After 25 games in 25 days, the Nationals were very deserving of a day off Monday.
Some teams need a day off to escape a bad streak, and others don't want to take a day off when they're hot. But, despite winning eight straight, 12 of 16 and 14 of 21 games, the boys needed a day off to recharge and give the bullpen a chance to catch their breath after a very busy stretch, during which they have, at times, averaged as many as 5 innings per game.
NatsTown was jumping last week, with six in a row against the Marlins and Diamondbacks, plenty of offensive excitement, great relief pitching and big-play defense at just the right times.
Especially satisfying was the sweep of the Marlins, the Nats' nemesis for two seasons running.
Not to be lost in the ensuing weekend is that the Fish went to Philadelphia and swept the Phillies three straight. Thus, you might say the Nats can play with anyone in the National League right now.
The one concern is the starting pitching. The young guys simply need to gobble up more innings like John Lannan has lately and like Garrett Mock did despite a tough start to his outing Saturday.
Over several weeks, it's too much to ask the bullpen to keep pitching 4-5 innings per game before they wear out.
We also eagerly and nervously await the prognosis on Jordan Zimmermann. He is a key building block for the future and the Nationals need him for the long haul.
As I said on the air several times last week, I am happy for our players, coaches and manager. But most of all I'm happy for our loyal fans...you deserve this! Your support throughout a tough season has been rewarded with one of the best stretches of baseball in the last three years.
Enjoy it, savor it, and imagine what it will be like to win games like this in September soon enough as the Nats challenge for a post-season berth! Now, it's on to Atlanta and Cincinnati to take care of the Braves and Reds!
"Get your red on" for the Rockies and Brewers, two of baseball's best power-hitting teams, next week!