams who have HR leaders with less than 20 HRs? Toronto, with Vernon Wells at 17 and San Francisco, with Benjie Molina at 15.
- Can Tim Redding get another win? Last season, the Nats had no pitchers with double digit wins, right now Redding is there at 10-10. It would be nice if he could also get a winning record to go on top of that. He starts on Wednesday.
- Can John Lannan get another win? Currently sitting at a record of 9-14, Lannan has a chance to give this team TWO guys with double digit wins. He starts on Friday.
- Speaking of John Lannan, no doubt he has been a bit streaky. His first 19 starts, he went 6-9 with a 3.29 ERA. His next 9 starts – 2 and 4 record with a 5.82 ERA. His last 2 start have been much better 1-1 with a 1.29 ERA. Some have said maybe his strong start was because he was new and people hadn’t figured him out. I’d like to see him finish up the season with another solid performance. It would go alot towards showing that he may just be a little streaky right now, something expected from a 23 year old, rather than a pitcher to whom hitters have adjusted.
- Will Colin Balester pitch well? His record, his ERA, his ratios… whatever. Between Balester and Lannan they may be the only starting pitchers here now that will still be on the team in 2010. I’d like to see him go out and pitch well, he starts on Thursday in the final home game of the year. Unless we make the playoffs. What? Mathematically eliminated in late May? Why I have been writing every week?
- How will Elijah Dukes finish up? At this point, he’s hitting quite well in what amounts to a little over a third of a season worth of ABs. I’d like to see how he ends it.
- Will Shawn Hill be getting his 20th win this week? Ah, no seriously, he’s been out Patterson-style most of the year. But Mussina starts tonight and in the finale on Sunday against Boston and Tim Wakefield. As more of a fan of him post-recovery to being a top pitcher again this season (18-9, 3.57 ERA, 29 BBs, 141Ks) after completely falling off last year, than I ever was of him back when he was just great, I will be rooting for him to get this done.
- While we’re at it, I’ll be watching the rest of the NL race. The Mets, Phillies and Brewers all have a shot. Even the DBacks could possible make it in. By the way, I heard on ESPN radio that, according to Bill James Online, if Mets games ended after 6 innings, they would have an 11.5 game lead in the NL East. If they ended after 8 innings they would have a 6.5 game lead. Oh Willie Randolph, if only you could have come out of the bullpen yourself!
There you have it, a few things to watch for, most of them Nats related. I expect the next posts to be a little less Nats-centric. There will still be baseball going on, just not in DC.
Remember, when the book is shut on this season, and the team finishes with just over 100 losses, you can spend the winter hoping for a better team, more wins, and more exciting moments next spring. Don’t ever forget that… 5 years ago, there was no team to root for.