You know what’s weird? Having a Sunday off.
Sundays are never days off in the baseball world. The only times I’ve had a Sunday off since I started covering the Nationals in 2012 were when football was on my television.
I have futbol on my television today, but no football. I’ll get past it.
With yesterday’s doubleheader against the Cubs now in the books, the Nationals are at the halfway point of their season. Eighty-one games have been played, and with the two wins yesterday, the Nats hold a 43-38 record at the turn.
Last season, the Nats were 41-40 halfway in. In 2012, they held a 48-33 record at this point.
Prior to the start of the regular season, if I had told you that the Nats would be five games over .500 at the midway point, would you have taken it?
What about if I had told you that the Nats would be in a tie for first place in the National League East after 81 games? Would you have signed up for that?
That’s where the Nats stand right now. And given all the injuries they’ve suffered in the first half of the season, I don’t think they’re too upset to be in this spot.
Would Matt Williams like to be eight games clear of Atlanta right now? Of course. But when you consider he’s lost Bryce Harper for 57 games due to injury, Wilson Ramos for 46 games, Ryan Zimmerman for 44 games, Doug Fister for 34 games, Gio Gonzalez for 27 games and Adam LaRoche for 14 games, five games over .500 suddenly doesn’t look so bad.
So how does Williams assess where the Nats are right now?
“I would say, for me, certainly not where we’d like to be, and also not where we could be, given all that’s gone on,” Williams said. “So I think we’ve got a group of guys that continue to battle hard every day, that use nothing as an excuse and play. And would we like to be better than we are? Yeah, of course. Everyone would. But we are where we’re at.
“We have to look at after today, what we do going forward. There’s nothing we can do about what’s happened, other than forget about it and move forward. So that’s what we’ll do. It’s a long season. You’ve got to keep doing that.”
Earlier this season, Williams used the analogy that the Nats were treading water, waiting for their injured players to come back and bolster the lineup so that they could start swimming.
Pretty much everyone is back now, and the final guy on the DL will return to the roster tomorrow. Bryce Harper will be activated before tomorrow’s series opener against the Rockies, giving the Nats their full roster for the first time since the seventh inning of the regular season opener.
One could argue that the Nats have started swimmingn over the last few weeks. They’ve lost just one of their last nine series (going 18-11 in that time), and found a way to finish off their last road trip with a winning record in those seven games.
As Williams noted, things could be better. But they could most definitely be worse, and tied for the division lead at the halfway point isn’t a bad place to be.