MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Rizzo reiterates confidence in club, Williams

Nats GM, manager believe club is still in hunt for postseason

Rizzo reiterates confidence in club, Williams

SAN FRANCISCO -- Don't tell manager Matt Williams and general manager Mike Rizzo that the Nationals have hit rock bottom. Even though Nationals were swept by the Giants this weekend, culminating in Sunday afternoon's 5-0 loss, Williams and Rizzo still believe the Nationals can win the National League East title.

Entering Tuesday's action against the Rockies, the Nationals are 58-59, 4 1/2 games behind the first-place Mets. Washington is riding a six-game losing streak.

Nothing is going right for the Nationals on both side of the ball. In the four-game series against the Giants, for example, not one member of the starting rotation went five innings. Their last quality start came from right-hander Stephen Strasburg on Thursday against the Giants, and that ended up being a loss.

The offense has struggled since the All-Star break, hitting .222 with a .295 on-base percentage. During that span, the team has a 10-20 record.

"We're struggling, we're inconsistent," Rizzo said. "We've struggled to find a rhythm with so many injuries, so many moving parts in the lineup. We've run into some tough pitching along the line. We certainly like the effort of the club. The talent level is there, but we have to play better baseball and be more consistent."

Don't expect any roster changes any time soon from Rizzo. The team plans to count on the players it currently has on the roster.

"We have a professional group that has performed at the highest level for a long time," Rizzo said. "We are counting on those guys to play like they are supposed to play and pick it up."

Williams believes the day off on Monday will do the team some good.

"We have to be better in all aspects," Williams said. "It will be good to get the guys the day off tomorrow. Let them get away from the game for a little while. Come back fresh on Tuesday and go from the there. ... We are in the hunt. We have to look at it that way every day and move forward. That's what we do."

Williams has been taking criticism from fans and the media for the way he has managed the team this year. Asked if he should give Williams a vote of confidence or say something publicly about his skipper, Rizzo said, "I have nothing but complimentary things to say about our manager since we hired him."

The Nationals have 45 games left and they need to start gaining ground, starting Tuesday.

"We have to play better," first baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "We have played terrible in the last 15-20 games. We have 45 games to go and we are 4 1/2 games out. Man, we could be easily eight games out. You can take the positive out of it."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.