Nats Net Some Marlins

Fish squished: blame Nick Johnson

Who gets the credit: Jim Riggleman or Nick Johnson?

The Nats won their fifth game in a row Thursday, coming back from a 6-0 deficit to pound the Marlins, sweeping the series.  It's all the more remarkable in that the Marlins had owned the Nats this season, taking the first nine games of the season. 

That's quite a turnaround against one team.   Should we blame Nick Johnson?  The former Nats first baseman was traded prior to this series.  He's now 0-12 in Fish/Nats games this year.  Maybe that goofy little mustache is a bad-luck charm?

Or should the credit go to Jim Riggleman?  The team is now 11-11 under Riggles -- and that includes the four-game losing streak that started the Riggleman era.

Uncle Riggly deserves some of the credit.  He's seemingly helped to change the tone, quietly holding players accountable and not excusing their mistakes away.  The team has played more crisply (more or less) under Riggleman, and the results have followed.

But how much is him?  And how much is just dumb luck?

There's no way this team was a .299 winning percentage kind of team.  Bad, for sure, but not that terrible.  In the first half, nothing synched up.  When the offense soared, the bullpen was terrible.  When the pitching came around, the bats went into the crapper.

There just haven't been many stretches even where the bats and pitching have been just average -- it's either scalding hot, or ice cold.  A few less of those extremes, and the first half would've been better.

Lately, the bullpen and offense have been excellent.  (As has 20 percent of the starting rotation)  Combine that with interim GM Mike Rizzo fiddling at the margins to get better gloves on the field, and Riggles has had nowhere to go but up.

Of course when you find yourself in a .299 hole, even if you play up to your expectations, your record will still suck.

For now, Nats fans should enjoy the sweep and the wins.  It's been a long season, and nobody will blame them for taking a little extra joy out of this streak.

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