2018 season Beltway Series: Week 2

Both the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles have looked terrible for the talent they have.

Maybe the Nationals are catching a case from the Capitals right now because things haven’t looked too pretty at Capitol One Arena recently. Their starting pitchers can only do so much and their lineup cannot continue to rely on Bryce Harper every day.

Orioles fans better not be laughing at any Nationals fans this week because this team has been an absolute embarrassment. Chris Davis would probably strike out in a tee-ball league. Chris Tillman makes any batter look like Ted Williams. And the curse of inconsistency between good pitching / bad hitting and bad pitching / good hitting continues.

So let’s recap.

Washington Nationals

The Nationals didn’t too much better from last week. They still had a losing record for this week despite being at home for seven games. The Nationals got their revenge on the Atlanta Braves by beating them two times out of three to start the week and outscoring them 9-6. The team then lost their second home series of the year to the Colorado Rockies dropping three of four being outscored 15-13.

The week started off well for the Nationals led by two shutouts from Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. But extra inning hiccups by relief pitchers Shawn Kelley and Ryan Madson cost them the sweep against the Braves. Besides Strasburg’s shaky start yesterday in which he gave up four runs through six innings, the Nationals starting pitching was on point for the most part this week.

It was just their hitting that cost them wins, yet again. The Nationals scored three runs or less in four of their seven games from last week. In fact, the Nationals scored as many runs (11) the past two games as they did the rest of the week. Even though the Nationals ranked sixth in the league in batting average and fifth in on base percentage, they still managed to rank 15th in runs scored.

Bright spots:

1. Max Scherzer

After giving up just two runs on three hits through 21 innings pitched, along with 21 strikeouts, Scherzer won the NL Player of the Week. He currently leads the entire league in strikeouts (38) and is second in the National League in era (1.33) with pitcher over 20 innings pitched. All these stats are even better than what Scherzer started off as up to this point last season. And we all know who won the NL Cy Young last season. I’m not saying Scherzer will win it again but he has definitely showed no signs of slowing down in any stat category, especially after stealing a base for the first time in his career.

2. Brandon Kintzler 

After a shaky first week, Kintzler bounced back as the Nationals best bullpen pitcher the second week of the season. He threw three shutout innings while giving up just one hit and striking out six. This was a major improvement from the start of the season when Kintzler gave up six earned runs through four innings while walking four and striking out just three batters. So hats off to Kintzler for the bounce back.

Baltimore Orioles

If it wasn’t for the Orioles core three starting pitchers, the Orioles would be competing with the Reds as the worst team in baseball. Their hitting is absolutely atrocious and it’s a shame because whenever anyone mentions their lineup fans think, “Oh! The Orioles have Machado, Jones, Schoop, Mancini and even Tim Beckham right? Man, that’s not a bad looking lineup.”¬†Wrong. So wrong.

Last week, the Orioles ranked 19th in batting average, 25th in on base percentage, 27th in slugging percentage and 28th in runs. For the season, the Orioles are second to last in batting average and 22nd in runs scored with 51. Like I said, they’re right on the treshhold of going from a bad team to one of worst teams.

Luckily, their starting pitching is giving them some chances to win ball games. Well, at least their first three starters (Bundy, Cashner, Gausman) are. Their bullpen didn’t pitch too bad last week despite only winning one game the entire week. They threw a 3.66 era with 15 strikeouts. They did, however, give up more hits (22) than innings pitch (19.2) and ten walks. But in hopes that Alex Cobb comes around after a horrible first start, the Orioles need to cut their losses with Tillman and find someone to fill that 5th spot in the rotation.

Bright spots:

1. Dylan Bundy

Bundy continues to deal this season and the only reason he is 0-2 is because the Orioles have only scored five runs in the 25.2 innings he has pitched. And for the sabremetric heads, his 1.1 WAR is also the best among all American League pitchers, starters and relievers. He is also getting the ball over the plate. Bundy is second in the American League in strikes thrown (264) behind Justin Verlander (269).

2. Last week is over

The Orioles were, technically, swept by the Red Sox (postponed game today). And they lost yet another home series to the Blue Jays. They came out this past week 1-5 in a week of division games which could drastically hurt any slim possibility of making the wild card this post season. So it’s time for them to regroup against a piss-poor Tigers team and a solid Indians team, which they’re lucky enough to be home for four games against.

Yes, it’s only mid-April and either of these teams could take off at any point in the season. But these early losses could come back to hurt them down the stretch if both teams hitting woes continue. For now, the D.C./Baltimore area is not feeling baseball season quite yet. Terrible loses and stupid weather conditions are not a good combination for the fans.

Week 2 Graph

Eric Himmelheber