The Nats bats have continued to be lively. At 39-50, the Nats probably won't finish the year as the worst team in the majors again. But contention is a ways away. The problem is defense and pitching.
Stephen Strasburg has brought a great deal of attention to the Nats this season. He's made the Nats relevant. Livan Hernandez has also pitched well; his E.R.A. is below 4. But the rest of the starters have been inconsistent at best. The bullpen hasn’t been as atrocious as in the past, but reliability remains elusive. Matt Caps's 23 saves and Drew Storen's admirable rookie performance are the only other bright spots for the Nats on the mound.
Adam Dunn has been on a HR tear of late. He has 22 and is hitting an impressively surprising .288 average with 59 RBIs. Ryan Zimmerman is at .294, 16 HRs, and 48 RBIs. Josh Willingham is hitting .281 with 15 HRs and 46 RBIs. The Nats have a legitimate middle of the order. But no Nat regular is hitting .300 or better. So even the best side, the Nats are rather weak. The bench is virtually an automatic out.
Defensively, the Nats are the worst in the league. Ivan Rodriguez has been a pillar behind the plate. But, as bad as Ian Desmond and Adam Kennedy have been with the glove, Cristian Guzman is worse. Desmond's astronomical error total is somewhat forgivable because he makes the outstanding play. Nyjer Morgan hasn't shown the leadership he exhibited last season. His defense has been poor in comparison to 2009. Zimmerman is still great at 3rd, but Dunn is a novice at first. Willingham is in left for his bat. Roger Bernadina has been solid in right and at the plate, but more is needed considering his teammates.
Until the Nats improve defensively and on the mound, the playoffs will only come in a dream. The Nats bats do not make up for the awful defense. Having a bunch of guys who hit .220 but can actually catch and accurately throw a baseball would serve the Nats better at this point.