Bryce Harper’s final season with the Washington Nationals might end sooner than expected. The Nationals — who many expected to contend for the World Series coming into the season — are mired in a stretch that has them looking more like one of the worst teams in baseball.
What’s going on with the Nationals?
The Nationals dropped a tough one to the Boston Red Sox on Monday. Despite having their ace, Max Scherzer, on the mound, Washington couldn’t pick up a win against Rick Porcello. The team lost the game 4-3.
Making matters worse was how the Nats lost. With the bases loaded in the second inning, Scherzer gave up a bases-clearing double while facing Porcello. The team still needed a solo home run from Mookie Betts to win the game, but Porcello’s three RBIs was demoralizing.
The Nationals are mired in a terrible stretch
With the loss, the team dropped to 6-16 since June 8. That’s tied for the worst record in the National League over that period.
The Nationals lost 4-3. They are 6-16 since June 8, tied with the Mets for the worst record in the NL during that span.
— Jamal Collier (@JamalCollier) July 3, 2018
Yes, the Nationals have been playing as well as the New York Mets lately. That’s never a good thing, especially considering one of the Mets’ best players recently said he was “frustrated” and “tired of losing.”
What’s gone wrong for the Nationals this season?
The team’s hitting has been its biggest issue. By wRC+, an advanced stat that measures offensive production, the Nats are tied for the 20th best offense in the majors. They’ve been on par with both the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins thus far.
Bryce Harper’s struggles have been a big part of that. The free-agent-to-be is hitting just .217. His power has been there, but his average has really lagged in 2018. It doesn’t help that the Nationals were hit by injuries early on. Daniel Murphy and Adam Eaton missed significant time. Ryan Zimmerman has been dinged as well.
The team’s pitching has been pretty decent. The Nationals’ starters rank sixth in ERA. Their bullpen ranks 12th.
Should the Nationals trade Bryce Harper?
It will never happen. The Nats would definitely not trade Harper months before he hits free agency. But maybe they should think about it?
At 42-41, the Nationals are still a good team. But good isn’t going to cut it in a surprisingly competitive National League East. Both the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies have exceeded expectations this season, and it looks like they are here to stay.
If the Nationals are anywhere close to contention at the deadline, they’ll likely buy. The team really wants to make that push with Harper in his final season. They’ll give him all they can to make that work.
But if things don’t turn around soon, the Nationals could be stuck chasing some strong teams for a wild card spot.
The Nats won’t trade Harper. But the fact that it’s even a question tells you how bad things have been going for the team lately.
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Chris Cwik is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik
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