With yesterday afternoon’s loss to the Reds, the Nats have lost six in a row. Their hopes of ending the season at .500 are likely gone, and the team is without a doubt frustrated that they continue to lose close games. The bright side? This September we’ll be able to get a look at the guys who will be coming up soon who are supposed to help the Nationals take the next step and win those close games.
There’s one biggie everyone will be keeping their eye on: Stephen Strasburg. He might be coming up to DC as early as next week to continue his road back from Tommy John surgery. His starts so far have been a mixed bag; he’s been able to show he still has that arm, but he has made several mistakes (allowing a few homers) that show he’s not back in the rhythm yet.
That’s fine, because the Nats won’t need him to be back in a rhythm until next season. He will more than likely be on an innings limit like Jordan Zimmermann was this season to protect his arm, but he will play a crucial role in the Nats rotation moving forward.
That rotation might include Tom Milone, who is another likely call-up this September. He has been impressing at the AAA level, and he is set to get a taste of the big leagues this fall. Depending on what the Nationals do with Livan Hernandez and Chien-Ming Wang, there may be a spot available.
The 24 year-old has spent the last four seasons developing in the Nats farm system and has yet to make his major league debut. This season he has an 11-6 record and 3.33 ERA with Syracuse, where he is teammates with pitcher Brad Peacock, who will also get big league time this fall.
Peacock has risen fast through the ranks of the Nats farm system thanks to a tweak he made in his release at the beginning of this season. He has gone from an average pitcher to a guy who blew away AA Harrisburg before being promoted to AAA. He’ll get a taste, but will need more time in the minors before becoming a mainstay. His AAA numbers have already hurt as he faces more experienced batters.
Syracuse first baseman Chris Marrero has already been called up to the Nats. The 23 year-old was a first round draft pick in 2006 and has spent the last four years working his way through the farm. In AAA this season, he has a .300 batting average with 14 home runs and 30 extra base hits (all doubles).
Steve Lombardozzi is another player who Nats fans should be excited to get a look at. Picked in the 19th round of the 2008 draft, Lombardozzi has spent the last two years working through the minor-league system. Like Peacock, he was promoted to AAA this year. He has played 62 games in Syracuse this year and accumulate a .318 batting average with four home runs.
Getting a glimpse of what is to come is the silver lining of September, particularly when you have a group of prospects as good as the Nats have. Six straight losses suck, but at this point in the season, the focus is no longer on 2011. Starting very soon, it will be about getting a preview of 2012.