Taking the good with the bad

I’ve got some good news and I’ve got some bad news.

Let’s start with the positive stuff, shall we?

There’s a decent chance the Nationals won’t have to face Clayton Kershaw again this season. After what we saw from Kershaw last night, I’m sure the Nats’ hitters are good with that.

If the Nats do see the 2011 National League Cy Young Award winner again during the regular season, it’ll be in one of three games at Nats Park from July 19-21, meaning they have at least two months of Kershaw-less baseball to look forward to until then. That guy’s stuff is pure filth.

More good news?

Over his last five starts, spanning 32 innings, Dan Haren has posted a sharp 3.38 ERA, a 1.062 WHIP and nearly a 4-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The veteran right-hander was outstanding last night and really does look like he’s settled in after an incredibly slow start to the season.

See, folks? Sometimes a little patience does pay off.

Want more of a pick-me-up? The Nationals’ middle of the order is coming together, with Ryan Zimmerman now hitting .375 his last nine games and Adam LaRoche batting .405 with a .489 on-base percentage during his 11-game hitting streak.

The power numbers haven’t come around yet, but you have to believe they will soon, given the way those guys are raking.

How about some broader positive news? Like the Nats, the Braves lost last night, meaning only a game still separates the two division rivals atop the National League East standings.

Now here comes the bad stuff. Brace yourselves for some numbers that aren’t too pretty.

Danny Espinosa went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts last night, dropping his average to .175. His on-base percentage has fallen to a paltry .206. In his first three at-bats last night, Espinosa saw 11 pitches and struck out three times.

On the season, Espinosa has 31 strikeouts and just three walks. He does have nine doubles and three homers, but the Ks continue to mount (he now has 20 strikeouts in his last 13 games) and the average is still sitting well under the Mendoza line.

Tyler Moore has gotten plenty of playing time with Jayson Werth out over the last couple weeks, but Moore’s numbers aren’t too pretty, either. Moore is batting .145 after last night’s 0-for-4 performance, and as is the case with Espinosa, his strikeouts are piling up.

The 26-year-old slugger now has 14 Ks in his last 33 at-bats.

Wilson Ramos is 4-for-26 (.154) since coming off the disabled list. Steve Lombardozzi is 4-for-38 (.105) since April 23.

Sure, calling for manager Davey Johnson to switch things up a bit is a nice idea in theory. But how’s Johnson supposed to switch things up when his opening day right fielder is on the DL, his opening day left fielder is recovering from a face-first collision with a wall and his healthy reserves aren’t performing?

A lot of the Nats’ inability to get anything going last night can be credited to Kershaw’s dominance. But they’ll face another tough Dodgers starter tonight in Zack Greinke, who is making his return to action after being out the last month with a broken collarbone.

Zimmerman and LaRoche are in a zone, and Ian Desmond is swinging it well. But with Werth sidelined and Bryce Harper still day-to-day after that wall collision, someone else will need to step up and perform offensively, as well.

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