After a productive weekend enjoying friends and family, Capitol Baseball is back! Just in time to briefly sum up the weekend's series against the Marlins and for a Nats off day to travel home from their 6 game road trip.
I'm starting out with a summary focused on Ryan Zimmerman, because, well, wow. He came back for the Florida series, and while I had lots of great things to say about the defensive replacements AG and Willie Harris last week, Zimm proved why there is just no one who can replace him this weekend.
On Friday evening, I was the party pooper who insisted on watching most of the game while at a friends. Luckily, no one seemed to mind that I was distracted by baseball for 3 of the 5 hours that I was out. In this game, the Nationals won 7-1 for the 3rd win in a row and put them 3, yes THREE, games over .500. In his return, Ryan went 3 for 4 with 2 home runs and a double. Welcome back, Zimm! Scott Olsen got another win to put him at 2-1 and his ERA came all the way down to 4.35, a very respectable number for a starter. Especially since it was almost 12.00 after his first outing. He went 6 scoreless innings in the victory. And then, there was Saturday's game...
On Saturday, it was the same 7-1 score, but the Nats were on the losing end of this one. Stammen pitched only 4 innings, which for this team this season, that almost certainly means a loss. But Zimmerman still looked great going 2 for 4 with a double and two great defensive plays. This knocked the Nats back down to 13-11 and back to 3rd in the NL East.
In Sunday's game 25, the Nats, as they so often do, jumped out to an early lead. It makes the game exciting to watch and makes it easier on the pitchers. However, then Lannan has yet another break down on the mound in the 3rd inning. The Marlins scored 4 runs, 3 of them on a Hanley Ramirez home run to deep center. Lannan seemed to have trouble controlling and locating his pitches, with many of his pitches ending up in the zone. If you follow Lannan, you know that's disaster for him. He never recovered, and neither did his bullpen. Brian Bruney had another simply awful outing and the Nats lost 9-3.
The team has come back down to earth with two losses in a row, but are still 13-12 and are coming home for a 6 game homestand. But it'll be another 19 days before the Nats get another day off when the return to action on Tuesday. That's a long stretch, and hopefully the Clippard and Capps can hold up the bullpen for most of the time until then.
Finally, there are lots of guys in AAA and AA who are more than capable of eating some innings from the pen that would be much more effective than Brian Bruney has been since he joined the team. I know the Nats are paying him, $1.5 million this year, but at some point you have to cut your losses. I've been hard on Bruney this year, and will continue to be. I'll be happy to admit I'm wrong if he ends up figuring himself out. Until then, give English or another guy a shot to see what he can do.