Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
2005-08-12 18:41
by Mark T.R. Donohue

The Washington Nationals visit Coors Field for the first time by that name, although they're looking more and more like the Expos with each passing week. After a silly run of victories in one-run games in the first half, the Nationals have brutal in the close ones as of late. They're still above .500 (59-55) and in the thick of the wild card race, but BP has their shot at the playoffs down to a scant 4.74%. How did they fall so quickly? Well, they weren't that good to begin with.

.252/.323/.387. That's the team's combined offensive line, for an OPS of .710. They're last in the NL in average and slugging and not surprisingly last as well in runs scored. They're just a hair above Pittsburgh for last in OBP, too. It's true that the reconfigured RFK is a barn, but this is ridiculous. Vinny Castilla has been awful. Jamey Carroll has been unbelievably bad. Cristian Guzman is fourth on the team in at-bats with a .188/.233/.270 line. Just think about that for a second. A .233 on-base percentage. Wow. Preston Wilson predictably has done nothing but strike out since his arrival. Other midseason acquisitions like Marlon Byrd and Junior Spivey have been equally bad. Jose Guillen is a good hitter, and young guys Ryan Church and Nick Johnson will be the building blocks of a good Nationals team one day. This is a bad Nationals team. Don't let the record fool you.

Livan Hernandez isn't really out for the season like he threatened after he pitched against the Rockies earlier in the year, but he won't throw in this series. Esteban Loaiza, Tony Armas, and John Patterson will. The first two guys are unremarkable (although Loaiza very nearly won a freak Cy Young in '03) contact pitchers with goofy home/away splits. Patterson, on the other hand, is having an unnoticed remarkable year. (His home/road splits are kind of dramatic, too, but instead of being good/bad they're great/average.) With composite numbers of 8.71 K/9, 1.12 WHIP, and a 2.52 ERA, Patterson really ought to have a better record than 6-3 in 21(!) starts. Well, he can talk to Roger Clemens about it.

Jamey Wright, Byung-Hyun Kim, and Jose Acevedo go for the Rockies. Normally looking at that threesome against anybody I would predict a losing series for Colorado, but the Nationals' offense is bad and two of their pitchers are no great shakes either. The Rockies have playing well lately, so call it two out of three for Colorado.

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