The boys are back on their normal night talking the week in Nats news, fans, MASN, the growing intrigue at 1B, trade speculation and MUCH more.
The Nationals went into the series with the Colorado Rockies after having lost a series to the Orioles, so picking up a few wins was the one thing on everyone's mind. The Nationals had also shown some trouble picking up runs or getting hits with runners in scoring position. All these things are nothing new to the Nationals or their fans, as it has become no secret that the Nationals are doing as well as they are because the pitching staff. However, the in entering the city of Denver and playing in Coors Field, the Nationals pitching staff would be put to the Test.
The Rockies have historically had problems with Coors Field, a well-known hitters park. The Nationals would meet the Rockies at Coors Field when they are in an odd sort of transition. The Rockies had recently had a few good years and are currently trying to find the best way to play baseball at Coors Field. The light mountain air and high elevation allow the ball to travel farther and longer. Additionally, pitchers have to work harder to make their breaking pitches break. It is not uncommon for a pitcher to give up a lot of hits or tire quickly. As a result, the Rockies are trying a new system for their starting pitchers. They are using a 4-man rotation, which is limited to a maximum of 75 pitches. Then, a sort of buddy system is used, where a relief pitcher is paired with that starter and limited to 50 pitches. It is an interesting way, but the Rockies are battling something no other Major League team is battling, their own ballpark.
Game 2 of 4: Tuesday, June 26, 8:40 EDT, Coors Field
After a night when the offense struggled mightily once again and not even Stephen Strasburg could will the Nats into the W column, the Nationals send their 1A stopper Gio Gonzalez (9-3, 2.55 ERA) to the mound to face Christian Friedrich (4-4, 5.65 ERA).
For 7.5 innings Sunday afternoon against the Baltimore Orioles the Nats were in no danger of losing the game, and with the bullpen set up in a one run game a victory felt like the most common outcome. The Nationals had won 14 one run games and many of them were decided with the Nats clinging to the slimmest of leads and needing once again for their set-up man and closer to be perfect. On this afternoon that wasn't to be as Matt Wieters lifted a two run homerun over the centerfield wall to give the Orioles the 2-1 lead.
As soon as the game ended fans were looking for who to blame. Some wanted to blame an offense that has been struggling to score runs for the last week while others wanted to blame Sean Burnett who before yesterday had been one of the best relievers in baseball. It is of course true that when a pitching staff as a whole allows only two runs then a team should win, but it is also true that when a team enters the 8th inning with a lead of any type they are more likely to win than lose. Despite another poor offensive showing the Nats had a one run lead in the 8th inning and a good chance to win.
Pitching is an art form and Nationals fans this season are luck to watch Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez put on display masterpiece after masterpiece, and while Jordan Zimmermann lacks the natural talents of Strasburg or the refinements of Gio he has still done well. He has some flaws to work out, but that is the art of pitching and the plight of the artist as a young man.
There are a couple ways to look at Jordan Zimmermann's win/loss record. There is of course the easy way which is to say that a pitcher with an ERA under 3.00 shouldn't have a 3-6 record. The other way is to look back through those games and realize than in three of Jordan Zimmermann's six losses the game was tied or the Nationals had the lead as late as the fifth inning, and each time Jordan Zimmermann gave up to deciding runs.
None of this is to say Jordan Zimmermann isn't a good pitcher, but it is to say that to find him blameless in his losses is faulty. Part of the reason for his 3-6 record is the poor run support he has received of 3.26 runs a game, but it is also important to remember that the Nationals are as a team are only averaging 3.80 runs a game. It isn't as simple as the Nationals can't score with Jordan Zimmermann on the mound. The Nationals have trouble scoring no matter who is on the mound.
Even while in the midst of a four game slide the Nats are 11 games over .500 and leading the NL East. Over the next two days they will have the pitchers with the second and the third highest WAR in the NL on the mound. By all accounts this losing streak should end within the next two games, but it could have and perhaps should have ended last night. If it had been Detwiler on the mound instead of Chien-Ming Wang the Nats losing streak may already be over.
The problem with Chien Ming Wang has nothing to do with him. This has been his pattern over the last couple of seasons. He comes back from injury and takes a bit of time to get right, and when he does he is a good and sturdy pitcher that can go deep into games. Right now his delivery is off and he is overthrowing everything and leaving his sinker up in the zone where it is getting hit and hit hard.
Susan and Frank recap the week that was and give you something to look forward to this summer. They talk about the Sweep by the Yankees (and what it all means!), Designated for Assignment (and what THAT all means), answer some of Susan's questions and give you some baseball books to peruse at the beach or the park. Also, we are doing laundry in the background.
The Atlantic- DOWN IN FRONT Article
Summer Reading List!
After decimating the Braves of Atlanta the Yankees marched back into Washington with all the sound, fury, and bluster of a coming storm. Over the three game series the Yankees batters stormed to the plate as their offense surged while the Nats weakly attempted to put the ball in play and when they did it was most likely to be a weak grounder easily corralled by one of the Yankees fielders.
This series shouldn't be the turning point of the Nats season. The moment they look back on with hindsight filled with fear and dread pinpointing exactly what went wrong and where the collapse began. The Nats may have been beaten but they weren't defeated as they remain 12 games over .500 and have a 4 game lead on the Braves for the NL East. Instead the Nationals should look to the Yankees and admire them before then emulating their approach.
Game 2 of 3: Saturday, June 16, 1:05 EDT, Nationals Park
Last night wasn't a great showing for the Nationals, as Gio didn't pitch all that well but kept us in the game, and ultimately a lack of offense and a very poor showing by Lidge sealed the deal for the Yankees. Today, the Nats send Jordan Zimmermann (3-5, 2.91 ERA) to the mound to face off against Andy Pettitte (3-2, 2.81 ERA).
I read a column this morning about how according to the stats, Bryce Harper will be lucky to make the All-Star team. That couldn’t be further from the truth, and in reality it’d be a travesty if he didn’t make it on as a reserve. Ok, maybe not a travesty, but certainly a disappointment and a missed opportunity by Major League Baseball.
Game 1 of 3: Friday, June 15, 7:05 EDT, Nationals Park
After sweeping the six-game interleague road trip at Boston and Toronto, the Nats are back home tonight to face the first place New York Yankees. The Nationals send Gio Gonzalez (8-2, 2.35 ERA) to face Phil Hughes (6-5, 4.76 ERA).