Series #17 Preview: Nats vs Orioles

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After a much needed off day Thursday, the Nats took two of three from the Phillies. The offense looked better, averaging 4.66 runs per game over the weekend. Unfortunately the weekend came with several injuries. First came the news that Danny Espinosa had been playing with a fractured wrist since he was hit by Paul Maholm in early May. He is not yet headed to the DL, and while he was downright abysmal with a bat his defense will be missed. Next came Bryce Harper who aggravated a previous knee injury and will be sitting for at least the two games at Nats Park vs the Orioles. Ross Detwiler was actually cleared to start this Tuesday’s game before experiencing a setback that formally landed him on the DL. Detwiler is back-dated to May 16 so he is eligible to return as soon as June 2.

The Orioles come into the series at 27-23, 3rd in the AL East. The offense has been very good, leading Major League Baseball in OPS (.790), tied for 1st in WAR (10.4) and 3rd in wOBA (.340). The only true deficiency of the offense is they don’t walk incredibly often, posting a 7.5% BB% which ranks 22nd in MLB. The pitching on the other hand has not been great. Both the rotation and the bullpen independently rank 26th in FIP. So far this season the O’s have played better away from Camden Yards and in their last ten games are 4-6.

Game 51: Monday, May 27, Nationals Park, 1:05pm, Jason Hammel RHP (3-0, 3.00 ERA) vs. Gio Gonzalez LHP (3-2, 3.66 ERA)

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Jason Hammel had a good start to 2013 going 4-1 with a 3.79 ERA over his first six starts. His next three starts were not nearly as kind going 1-1 with a 10.43 ERA and only throwing 14.2 IP over those starts. He seems to have righted the ship some against the Yankees this past Wednesday going 6.2 IP while giving up two runs on six hits while striking out six and walking two in a winning effort.

Hammel throws a variation of his fastball 62% of the time, be it his Four-Seam Fastball (90-95, 93 avg) or Two-Seam Fastball (89-95, 93 avg). He also uses a Slider (81-87, 84 avg), Curveball (75-83, 77 avg) and a Changeup (84-91, 86 avg).

In eight career starts versus Washington Hammel is 6-0 with a 3.15 ERA and a 1.104 WHIP. He’s managed to hold current Nats to a combined .706 OPS; the best of which against him are Ryan Zimmerman with a .963 OPS over 23 PA’s, Roger Bernadina with a 1.055 OPS over 11 PA’s and Kurt Suzuki with a 1.067 OPS over 10 PA’s.

Current Nationals vs. Jason Hammel:

<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 23 21 7 2 0 1 3 2 2 .333 .391 .571 .963
Adam LaRoche 14 11 1 0 0 1 3 3 5 .091 .286 .364 .649
Ian Desmond 12 12 3 0 0 0 0 0 2 .250 .250 .250 .500
Roger Bernadina 11 10 4 2 0 0 2 1 3 .400 .455 .600 1.055
Kurt Suzuki 10 9 3 0 0 1 1 1 0 .333 .400 .667 1.067
Steve Lombardozzi 7 7 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 .286 .286 .286 .571
Bryce Harper 7 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 .000 .000 .000 .000
Danny Espinosa 6 4 1 0 0 0 0 2 2 .250 .500 .250 .750
Denard Span 6 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Chad Tracy 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Zach Duke 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Tyler Moore 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000
Total 109 99 25 5 0 3 11 9 20 .253 .312 .394 .706
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/27/2013.

Despite a wildly inconsistent start to the year, Gio has really turned it around over his last four outings where he went 1-0 with a 1.67 ERA and holding opposing batters to a .513 OPS. His most recent outing in San Francisco saw him go 7.1 IP surrendering only one run on four hits while striking out five; he did not factor in the decision.

Gio has started six games in his career against the Orioles and come out with a 1-3 record, a 3.75 ERA and a 1.556 WHIP. A strikeout to walk ratio of 1.65 did not help in those outings. Against current O’s Gio has fared quite well; holding the team to a meager .684 OPS over 84 PA’s. Most of the damage has come from Matt Wieters (1.446 OPS in 15 PA’s), Nick Markakis (.801 OPS in 13 PA’s) and Danny Valencia (.875 OPS in 8 PA’s). Impressively, Gio has held Adam Jones to a paltry .375 OPS over 16 PA’s.

Current Orioles vs. Gio Gonzalez:

<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 Jones 16 16 3 0 0 0 0 0 3 .188 .188 .188 .375
Matt Wieters 15 13 7 1 0 1 3 1 2 .538 .600 .846 1.446
Nick Markakis 13 12 4 1 0 0 1 1 2 .333 .385 .417 .801
Danny Valencia 8 8 3 1 0 0 2 0 0 .375 .375 .500 .875
J.J. Hardy 8 8 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 .250 .250 .250 .500
Yamaico Navarro 6 5 1 0 0 0 0 1 2 .200 .333 .200 .533
Alexi Casilla 6 5 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .200 .200 .200 .400
Steve Pearce 4 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .500 .333 .833
Chris Davis 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 .000 .000 .000 .000
Chris Snyder 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000
Nate McLouth 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 84 78 22 3 0 1 6 3 18 .282 .325 .359 .684
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/27/2013.

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Game 52: Tuesday, May 28, Nationals Park, 7:05pm, Kevin Gausman LHP (0-1, 7.20 ERA) vs. Nate Karns RHP (0-0, -.-- ERA)

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Game 52: Tuesday, May 28, Nationals Park, 7:05pm, Kevin Gausman LHP (0-1, 7.20 ERA) vs. Nate Karns RHP (0-0, -.-- ERA)

At 22 years old and the number two prospect in the Orioles’ system behind Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman made his Major League debut last week against Toronto. He went five innings allowing four runs on seven hits while striking out five and, uncharacteristically, walking two. Gausman’s numbers through 61.1 IP in the minors are spectacular, going 2-5 with a 3.23 ERA,  a 0.995 WHIP, a 9.1 K/9 and a 0.9 BB/9. His K:BB is 10.33.  

Gausman has shown three pitches in the Majors thus far, a Four-Seam Fastball (94-99, 97 avg), a Changeup (82-86, 84 avg) and a Slider (82-84, 83 avg). He has not faced the Nationals or any current Nats.

As scouting is not my wheelhouse, here is the scouting report on Kevin Gausman from the good people at Baseball America:

Gausman utilizes long arms, a high three-quarters release, and good extension to create hard downward plane on his fastball. The pitch comes with boring action and routinely sits in the mid-90s, with the ability to climb close to triple-digits (he has touched triple digits in the past). He shows comfort with the offering and can move it around the quadrants, showing no fear working inside to set up his plus to plus-plus changeup. The off-speed pitch comes with arm-side fade and late drop, mirroring the action on his fastball, and generally sits in the mid-80s with around a nine to 12 mile per hour delta from his heater.

Gausman wielded both a slider and a curve throughout his scholastic career, but he has focused his attention on the former since inking with Baltimore, making solid strides with the offering over the past 10 months. He will routinely sit in the low-80s with the offering, but can juice it up to the mid-80s with tighter action more closely resembling a cutter. When clicking, the pitch comes with heavy tilt and is tough to pick up against his fastball trajectory, helping it project as a third plus or better weapon once he finds more consistency in command and execution. He is an excellent athlete who repeats his mechanics and fields his position well.

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As Detwiler is still ailing from a back issue the Nats finally needed to fill his slot in the rotation. With Maya designated for assignment (bullet: dodged), Danny Rosenbaum not on the right schedule and the rest of the AAA options looking fairly bleak, the Nats called up 25-year old Nathan Karns from AA Harrisburg. A name that no one knew prior to 2012, Karns made his name known by showing good command of his fastball (97-98 mph) and incorporating a solid curveball and changeup that led to him striking out 11.5 batters per nine innings in 2012.

So far in 2013 his numbers looks less impressive if you’re only looking at his ERA (4.60). However, his periperals (K/9, BB/9, H/9, HR/9, K:BB) all look in line with where they should be and the only real difference from 2012 to 2013 is BABIP which could easily be attributed to lower quality fielders.

Once again, I’m leaving the scouting to Baseball America:

Karns works in the low 90s and touches 95 mph with his fastball. He throws his heater on a downhill plane, and it can jump on hitters coming out of his retooled delivery. His sharp downer curveball can be a plus pitch when he locates it consistently. Karns’ changeup has the makings of becoming an average pitch after he worked hard on it this year. The development of his third pitch and how he handles the workload of another full season will help determine if he sticks in the rotation or moves to the bullpen.


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