There’s nothing like a collapsed souffle to end a fantastic meal.  How did we go from what was a magical May to the clunker that was last weekend?  Not only losing a series for the first time since April…but getting outscored 21-9 by a Cincinnati team that was spiraling (9 losses in 10 games) towards the NL Central cellar?  The offense that had broken through in May was held to 3 runs a game while hitting .222 against a Reds pitching staff with the 5th highest ERA (2nd highest in May).  The bullpen that was stout for the most part over the previous 47 games coughed up 14 earned runs over 11.2 innings against Cincinnati lineup that scores the 4th least runs in the majors (that’s a 10.20 ERA for those without a calculator).  Stephen Strasburg pitched one inning before going to the disabled list while Bryce Harper missed Saturday’s loss after being hit by a pitch Friday.  Heading into the series most in and around the beltway were sad to see May come to a close–now everybody’s ready to move on.

Strasburg’s Status–  Well…that escalated quickly.  After being limited to less than 5 innings in three of his last four starts, #37 was lifted Friday after pitching to five batters.  Neck tightness is the official reason he went on the disabled list…while some are saying it’s trapezius trouble and others claim it’s a by-product of a spring training ankle injury.  Hopefully he’ll return in two weeks ready to go.

Werth’s Replacement Rotation– Michael A. Taylor started all three games over the weekend in left field– going 2 for 8 with 2 runs scored and 5RBI, accounting for 77% of the team’s production at Great American Ballpark.  Taylor moved to centerfield late yesterday when Tyler Moore pinch-hit for Denard Span (striking out) and went into leftfield.  Moore flied out as a pinch-hitter Saturday evening in his only other at bat during the series.  Clint Robinson went 2 for 6 with a run scored over the weekend…starting in rightfield Saturday for a banged up Bryce Harper while getting pinch-hit opportunities in the other two games.

Last Week’s Hero– Tanner Roark won his first start of the season and tossed 11 innings over two outings despite not being fully in starter form, posting a 2.45 ERA with a K/BB ratio of 4-3.  To top things off he also performed at the plate–notching the highest OPS of the week (1.250), going 2 for 4 with a double.  Sadly, his hit Sunday was 50% of the team’s total.

Last Week’s Humbled– the bullpen trio of Casey Janssen (0-1, 18.00 ERA), Aaron Barrett (0-1, 20.25 ERA) and Matt Grace (0-1, 54.00 ERA) came up short over the weekend.  The pitching staff shell game had to come up empty sooner or later with Doug Fister already on the DL and Stephen Strasburg reaching the 5th inning just once over the last month.  Tanner Roark’s infusion into the rotation thinned out an already taxed bullpen–and Strasburg going just 1 inning Friday was the domino that started the slide.  Good thing the next two night’s starters (Jordan Zimmermann and Max Scherzer) both average over 6 innings per game (Scherzer currently ranks 4th in the majors).

Game to Watch– Monday against Toronto (7:05 first pitch on 1500am).  Jordan Zimmermann takes his 4-2 mark to the mound against former NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey.  Who’s ready for the Dickey’s knuckleball?  Feast or famine…but always fascinating.  Meanwhile, Zim has been solid as of late (2-0, 1.35 ERA with a 17-5 K/BB ratio over last three starts).  Plus, it’s a reunion of former Canadian rivals.

Game to Miss– Wednesday the Nats look for somebody to fill in for Stephen Strasburg–and the likely candidate is A.J. Cole from Triple A Syracuse.  He’s made one major league start–allowing 9 earned runs over 2 innings (granted, this was the game where the Nationals rallied to win 13-12 so this may be a good thing he pitches).  Regardless, Mark Buehrle pitches for the Blue Jays;  at 6-4 he’s one of the few pitchers to notch a decision in every start so far this year.  Plus, the NHL Finals begin in Tampa.  Playoff hockey…

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