'Bad vibe' surrounds struggling Nats

Ben Krimmel
May 16, 2019 - 12:28 pm

A whopping 120 games remain in the 2019 MLB season, but it is not too early to ask the big question: Are the Nationals fixable?

The hood is open and Nats fans have gathered around to examine the sputtering engine of the Washington Nationals and must figure out if after 42 games the organization can turn the season around.

Do they have the right parts to make the repairs? If not, can they find new ones during the middle of the campaign? And is the guy in charge of making the tweaks and swapping out parts capable of making the repairs needed? Or is this car doomed to sputter and only capable of being so-so?

"We were kinda sold a bill of goods and I believed it wholeheartedly that they could replace Bryce Harper, by the sum of their parts," Eric Bickel said Thursday. "I don't think losing Bryce has been catastrophic at all, he's certainly had his struggles with Philly, but the bullpen has been killing them for most of this year, they've had injuries - Trea Turner got hurt in the fourth game - Davey, I mean every day here fans are calling for Davey's head, he's sort of uninspiring so far."

Are they fixable? Can the season be salvaged?

"We all deal with bad stretches, your teams go through bad runs, but it feels like and this has been kind of a thing with the Nationals since, really kinda since, Martinez has got there (that) they can never quite get the ball rolling the right direction," MLB writer Will Leitch told The Sports Junkies. "They can never kind of sustain anything.

"There's a bad vibe going on with this team. There's a bad vibe going on with this franchise."

And clearly, Leitch says, something has to get fixed. Perhaps Martinez could be the one who pays the piper?

"I'm always wary of the idea of firing the manager as somehow some sort of resolution or a way to escape the problem," Leitch said. "I think the Nationals should know that very well considering some of the moves they've made the last two years. That said, something's wrong.

"There's too much talent, even with the injuries, for them to be struggling really quite this much. And I can certainly understand those calls coming from the fanbase."

One advantage the Nats have right now: Nobody is running away with the NL East quite yet.

"The Braves are hovering around .500, I think the Phillies are the only team that are above .500 now and they have a lot of issues," Leitch said. "Really it is kinda shocking how, Washington fans have gotten used to Harper getting off to great starts and then slowing, that's been even more dramatic this year, he has really been struggling for about three weeks now.

"So it's not like anybody is really running away with the division."

There is still too much talent, in Leitch's eyes, in the Nats rotation, especially, to cross them off any list of contenders yet, but the clock is ticking. 

The Nationals need their manager to reassert control if they are going to be able to weather the storm. And taking a firm hand at the wheel is something he has seemed to struggle doing, Leitch said. "It does not strike me that Martinez has had really a firm hand when things have kinda gotten floating away."

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