Nats GM: Our defense 'as bad as I've seen' in Washington

Chris Lingebach
May 08, 2019 - 1:38 pm

Nationals GM Mike Rizzo hammered his club's defense on Wednesday, saying it's "as bad as I've seen it since I've come to Washington."

"First and foremost, there's nobody more upset and disappointed and frustrated with the season than I am," Rizzo told The Junkies on 'In The Clubhouse,' presented by Burke & Herbert Bank.

"This isn't a typical Washington Nationals start," he said. "We all know the numbers. We're one of the most successful teams in the last seven seasons. We're one of the few teams over the last seven years that have played at a .500 or better level. We've averaged 94, 95 wins over the last seven years and won some division championships, so there's nobody more upset and disappointed than I am."

Let's take a look at a few of those numbers.

The 14-21 Nationals, with a .400 winning percentage after 35 games, are off to their worst start since 2009, the year Mike Rizzo was named interim GM. The Nats opened the 2009 season 12-23 (.343), manager Manny Acta was replaced with Jim Riggleman after 87 games, and the club finished with 103 losses, putting them in position to draft Bryce Harper first overall the next summer.

"With that said, we've played bad baseball, just in general," Rizzo said. "I think the one bright spot, our big three starters have given us a chance to win each and every time out. They've pitched well. They deserve better faith. But beyond that, the bullpen, obviously it's been poor. The offense, after the injuries, has been practically non-existent.

"And most importantly to me, which impacts the starting pitching, the bullpen pitching, is our defense. Our defense has been as bad as I've seen it since I've come to Washington."

Right then, Rizzo's phone cut out. But he'd resume railing against his club's performance momentarily, picking up with the Nationals' defense.

"The defense, it affects the pitching," he said. "The stat for Fielding Independent Pitching, which is a calculation that adds the defensive element into pitching, our FIP is middle of the pack and our ERA is the worst. So it shows the impact that defense has on pitching, not only starting pitching but bullpen."

"There's been a collective under-performance in a lot of different areas and there's a lot of blame to go around," he continued. "We just have to right this ship. About 22 percent of the season's gone, so we've got about 80 percent -- 78 to 80 percent -- of the season to right this thing.

"I'm not gonna stop believing in this team that has Max Scherzer and Strasburg and Corbin, and Suzuki and Gomes, and Rendon and Turner and Soto and Robles, Eaton. This team is just too good, too talented to give up on with 80 percent of the season left. Although disappointed and upset, I still have optimism that we're gonna turn this thing around."

Rizzo named some reasons for optimism, saying, "Rendon came back yesterday, which was a big uplifting day for us. He made some good plays at third base and those are things to come."

:We've got guys coming behind him, hopefully that we're gonna see Juan Soto here maybe towards the end of the road trip return to the lineup," he said. "Matt Adams shouldn't be too far behind and Trea Turner has been progressing and improving quite a bit.

"Once we get those guys back, I think the offense and the defense will stabilize and I think we'll really get a gauge on what type of chance and what type of team that we have going forward in the last 80 percent of the season."

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