Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper haven't both been in the lineup since May 2.
Sure, Danny Espinosa's .488 OPS, a complete lack of production off the bench and way too many strikeouts aren't helping the cause. But those are secondary factors to the most significant one plaguing the Nationals. Simply put, they need to get their best players healthy and back in the lineup.
Only once in their last 18 games have the Nationals had both Werth and Harper together on the lineup card. During that span, the club is batting a collective .216 with a .279 on-base percentage while averaging only 3.3 runs per game.
Coincidence? Not at all. This is what happens when you don't have your No. 2 and No. 3 hitters available.
It's all the more troublesome when you consider who has been playing in place of Werth and Harper. Look at the disparity, in particular, between Werth's numbers when he's the Nationals' No. 2 hitter and when anyone else holds that role...
BATTING 2ND G AVG OBP SLG OPS
Werth 19 .247 .286 .438 .724
Others 25 .152 .189 .200 .389
Now, Werth hasn't exactly been tearing it up as the Nationals' No. 2 hitter so far, but his stats look MVP-caliber compared to the guys who have held that role when he's been out.
The disparity isn't as great between Harper and his replacement No. 3 hitters, mostly because Ryan Zimmerman has been on a recent tear. But the most striking difference between the two is in slugging percentage: Harper is slugging .622 this season; the replacement No. 3 hitters are slugging .438.
Does every team have to deal with injuries over the course of a season? Yep. And shouldn't the good ones be able to overcome them? Absolutely. This is where the Nationals' bench woes have been quite significant.
But even though the season is now more than 25 percent complete, it's still tough to get a true handle on this lineup, because we've barely seen it in its intended form.
Davey Johnson hasn't been able to fill out a lineup card featuring Werth, Harper and Zimmerman in succession since April 15.
Is it any wonder this club has struggled so much to score runs?