Everyone was hoping for a fairy-tale season for the Nationals.
No one was expecting the George R.R. Martin version.
The Nats limped home under .500, 6.5 games back of division-leading Atlanta, and are six games behind their record from last year at this time. The offense has sputtered like an old Jag throwing another alternator, and the pitching hasn’t quite lived up to its promise amid injuries. The whole season appears in jeopardy at this point, even with the most optimistic fans wondering when the team that was supposed to arise from the Spring like a kraken ready to crush the mere mortals of MLB.
“Change is coming,” said Davey Johnson in the midst of the road trip, and it arrived at Nationals Park on Tuesday, with relievers Zach Duke and Henry Rodriguez designated for assignment, infielder Danny Espinosa headed to the disabled list with a bone chip in his hand, along side a referral to a local hand surgeon for assistance in dealing with the problem.
Returning to the roster tonight are a healthy Jayson Werth, who played in AAA like a wild bear cut loose with nothing to lose and a whole field of peasants to maul, and Anthony Rendon, who will likely fill Espinosa’s slot at second, if not right away. Joining the bullpen for the first time this season is Ian Krol, who came over from Seattle in the trade for Michael Morse. Perhaps a few actual outs will remind the fan base that the trade for Morse was, in the end, a good thing to have done, if not perhaps the right thing to have done.
After all the clatter so far this year, it’s nice to see that Nats GM Mike Rizzo is, at least in some sense, willing to sacrifice his darlings. Today’s “Red Wedding” day could turn the tide for the Nationals’ season, or it might just be rearranging the deck chairs atop the Titanic. Hard to say yet, but this is a team that could use a good hard shake-up.