From top to bottom the Washington Nationals organization is slumping. The offense is OPSing a collective .656 better than only the Marlins, the manager continues to put useless offensive player after useless offensive player in the two-hole, one of the most important parts of the line-up, and the general manager is now calling up useless relievers just in case Stephen Strasburg fails to go four innings. That last one is the most puzzling. The general manager of the Nationals is betting against his Ace starting pitcher. The move to bring up Maya as the eighth reliever makes some sense with every other reliever except the recently called-up Abad, Storen, Clippard, and Soriano available if a lesser pitcher known to struggle for five innings were on the mound, but they aren't. Stephen Strasburg is pitching tonight and so far this season he has averaged 6.33 innings a start and has failed to get through the fifth innings twice. Now if he goes six and the Nats use Clippard, Storen, and Soriano to finish out the game they then have Gio Gonzalez on the mound tomorrow. Both Strasburg and Gio are fully capable of giving the Nationals seven strong innings and good major league relievers, like Storen, Clippard, and Soriano are, should be able to pitch two days in a row. Thursday is then an off day followed by Jordan Zimmermann who is averaging over seven innings a start. If the Nats want to rest the bullpen then let Strasburg and Gio pitch, followed by an off-day, and then have Jordan Zimmermann go on Friday.Read More
The Nationals continued the slump they started in San Diego, getting blown out by the San Francisco Giants, 8-0, in game one of a three game set in San Francisco.
The Nationals bats were especially cold tonight, amassing only three hits all game. That combined with the pitching styles of spot starter Zach Duke and fellow long men Craig Stammen and Henry Rodriguez and the Nats did not have much of a chance all night.
Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong entered the game with an 8.06 ERA and 1.839 WHIP, struggling mightily to find the form that made him one of the best comeback stories in Major League Baseball in 2011 and 2012.
In the Nationals offense Vogelsong found a cure-all. He stymied the Nats bats for five innings, before leaving with a hand injury from getting hit by a pitch. Vogelsong allowed just three hits, all singles, while walking just one batter and striking out two. The Nationals most effective batters against Vogelsong were pitchers Duke and Stammen, who hit a single and drew a walk in their respective at-bats against him.
Despite the hitting success, neither Nats pitcher could find the same success on the mound. Duke was only able to go 3.1 innings, just getting into the 3-5 inning range Davey Johnson gave for him. Duke gave up two runs on his own, both earned, on seven hits and one strikeout. He left the game with runners on first and third and that's when Stammen entered.
Stammen proceeded to allow both of his inheirted runners to score, upping Duke's tally to four, before giving up a run of his own. Stammen gave up another run in the fifth inning when he gave up a home run to Giants first baseman Brandon Belt. Stammen exited after 2.2 innings, giving up seven hits as well, while striking out one and walking none.
Henry Rodriguez entered in the seventh inning and ran into trouble of his own. Two walks and two hits led to two runs, as the Giants extended their lead to 8-0.
Despite throwing 21 pitches on Sunday and 30 in the seventh, Rodriguez came back out for the eighth inning. He did much better, allowing only a single to Buster Posey and walking Hunter Pence, before ending the inning for a scoreless eighth. Between Sunday and tonight Rodriguez threw 68 pitches, a gutsy performance for a guy not used to firing so many bullets.
To add injury to insult it was announced after the game that reliever Ryan Mattheus broke his hand after punching his locker Sunday after giving up five runs to the Padres and will go on the disabled list. With a short bullpen due to the spot start, relievers Fernando Abad and Yunesky Maya will come up from AAA, with outfielder Eury Perez heading back down.
The Nationals look to get back on track in game two, with Stephen Strasburg taking the mound, facing off against Matt Cain.
At this point in the West Coast trip the Nats are not doing as well as they would want to. They only won one game against the Dodgers and split the series with the Padres, of which they should have taken at least three. Now they head to San Francisco to take on the defending World Series Champions, the Giants.
Sadly, Ross Detwiler will miss his start in the series with a slight oblique strain. General Manager Mike Rizzo said that they do not plan to put him on the disabled list. Zack Duke will be taking Detwiler’s start to begin the series with the Giants. Detwiler’s next scheduled start is on Sunday against the Phillies at Nationals Park. The hope is that he will be ready to go by then, but if his spasms and soreness keeps up Stephen Strasburg could start for him on normal rest. “In essence, we’ll have 10 or 11 days until that spot needs to pitch again,” Rizzo said. “We think Ross will be okay by then.”
Bryce Harper is expected to be back in the lineup for the beginning of the San Francisco series and Davey Johnson belies that he will continue his day-to-day responsibilities in the outfield. On the other hand, Jayson Werth saw a specialist in New York over the weekend to rehab his ailing hamstring, but in the process it flared up again. Rizzo believes that he will start ramping up baseball activities this week and should join the team when they finish their West Coast road trip.
Alright, no more doom and gloom. The middle of the lineup is finally batting, as advertised. Ryan Zimmerman will hit almost any pitch that you throw at him and Adam LaRoche is attaching the ball like it insulted him mama, so that is awesome to say the least. In several of the games on this road trip those two guys have pretty much been the team’s entire offense.Read More
By now everyone knows there is a problem with Danny Espinosa. Major league baseball players don't perform to a .212 wOBA unless there is something wrong, and before the season Espinosa told everyone what was wrong. Sometime last September he completely tore the rotator cuff off the bone. Instead of going for a surgery that would have held him out until June he opted to try and strengthen the muscles around it and play through it. It hasn't worked, but Danny Espinosa isn't going to admit that it is a problem with his shoulder, and there is a chance that their isn't, but when a player is pulling off of fastballs down the middle and can't ever get the barrel to the ball there are physical issues.
The bigger issue is the reason Espinosa is playing through this injury. He is doing it in order to keep his job, but instead he has played himself into a position to lose his job. This situation isn't without solutions and some of them are even within the organization.Read More
The Nationals aimed to take the series win in San Diego to go 3 for 4 before heading off to San Francisco. Unfortunately, a 13-4 loss and more shaky defense would not allow the Nationals to do so. The Nationals will leave San Diego with a series split against a team that the Nationals were hoping to win a series over.
Dan Haren came out of the gate struggling Sunday Afternoon. He immediately gave up a single to Everth Cabrera. Cabrera then stole 2nd, then went to 3rd on a wild pitch from Dan Haren. Chase Headley got on base via the walk. Carlos Quentin doubled to bring in Cabrera, then a sac fly brought in Headley. A double from Jedd Gyorko then brought in the 3rd run in the 1st inning to put the Nationals in a 3-0 hole. It would turn out to be a deficit the Nationals would never overcome.Read More
A good eight innings for the Nationals against the San Diego Padres became a tie game in the ninth, but the Nats pulled through, winning 6-5 in 10.
Two players who have been scuffling lately, Chad Tracy and Drew Storen, got to play hero in the extra frame, making sure the Nationals held on to a game they had all but sewn up just an inning before.
Tracy hit the game winning home run in the top of the tenth, his first home run of the year and the first RBI from a pinch hitter this season. While Storen came in to the tenth to notch the save. Read More
Two weeks ago, I took a look at my pre-season top 15 prospects and how they performed through April. Now it's time to take a look at the second half of my top prospect list, mostly filled with fringe prospects and long-shots.
16) C Jhonatan Solano - With Wilson Ramos going on the DL again, Solano will get a second crack at the ML roster in 2013. He went 1/6 in three games for the Nats in April and isn't hitting much better in Syracuse - .167/.200/.208 (albeit only in 50 plate appearances). He was just reinstated from the Syracuse 7 day DL (ankle injury) yesterday, just in time to be called up. TRENDING: DOWNRead More
If you are in any way like me and came of age in the 90's or are younger and happen to like retro video games then you will remember games such as Castlevania, and if you haven't played it stop reading this and go do so now. Furthermore if you only have time for one Castlevania game it should be Symphony of the Night. If you are still reading I am going to assume you have played a Castlevania game and if the only one you have played was Castlevania 64 that you are a pathetic individual. Rebuilding the rails here the point is those games were built around boss fights. Every level ended with a giant boss and for Simon or Alucard or whoever the main character was each boss presented a new challenge and had to be defeated in a unique manner.Most of the Castlevania games, and all of the good ones, came out in a time before AI and so the boss fights were essentially giant puzzles. There was a pattern to how to win and the best Castlevania games combined the platforming and action elements of the game perfectly in its best boss fights, and every boss fight got more and more difficult. Boss fights were always filled with frustration while trying to figure out the pattern and once you did they still weren't easy. There was nothing better than the sense of relief at landing the killing blow with one bar of health left. The worst thing about all these boss fights is that you always had to do them again. Near the end of the game there was always a stage that was nothing but the previous boss fights, and that is what Stephen Strasburg overcame last evening.Read More
I woke up Thursday morning to see the Nationals had lost again last night. I noted that the only run the Nationals were able to score was a solo home run by Adam LaRoche. The good news is that LaRoche seems to be finding himself after a slow start, which is not abnormal for the veteran 1B. It is easy to see what is going on with the Nationals, really, and that is that they simply haven't been scoring a whole heck of a lot of runs. Looking at the Nationals record isn't so discouraging at 22-19. Even during the last stretch of games, the Nationals may have failed to tie the Braves for 1st place, but they aren't exactly losing ground on them either. Having lost 2 of 3 to the Dodgers, and the win last night against the Padres, the Nationals are only half a game back of the 1st place Braves in the NL East. So what is the deal? Why aren't the Nationals killing baseball like everyone thought they would?
In the last several weeks, it has seemed like everything has gone at least slightly askew for the Nationals. To start the season, they kept throwing the ball away, the bullpen would give up the lead, and the starting pitchers (except for Zimmermann) had been hit or miss. Then, you had Ryan Zimmerman hit the disabled list due to a bum hamstring, then Ramos, then Werth, then (it looks like) Ramos again. Just two nights ago, Detwiler's back tightened up, Ramos' hamstring tightened up. We are unsure of Detwiler right now, but Ramos is DL-bound again. Not a good night for the visiting team. Monday, the Nationals won, but a full speed wall impact tossed up questions about Bryce Harper, who returned to the lineup last night. I don't even want to talk about how it looked like Haren was battling a bit of discomfort on Tuesday, a night when he pitched so well, but suffered from a lack of support. The fact that he fought through it and only allowed two runs is great, but still something to look out for. In the Dodgers series, the Nationals seemed to have been somewhat snake bitten.Read More
The Nationals traveled to San Diego to begin a four game set with the Padres and had perhaps their best road victory to date, winning 6-2.
Stephen Strasburg, pitching in his hometown for the first time in his career, also pitched into the eighth inning for the first time in his career. He gave up just two runs, one earned, in eight innings, striking out four and walking three in 117 pitches.
The offense, freed from having to face Cy Young winners Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke back-to-back, broke out against the struggling Edison Volquez. Read More
Before we begin let me apologize for not being able to write last week, as some of you may know I am still a student and with that comes exams, so my attention was elsewhere. Alright let's get on with the show.
Jordan Zimmermann has elevated his game this year. This is probably the truest true fact about the 2013 Washington Nationals. He currently possesses a 1.69 ERA and .87 WHIP, while going 7-1 in eight starts. He is going deeper into games too, pitching seven or more innings six times already, two-thirds of his 2012 season total of nine. This is known. What we want to know though, is why has he been so good?
In the rubber match against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Nationals saw their starting pitcher and catcher exit early and their bats never arrive, losing 3-1.
Ross Detwiler seemed off all night and left after only three innings with an apparent injury. His battery mate, Wilson Ramos, also exited in the fourth with an injury, after hitting a single. After the game it was announced that Detwiler left with back spasms, but they are not severe. Ramos left the game with a pulled hamstring, for a second time this season. and is expected to miss time.
In this week's guest blog I focus on the Nationals awful production from the important line-up spot, how much they miss Werth, and how Suzuki is the best option currently on the roster. Read all about it here.
The Washington Nationals ran into perhaps the best pitcher in baseball, Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers, and fell 2-0.
Nationals appeared to have conceded the difficulty of facing Kershaw
before the game even started. Davey Johnson, likely recognizing the
dominance of Kershaw, gave Denard Span the night off along with his
fellow outfielder Bryce Harper, who was sitting after his collision last
night. Leaving a lineup filled with mostly backups.
Kershaw did not need the help though as he baffled Nationals hitters for 8.2 innings, coming one batter short of the complete game shutout.Only Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond and Adam LaRoche managed to get on-base for the Nats tonight. All three did so in the first inning, the only time Kershaw really struggled, throwing 29 pitches in the first.