Beware the Bad Bullpen. Shaky setup men and closers in crisis are the perfect way to undo five-plus solid innings of work from your rotation.  Eight games into the season, the Nats bullpen ranks last in the majors with an ERA of 10.80.  While last week one was reminded of the 2018 season’s sloppy baserunning and bad defense, this week one recalls how bad the bullpen was during the first half of the 2017 season.  And this is April- with multiple off-days early in the season.  Can this bullpen get itself together before it’s too late?

Dissecting the Division-  Philadelphia leads the New York Mets by one half game after two weeks while Atlanta is a game and a half game back.  The Nats at 4-4 are two full games out of first…with three more games against the first place Phils on tap this week.

All About Bryce- Harper came home Tuesday and went 3 for 5 with a homer in his return to DC.  The former face of the franchise is hitting .385 with 3 homers and 5 RBI.  Along with leftovers from Filomena.

O’s Woes- It didn’t take long for the Orioles to return to form after a 4-1 start.  Four straight losses drops the team back under .500, and Chris Davis wishes he was doing that well.  The slugger is currently 0-for-23 this year, and 0-for-44 dating back to last fall.  At least he’s not batting leadoff like he was last April.

Last Week’s Heroes- Anthony Rendon hit .474 with 4 homers and 7 RBI, while Ryan Zimmerman drove in 5 runs.  Stephen Strasburg tossed 6.2 scoreless innings to start their series against the Mets, Sean Doolittle threw 2.2 scoreless frames over three outings and Max Scherzer tallied 16 strikeouts over 11.1 innings.  Max also gave himself a lead for the first time all year by driving in a run Saturday.

Last Week’s Humbled- Trevor Rosenthal remains in the land of infinity, allowing 2 more earned runs while walking 3 more over two games.  Joe Ross in his 2019 debut allowed a 3-run homer while getting one out Sunday.  For those doing the math, that equates to an earned run average of 81.00.  Tony Sipp’s ERA for the week was a robust 27.00, while Matt Grace and Wander Suero also have double-digit ERA’s.  At the plate, Victor Robles and Brian Dozier are both hitting .133 to start the season.  While neither is expected to carry this team offensively, the loss of Trea Turner to a broken finger for the next 4-8 weeks makes every out sting a little more.

Game to Watch- Tuesday the Nats face Philadelphia with Stephen Strasburg starting against the Phillies Aaron Nola, who’s trying to figure out if he’s more like the 17-win pitcher of 2018 or the guy who has a 7.00 ERA to start 2019.  Strasburg followed up a shaky first outing with a strong one.  Let’s see how he fares while facing Harper for the first time.

Game to Miss- Saturday the Nats play Pittsburgh at 4:05…just as the Capitals are hosting Carolina in Game Two of their first round playoff series.  It’s tough to skip a Scherzer start, but this is the exception that proves the rule. Rock the Red!

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