In 14 games against the Braves this year, the Washington Nationals are 10-4 with a 77- 52 run differential. Last night, Stephen Strasburg faced Paul Maholm, and the Nationals won 4-1, which is sort of exactly what you expect would happen when Stephen Strasburg faces Paul Maholm.
The positives: Maholm went seven innings, and though he allowed four runs he had a 6:1 strikeout to walk ratio. In four starts as a Brave, Maholm has never gone fewer than seven innings, and in his 30 Braves innings he has struck out 26 while walking only 6. The guy isn’t a stud, but he’s a number four starter who’s pitching like a 2/3 starter, and that’s exactly what we need right now.
Of course, we could also use an offense. On their current four-game losing streak, the Braves have scored a total of seven runs on 26 hits. They’ve also received 19 (!) walks in that span, which they’ve largely squandered.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to say that Dan Uggla and Brian McCann’s nearly season-long struggles have been hurting the team. We basically have a five-and-a-half man lineup depending on whether Chipper’s healthy and which Juan Francisco shows up, the one who swings at everything or the one who sometimes looks like he’s learning to be patient.
This team is going to be streaky, of course. It always has been. It’s still one of the best teams in the majors. We just aren’t as good as the Nationals. If you stop thinking about them as the Expos, and start thinking about them as the best team in baseball, it becomes easier to swallow.
Hey, we’re still a juggernaut in the two-team wild card race. What could go wrong?