Quick Links

Gonzalez' continued struggles highlight Nats' loss to Brewers

Gonzalez' continued struggles highlight Nats' loss to Brewers

The Nationals couldn't have this road trip end soon enough. 

What was supposed to be a golden opportunity to pad their division lead in a stretch that included struggling opponents like the San Diego Padres and Milwaukee Brewers has instead turned into a season-high seven-game losing skid.

Luckily for the Nats, they'll finally be heading back to D.C. on Sunday night after they try to salvage a win in Milwaukee. But before they do, here are a few thoughts on Saturday night's 6-5 loss to the Brewers: 

Gonzalez' struggles continue: Gio Gonzalez' season has started to spiral out of control, and he did nothing on Saturday to stop the bleeding. He allowed six runs on six hits over just three innings of work — his shortest outing of the year and putting the Nats in catch-up mode the rest of the game. 

When Gonzalez is struggling, his starts tend to follow a typical script: trouble with command — he registered a walk and two hit batsmen — and bouts with pitch inefficiency. Not only that, but he's no longer throwing his changeup down and away to right handed hitters anymore, instead catching too much of the plate, as was the case in the first inning on Saturday when Chris Carter launched a three-run home run. 

It's all added up to an 0-6 record in his last seven outings with an eye-popping 8.44 ERA. Ouch. 

Offense can't complete comeback: Though Gonzalez put the Nats down in an early 6-1 hole, they found a way to slowly climb back to make it a 6-5 game by the seventh inning thanks in part to another multi-hit game from both Daniel Murphy and Wilson Ramos. However, as has been in the case over the last week, that big go-ahead knock they needed never came. Washington had chances in each of the last three innings to level the game with the tying run on base, but came up short in each instance. 

Unlucky seven: The Nats' seven-game losing streak marks the team's longest skid since the dark days of 2009, a season in which there were four different seven-game slides and the club finished with the worst record in baseball at 59-103. Of course, Washington's come a long way since then. So while this current streak is sparking plenty of doom-and-gloom talk right now, remember that the Nats still own a two-game NL East lead over the New York Mets, who will travel to D.C. for a three-game set starting Monday. 

Time to be concerned about Strasburg? As if the losing streak wasn't bad enough, Dusty Baker told reporters after Saturday's loss that Stephen Strasburg will miss Sunday's start after feeling continued discomfort in his upper back. The scratch will make it two straight starts that the 27-year-old right hander has missed, so it's fair to wonder just how serious this latest setback might be. Can Tanner Roark be the stopper the Nats desperately need right now? 

Quick Links

Nationals hunt for ways to maintain Gerardo Parra’s mojo without him

Nationals hunt for ways to maintain Gerardo Parra’s mojo without him

As much as technology has been the enemy in baseball in recent weeks, the Nationals hope it becomes an aid to keep last year’s vibe cooking.

Aníbal Sánchez tested it out at Winterfest, the 2020 group’s first large assembling, in order to import Gerardo Parra’s beaming bubbliness. There he was on FaceTime, giggling, smiling and with a sore but colorful forearm.

He won’t be in West Palm Beach at the team’s spring training facility. He won’t be on the 25-man roster. He won’t be on the field at Nationals Park this year -- probably. Throwing out the first pitch is something he’s interested in. But logistics are not on his side.

Parra is off to Japan after an immediate offer from the Yomiuri Giants following the World Series. He circled back with Mike Rizzo first because he wanted to return. His conversation with Rizzo convinced him to take the offer in Japan -- more playing time, more money, more marketing -- though he still hopes to return to the major leagues before he is done with baseball.

“I love playing everyday,” Parra told NBC Sports Washington. “That’s more important for me.”


So, a void exists among the team’s ministers of fun. Parra’s scooter is parked somewhere else, its horn finally silent and wheels stopped. His body is across the globe, which makes the Nationals wonder how his aura can persist in the clubhouse. If you can’t explain it, and can’t intentionally manufacture it, how do you bottle it? Such is the complication of chemistry.

“I talked to Aníbal: please don’t lose the emotion, don’t lose the good feelings we have right now in the clubhouse because that’s good for me,” Parra said. “I think that’s more important to me. We worked a lot to do that. Don’t lose that. That’s the only thing I want to say to my teammates because that’s good when you come into the clubhouse and feel everybody happy and feel like a family.

“I put alerts in my phone because when those guys win I want to wake up or be ready and happy in that moment. I want to be there, too. The FaceTime. I want to be there. I’ll be ready for that.”

Strapped to his left forearm no matter his location is a forever reminder of 2020. Parra’s tattoo commemorating the World Series win and his accompanying “Baby Shark” cultural pop took 11 hours to sink into his skin. The effort is replete with the World Series trophy and smiley face wearing his preferred tinted glasses. His former teammates sent the image around to each other. The idea was hatched once the Nationals made the playoffs: Parra declared then he would receive the tattoo if they won the World Series.

“A whole forearm tat,” Max Scherzer said. “That’s pretty aggressive.”

“That’s aggressive,” Trea Turner said.

“It looks really cool,” Sean Doolittle said.

The tattoo’s existence reminds of Parra’s all-in approach. He wasn’t cheery half the time, or only when things were going well. His ecstatic-to-be-here vibe was close to perpetual. A slump at the plate temporarily dented it. A conversation with Davey Martinez brought it back to life. Now, it’s gone.

“I think it’s important we brought so many of those [other] guys back because I think our biggest strength last year might have been the chemistry in the clubhouse,” Doolittle said. “Last year was so special because everything in the clubhouse came together so organically. It wasn’t like Parra chose “Baby Shark” because he thought the fans would latch on to it and it would become a thing. He was just doing his own thing because he wanted to change his luck.”

Doolittle’s reference of a nearly full roster repeat came up when others addressed the topic of Parra’s absence. Sánchez referenced it. Scherzer referenced it. On and on.

“The core of this team’s still back,” Scherzer said. “And we can all look each other in the eyes and know when it counts, we can all count on each other and we’re a bunch of winners. I think [the chemistry] is just going to breed itself. We’re going to face a tremendous amount of challenges this year coming into it, but it’s going to be what it takes in the clubhouse to respond to it. And that’s what we play the game for. It’s going to be a challenge and we’re up for it.”

Even Parra agrees. He will be watching from Japan while 14 hours in the future, and talking on Sánchez’s phone, and continuing to counter modern concepts in baseball. Math despised the Nationals for much of last season. Yet, they won the World Series and attribute much of the outcome to chemistry, an unpalatable concept to a computer.

“I don’t think the guys will lose that,” Parra said. “Because other guys on that team love winning. When you have a guy play baseball to win, the guy he can’t lose that. I promise you these guys to the playoffs again too because these guys have a great heart.”

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.


Quick Links

Gerardo Parra wants to throw out the first pitch on Nationals Opening Day

Gerardo Parra wants to throw out the first pitch on Nationals Opening Day

April 2nd, 2020 is a big day for Nationals fans everywhere.

It's the home opener against the Mets, players will get their World Series rings and the fans will be able to watch the Nats hang the first championship banner in franchise history.

How could a day like that get any better? Maybe if Gerardo Parra, better known as "Baby Shark," threw out the first pitch. Luckily enough, Parra is most definitely down. 

"I want to throw the first pitch," Parra said in an exclusive interview with NBC Sports Washington. "I'm working, but it's not in my hands. I want to talk to the Japan team, but like I say, I don't want to say no because you never know."


Right after the World Series ended, Parra said he received an offer from the Yomiuri Giants in Japan. He ultimately signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract with a $3 million vesting option for 2021. His options to come back and play in the MLB were slim. 

Parra galvanized an entire locker room and fan base during the Nationals' improbable run to a World Series title. He added a level of weird to the team that hadn't been present before, so much so that there are actual videos of Stephen Strasburg dancing with Parra in the clubhouse. 

He only spent a short time in DC, but Parra quickly became a Nationals legend among the fans. Hopefully, we'll be able to see him throw the first pitch before he embarks on a career overseas. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.