It's the Defense, Stupid!

Parade of grounders rolls through infield

If the goal of the Jim Riggleman era is to bore the fans into submission, it's a resounding success.  At least under Manny Acta, the team was losing interestingly with blown plays you've never seen before.

With Riggles, it's a whole lot of blah.  Yesterday's 6-2 loss to the Mets was perfectly cromulent.  Even if you watched the whole darn thing, be damned if you can actually remember something from it.  Bonus points if you remember something positive for the Nats.

JD Martin started, making his major-league debut.  He was a first-round pick of the Cleveland Indians way back in 2001.  The Nats signed him as a minor-league free agent in the winter -- another of their stop-gap, low-cost, please-put-up-a-5-era-so-we-don't-have-to-spend-money budget pitching signings.

JD wasn't great.  Nor was he even good.  Five runs and just one measly K tell that story.  But then so does the one walk.  He has so-so stuff, but he spotted it fairly well.

But he deserved better.  He's a command and control sort of pitcher, someone who pitches to contact.  As such, he needs better-than-average defensive support.  What is it the Nats lack?  Yep, defense.

Worse, Riggles took out his best defensive player, Ryan Zimmerman.  The infield was terrible.  Willie Harris might be a good LFer, but as a third baseman, blargh.  It looked like Mets batters were strategically aiming the ball toward Cristian Guzman and his bunions.  And ancient Ronnie Belliard has all the lateral range of one of those Easter Island statues -- but at least those can fall to their side once every century or so.

Martin gave up 10 groundballs to just two flyballs.  And eight total hits fell in.  Some were his fault.  But probably 3-4 of them were plays that a slighty above average defensive infield would've made.

Martin didn't get any defensive support, which is what he needs most.

With Scott Olsen's season-ending injury, Martin is likely to get a long look.  Next time, he better lobby Riggles for a Zimmerman/Gonzalez/Hernandez infield.  He'll certainly have better results to show then.

Chris Needham used to write Capitol Punishment.  Now he twitters about this Godforsaken team.

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