HOUSTON, YOU HAVE A PROBLEM
There were two Nats' outfielders who realized their position on the team was likely to change with the addition of Wily Mo Pena to the mix. Ryan Church, who was so upset at first that he simply wouldn't talk to reporters, and Nook Logan, who was as silent as Church, but in a quiet way. This isn't the first time that Church hasn't reacted well to change. But Logan? Well, it appears that Nook Logan likes to be challenged. It wasn't too long ago, after all, that Ryan Langerhans was given the majority of Logan's starts in center. No problem; he just worked harder. And now it's Wily Mo Pena who threatens to steal Logan's thunder. Again, no problem.
Seriously. No problem.
Logan got a start in Houston last night and went 5-6 with 3 RBI's, raising his average to .287. As long as he keeps hitting like this - or close to this - he's going to force Manny Acta to keep him in the lineup. At this point the Nationals have four starting outfielders, and the one guy who's guaranteed to start every night - Austin Kearns - is the one guy of the four that probably doesn't deserve that opportunity. What's the answer? I say start Logan and Pena and platoon Church and Kearns.
Joel Hanrahan didn't pitch particularly well, but hung around long enough to win his third game of the year. His ERA ballooned from 2.95 to 3.42, but Hanrahan -0verall anyway - continues to impress. The guys at the front of the rotation are supposed to win their games, the guys at the back of the rotation are supposed to give the team a chance to win. And so far, Hanrahan has done just that.
Ryan Zimmerman has been a puzzle this year. He was very consistent last year, so consistent in fact that some scouts said that he was "slump proof." He's certainly shown that to be a fallacy this year. Twice in the last three weeks he's gotten hot and raised his batting average above .270 only to slide back to the low .260's. He's on track to hit .271-25-90, numbers similar to last year (the lower number of RBI's is more a reflection on the team's poor offense this year than Zimmerman's inability to drive his teammates in).
This 'N That: The Vermont Lake Monsters split a double header last night, though both starters pitched very well. Colton Willems lost his game, giving up no earned runs and 3 hits in 4 innings. Adrian Alaniz is now 7-1 after pitching 5 innings, allowing 2 runs and 5 hits. His ERA is now 1.94 ... Chris Marrero hit his 8th homer with Potomac and raised his average back up to .258 .... Emilano Fruto was the player-to-be-named-later in the Wily Mo Pena trade. Though the Nationals didn't give up "too much" for Pena, they did give up more than I thought they would.
I wrote on Sunday that the 1-6 homestand didn't mean anything in the long run; what mattered was how the team responded in Houston.
So far, so good.