Joe Drugan: Cruel and unusual punishment

The Nationals are dealing with lots of injuries. I mean, lots and lots of injuries. If you look at the list of Nats players that are down and out, it would be comical if it weren’t so brutally sad and frustrating. Let’s remind ourselves of these injuries, consider how ridiculous it is that the team is somehow still 22-13 and evaluate the biggest need for the team.

Wilson Ramos, Sandy Leon: This is quickly becoming the biggest storyline for the Nats. Catchers are always a commodity for a team, and the Nats have lost two in the course of just a few days, their everyday catcher in Ramos and their freshly called-up backup in Leon. The Nats are moving way down their depth chart now at the position, and you have to imagine the team will start putting feelers out to other teams for trade opportunities. Manager Davey Johnson said that Leon was put on the disabled list immediately following Monday’s game.

Michael Morse: The Nationals’ cleanup hitter was supposed to be the catalyst for the offense, but instead they have proven ineffective in his absence. Morse never broke spring camp on the Nats’ 25-man roster after a right lat injury that has shut him down for six weeks. The Nats expect him to return June 8, and that could be a real shot in the arm for the team as they deal with ever increasing injuries.

Jayson Werth: This hurt, both literally and figuratively. After Werth broke his left wrist and required surgery, one of the few offensive benefits in the Nats’ lineup disappeared. Werth looked to be coming out of his slump with a .276/.372/.439 slash line. It will be crucial to have him back in September if the Nats want to make that postseason push.

Drew Storen, Brad Lidge: The core of the back end of the bullpen is down, and that has never been more apparent with Henry Rodriguez’s inability to throw strikes recently. It really shows how valuable Storen was to this team, and the Nats itch to get both him and Lidge back soon. It appears the future of this Nats team depends on it.

Chein-Ming Wang: Wang continues to recover from a freak hamstring injury sustained in spring training, and he continues to do so with good results. At Triple-A Syracuse on Monday, Wang threw eight-plus innings, allowing four earned runs, 11 hits and walking just one on 84 pitches. He’s been effective, but doesn’t have to come off his rehab assignment until May 27. The Nats will likely milk that until the very end, but his starts line up with Ross Detwiler, who struggled a bit Monday. It’s worth keeping an eye on.

And those are just the big ones. Chris Marrero is still out with that hamstring injury, and at points this season the Nats have been without Adam LaRoche, Ryan Zimmerman and Rick Ankiel. It’s unbelievable that the team has stayed afloat this long, but they will need help to stay there. Getting the bullpen arms and starting left fielder back will definitely help, but the catching situation may need more immediate attention. With a surplus of starting pitching and a need for catching, watch out for a trade to help keep the team going.

Joe Drugan blogs about the Nationals for The Nats Blog, and offers his viewpoints as part of’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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