The Nationals Black Cloud

DC Sports Nexus ---- Sunday, May 20, 2012

There is a black cloud sitting over the Washington Nationals season, one that will only loom larger and larger as September gets closer...

The roster as currently constructed is performing better than expected and the growing number of players on the DL is getting to be laughable. 

Keeping this pace all season will be difficult, especially with the Braves powering towards the top of the National League.   The call up and seemingly “unlimited remarkableness” of Bryce Harper has somewhat masked the awesome season that Steven Strasburg is having.   And yet that awesome season is the giant dark cloud.

160 innings;  a number that Rizzo and friends have written in stone.  A number that they claim will not be exceeded.  It’s not even the end of May and Strasburg is approaching 50 innings pitched.  Those in games that may not count as much as the games he will miss in the end of the season.

The fact is that this team is guaranteed to lose their best player come September, before the pennant race even gets going.  It puts a bit of a damper on the whole party atmosphere the Nats have going right now.  It even has the potential to get worse as Strasburg may be counted on to go deeper into games as their importance increases.

Yes, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmerman are a terrific one two punch, but it’s that power trio that makes this engine go.  To remove one of the biggest cogs in crunch time will most likely allow division rivals like the Braves and Phillies to have a clearer shot at the pennant.

While the Nationals won’t be counted out completely, they may be forced into game 163.  And who will they pitch in the one game playoff if Strasburg is shelved, and if Gio & Zimmermann were used to get the team into that playoff?

Yes, the Nats are good enough to get in without Strasburg, but they are not likely to pull off a 2010 San Francisco Giants without him.  It looks like it is going to be a fun summer in Washington, but what will it look like as fall approaches?  Finishing without your ace is going to raise the degree of difficulty tenfold, and while it doesn't automatically kill the Nats, it may be just the thing that decides their fate.

Written by FC Kendrick, Nexus Columnist

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