If the Washington Nationals truly want to contend this year they will need to play well against some of the top teams in the game. If June 15 was any indication, the Nationals still have some areas that need to be addressed, losing to a hot New York Yankees team by the score of 7-2.Phil Hughes picked up his seventh win of the year, while Gio Gonzalez had his third loss.
Gio Gonzalez kept the Nationals in the game by going six innings and giving up three runs on five hit to go with eight strikeouts, but the bullpen couldn't keep the game close. Brad Lidge gave up three runs and was only able to get one batter out before being relieved by Mike Gonzalez. Since coming off of the DL in early June, Lidge hasn't looked all that good, giving up four runs in three outings along with three walks. The Nationals took a chance on him in the offseason, and I don't think it is going to pay out in my view. Washington has some good pieces in the bullpen, but if they truly want to separate themselves from the rest of the pack in the National League East they will need to bolster their bullpen.
One of the bright spots for the Nationals on June 15 was the play of Michael Morse, who went 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI for the team. He has gotten off to a slow start since coming off of the DL, but looks to be in a groove right now, hitting in four straight games. I would expect for him to continue improving over the next couple of weeks, and if Ryan Zimmerman can finally get turned around the Nationals should have a formidable lineup to accompany their starting rotation.
The Nationals will look to rebound against the Yankees on June 16 as Jordan Zimmermann takes the rubber against Andy Pettitte. Pettitte has surprisingly pitched well this year given that he took a year off before coming back into the rotation in 2012, and will certainly give Washington's lineup a run for their money. Zimmermann has been fairly solid of late but will need to give up less long balls to keep the Nationals close.
Ryan Kekoufski lives near the Nationals' stadium and has been following the team ever since they moved to Washington D.C.