Series #7 Preview: Nats vs Cardinals

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Pete Kozma, along with the rest of the Cardinals, is back in town and Nationals fans have not forgotten what he did to them in the National League Divisional Series. Most Nats fans remember where they were and what they were doing when the Cardinals beat the Nationals in Game 5 of the NLDS and nothing would make them happier than sending the Red Birds back to St. Louis on the heels of a series sweep courtesy of the Nats. On the season, the Cards are 10-8 and are coming off of a series split to the wayward Philadelphia Phillies. This early in the season most players are still trying to find their groove and get enough at bats to start feeling comfortable at the plate, but Yadier Molina looks to be in near midseason form thus far. Molina is sporting a .324 BA in 71 PA’s. He has made the difference in the Cardinals lineup several times this season and they are only 18 games in. He has hit five doubles, two home runs, batted 11 runs in, while accumulating an .837 OPS. Not far behind, Carlos Beltran is continuing the tear that we went on last season and has an .828 OPS, while hitting four home runs.

The Cardinals pitching staff has had its ups and downs, just like the Washington Nationals. Similarly to the Nats, the Cardinal’s bullpen has been suspect early on in the season. In fact, of their losses the bullpen accounts for four of the Cardinals losses. Mitchell Boggs, the Cardinals Closer, has blown two saves and is sporting a 12.46 ERA (5.46 FIP). The Cards starting rotation has looked good from top to bottom. The weakest link in their rotation, Lance Lynn has a 3.68 ERA (3.31 FIP), but sadly will not be making an appearance against the Nationals.

Ryan Zimmerman and Wilson Ramos will continue to remain on the disabled list throughout the series, so Kurt Suzuki will continue to start most games behind the dish for the Nats and Anthony Rendon, recently called up from the minors will play at third. Rendon had a great Spring and has not slowed down while at Class AA Harrisburg where he has hitting .292/.462/.500 in 14 games. He has battled multiple ankle injuries in both college and his minor league career, which has caused several analysts to sour a little on Rendon, but his solid hitting and fielding throughout the Spring give a glimpse as to why the Nationals had an easy decision to make when using the sixth pick on him in 2011.

Game 19: Monday, April 22, Nationals Park 7:05pm, Shelby Miller (2-1, 1.96 ERA) vs. Dan Haren (1-2, 8.10 ERA)

Twenty-two year old Shelby Miller will make his fourth start against the Nationals in game one of the three game series. This is Miller’s rookie season and he has been mentioned as a contender for the NL Rookie of the Year. Miller was drafted in the first round of 2009 by the Cardinals and spent the majority of his career rising through their minor league system until the ladder part of last season when he really came into his own. By the end of last season, he was striking out batters 26.7 percent of the time, while only walking them 7.4 percent of the time. His command of his fastball had improved to a point where he could put the ball anywhere he wanted to. Because of this, the Cardinals called him up on September 5, 2012. At the end of March, he was green-lighted by the Cardinals organization to become the fifth member of their rotation. He has three useful pitches, a Four-Seam Fastball that tops out at 94-93 mph and sits around 92/93, Curveball (77-82 mph, 79 avg) and Changeup (85-87mph, 86 avg). He tends to lean on his fastball, which has caused him trouble in the past when veterans see him for a second or third time around in the lineup. Due to him being a late season call up and only pitching 13.2 innings in the Major Leagues last season, his body of work is rather limited. He has never faced a member of the Nationals lineup because he was not utilized by the Cardinals out of the bullpen in the 2012 NLDS.

Dan Haren, Dan Haren, Dan Haren. What can one say about Dan Haren? Well, things could probably be worse. Actually, has anyone seen how Edwin Jackson has been pitching for the Cubs? At least Haren has a win and gets to hang out with Bryce Harper. It is still early in the season, so Nats fans should remain patient with Dan because time and again, pitchers have started out slow and have put together mind-blowing season. Plus, would you rather have Haren work out the kinks in April and May or in September and October. Personally, I would rather see him and the rest of the staff take their lumps now and only get better as the season goes on, than collapse down the stretch.

Forget the less than ideal numbers for a second. Dan Haren appears to be healthy. His fastball velocity is clocking in between 89-91 mph and he has been moving the ball around the plate at times. Davey is surely unhappy with the 26 hits he has given up over 13.1 innings, but he continues to say that all signs point to Haren turning this thing around. His fastball velocity is the same as it was last season and 2011, where he finished seventh in the American League Cy Young voting, where he posted a 3.17 ERA. The problem with Haren is that the pitch that made him a force in the MLB, his cutter, has not been moving like should. An 85mph pitch that should be thrown to the center of the plate so it will break to/away from the batter, depending on handedness, that doesn’t break is now just a BP fastball.  Let’s hope that Steve McCatty and the rest of the pitching staff can work with Dan to get him back to being successful.

Lucky for Haren and his confidence, the St. Louis Cardinals have not fared well against him in the past. In fact, Dan Haren has not lost a single game against the Red Birds during his career. He has a 3.65 ERA against them over the course of five starts and 22 innings pitched. However, both Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran have seen success against Haren in the past. Two-thirds of Holliday’s hits against Haren have been home runs and he has accumulated a .486 BA. Beltran has a 1.171 OPS and five RBIs against him in only 22 PA’s.

Current Cardinals vs. Dan Haren:

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="PA" class="tooltip" tip="Plate Appearances
When available, we use actual plate appearances from play-by-play game accounts
Otherwise estimated using AB + BB + HBP + SF + SH,
which excludes catcher interferences.
When this color click for a summary of each PA." align="center">PA

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="batting_avg" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="Hits/At Bats
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played
Bold indicates highest BA using current stats
Gold means awarded title at end of year." align="center">BA

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="onbase_perc" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="(H + BB + HBP)/(At Bats + BB + HBP + SF)
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">OBP

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="slugging_perc" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="Total Bases/At Bats or
(1B + 2*2B + 3*3B + 4*HR)/AB

For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">SLG

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="onbase_plus_slugging" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="On-Base + Slugging Percentages
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">OPS

AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO
Matt Holliday 23 21 6 1 0 2 3 2 6 .286 .348 .619 .967
Carlos Beltran 22 21 8 0 1 2 5 1 6 .381 .409 .762 1.171
Ty Wigginton 15 14 3 1 0 0 1 0 1 .214 .200 .286 .486
Yadier Molina 9 8 3 0 0 0 0 1 1 .375 .444 .375 .819
David Freese 7 7 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 .143 .143 .143 .286
Total 78 73 21 2 1 4 9 4 18 .288 .321 .507 .827
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/22/2013.

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Game 20: Tuesday, April 23, Nationals Park 7:05pm, Adam Wainwright (3-1, 2.48 ERA) vs. Ross Detwiler (1-0, 0.90 ERA)

Adam Wainwright has been on a mission since coming to the big leagues in 2005 and will take the hill against Ross Detwiler for game two. Wainwright had a good 2012; just one year removed from Tommy John surgery he went 14-13, posted a 3.94 ERA (3.10 FIP) and shined down the stretch. Thus far, Wainwright has not walked a batter yet. He is the first pitcher since 1900 to start the season with 28 strikeouts and no walks. He is closing in on the Cardinals’ record for most innings without a walk, which stands at 29.1. He has faced 128 batters without a walk going back to last season. Coincidentally, the last batter Wainwright walked was a Nat: Edwin Jackson.

He utilizes five pitches, the Cutter (80-93mph, 87 avg), Sinker (87-94 mph, 90 avg), Cureveball (67-79 mph, 74avg), Four-Seam Fastball (86-94 mph, 90 avg) and Changeup (79-86 mph, 84 avg). His favorite main pitches are the cutter, sinker and curveball, but he will pepper in a fastball and changeup if necessary. He will use all five pitches against left-handed batters, but he does not use his changeup against righties. Wainwright likes to use his curveball when he has two strikes against a batter, especially when he is ahead in the count.

Adam LaRoche has faced Wainwright the most and has a .722 OPS against him in 35 PA’s. With significantly smaller bodies of work against Wainwright, Desmond, Harper and Suzuki have all done incredibly well against him in the past. Even though Harper has only had 11 PA’s against Wainwright he has a disturbing 1.645 OPS.

Current Nationals vs. Adam Wainwright:

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="PA" class="tooltip" tip="Plate Appearances
When available, we use actual plate appearances from play-by-play game accounts
Otherwise estimated using AB + BB + HBP + SF + SH,
which excludes catcher interferences.
When this color click for a summary of each PA." align="center">PA

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="batting_avg" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="Hits/At Bats
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played
Bold indicates highest BA using current stats
Gold means awarded title at end of year." align="center">BA

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="onbase_perc" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="(H + BB + HBP)/(At Bats + BB + HBP + SF)
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">OBP

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="slugging_perc" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="Total Bases/At Bats or
(1B + 2*2B + 3*3B + 4*HR)/AB

For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">SLG

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="onbase_plus_slugging" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="On-Base + Slugging Percentages
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">OPS

AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO
Adam LaRoche 35 29 7 1 0 1 9 5 9 .241 .343 .379 .722
Jayson Werth 23 21 6 2 0 1 5 1 5 .286 .304 .524 .828
Ian Desmond 12 12 5 0 0 0 1 0 3 .417 .417 .417 .833
Bryce Harper 11 10 5 1 1 1 2 1 2 .500 .545 1.100 1.645
Kurt Suzuki 11 10 4 0 0 0 2 1 3 .400 .455 .400 .855
Danny Espinosa 8 8 1 0 0 0 1 0 4 .125 .125 .125 .250
Chad Tracy 6 6 1 1 0 0 0 0 2 .167 .167 .333 .500
Zach Duke 4 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .667 .667 .667 1.333
Roger Bernadina 4 4 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 .500 .500 .750 1.250
Denard Span 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 126 112 33 6 1 3 20 10 32 .295 .347 .446 .793
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/22/2013.

One of the brightest spots in this young 2013 season has been the emergence of Ross Detwiler. Drafted by the Nationals in 2007, Ross underperformed and was held back by injury until 2012 where he was then overshadowed by the big-three of Strasburg, Gio and Zimmermann. Now, Gio and Strasburg are having trouble finding their rhythm and some are, irrationally so, calling for Dan Haren to be released. While all this has been going on, Ross gets up, makes his starts and has quietly (very quietly, in fact) showed all of baseball that he is a force to be reckoned with. He has the fourth lowest ERA in all of baseball, which is sitting at a measly 0.90, and if it was not for a few shaky bullpen performances, he would be sitting on a 3-0 record. If Detwiler keeps this up it is safe to say that there will be many more number 48 jerseys appearing around Washington, DC.

Detwiler faced the St. Louis Cardinals twice last season. His first start was a disaster, where he lasted only 2.1 innings and amassed a 11.57 ERA. He walked five and gave up seven runs, three of them earned. His second outing was much better and came in Game 4 of the NLDS. With the Nats’ backs against the wall and facing elimination, Detwiler tossed six while giving up just three hits and only one run. Due to Detwiler only facing the Cardinals in two appearances his career numbers against their lineup does not mean much, but Carlos Beltran has showed he can handle Ross’ stuff and has a 1.208 OPS against him. On the other hand, Ty Wigginton has stepped in eight times against Detwiler, tied with Beltran for the most PA’s on the team, and has put together an appalling .250 OPS.  

Current Cardinals vs. Ross Detwiler:

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="PA" class="tooltip" tip="Plate Appearances
When available, we use actual plate appearances from play-by-play game accounts
Otherwise estimated using AB + BB + HBP + SF + SH,
which excludes catcher interferences.
When this color click for a summary of each PA." align="center">PA

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="batting_avg" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="Hits/At Bats
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played
Bold indicates highest BA using current stats
Gold means awarded title at end of year." align="center">BA

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="onbase_perc" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="(H + BB + HBP)/(At Bats + BB + HBP + SF)
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">OBP

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="slugging_perc" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="Total Bases/At Bats or
(1B + 2*2B + 3*3B + 4*HR)/AB

For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">SLG

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="onbase_plus_slugging" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="On-Base + Slugging Percentages
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">OPS

AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO
Carlos Beltran 8 6 2 0 0 1 3 1 0 .333 .375 .833 1.208
Ty Wigginton 8 8 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 .125 .125 .125 .250
David Freese 5 2 1 0 0 0 0 3 0 .500 .800 .500 1.300
Allen Craig 5 5 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .400 .400 .400 .800
Daniel Descalso 5 5 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .200 .200 .200 .400
Jon Jay 5 5 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 .200 .200 .200 .400
Yadier Molina 5 4 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 .000 .200 .000 .200
Matt Holliday 5 4 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 .000 .200 .000 .200
Pete Kozma 3 1 1 1 0 0 2 2 0 1.000 1.000 2.000 3.000
Total 50 41 9 1 0 1 7 8 6 .220 .340 .317 .657
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/22/2013.

Game 21: Wednesday, April 24, Nationals Park 1:05pm, Jaime Garcia (1-1, 3.22 ERA) vs. Stephen Strasburg (1-3, 2.96 ERA)

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To close out the series, the Cardinals will send Jaime Garcia to the mound. The 2012 season was a rough one for Jaime Garcia. He spent a whopping 74 days on the disabled list with a labrum and partial rotator cuff tear. After missing 64 games, though, Garcia came back on August 19, 2012 looking like he has something to prove. From his activation through the end of the season, he made nine starts, threw 55.1 innings, struck out 47 batters and only walked 11. However, in his only postseason start against the Nationals he was pulled by St. Louis manager, Mike Matheny, after only two innings.

Garcia has a Fastball (86-91 mph, 88avg), Slider (81-89 mph, 85 avg), Curveball (70-76 mph, 73 avg) and Changeup (79-86 mph, 82 avg) in his arsenal. The southpaw doesn’t have overwhelming stuff but his fastball has decent movement.   

Over the past three seasons, Garcia has pitched in four games against the Nats, accruing a 2-1 with a 3.74 ERA. Ian Desmond, Jayson Werth and Danny Espinosa all have seen Garcia at least ten times and have all been successful against him. Of the three, Werth has fared the worst and he has a 1.053 OPS in 16 PA’s. 

Current Nationals vs. Jaime Garcia:

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="PA" class="tooltip" tip="Plate Appearances
When available, we use actual plate appearances from play-by-play game accounts
Otherwise estimated using AB + BB + HBP + SF + SH,
which excludes catcher interferences.
When this color click for a summary of each PA." align="center">PA

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="batting_avg" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="Hits/At Bats
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played
Bold indicates highest BA using current stats
Gold means awarded title at end of year." align="center">BA

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="onbase_perc" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="(H + BB + HBP)/(At Bats + BB + HBP + SF)
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">OBP

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="slugging_perc" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="Total Bases/At Bats or
(1B + 2*2B + 3*3B + 4*HR)/AB

For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">SLG

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="onbase_plus_slugging" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="On-Base + Slugging Percentages
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">OPS

AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO
Jayson Werth 16 13 4 1 0 1 2 3 2 .308 .438 .615 1.053
Ian Desmond 12 11 5 0 0 0 0 1 1 .455 .500 .455 .955
Adam LaRoche 12 8 1 1 0 0 2 3 2 .125 .333 .250 .583
Danny Espinosa 10 9 4 0 0 0 1 1 3 .444 .500 .444 .944
Roger Bernadina 6 6 3 0 0 0 1 0 1 .500 .500 .500 1.000
Bryce Harper 5 5 1 0 0 1 2 0 2 .200 .200 .800 1.000
Zach Duke 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000
Kurt Suzuki 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 67 56 20 2 0 2 9 9 13 .357 .439 .500 .939
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/22/2013.

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Stephen Strasburg is having some issues with his ability to put the ball where he wants it and has only one win at this point in the season. His velocity looks good, but his strikeouts are down (7.77 K/9). Some may look at his 1-3 start and be disappointed, but there is not that much to worry about. Stras has only faced the Cardinals once going six innings with nine strikeouts and without surrendering a run, garnering a no-decision. With that line it’s be easy to deduce that he has very good numbers against current Cardinals in a small sample size.

Current Cardinals vs. Stephen Strasburg:

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="PA" class="tooltip" tip="Plate Appearances
When available, we use actual plate appearances from play-by-play game accounts
Otherwise estimated using AB + BB + HBP + SF + SH,
which excludes catcher interferences.
When this color click for a summary of each PA." align="center">PA

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="batting_avg" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="Hits/At Bats
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played
Bold indicates highest BA using current stats
Gold means awarded title at end of year." align="center">BA

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="onbase_perc" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="(H + BB + HBP)/(At Bats + BB + HBP + SF)
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">OBP

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="slugging_perc" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="Total Bases/At Bats or
(1B + 2*2B + 3*3B + 4*HR)/AB

For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">SLG

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="onbase_plus_slugging" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="On-Base + Slugging Percentages
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">OPS

AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO
Matt Holliday 3 3 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 .667 .667 1.000 1.667
Jon Jay 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000
Allen Craig 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Carlos Beltran 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
David Freese 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 .000 .500 .000 .500
Daniel Descalso 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Jake Westbrook 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Pete Kozma 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 20 19 2 1 0 0 0 1 8 .105 .150 .158 .308
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/22/2013.

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