The Major League Baseball season is a marathon…not a sprint.  Actually, it’s more of a soap opera.  For those unfamiliar with the dinosaur that was daytime drama (Ryan’s Hope, Another World, Guiding Light, etc.), the beauty of following a soap opera (outside of being able to communicate effectively with your 80-something great-aunt on plot points) is that you don’t really need to be locked in to the show to follow it.  Every day there are narrative breadcrumbs…and things don’t really change if you miss an episode or two.  Stefano DiMera remains evil incarnate.  The Josh and Reva storyline will always have exhausting twists and turns.  And most of the good characters continue to be appallingly stupid.  But for those who watch every day, there are subtle rewards.  Character turns.  Minor scenes that might just foreshadow major changes in the future.  Or–it’s just filler until sweeps brings out the big storylines.

Two weeks into the season–barely a snapshot–the Nationals are off to a 6-7 start.  While nobody’s panicking or looking at postseason possibilities (Mets fans, your magic number is now 149!), there are certainly trends to look at.

 

Causes for Confidence– a lineup that woke up after a slow first week (36 runs in 6 games after scoring 17 in their first 7 outings).  Ian Desmond’s hot start (.314 batting average, 8 runs scored and 5 RBI).    The return of Denard Span to the lineup.  A pitching staff that ranks 6th in staff ERA (2.97) and is tied for 2nd in quality starts (9–with a 5th best 6.1 innings per start).

Causes for Concern– the team leads the majors with 14 errors.  A lineup that ranks second in strikeouts (110).  Anthony Rendon remains in the land of limbo:  the third baseman is hitting, running and taking grounders at the spring training facility–but there’s not timetable for his return to DC.  Speaking of injuries, bullpen bulldog Craig Stammen’s surgery subtracts a major force from the relief corps.

 

Heroes of Last Week– Bryce Harper scored 8 runs while homering twice and driving in 5.  Max Scherzer struck out 9 over 8 innings in his lone start.

This Week’s Foes– St. Louis (8-3) leads the National League Central while Miami (3-10) owns the second worst record in the NL.

Game to Watch– Thursday at Nats Park, Max Scherzer pitches against Michael Wacha (2-0, 1.35 ERA–and let’s not forget his near no-hitter of the Nats in 2013).  One nice way to finish a homestand.

Game to Skip– Saturday in Miami, Stephen Strasburg pitches against Tom Koehler (6.75 ERA in 2014).  The 4:10 first pitch comes just as the afternoon heat gets its second wind.  Seats will be available.

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