Will the Nationals' Injuries Sink Them in October?

Washington has yet to make it past the divisional round in their history, and a recent rash of injuries may make it tough for them to make an October run this season.

On Monday night, the Washington Nationals may have lost the best hitting catcher in baseball this season when Wilson Ramos went down with an apparent knee injury.

After the game, manager Dusty Baker told The Washington Post that the injury "doesn't look too good," which would be exceedingly bad news for a Nationals team that is already supremely banged up.


Ramos is having a career year for the Nats, and he ranks among the best hitting backstops in the game.

His wRC+ of 124 is tied with Yasmani Grandal for tops in baseball among catchers with at least 400 plate appearances, and his wOBA of .361 is slightly behind Jonathan Lucroy for second-best. His .324 on-base percentage (OBP), .499 slugging percentage, 22 homers and 80 RBI's are all among the leaders, with his 80 RBI's pacing all catchers.

Jonathan Lucroy Brewers-Rangers 530 23 78 0.294 0.357 0.499 123 15.1 12.3 4.6
Buster Posey Giants 586 13 73 0.288 0.358 0.434 115 8.7 9.1 3.7
J.T. Realmuto Marlins 536 11 48 0.307 0.347 0.435 111 8.1 11.2 3.7
Wilson Ramos Nationals 523 22 80 0.307 0.354 0.496 124 8.8 8.4 3.5
Yasmani Grandal Dodgers 443 27 71 0.232 0.339 0.487 124 8.2 7.1 3
Salvador Perez Royals 533 22 63 0.249 0.287 0.443 90 -10.3 15.6 2.4
Evan Gattis Astros 486 31 69 0.244 0.315 0.502 116 7.3 -0.9 2.3
Yadier Molina Cardinals 554 7 54 0.301 0.354 0.415 108 -0.9 4.2 2.1
Russell Martin Blue Jays 510 20 74 0.234 0.336 0.409 101 -0.3 2.2 2
Stephen Vogt Athletics 508 13 54 0.254 0.307 0.408 94 -2.8 3.5 1.8
Welington Castillo Diamondbacks 446 14 66 0.266 0.323 0.426 93 -6.4 9.6 1.8
Matt Wieters Orioles 439 15 61 0.240 0.299 0.400 85 -8.4 7.7 1.5
Brian McCann Yankees 475 19 56 0.239 0.333 0.408 101 -3.5 -1.6 1.1
Tucker Barnhart Reds 405 7 48 0.255 0.320 0.382 82 -14.8 9.7 0.8
Derek Norris Padres 449 14 41 0.184 0.254 0.329 55 -23.4 6.4 -0.3

It's no surprise then that Ramos has the fourth-best fWAR (3.5) among this group and the third-best rWAR (3.2). It is by far the best season of his career. His previous high in fWAR was 2.6 (2011), and last year, it was just 0.4.

He credits off-season Lasik surgery for helping him see the ball better. You know, seeing is kind of important.

And now, the team will be without Wilson in October thanks to an injury to the same knee that he injured 2012.

But Ramos isn't the only Nationals' star ailing. In fact, four of the team's five All Stars are currently healing some wounds.

Strasburg's Elbow

Stephen Strasburg is trying to recover from an elbow injury that has sidelined him since September 7. The Washington Post reports it's still unclear if Strasburg will be ready to pitch in time for the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on October 7. Aside from a brutal four-game stretch just before he was hurt, Strasburg has been excellent this season. Overall, he has a 3.60 ERA with a 2.91 FIP and is striking out 11.15 batters per nine innings this season.

However, the Nats could possibly get by in the first round without him, thanks to the Cy Young caliber season of Max Scherzer, the terrific campaign from Tanner Roark, and the consistency of Gio Gonzalez.

Murphy's Hindquarters

Also ailing is MVP candidate Daniel Murphy, who has a -- not kidding here -- strained left buttock. Murphy has been out for more than a week, and Baker says the injury isn't responding to treatment.

Murphy is having a career season of his own, batting .347/.391/.596 with 25 homers and 104 RBI's. He owns a .409 wOBA, 156 wRC+ and an fWAR of 5.6. His .347 batting average is second in the National League behind DJ LeMahieu, while his wRC+ is 3rd, his .391 OBP is 9th, and his fWAR is tied for 13th.

Baker said he feels as if Murphy will be ready for the postseason, which is good considering the mystery surrounding Bryce Harper right now.

Harper's Thumb

Harper has had a down year this season and some have suspected he was hiding an injury for most of the season. Last year's MVP has a slash line of just .244/.375/.444 with 24 homers and 85 RBI's, adding 21 steals to the mix. But after slugging 42 bombs last season, Harper's power has taken a huge dip with his slugging percentage falling from a league-leading .649 last season to .444 this season.

And now, it appears as if a bad thumb is mucking things up for him. Harper hurt his thumb on Sunday, but the team says X-rays were negative and they expect the superstar to be back in the middle of the week. But which Harper will return? Will it be last year's MVP, or the player who has scuffled -- by his lofty standards -- through much of the 2016 season?

It should be noted that from July 31 through September 2, Harper batted .322/.406/.556 for an OPS of .961 with three dingers and 10 doubles. But it didn't last. Since September 3, Harper has hit an ugly .194/.321/.284 with a .605 OPS, 1 homer and 1 double in 20 games.

Big Losses

If Murphy and Harper return soon, the loss of Ramos may not be crippling. Anthony Rendon is having a Comeback Player of the Year-type season, Jayson Werth is playing well, and Trea Turner has simply been the reincarnation of Rogers Hornsby since being called up.

Still, the combined fWARs of the four Nats All-Stars currently out of action is 16.5. It's hard to imagine Washington being able to overcome this many injuries once the playoffs roll around next week. Plus, our team power rankings -- which don't account for the recent injuries -- have the Nationals as the third-best team in the National League, barely behind the Dodgers but miles away from the Chicago Cubs.

What was going to be a tough road just got tougher.