by Chris Lingebach

WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – Current Nats’ announcer Dave Jageler caught up with former Nats announcer/Hall of Fame pitcher/current Braves announcer Don Sutton a few nights back, and his response to Washington’s performance this season was simply “shocked.”

“I am totally shocked to see a double-figure lead in the division,” Sutton told Jageler before the two teams’ heated series began Monday. “I know when the Nationals went to spring training, I was looking at a ballclub that was going to score a ton of runs, good pitching and a good bullpen.”

“So the only word I can use is shocked,” Sutton tacked on.

At 69-45 and with a commanding stronghold on the NL East however, the Braves have virtually traded places with the Nats from last year, something few saw coming, and certainly not to this level.

“Well the company line is ‘Well, we thought we were good.’ You know, I’m supposed to say that,” Sutton said of the team that pays his bills. “But I thought, and I said it in spring training, the lead is going to change two or three times in September And I thought the Nationals and the Braves were going to be in a dogfight that was going to be whoever won last was going to win it.”

Another shock to the Nats this year is Stephen Strasburg’s losing record (5-9), throttled by Washington’s sudden inability to provide him with run support.

“Sandy Koufax once said ‘Sometimes it’s not how you pitch, it’s when you pitch,'” Sutton offered as consolation. “And apparently he’s had a lot of those ‘when you pitch’ bad nights.”

The 4-time All-Star pointed to his career 250+ losses as qualification to speak on the topic, adding that Strasburg has to lean on his ability to pitch a solid game for the confidence to whether the storm.

“You can’t say it in the clubhouse,” Sutton said. “You can’t say it outside, but for your mental health, you have to think ‘My job is to make it hard for the opposition to score. My job is to get outs.'”

“You go walk in front of your mirror when you shave and you say ‘I did my job,'” he said.

Sound advice for an often thankless job on a sub-.500 roster.


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