After an incredibly successful road trip, including a four-game sweep of the National League West-leading Diamondbacks, the Nationals returned to Washington for an eight-game homestand riding a tidal wave of momentum. The team played 17 consecutive days going back to April 27 and transformed its subpar 11-15 record into the present 24-18 mark. In addition, the two scheduled off-days on Monday and Thursday this week would help recharge everyone's collective batteries.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature decided to delay spring until now and heavy rains postponed Tuesday's game in the middle of the sixth inning and completely wiped out Wednesday's contest. Fans were quite upset the weather delayed a highly anticipated two-game series against the Yankees until next month, but I argue this week's rain could be highly beneficial to the Nationals in the long term this season.
This four-day - or possibly longer - break, will be a tremendous opportunity for the weary relief corps to achieve some rest. Washington has played 42 games so far this season, and the team's top four relievers have pitched in a large percentage of these contests. Sammy SolÃs has made 23 appearances in 2018, and the Law Firm of Brandon Kintzler, Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle have made 22, 21 and 18 appearances, respectively.
Doolittle, Madson and SolÃs have all had injury issues during their careers and overuse is a major factor in reliever injuries. Furthermore, the 37-year-old Madson and the 32-year-old Kintzler have looked fatigued at times in recent weeks - in particular, Kintzler on Sunday and Madson last month after pitching four times in six days. Nationals manager Davey Martinez will need to monitor the veterans' workloads going forward, but essentially having a second All-Star break in mid-May should greatly benefit the entire bullpen, both in the short term and long term.
In addition, rescheduling these games against the Yankees (and possibly the Dodgers if the rain continues) should benefit the lineup, as well. Daniel Murphy and Brian Goodwin could both return from injuries before the Yankees return to town, with Murphy providing a major jolt to the lineup. Also, with the unfortunate news of Matt Wieters' injury being significantly worse than originally thought, the Nationals are likely to acquire another catcher in the next few weeks to pair with Pedro Severino. No question the team has been on fire like Harold Miner in NBA Jam, but getting Murphy, Goodwin and potentially another potent bat at catcher should improve the overall offensive production.
Certainly, the Nationals did not want any weather delays or postponements to interrupt and deter their impressive hot streak. However, due to the additional rest for their bullpen and possibly seeing some players return offensively, this week's lousy weather could be the best thing to happen to the Nationals this season. So when we are looking at the rain clouds the next few days, remember a well-rested Nationals team in September is our silver lining.
Ryan Sullivan blogs about the Nationals at The Nats GM and runs The Nats GM Show podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @NatsGMdotcom. His views appear here as part of MASNsports.com's season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.