MLB Washington Nationals

5 Biggest Issues Facing Washington Nationals in 2014 Stretch Run

5 Biggest Issues Facing Washington Nationals in 2014 Stretch Run

Arizona Diamondbacks v Washington Nationals
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The Nats have been on fire in the second half, surpassing the Atlanta Braves for first place in the NL East and posting a 9-1 record over their last 10 ball games. They are headed in the right direction and are playing their best baseball at the right time of year. If anything is going to slow them down, it could be one of these five things.

5. Inexperienced Manager

Philadelphia Phillies v Washington Nationals
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5. Inexperienced Manager

Philadelphia Phillies v Washington Nationals
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This is not really an issue. Matt Williams knows what he is doing, and has been a valuable commodity and addition to the organization in 2014. He is pretty raw given that this is his rookie season as a MLB skipper, but he's proven himself worthy thus far.

4. Vs. Righties

Arizona Diamondbacks v Atlanta Braves
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4. Vs. Righties

Arizona Diamondbacks v Atlanta Braves
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Washington hits an impressive .273 (4th in MLB) against left-handed hurlers. Against right-handed pitching, their team average drops to .245 (21st). Their WPCT against lefty starters is .639 and .559 against right throwing starters. Aaron Harang (pictured) plays for the division rival Braves. He has never been anything spectacular in his career, but this year against the Nats in two starts, the 6-foot-7 righty is 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA.

3. Media Pressure

Colorado Rockies v Washington Nationals
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3. Media Pressure

Colorado Rockies v Washington Nationals
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Because they play in the nation's capital, they are under the microscope. The media heavily scrutinzed the organization in 2012 when management chose to rest Stephen Strasburg in the playoffs. With heavily hyped players like him and Bryce Harper on the roster, the club attracts a lot of attention and expectations are high.

2. Ryan Zimmerman

Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves
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2. Ryan Zimmerman

Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves

The oft-injured third baseman is probably their best all-around hitter when he is healthy. He is currently on the DL with a strained hamstring. The Nats could really use him for the stretch run.

1. An Inconsistent Ace

Texas Rangers v Washington Nationals
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1. An Inconsistent Ace

Texas Rangers v Washington Nationals
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Stephen Strasburg seems to either be solid, or downright ordinary. There's no real middle ground with him and he struggles to be consistent. He is capable of a gem like the one he threw August 3 against the Phillies with 7 IP, 0 ER, and 10 SO. But then he'll turn in a clunker like he did August 24 against the Giants, with 4 IP 5 ER and 4 SO. Seven times in 2014 he has allowed 4-plus earned runs in an outing.