SNIDER: Nats only get breather, not breakthrough

Rick Snider
July 16, 2018 - 2:10 pm
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The Washington Nationals blew it. They missed the perfect chance to gain momentum entering the All-Star break with a measly 6-5 mark against three lousy teams.

Enjoy the All-Star action in town because it's the pause before admitting the Nats' season is a bust.

If the Nats can't muster much against bad teams, just wait until returning Friday when facing the Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers for three games each. Facing two good teams could be a back-breaker.

Washington is a ridiculous 48-48 at the break. Yes, they're only five games off the NL East lead to Philadelphia, with Atlanta a half-game back in second. The Nats are regaining healthy players soon, like Ryan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburg. There's still time to get hot and win the division.

But, nothing says they will. The Nats are 11-22 over the past month. They get shut out more than nerds in a bar. There's no juice, no momentum, even against lousy teams.

That "switch" players always talk about in bad times that enables them to suddenly be good? It's a myth. When you stink for 96 games, there's little that brings instant success. It would take Strasburg once more dominating and Zimmerman and Bryce Harper batting .400 to bring this team alive.

No, this is one of those mediocre years like 2013 and '15. Fans should just enjoy watching pending free agents Daniel Murphy, Gio Gonzalez and Harper finish their time in Washington before the team reboots with younger talent.

It's nice that Harper is appearing in the Home Run Derby as a tip of the cap to local fans, though many in the stadium are out-of-towners. Too bad Harper is having a lousy season. That happens to some players in a contract year. He seems to lack that urgent step on the base paths, like someone finishing out a job knowing a change of scenery is coming.

It's going to be a grind over two-plus months, but at least knowing that will save some of the aggravation over not reaching the postseason. Just approach each game as if that's the only game and enjoy the wins when they come. Otherwise, that grind becomes a death march.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks