In case you missed it this weekend, the Nats lost 3 games in a row. To tack on to all the other games in a row they lost. So that fact that they lost doesn’t seem that significant, except for the way that they lost. In all three games they were up late, and in all three games, the bullpen blew it. On Friday, they were up 2-1 going into the 9th inning. Hanrahan blew the save, then Saul Rivera got the loss in the 10th. On Saturday, they were up 6-3 going in to the 9th inning, and Hanrahan blew it again. This time it was Julian Tavarez who got the loss, in the 11th. Sunday, the game I attended, they once again took a lead into the 9th inning, and once again blew the save. This time, since Hanrahan was tired of blowing daves, Saul Rivera took credit for both the blown save and the loss.
What’s important to remember here is that, despite the bad bullpen, the team played pretty well. Lannan and Olsen gave them very good starts, and Cabrera pitched very well, too. The offense wasn’t great, but it did enough to win all 3 games. These losses rest squarely on the shoulders of the bullpen. What to do? What to do? What’s most amazing is how difficult it actually is to blow 3 saves in a row. That takes a special kind of ineptitude.
Well, the Nats reacted today, and sent down 3 relievers. Shell, Ledezma and Rivera. They brought up 3 guys to take their place – Mock, Bergmann, and the recently acquired Kip Wells. This shakeup may have been done in some part to wake up the remaining members of the bullpen and show the rest of the team that they won’t be complacent. Meanwhile, I wonder what this means for the closer spot. I can only assume that it’s still Hanrahan’s job. But if Jordan Zimmermann pitches a great game his first day out, and they’re up by 3 runs going in to the 9th, I don’t know if there’s anyone from the bullpen that I feel confident can close it out. Hey, at least in the 7 hours or so of baseball played this weekend, the Nats led for about 6 1/2 of it. If only these games ended in the 8th.
And Now, the Good News
The offense has been playing well, the starting pitching was great this weekend, and, oh yeah, Ryan Zimmerman signed a long term deal. He’s signed through the end of 2013 now, which is, in effect, a 2 year extension with extra cash. They would control him through 2011 regardless, but this way he isn’t going anywhere and is presumably happy to be here. Something like $9 M a year isn’t a whole lot for him, and he’d be getting close to that in arbitration by the 2011 season anyway. If he is the 30 HR guy that I think he is (he hit 24 at the age of 22, he’s still only 24 years old), that and his top notch defense will be a great asset to this team for years to come. Either way, it’s one thing for most fans to be happy about after 2 weeks of miserable baseball.
On another bit of good news, the Double N, Jordan Zimmermann is scheduled to pitch today. Judging by the weather, that probably isn’t gonna happen today, but at least there’s something to look forward to, perhaps tomorrow night.