The Nationals made waves in the offseason adding Max Scherzer to an already ridiculously loaded rotation. And he's performed as well as could be hoped. But the team as a whole has not. To be fair they have suffered an insane amount of injuries to some of their best players throughout the season. But that doesn't chance the fact that they have been passed by the Mets (4 game lead now!) and are 8.5 games out of the wild card race.
The blame, if you want to call it that, falls largely on the Nationals' offense. It ranks 19th in MLB with a 94 wRC+. It's not what the Nationals were expecting but it was also partly out of their hands. At different points this season Jason Werth, Anthony Rendon, and Denard Span (still out) all spent significant time on the disabled list. However now that they're mostly healthy they still aren't hitting well (91 wRC+ in last 30 days).
The pitching staff has done it's best to keep them in games. Combined they rank 4th in baseball with a 3.75 ERA, 3.37 FIP, and 16.1 fWAR. The rotation has been the 5th best in baseball with a 3.82 ERA, 3.35 FIP, 13.0 fWAR. The bullpen has been less effective but still good. It ranks 11th in baseball with a 3.60 ERA, 3.41 FIP, and 3.1 fWAR.
It's interesting to note the Mets rotation ranks one spot ahead of the Nationals, it's bullpen 1 spot behind, and it's offense 6 spots behind yet they have a four game lead. The Mets have had a significant lead defensively though. They rank 10th in FanGraphs' DEF metric whereas the Nationals are 25th. The Mets have a +7 DRS while the Nationals have a -22.
Bryce Harper has already been worth 7 fWAR! He's hitting 330/456/637 with 30 home runs. He also has drawn 89 walks to 98 strike outs. He's been intentionally walked 12 times. At still just 22 years of age it's incredible to think of the kind of career we could be seeing. Harper has a real chance to be a legendary player.
Friday August 21, 6:05 pm CST: Jimmy Nelson vs Gio Gonzalez
Gonzalez: 20.6 K%, 8.6 BB%, .273 BAA, 1.44 WHIP, 0.36 HR/9, 55.7 GB%, 3.86 ERA, 3.06 FIP
He throws a fastball (92-93), curveball, change-up.
Saturday August 22, 6:05 pm CST: Taylor Jungmann vs Joe Ross
Ross: 53.2 IP, 24.7 K%, 4.1 BB%, .236 BAA, 1.08 WHIP, 1.01 HR/9, 48.3 GB%, 3.86 ERA, 3.17 FIP
He throws a fastball (93-94), slider, and change-up
Sunday August 23, 12:35 pm CST: Matt Garza vs Jordan Zimmermann
Zimmermann: 154.1 IP, 18.9 K%, 4.3 BB%, .263 BAA, 1.21 WHIP, 0.87 HR/9, 40.5 GB%, 3.44 ERA, 3.44 FIP
Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs