Might we finally have the 5th piece to the puzzle?
Jason Bergmann has found more mitts (14 k) than hits (8) over the last two games (spanning 14 innings). He hasn't allowed any runs, and has walked a modest 5 opponents. What's interesting is the fact that he has more than halved his ERA in his last 2 starts, from 11.68 to 5.47. I guess that's what happens when you throw 14 scoreless innings after throwing 11 and 1/3 innings that were anything but scoreless.
With those recent goose-eggs thrown onto the board by Jason Bergmann, it would appear that the Nationals now have a pretty good rotation. At very worst, Bergmann is a good option in the 5 slot. Redding, the staff ace, isn't even giving up 7 hits per 9 innings and has a 6-3 record to go with his 3.16 era. Lannan is holding his own, with 5 performances of 1 run or less and 6 innings or more and a 3.40 era to boot. Perez is filling his spot nicely, keeping his ERA around 4.24 for the time being (and hitting .313!!).
Then we have our staff ace, Shawn Hill. If you look at that link, it's not Shawn Hill. It's Shawn Hill's replacement, Matthew Bryan Chico. This is where we go from pretty good to mediocre. We're back to the black hole in the 5th spot until Hill comes back (and I really hope it's just 1 start, because I don't know how much longer I can stomach the Fullerton, CA native). This is the life of a Nats fan...just when we get excited, something bad happens. But at least whatever bad happened didn't happen to Ryan Zimmerman, so the throngs of casual fans won't notice.
Concerning the bats (or lack thereof): I don't have answers. I am not a hitting coach, and I admit that I had a worse batting average in my last two years of organized baseball than Austin Kearns has right now (better OBP and SLG though...I was a Jack Cust/Adam Dunn prototype). But that's why we have hitting coaches and base coaches. Just like a soccer mom driving in her giant Expedition can't afford gas these days, the Nats can't afford to waste solid outings by their pitching staffs. And, in honor of the great Chris Needham of Capitol Punishment, I will end with this: FIRE LENNY!!1!!!!ONE!!!
Other note: click on "bats" for the gamer for the game from last night, and watch the "Guzman's throw" clip. It was #5 on SportsCenter's top plays!