Offense not living up to its billing

ATLANTA - The good news for the Nationals, maybe some of the only good news they've got going right now, is that Jordan Zimmermann will be taking the ball tonight as the Nats look to finally pick up a win over the Braves and snap a three-game losing streak.

Is there anyone else the Nats would rather have on the mound right now than Zimmermann, who is 4-1 with a 2.00 ERA and is coming off a one-hit shutout his last time out?

Ross Detwiler has pitched really well this season, but with apologies to the left-hander, Zimmermann is the guy in the Nats' rotation I'd take in this type of spot above any other right now.

Give me the guy with the 0.86 WHIP who throws strikes and isn't afraid to challenge hitters. As I mentioned last night, Nats pitchers have allowed 27 walks in the five games against the Braves this season.

That just isn't good enough.

The Nationals, meanwhile, have walked just seven times over the 45 innings against the Braves this season. That also isn't good enough.

As a team, the Nationals are batting .234, fifth-worst in the majors. Their on-base percentage is .296, also fifth-worst in the bigs. They've scored 96 runs and allowed 115.

In the seventh inning or later, the Nats have a team slash line of .204/.254/.338. Pretty ugly numbers.

Five of their opening day starters are batting .265 or lower. The guys off their bench are 5-for-36 in pinch-hit situations, good for a .139 average.

The offense, for whatever reason, just hasn't been there.

How does it get turned around? Davey Johnson will keep trying new things. He plans to mix up the lineup yet again today, possibly putting Tyler Moore at first base and having Adam LaRoche (1-for-his-last-34) rest against Braves left-hander Paul Maholm. Danny Espinosa might be in for a day off, as well.

Bryce Harper said last night he'll be in the lineup today despite sporting a pretty mean bruise on his left side after his fifth-inning collision with the right field wall.

Harper scaled the wall to try and bring in Tim Hudson's deep fly ball, and the Nats outfielder nearly made a fantastic catch, but the ball bounced out of his glove just as he hit the chain link section that protects the digital scoreboard in the wall. The ball ricocheted over the fence for a home run, leaving Harper without a Web Gem and with a pretty good battle wound on his ribs.

There's a pretty good chance that bruise looks even more gruesome today, but Harper says he won't need to miss any action.

After all, the Nats need him. Take his .344/.430/.720 slash line out of the equation and the Nats' offensive numbers are even uglier than they are at the moment.

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