Series #11 Preview: Nats vs Tigers

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Winning a series against both the Reds and Pirates, check. Not getting swept by the Braves and actually splitting the most recent series with them, check. The Nats finally finding a little bit of offense, check. Yes, things seem to be looking up for the Nationals as they enter into a two game series against the Detroit Tigers.

The Tigers (19-11) come to Nationals Park for the first time since the club moved in from RFK Stadium. The Nationals hope that the change of scenery will mean a change in outcome because the last series the two teams had in Washington ended with the Tigers sweeping the Nats in 2007. The Tigers are playing some solid baseball. They just swept the Astros (I know it is not a major feat because everyone is doing it, but a sweep is a sweep) and have won nine of their last ten. Justin Verlander will not make an appearance in the series, but the rest of the Tiger’s rotation is still very dangerous.

The Nationals (17-15) are coming off of a 4-3 road trip where six of their seven games could have been wins and only one embarrassing outing on the last day of April against the Braves. As of now, Jayson Werth is questionable for the first game of the series with a strained left hamstring, but Tyler Moore has been filling in well, including hitting his first homer of the season in the finale of the Pirates series.

Lastly, since returning from the disabled list, Ryan Zimmerman has a solid OBP. He has been on base almost a third of the time and his eye at the plat has been good, where he has amassed three walks in three games. While he has committed an error in the short time since his return, he has managed to increase his fielding percentage back to .909, which is an improvement over Anthony Rendon’s fielding percentage of .885.  

Game 33: Wednesday, May 8, Nationals Park 7:05pm, Anibal Sanchez, RHP (3-2, 1.82 ERA) vs. Jordan Zimmermann, RHP (5-1, 1.64 ERA)

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As much as I love baseball, I rarely take note of much going on outside of the NL East. So, for me the American League is kind of like the country of Qatar, I know it exists, but I do not pay it much attention unless something major happens there. Well, something major happened and it involved Anibal Sanchez on April 26, this season when he set a franchise record of striking out 17 batters in one game against the Braves, which I’ll admit made it a little sweeter. So far this year, Sanchez has not given up a homerun in 39.2 IP.

The Nationals are all too familiar with Sanchez due to his long stint with the Marlins before he was traded to Detroit. To tell you the truth, the Nats are probably close to wishing that Justin Verlander was pitching against them tonight because they have had little luck against Sanchez in the past. In 19 games, Sanchez has a 1.97 ERA against the Nats dating back to 2006. He has only given up 7 homers to the Nats in his career, while striking out 100 and averaging 7.6 K/9 innings.

Anibal is your prototypical power pitcher and throws a Fastball (86-95 mph, 92 avg), Slider (78-87 mph, 84 avg), Changeup (82-88 mph, 85 avg), Sinker (87-95 mph, 91 avg) and Curveball (75-82 mph, 79 avg). He has thrown more sliders and changeups since 2009 and his curveball has a big 12/6 break. His fastball does not have a lot of movement and he tends to get into trouble when his pitches start to creep up in the zone because he starts to lose control of his pitch placement. His slider is his moneymaker and causes the most whiffs of any pitch in his arsenal.

The only other concern the Tigers have with Sanchez is that he gives up a good amount of hits. Over his career he’s averaged just under nine hits given up per 9 IP (closer to 7 H/9 in 2013), but has managed a career ERA of 3.66 (3.69 FIP), so teams have not been taking advantage of the hits they have gotten against him. Ian Desmond and Wilson Ramos have had the most success against Sanchez in the past. Desmond is sporting a .890 OPS and Ramos has a .928 OPS against him.

Current Nationals vs. Anibal Sanchez:

<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
Ryan Zimmerman 48 42 10 1 0 1 2 5 6 .238 .333 .333 .667
Jayson Werth 31 30 5 2 0 1 1 1 19 .167 .194 .333 .527
Adam LaRoche 31 30 6 0 0 0 1 1 9 .200 .226 .200 .426
Ian Desmond 27 25 8 2 0 1 3 2 4 .320 .370 .520 .890
Roger Bernadina 23 20 2 0 0 0 0 3 8 .100 .217 .100 .317
Wilson Ramos 15 13 5 1 0 0 1 2 1 .385 .467 .462 .928
Danny Espinosa 15 13 1 0 0 0 0 1 6 .077 .200 .077 .277
Chad Tracy 9 9 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000
Bryce Harper 3 3 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 1.000 1.333
Denard Span 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Steve Lombardozzi 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Jordan Zimmermann 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 212 195 38 6 1 3 8 15 57 .195 .259 .282 .541
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/7/2013.

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Jordan Zimmermann does three things this season: He wins games, eats up innings and gives up few runs. With his continued dominance has come more press, and Jordan has done nothing but respond positively to the increased attention. With both Stras and Gio remaining inconsistent to start the season, the stellar innings Zimmermann has been able to post in the early going have been a welcome and much needed surprise. His most recent outing was an 8 IP, 2 hit scoreless gem against Atlanta, extending his scoreless innings streak to 18.

Zimmermann has never faced the Tigers before, but he has faced Omar Infante, Torii Hunter and Anibal Sanchez in the past. However, only Infante has a meaningful amount of at-bats against Zimmermann. Infante is batting a paltry .214 in 15 plate appearances, but he does have one home run.

Current Tigers vs. Jordan Zimmermann:

<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
Omar Infante 15 14 3 0 1 1 2 0 0 .214 .200 .571 .771
Torii Hunter 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Anibal Sanchez 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 20 19 3 0 1 1 2 0 3 .158 .150 .421 .571
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/7/2013.

Game 34: Thursday, May 9, Nationals Park 4:05pm, Doug Fister, RHP (4-0, 2.48 ERA) vs. Dan Haren, RHP (3-3, 5.01 ERA)

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Doug Fister is an interesting story because all the scouting reports before the middle of the 2009 season had him at mediocre at best and most of the time did not list him at all. His college career at Fresno State was mediocre, his early first couple years in the minors was nothing to write home about and everyone said his fastball was pedestrian. Then Fister figured something out. No one knows what happened, but he became a pretty solid command pitcher and since then he has been playing well.

Fister relies on command and deception relying on a Two-Seam Fastball (86-92 mph, 88 avg), Changeup (76-86 mph, 81 avg) and Curveball (69-77 mph, 73 avg) while mixing in a Four-Seam Fastball (85-90 mph, 88 avg) and a Slider (82-88 mph, 86 avg). As I mentioned earlier, his fastball is not very impressive, but he can put it anywhere in the zone he wants. His curveball is good and has a 30 percent swing-and miss rate. He does not strike a lot of guys out, but he gets a ton of groundballs, which has been the one of the keys to his recent success. The other thing that has helped him out a lot has been his incredibly low walk rate. In 2010 he was 4th best in MLB in BB/9 and in 2011 he improved his BB/9 and actually dropped one spot to 5th best in MLB. Fister has not taken a loss so far this season and has a solid ERA, but he has been plunking opposing batters like it is something to be proud of. In fact, this season he leads MLB with nine hit batters with AJ Burnett and seven others coming in a distant second with only 4 hit batters thus far.

Since he has spent his entire career in the American League, first with the Mariners and now with the Tigers he has only one appearance versus the Nationals over his career. However, both Denard Span and Kurt Suzuki, both former AL stalwarts have fared well against him in the past. Specifically, Span has a .350 BA against him, with a 2B, 3B and 2 RBI’s in 21 PA’s. 

Current Nationals vs. Doug Fister:

<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
Kurt Suzuki 23 23 6 1 1 0 2 0 2 .261 .261 .391 .652
Denard Span 21 20 7 1 1 0 2 1 3 .350 .381 .500 .881
Jayson Werth 3 2 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 .500 .667 .500 1.167
Ryan Zimmerman 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .333 .667
Roger Bernadina 3 3 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 .333 .333 .333 .667
Ian Desmond 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .333 .000 .333
Wilson Ramos 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Danny Espinosa 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 62 59 16 2 2 0 5 2 7 .271 .306 .373 .679
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/7/2013.

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Dan Haren has looked like the Dan Haren of old in his last two starts. His ERA has been creeping lower and the time he has spent on the mound has increased. His most encouraging outing was his last outing when he went for a full eight innings against the pesky Braves, where he gave up only four hits and one earned run.

Since 2005, Haren has appeared in 10 games against the Tigers. In those 10 appearances he has a 3.63 ERA and a 4-4 record. Haren has faced every Tiger position player with the exception of Matt Tuiasosopo throughout his career. As one could expect, he has had varying degrees of success against their lineup. The lineup has a .278 BA against Haren, with Torii Hunter, Omar Infante, Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez all sporting impressive OPS against him. However, the Tiger’s golden boy, Miguel Cabrera probably wishes Dan breaks his arm during pregame warm-ups because he has been awful against him. Cabrera is only 3-for-16 when facing Haren and has struck out in three of those plate appearances. 

Current Tigers 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
Victor Martinez 28 25 9 2 0 1 4 3 5 .360 .429 .560 .989
Jhonny Peralta 26 25 6 0 0 0 2 1 6 .240 .269 .240 .509
Miguel Cabrera 16 16 3 0 0 1 2 0 3 .188 .188 .375 .563
Omar Infante 15 15 7 1 0 0 0 0 4 .467 .467 .533 1.000
Torii Hunter 12 10 3 1 0 1 2 1 3 .300 .364 .700 1.064
Andy Dirks 9 9 2 1 0 0 1 0 2 .222 .222 .333 .556
Alex Avila 8 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 .000 .000 .000 .000
Austin Jackson 7 7 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 .143 .143 .429 .571
Prince Fielder 6 5 3 1 0 0 1 1 0 .600 .667 .800 1.467
Brayan Pena 6 6 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .500 .833
Don Kelly 6 5 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 .200 .333 .200 .533
Ramon Santiago 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 141 133 37 7 1 3 12 7 29 .278 .314 .414 .728
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/7/2013.

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