Cubs

Series #12 Preview: Nats vs Cubs

Editors Note: This now has the previews for the entire series. 

The Nats continue to piece things together as the season has progressed and that was very evident in the two game sweep of Detroit. The starting pitching, led by Jordan Zimmermann continues to make strides as has the fielding (4 E’s in the last three series). The Nats will face the Cubs before heading out west and look to continue to put pressure on the Braves who only lead the Nats in the NL East by two games.

The Cubs come into the series with a 13-21 record, good for last in the NL Central and 26th in baseball (ahead of TOR, LAA, HOU, MIA). While fairly average all around with a .711 team OPS (16th MLB), a slightly below average 3.76 runs per game, 3.77 ERA (3.87 FIP) the Cubs have not managed to find any traction in the early part of the season and are just 4-6 in their last ten.

Game 35: Friday, May 10, Nationals Park 7:05pm, Jeff Samardzija, RHP (1-4, 3.09 ERA) vs. Ross Detwiler, LHP (1-3, 2.50 ERA)

The former Notre Dame wideout, Jeff Samardzija, is off to a great start this year as long as you’re not using his W/L record as a point of reference (which no one should. ever.). Through six starts his sits at 1-4 with a 3.09 ERA (3.09 FIP) while striking out 10.79 per nine innings. In his most recent outing he went six innings, giving up 2 runs (1 earned) while striking out five and walking three in 111 pitches.

Samardzija has had his share of success against the Nats in a brief career, going 1-1 with a 1.48 ERA, 0.945 WHIP and a K:BB of 13.00 in 9 appearances (2 starts). Against current Nats Jeff holds the team to a .639 OPS with LaRoche (1.250 OPS), Desmond (1.200 OPS) and Span (1.000 OPS) with any sustained success against him. Ryan Zimmerman is 0-11 against Samardzija.

Current Nationals vs. Jeff Samardzija:

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Jayson Werth 14 13 3 0 0 1 4 1 2 .231 .286 .462 .747
Ian Desmond 11 10 5 2 0 0 0 0 3 .500 .500 .700 1.200
Ryan Zimmerman 11 11 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 .000 .000 .000 .000
Adam LaRoche 8 8 2 0 0 2 3 0 3 .250 .250 1.000 1.250
Danny Espinosa 8 7 2 0 0 0 1 0 2 .286 .250 .286 .536
Wilson Ramos 6 6 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 .333 .667
Roger Bernadina 6 6 2 0 0 0 1 0 1 .333 .333 .333 .667
Denard Span 3 3 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 .333 .333 .667 1.000
Kurt Suzuki 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000 .333 .000 .333
Bryce Harper 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Chad Tracy 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Ross Detwiler 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 80 74 17 3 0 3 10 2 19 .230 .247 .392 .639
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/10/2013.

After an incredibly hot start to the season Detwiler has still pitched well but has not had quite the same results. In his last start he gave up two home runs and took the loss in Pittsburgh while only lasting five innings.

In three starts against the Cubs Detwiler has compiled a 2-1 record with a 2.60 ERA and a 1.154 WHIP. Current Cubs combine for a team .807 OPS against Detwiler while Scott Hairston absolutely owns him, posting a 1.778 over nine plate appearances that have resulted in three doubles and a home run. 

Current Cubs vs. Ross Detwiler:

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Scott Hairston 9 9 5 3 0 1 1 0 2 .556 .556 1.222 1.778
Cody Ransom 8 7 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 .000 .125 .000 .125
Alfonso Soriano 7 7 2 1 0 0 1 0 1 .286 .286 .429 .714
Darwin Barney 7 5 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 .000 .286 .000 .286
Starlin Castro 6 6 3 1 0 0 0 0 2 .500 .500 .667 1.167
Dioner Navarro 4 2 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 .000 .333 .000 .333
Welington Castillo 3 2 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 .500 .667 .500 1.167
Nate Schierholtz 3 3 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 .667 1.000
Anthony Rizzo 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Jeff Samardzija 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 52 45 12 6 0 1 3 4 10 .267 .340 .467 .807
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/10/2013.

Game 36: Saturday, May 11, Nationals Park 4:05pm, Edwin Jackson, RHP (0-5, 6.39 ERA) vs. Stephen Strasburg, RHP (1-4, 3.45 ERA)

Former National Edwin Jackson signed a long term deal this past offseason after the Nats declined to make him a qualifying offer of $13.5m. He’s started his tenure with the Cubs with an unsightly line of 0-5 with a 6.39 ERA. It would be all too easy to look at that little bit of information and assume he’s had a really bad beginning to the season. Actually, he’s been pretty good to start the year but the defense has not helped him out at all. He’s striking out 9.24 per nine innings (compared to a career 6.24), and has compiled a FIP of 3.20 in seven starts; a far cry from his ERA. In his last two starts he’s only combined for 9.2 IP, while allowing 12 runs on 19 hits while striking out 11.

So far this season Jackson has relied mostly on his Four-Seam Fastball (90-96, 93 avg) and Slider (82-94, 86 avg); accounting for more than 80% of his pitch selection. He’s also mixing in a Cutter (76-85, 81 avg) and Two-Seam Fastball (91-95, 93 avg). The interesting thing is his Changeup (85-88, 87 avg) has been thrown just over 1% of the time this year when for his career it’s accounted for nearly 9% of his pitch selection.

Jackson has only faced the Nats twice, with only one start, totaling 8 IP; in those games he’s 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA and a 1.375 WHIP. He’s faced plenty of current Nationals, corralling them to a .716 combined OPS. Those that have fared the best against Jackson are Span with .851 OPS in 15 PA’s and Chad Tracy in 5 PA’s who is 3-3 with a double and two walks off of Edwin.

Current Nationals vs. Edwin Jackson:

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Denard Span 15 13 5 0 0 0 0 2 0 .385 .467 .385 .851
Kurt Suzuki 15 13 3 0 0 0 0 2 3 .231 .333 .231 .564
Jayson Werth 8 8 3 2 0 0 0 0 2 .375 .375 .625 1.000
Chad Tracy 5 3 3 1 0 0 1 2 0 1.000 1.000 1.333 2.333
Ryan Zimmerman 4 4 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 .250 .250 .250 .500
Adam LaRoche 4 3 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 .000 .250 .000 .250
Danny Espinosa 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 .333 .667
Wilson Ramos 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000
Ian Desmond 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Roger Bernadina 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 63 55 16 3 0 0 3 7 12 .291 .371 .345 .716
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/11/2013.

In his most recent start at Pittsburgh, Stephen Strasburg had a game plan that was much more in line with how we all would like to see him pitch. He was attacking the zone and while he did surrender four runs on the backs of two homeruns, he looked better than he has at points in the early season.

Strasburg has one career start against the Cubs where he went seven innings giving up one run on five hits and a walk while striking out five and not factoring into the decision. He’s only faced six current Cubs for a total of 19 PA’s, holding them to a .632 OPS in the small sample size. The only Cub with multiple games against Strasburg is David Dejesus who is 3-6 with a strikeout in 6 PA’s (1.000 OPS).

Current Cubs vs. Stephen Strasburg:

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
David DeJesus 6 6 3 0 0 0 0 0 1 .500 .500 .500 1.000
Alfonso Soriano 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .333 .667
Starlin Castro 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 .333 .667
Darwin Barney 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Ryan Sweeney 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .500 .500 .500 1.000
Luis Valbuena 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 19 19 6 0 0 0 0 0 3 .316 .316 .316 .632
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/11/2013.

Game 37: Sunday, May 12, Nationals Park 1:35pm, Scott Feldman, RHP (3-3, 2.70 ERA) vs. Gio Gonzalez, RHP (3-2, 4.97 ERA)

A former 30th round pick by the Texas Rangers, Scott Feldman is in his ninth year in MLB. He is best summed up as a former reliever who moved into the rotation and turned out to be a serviceable starter, but isn’t anything remarkable. He’s been on somewhat of a hot streak in his last few starts, most recently throwing seven shutout innings against his former club, the Texas Rangers; only allowing two hits and a walk.

Feldman throws from a 3/4 arm slot  and used to be a fastball pitcher but now relies mainly on his Sinker (88-94, 91 avg) while mixing in a Curveball (71-85, 76 avg), and a Cutter (85-91, 89 avg) and occasionally throwing a Changeup (83-89, 86 avg) or the his nearly extinct Fastball (89-91, 90 avg). 

Feldman has never faced the Nats and the only current Nationals with any meaningful PA’s against him are Span with a .576 OPS in 14 PA’s and Suzuki with a .706 OPS in 17 PA’s. 

Current Nationals vs. Scott Feldman:

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Kurt Suzuki 17 17 5 2 0 0 4 0 4 .294 .294 .412 .706
Denard Span 14 14 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 .286 .286 .286 .571
Chad Tracy 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Zach Duke 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Adam LaRoche 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 34 34 9 2 0 0 4 0 5 .265 .265 .324 .588
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/11/2013.

Gio Gonzalez has been very up and down to start the year, and in that fashion started his most recent outing at Pittsburgh by giving up a run and loading the bases before buckling down, getting out out the inning without any further damage and only allowing one more run in the rest of his six innings on the mound. While all Nats fans hope that another good start, this time against the Cubs, can get Gio back on a track similar to his 2012 campaign.

However, in three starts against the Cubs Gio has not fared particularly well; going 1-1 with a 5.74 ERA and a 1.684 WHIP. Current Cubs have done very well against Gio, combining for an .897 OPS over 73 PA’s. Scott Hairston with a .857 OPS in 14 PA’s and Starlin Castro with a 1.071 OPS, as well as Alfonso Soriano with a .929 OPS, both in 8 PA’s are just a few Cubs who have rocked Gio previously.

Current Cubs vs. Gio Gonzalez:

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Scott Hairston 14 14 4 1 0 1 1 0 0 .286 .286 .571 .857
Starlin Castro 8 7 4 0 0 0 2 0 0 .571 .500 .571 1.071
Alfonso Soriano 8 6 2 1 0 0 2 1 2 .333 .429 .500 .929
David DeJesus 8 8 2 0 0 1 1 0 2 .250 .250 .625 .875
Julio Borbon 7 7 4 0 0 0 0 0 1 .571 .571 .571 1.143
Dioner Navarro 6 5 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 .000 .167 .000 .167
Cody Ransom 5 4 1 0 0 0 1 1 1 .250 .400 .250 .650
Darwin Barney 4 4 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 .500 .500 .500 1.000
Luis Valbuena 4 3 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 .333 .500 .333 .833
Nate Schierholtz 3 3 2 0 0 1 2 0 0 .667 .667 1.667 2.333
Welington Castillo 3 3 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 .667 1.000
Anthony Rizzo 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 73 67 23 3 0 3 9 4 13 .343 .375 .522 .897
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/11/2013.

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Edwin Jackson, the Qualifying Offer, and the Cubs

There seems to exist among some, astonishment as to why the Nationals would not make a qualifying offer to Edwin Jackson as he was obviously going to be seeking a multi-year deal. As talks have ramped up between he and the Cubs for a 4 year $52 million deal the masses continue to be perplexed. Baseball is not complicated. It is much closer to connect the dots than rocket science. So, why might the Washington Nationals not be willing to offer Edwin Jackson a qualifying offer?

Beginning with the facts as known to us, the first and primary thing to do is to forget about any subsequent offers that came in for the services of Edwin Jackson. At the time the qualifying offer had to be made he was the sole property of the Washington Nationals and unable to negotiate with any other organizations. Upon laying $13.3 million in front of Edwin Jackson there existed a fear among those in the Nationals organization that Jackson would accept. This fear existed because a year earlier Jackson turned down multi-year offers from the Orioles and Pirates in order to play for the Nationals. 

At that time Jackson made the assumption that the Nationals gave him the better chance to win, and as the Nationals won 98 games he was rewarded for these thoughts. With even greater evidence of being guaranteed to play for a winner the qualifying offer is not just a financial temptation but also one of satisfaction in the competitive nature of Edwin Jackson. 

There is also the fact that Jackson had just finished a season playing for the Washington Nationals. With as much time as Jackson spent with and around his teammates a level of comfort must have grown and it can be assumed that Jackson had developed a kinship with one or more members of the team. Jackson had financial, competitive, and personal reasons to accept a qualifying offer if one were to be placed in front of him.

From the other side of the argument, the Nationals were finished with Edwin Jackson. Jackson is a fine pitcher and has always put up decent numbers, but it is hard to get past the fact that Jackson has never lived up to his potential. The final product is still good, but how those final numbers are reached is frustrating to witness in real time. Jackson is just as likely to take the mound and pitch a shutout as he is to be done after one inning. There is a level of discomfort that follows this type of inconsistency and why the Nationals were a .387 team when Jackson pitched.

That brings us to our conclusion. As the Nationals were done with Edwin Jackson and did not want him on the team further any risk that he may accept a qualifying offer was too great. The Nats only wished to jettison themselves of Edwin Jackson. With this being said, thank you Mr. Jackson for your service to the Washington Nationals and we wish you the best in your future endeavors.