Mike Rizzo, obviously, is pleased with the eight-game winning streak the Nationals carried into today's series finale against the Orioles. But the general manager isn't necessarily surprised by this sudden success, given what he had seen in the weeks leading up to it.
Nor does he believe the winning streak will change his approach to roster-shaping at the July 31 trade deadline.
"No, it doesn't," Rizzo said this morning. "I've got a plan and a vision what we'd like the team to look like through this year, at the end of the year and into next year. So our plans won't change. We'll have the same strategy as far as the trade deadline and that type of thing."
The Nationals entered the day one game under .500, 3 1/2 games out the NL wild-card race. Rizzo, though, saw signs of this streak a few weeks ago, even when his team was losing close games.
"I always lean on the fact that we were actually hitting the ball pretty well before we went on the streak, and they were being caught," he. "The San Francisco series was kind of a microcosm of where we were on the season. We were hitting the ball extremely hard at people, and they had gotten a couple of broken-bat hits and beaten us on a couple of seeing-eye singles. I always thought it was going to revert back."
Particularly pleasing to Rizzo is the fact the Nationals have been getting significant contributions from key young players who figure into the club's long-term plans: Ryan Zimmerman, Danny Espinosa, Wilson Ramos, Ian Desmond, Jordan Zimmermann, Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard, among others.
"I think the most gratifying thing is watching the young core players playing better and kind of maturing before our eyes to become established, big-league players," he said. "That's probably the best part I've seen so far this season."
On the minor-league front, Class A Potomac experienced its 10th postponement of the season due to rain today. A major drainage problem at Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge has caused the field to flood on several occasions this year. An entire April series had to be moved to Frederick due to lingering concerns.
Rizzo said the organization is aware of the problem and has plans to work with Potomac officials on fixing it over the winter.
"We've addressed some field concerns with the ownership, and they've taken steps to improve them," he said. "It's something that long term, certainly we need to address again. We've met with them several times, and they know we have a plan at the end of the season to address it."
There has been speculation the organization might have top prospect Bryce Harper bypass the high-Class A Carolina League this summer and go straight from low-Class A Hagerstown to Class AA Harrisburg, in part because of the field concerns at Potomac.
Rizzo said he's not currently concerned about a safety issue at Potomac, though he does have concerns.
"If there was a safety concern, we wouldn't be playing there," he said. "We'd pull the players off the field. There's no safety concern whatsoever. But there's a concern that we'd like a better playing facility for our players. We've got really good prospects on that field. We've got a lot of money invested in those players. We need a safe, comfortable, developmentally friendly environment for them to play in."