Whatever the case, the Nationals recognize they've nearly reached the midpoint of a frustrating year and they've yet to come close to living up to their lofty preseason expectations. Perhaps that's been the problem all along. As Werth and Ian Desmond put it following Tuesday night's 4-2 loss to the Phillies, this team might still be living in the past.
"It's so hard when you have such success last year," Desmond said. "It's so hard to let go of the things that you did last year. This is a new team. We have probably a better team, a better squad roster-wise. But we're ... trying to force the things on ourselves that we did last year, instead of going out and playing the game that we know how to play this year. We're not giving ourselves a chance to become the 2013 Nats. We're playing as 2012."
Put another way, these Nationals have yet to establish their own identity, even though they've already played 70 games, winning only 34 of them.
"Maybe we've kind of lacked an identity as a team," Werth said. "But you know, I think as you start winning games and you start playing and you go on a roll or you rally or whatever it is you do, you kind of create an identity. We just haven't hit stride as far as that goes. How many times have we rallied this year? How many winning streaks have we gone on? We just haven't hit stride yet. Hopefully soon."