The Nationals are off to a 12-13 start through their first 25 games this season. After starting out with identical records of 11-14 each of the last three years, it’s an improvement — though not enough to take an early lead in the NL East race. Yet the team is still in the thick of the division, which has all five teams within two games of each other entering play Wednesday.
President of Baseball Operations and GM Mike Rizzo talked before the season about how the Nationals were going to endure a tough 40-game stretch to start the year. Their opponents over that span included the Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs and the entire rest of the NL East. It was never going to be an easy slate.
Then, a coronavirus outbreak stripped the Nationals of nine players from their Opening Day roster. In the early goings of the season, they lost Stephen Strasburg, Juan Soto and Wander Suero to various injuries. Set-up man Will Harris began the campaign on the Injured List as well. Washington still has yet to play a series at full strength.
Speaking with 106.7 The Fan’s Sports Junkies on Wednesday morning, Rizzo acknowledged that while the Nationals hoped to get off to a better start, they aren’t complaining about where they stand after a month of play.
“We were hoping to get out of the chute better than we have in the past but with that schedule coming forward, we were looking for just trying to keep our head above water,” Rizzo said. “And that’s before all the COVID stuff and the injuries and that type of thing so these guys have grinded out the first 25 games really, really hard.
“12-13, being a half a game back in second place, we’re not satisfied with it but things could be worse and we look at it [as] our best baseball is definitely in front of us and we’re looking forward to starting to click and play a lot better.”
While the Nationals’ offense hasn’t produced as expected (3.5 runs per game ranks 29th in MLB), Rizzo said he isn’t entertaining the thought of looking to the trade market for upgrades just yet.
“I think that we’re a long, long way from making those type of decisions and I think we have to let this thing play out,” Rizzo said. “The guys that we have in the lineup have done it before, big back-of-the-baseball-card kind of thing. These guys have all done it and we expect them to play up to their potential and not do more than we expect them to do but play up to their potential. If they do that, we’re gonna score enough runs to supplement our good pitching, our good bullpen and win a lot of games.”
For more interviews, tune into the Sports Junkies on NBC Sports Washington, weekdays from 6-10 a.m.