Strasburg was 15K great today; Nats throw 1st shutout; MAT HR

After this win, Stephen Strasburg is now 6-1 in his 7 games against his hometown Padres and he torched them for 15 strikeouts in 7.0 innings. Strasburg scored the winning run today on a Harper grounder, and Michael Taylor added the exclamation point with a 2-run home run for the final score of 3-0 which marks the first shutout for the Washington Nationals this season. Koda Glover had a 1-2-3 inning in the 9th for his 5th save of the season.

The Nationals infielders stressed Strasburg’s pitch count with 2 errors in the first two innings which caused Stras to throw many extra pitches. Strasburg didn’t stress though as he got tougher as he got deeper into the game. Strasburg’s final line had him giving up only 3 hits and 1 walk as he lowered his ERA to 2.94. Continue reading

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Game #48 Strasburg against his hometown team (again); Murphy sits

Pitching on Star Wars day at Nationals Park, this will be the 7th time in Stephen Strasburg‘s career that he has faced his hometown team from San Diego. Strasburg attended San Diego State University where his coach was none other than the greatest Padre—Tony Gwynn. When Strasburg was a youngster, he donned a Gwynn Padres jersey. Now Strasburg hopes to improve upon his career 5-1 record against these Padres.

Strasburg is coming off a dominant pitching performance of 7 2/3 innings with 118 pitches. Luckily Strasburg is pitching on an extra day’s rest where his ERA has improved 0.36 compared to pitching on regular rest.

The Padres throw Clayton Richard who is a lefty who dominates lefty batters. Daniel Murphy is not in the starting line-up, and the Nationals will start only one lefty (Bryce Harper) as the switch-hitting Matt Wieters and Wilmer Difo will both hit from the right-side. Righties have an OPS this year against Richard of .838 versus .536 against lefties. Continue reading

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A Scherzer gem; Koda save; 3 #Nats bombs back win!

The Nationals won 5-1, but what was a laugher to begin the top of the 9th inning became a bases loaded situation and Max Scherzer was pulled with two outs—one out from the rare complete game. Chris Speier who is filling in as the manager for the weekend for Dusty Baker had an easy go to his Nats managerial debut until that 9th inning and the key move of the game was going straight to Koda Glover instead of Oliver Perez who also was warm and ready in the bullpen.

If Perez came in, he would have had to face the rookie power stud Hunter Renfroe who entered the game as the right-handed pinch-hitter. Glover struck the rookie out on 4 pitches to close-out the game and secure the 5-1 win for the Nationals and Max Scherzer. The reigning Cy Young winner had a season-high 13 strikeouts and was just over 100 pitches in a pitch efficient start which looked like a slam dunk complete game for Max until it began to unravel with a hit, a walk, and a HBP. To the rescue was the young Koda Glover who threw 4 pitches to secure his 4th save of the season.

Photo by @eld13 for TalkNats

The scoring started in the bottom of the 1st inning with a lead-off blast by Trea Turner over the centerfield wall. The Nationals had a chance to widen the lead with bases loaded but couldn’t push across a run, and in the top of the next inning Ryan Schimpf hit a game tying home run. Michael Taylor countered with a 2-run blast to leftfield and the final runs were scored on a third-deck blast from Bryce Harper. Continue reading

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Game #47 Max Scherzer tonight; Chris Speier is your Manager!

Chris Speier will make his managerial debut for the Washington Nationals tonight as Dusty Baker is off for this entire series against the Padres while he attends his son’s High School graduation.

After the game last night, there was an armchair manager’s discussion on the internet as to the chess game gone awry in yesterday’s game. Raise your hand if you thought the move was to go in nibble mode on Nelson Cruz in that 6th inning when he hit the game winning 3-run home run off of Jacob Turner or was it now a checkers game because the correct chess move was to pull Gio after the first batter got on base.

If Cruz walks, you have bases loaded with one out. Maybe you leave Gio in to nibble on Cruz and have your doubleplay extraordinaire Blake Treinen ready for a Houdini act. It would be risky with Kyle Seager batting but that is exactly how the 7th inning unfolded as Treinen relieved Matt Grace. Continue reading

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The Nationals only scored two runs; The Nationals gave up four runs

You won’t win many games when you score only two runs. That’s a fact, and you can go through the Win Expectency Index to see your odds. Clearly, you would have to hold your opponent to zero or one run. Many are upset that Jacob Turner came into the game and promptly gave up a 3-run home run to Nelson Cruz. It happens and Nelson Cruz did what he does and that is hit home runs. Unfortunately Gio Gonzalez gave up 4 walks in his 5 1/3 innings and 3 hits during his outing to put 2 men on base in that 6th inning when Jacob Turner was called in with one out.

The Nationals held a 2-0 lead in the game scored from an Anthony Rendon home run and a Jayson Werth RBI single. The Nationals had their chances today to score more runs, but they were only 1-6 in RISP spots today. Bryce Harper left 3 men on base and Ryan Zimmerman left 2 men on base. The offense was sluggish today. If you knew that one player struck out twice today, you would think it was Michael Taylor — and you would be wrong. Michael Taylor has now raised his non-K streak to 3 straight starts which is a career best. It was Daniel Murphy who struck out twice today in a very un-Murphy-like game.

The Nationals move to 5-5 in Gio Gonzalez starts with another loss in the bullpen.


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Game #46 Gio Gonzalez wants to follow the lead of Strasburg, Joe Ross & Tanner Roark!

Photo by Sam Frost for TalkNats

Was there some symbolism of George Washington carrying a flag near the Potomac in a game played by the only MLB team from the state of Washington and the team in the nation’s capital Washington, D.C.? The letters behind him were obstructed by his large head only revealing “A SON” for the man known as the “Father of his country” which was a title bestowed on George Washington in recognition of his military leadership in the Revolutionary War and his service as first president of the United States of America. George Washington was the son of Augustine Washington and Mary Ball Washington. Did you know George Washington had 9 brothers and sisters, enough to field a baseball team that he could coach.

The east coast weather is not good for those wanting to have outdoor activities today, and the NY Yankees have already cancelled their game for today. The Nationals appear to have made a smart move in changing their game time from a 4:05 start time to 12:05 pm as the hourly weather chart shows they have a nice 3 hour window before thunder boomers move into the area.

Today’s scheduled starters are a match-up of lefties with Cuban roots. The Mariners pitcher, Ariel Miranda, defected from Cuba, and Gio Gonzalez’s mother was from Cuba and his father is also of Cuban heritage. Miranda is coming off of a one-run performance against the White Sox and like both Bergman and Gaviglio before him, they all have been looking to solidify themselves in this Seattle rotation.

The only Washington Nationals’ player who has faced Miranda is Adam Lind who is 1-2 against him. The Nationals hope to continue to take advantage of these inexperienced pitchers as Anthony Rendon has done the last 2 nights as he padded his stats with 3 home runs, 8 RBIs, and 4-8 statline. Rendon, in fact, is now on a 112 RBI pace.  Continue reading

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Washington Nationals: Is it plain sailing from here?

Washington is, it seems, never out of the world media spotlight. Usually, the madness of politics leaves scribes scratching their heads to find the right words, or a fresh way of capturing the mayhem which ripples around the world.

Nearly as many column inches are devoted to the Nats bullpen. If we felt so inclined, last year’s post with a few tweaks on the names and stats, would hold more or less true. This year, the question takes on a broader context.

The Nats are rightly favorites for the Eastern division. At the moment, the Astros hold the best record in baseball, and the Nationals are the top team in the most recent Power Rankings. OK, that’s the complacency of the bleachers talking but so long as the players are professional on the diamond, fans prerogative, nay, duty, is to be over-confident. Continue reading

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Nats win 5-1; Tanner Roark pitches 7 inning gem; Rendon crushes!

The headline just needed some minor tweaks from last night’s. Change the score, change the name of the pitcher, change the inning number, and it was another nice win. Tanner Roark pitched a gem while being pitch efficient after a tough first inning. Anthony Rendon smacked a 3-run home run, and the bullpen closed out the last two innings of the game to preserve a 5-1 win and a clinch of this series against the Seattle Mariners.

The Washington Nationals move their record to 28-17 on the season. The team is now on a 3-game winning streak. Tomorrow’s season finale with the Mariners had a time change to 12:05 PM to beat some more rainy weather moving back into the Washington, D.C. region.

“[Tanner Roark] got through the early innings without a high pitch count,” Dusty Baker said after the game. “That’s what has been plaguing him the last three to four starts. Tonight was more like Tanner.”

Dusty Baker said that Chris Heisey had a bicep rupture but did admit that the bicep had been bothering him for a while.

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Game #45 Tanner Roark must get back to his Cy form!

Photo for Talk Nats from staff photographer Sol Tucker

Tanner Roark is coming off of back-to-back duds and to put it in perspective how uncharacteristic those two starts were, lets analyze how they looked combined: 9 2/3 innings for 11 earned runs, 7 walks, and an eye-popping 224 pitches to get just 29 outs. Roark has been the least efficient starting pitcher in baseball and his ERA this morning stands at 4.73.  Last year, Roark never had two consecutive starts in a row that yielded 4 or more runs which is why we are concerned. Was it the 125 pitch start on May 2nd that caused this or was it because he began his throwing program earlier this year to compete in the WBC? The answer is we don’t know.

What we do know is that Tanner Roark must get back on track tonight against the Seattle Mariners. Roark has made no excuses, and why should he. This is the same Tanner Roark who finished last season with a 6th best finish at a 2.83 ERA in the NL and was 10th in the Cy Young voting!

Roark has compiled a 4-year history of being one of the best and most under-rated pitchers in baseball. But, this is a “what have you done for me lately” sport. Roark built his success on pinpoint accuracy, movement on his pitches, and a deadly two-seam swingback fastball. Lately, the only thing swinging has been the opponent’s bats.

“He may have come into a little dead-arm scenario,” Mike Rizzo said on 106.7 radio this morning about Tanner Roark.

On point in current events on Talk Nats, Mike Rizzo addressed the over-use and pitch efficiency issues with the Nationals’ starting pitchers.

“We read a lot about how [Nationals starting pitchers] have thrown a lot of pitches—four of the top 5 guys,”  Rizzo said.

The good news is there is an acknowledgement that Rizzo read about the issue, and we hope he read it on Talk Nats. Sometimes we feel that we serve a purpose in disseminating information. Rizzo specifically discussed that they inserted Joe Ross yesterday to give all of the other starters one additional rest day.

The Mariners will pitch righty Sam Gaviglio who will be making his second career start after he was called up from Triple-A Tacoma earlier in May. Like Bergman yesterday, Gaviglio is coming off of a shutout which he had in five-innings against the White Sox.

The Nationals have never faced Gaviglio before; however, several Mariners players have faced Roark before. Jean Segura is 5-11 in his career and Carlos Ruiz is 2-11 and both Kyle Seager and Robinson Cano are 1-3. Roark has faced Nelson Cruz, Mike Zunino and Jarrod Dyson before and they were all hitless.

To all of those worried about the closer situation, here’s a message from Mike Rizzo:

“There’s a lot of playoff teams that started the season last year — I think six teams had different closers at the end of the season and into the playoffs than they had at the beginning of the season.” Continue reading

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Another Look at Starter Pitch Counts #Nats

The discussion over the past several days has focused on two problems that together create a perplexing dilemma.  On the one hand, many commenters are very concerned about “overuse” of the starters (Problem #1). On the other hand, a lot of commenters are very concerned that the bullpen is ineffective (Problem #2), which, of course, in the absence of any alternative, means that starters are going to be asked to go deeper into games than they would otherwise, and then would be optimal (allegedly) for their health and future effectiveness.

These discussions have taken place on the MLB Network, ESPN, and most D.C. media outlets that cover the Nationals.

The discussion raises a whole bunch of questions. Are the Nats starters’ high pitch counts responsible for their reduced effectiveness in recent weeks? Will it have an effect later in the season? Is Dusty Baker pushing them too hard to avoid using the bullpen?  Will the bullpen lose more games if it’s used earlier in games? I think we all recognize that these questions just can’t be answered with any certainty, if they can be answered at all.

But one thing I thought we could try to analyze is what the impact would have been if Dusty had enforced a hard cap on pitches by a starter, which would be the solution to Problem #1. In other words, what might the cost have been of pulling starters sooner, and what might it be in the future? Continue reading

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