A tip of the cap to Nationals draft pick Alex Meyer

In 2011, the Nationals chose 3 draft picks in the first round, and they were Anthony Rendon, Alex Meyer and Brian Goodwin. On this night, Alex Meyer was the star for the Angels. Meyer got to face Rendon and Goodwin, and it was Meyer’s former Hagerstown teammate in 2012 who took away his chance for a no-hitter with 2 outs in the 6th inning. Brian Goodwin pulled a hard grounder down the rightfield line for a double to break up the no-hitter.

Gio Gonzalez tied for his second worse start of the 2017 season going 5 2/3 innings while giving up 4 runs. Gio struggled finding his spots much of the night and seemed fortunate to take a 2-0 deficit into the 6th inning but he unraveled quickly and departed with his team down 4-0. Joe Blanton gave up 3 runs in relief and the final score was 7-0, and this was the second time this season that the Nationals were shutout. Technically, this was a series split with the Angels who stopped the Nationals winning streak at 6 games.

The Nationals managed just two baserunners the entire game with a Rendon walk and the Goodwin hit. The combined one-hitter by the Angels might seem like a great accomplishment against any MLB team, but Dusty Baker only had 3 regulars in the game and the  Angels defense robbed Daniel Murphy of a sure double to end the 1st inning.

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Game #94 Gio Gonzalez back in the AL West tonight!

Photo by SoCal for TalkNats

Before 2012, Gio Gonzalez was a pitcher in the AL West for the Oakland A’s, and he dominated the Angels in their stadium holding them to a .229 average in 5-games in their home ballpark with a 3-1 record.

Gonzalez will face a familiar pitcher tonight in Alex Meyer who was drafted by the Nationals in the 1st round of the 2011 draft. That same draft yielded Brian Goodwin and a young 3rd baseman named Anthony Rendon. Meyer and Goodwin were compensation picks for Adam Dunn who left for free agency. Subsequently, Meyer was traded for Denard Span in a deal with the Minnesota Twins. The Twins then traded Meyer to the Angels.

The Nationals will get to see Meyer from the other side now, and the first batter he will face is Brian Goodwin who was his teammate at Low-A Hagerstown in the Nationals’ system.  Continue reading

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EJax 7 inning 2 run outing and a 4-4 for Bryce Harper; New bullpen gets the hold & save!

Photo by SoCal for TalkNats

The pixie dust was sprinkled as Edwin Jackson went 7-innings and departed with a 3-2 lead in a spectacular outing by Jackson that he made look easy after the 1st inning. EJax seemed to get stronger as his outing went along. He made a handful of mistake pitches and Mike Trout and Martin Maldanado both tagged him for solo home runs and that was the only scoring on Jackson’s record. New acquisitions Ryan Madson went 1-2-3 in the 8th for a hold and Sean Doolittle struggled in the 9th giving up a lead-off walk and a booming double off the rightfield wall by lefty Kole Calhoun and a run surrendered but in the end Doolittle saved the win in a 4-3 final. The Nationals go up 21 games above .500.

Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, and Adam Lind all had solo home runs and Ryan Zimmerman had a clutch RBI single for all the scoring.

Bryce Harper was 4-for-4 and hit the home run, a triple, and 2 singles. Harper was inches from hitting for the cycle as he was thrown out at 2nd base by an inch or two and the play was close enough to get a video replay challenge but the play on the field was not over-turned. Continue reading

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Game #93 New teammate(s) will be part of this game in Anaheim tonight!

In a back to the future type of move, the last time Edwin Jackson was in a Washington Nationals uniform was on October 12th of 2012, and former manager Davey Johnson declared pre-game that he would not go to Edwin Jackson as a reliever —  and then he did. Jackson walked the first man he saw in that 7th inning in the decisive game five of the NLDS, and that lead-off walk eventually scored making that 6-3 lead a tighter 6-4 lead. Jackson was on a 1-year contract in 2012 with the Nationals, and ran the spectrum of very good to poor that season as he finished with a 4.03 ERA that season. That 12th day in October still haunts Nationals fans to this day. The Nationals just saw Drew Storen yesterday in a different uniform. Today they will see Jackson in a Nationals uniform, and he was complicit in that loss like many Nationals players were in game 5. Who would have thought Jackson would return in a Nationals uniform especially one with strong post-season aspirations. There is an irony here that you can find in the weavings of what makes up a team and each player on the roster and how players become part of the team.

Jackson would wear 5 other team’s MLB uniforms and 6 Minor League uniforms after he departed the Nationals in 2012, and now he is back with the Nationals today coming full circle in an occupation that gives multiple opportunities to some like the cat who has 9 lives only Jackson has been with 12 MLB teams under 15 different managers which included one manager who was the same guy, Joe Maddon, who had Jackson with two different teams.

Jackson was unconditionally released by the Baltimore Orioles last month and Mike Rizzo signed him to a Minor Legue deal where Jackson has pitched well in a small sample size of 20 1/3 innings for the Syracuse Chiefs in Triple-A. Dusty Baker was almost giddy upon hearing Rizzo signed Jackson when he said that “[Edwin Jackson] told me he always wanted to play for me.” Being nostalgic is great and who knows when Jackson told Dusty Baker that, but the dose of reality that comes back to you when you go out on a limb is what Dusty has said in the past “this is no try-out camp” has that same feel here, and Edwin Jackson just happened to be at the right spot on the right day this time with very limited options were available to the team after starting pitcher Joe Ross went down with a severe elbow injury and the choices were from a pool of Jacob Turner, A.J. Cole, Erick Fedde and Edwin Jackson. Our sources said that it was Dusty Baker who chose Jackson over Jacob Turner to start tonight.

As mentioned, Jackson has pitched for a dozen MLB teams in his career, one team short of Octavio Dotel’s baker’s dozen (13) of teams, and EJax has had the glory of that 2009 All-Star season when he played against Ryan Zimmerman 8 years ago. Could there be a similar resurrection here for Jackson like Zim has seen? We could find out tonight if this will be a scene out of Disneyland which is just outside the front door of the hotel where the Nationals are staying. Sprinkle on some pixie dust and see if EJax has some magic in his right arm and really gets Dusty Baker to a higher level of giddiness if that is possible.

Edwin Jackson will square off against right-hander Jesse Chavez of the Los Angeles Angels. Chavez had some of his best years for the Oakland A’s will turn 34-years-old next month and has struggled this season with an ERA that has been over 5+ for a chunk of the season and is currently at 4.99 in his 19 appearances. Continue reading

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Dusty wanted 20 games over .500; He got it today!

Three game sweeps are never easy, and the Washington Nationals pulled off the rare four game sweep on the Cincinnati Reds with exceptional starting pitching and a constant barrage of offense scoring 35 runs in this series.

The Washington Nationals starting pitchers in this 4-game series in Cincinnati gave up a total of 1-earned run over 27 1/3 innings. The Nationals offense combined for a power packed 13 home runs in this series, and Ryan Zimmerman‘s home run today was 235th in his Nationals’ career eclipsing Vladimir Guerrero for the most in franchise history when you factor in the Montreal Expos. Next up on the list for Zimmerman is the Washington, D.C. record of 237 home runs by Frank  “Hondo” Howard of the Washington Senators.

The Nationals improved their record to 56-36 which is the 20 games over .500 that Dusty Baker wanted at the All-Star break.  Stephen Strasburg was very good in the game and threw 105 pitches of 1-run baseball over 7.0 innings. The bullpen gave-up nothing as both Joe Blanton and Matt Grace made easy work of the 8th and 9th innings respectively.

“It shows what kind of shape Stras is in because he sweats a lot and he’s usually not real, real good when it’s hot,” Dusty Baker said. “So you can tell he’s really been working and training to deal with this heat. He was very good today.”

This 6-1 win was a low scoring game compared to the last 2 games of this 4-game series, and the Nationals offense was led by Ryan Zimmerman who went 3-for-5 with a home run and 2 singles. It was Zimmerman’s first home run in over a month, and hopefully this gives him some confidence heading into the west coast trip. After the game, Zim kind of confessed how he has been feeling during his month-long homer-less drought. The season is a grind as Zimmerman has often said where you aren’t 100% and the long season takes its toll.

“The last couple of weeks have been a grind, and I haven’t really felt great,” Ryan Zimmerman said. “Yesterday [a scheduled day-off], I started to feel better and today I felt good. I still feel not like I’ve felt a month or so ago, but that’s part of the season and that’s why we play 162 games and you have to find a way to make it through those week or twos when you don’t feel that great.”

Daniel Murphy had his worst game of his Nats’ career with an 0-fer that included 3 strikeouts. While Murphy struggled, many other Nationals players picked him up as teammates do and had big days at the plate including Bryce Harper who had a 3-run home run to start the scoring in the 5-run first inning when the Nationals batted all nine players.  Continue reading

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Game #92 Stephen Strasburg has today; #Nats head to California to pick-up 3 new teammates!

What awaits the Nationals in California is 3 new teammates who will be added to the roster tomorrow. Mike Rizzo confirms on Fantasy Sports Radio on SiriusXM that “We’re going to give Edwin Jackson a chance to pitch Tuesday and see where he is at in his career”. Jackson will join the newly acquired Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson who will be waiting at the team hotel near Anaheim, California as the team arrives tonight.

“This guy has always had good stuff,” Dusty Baker said when Edwin Jackson was acquired on a Minor League deal. “He told me he always wanted to play for me.”

Jackson was just released last month from the Orioles where he gave up 7 runs over 5 innings of which 4 were earned runs (7.20 ERA). This is the same Orioles team that has a starter’s ERA of over 6.00+ which is worst in the Majors, and they released Edwin Jackson who finished his short tenure with the Orioles doing mop-up work against the Yankees.

The Nationals added right-handed long-man Jacob Turner to the roster today. It is unclear what Turner’s exact role will be long-term, but it sounds like long-man today, and tomorrow could be a new direction.  Turner takes the roster spot vacated by Blake Treinen who was traded to Oakland in the Doolittle/Madson deal.

The bullpen won’t have Trevor Gott available based on his workload the last two days, and you would hope that Enny Romero will get a day of rest based on his work on Saturday and Sunday. That leaves six arms in the bullpen available today including Jacob Turner and Austin Adams along with Matt Albers, Oliver Perez, Matt Grace, and Joe Blanton. Continue reading

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Mike Rizzo pulls off a blockbuster trade for Ryan Madson/Sean Doolittle

Graphic from ESPN

“We made a trade we think shortens the game,” General Manager Mike Rizzo said.

Ryan Madson turns 37-years-old next month, and Sean Doolittle turns 31-years-old in September. The pair was traded by Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane to the Nationals for a package that included Jesus Luzardo who was born on September 30, 1997. Ryan Madson was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 9th round in 1998 out of Valley View High School in Moreno Valley, CA before Luzardo’s first birthday. The youth of Luzardo and his projectibility by scouts is what every team was looking for in a trade for a future frontline lefty starter.  Along with Luzardo, Rizzo traded to the A’s a Low-A infielder Sheldon Neuse who was a top-10 prospect and fireballer Blake Treinen.

“You hate to give up Blake Treinen [in the trade],” Dusty Baker said. “But you have to give up something to get something.”

This trade was about “October” for the Washington Nationals, and the A’s traded for 2021 and beyond. The Nationals took on the imperfections of Doolittle and Madson, and their future salaries. Doolittle went on the DL in May for shoulder soreness. Madson dealt with his own injuries including a UCL tear which required “Tommy John” surgery, and he was out of the Majors from 2012 through 2014.

To also put this trade into perspective, neither Doolittle or Madson were primary closers for the Oakland Athletics this season. That’s right. They were set-up men in 2017 even though Madson has that closer pedigree, and Doolittle has saved games before also. Times have changed.  Both pitchers have been super stingy with allowing runners to get on-base as both have sub-1.000 WHIPs, and neither give up much power to the opponents. Nationals fans will like that neither of these new bullpen arms walk batters much. Madson has the lowest BB/9 of his career at 1.4 this season, and Doolittle also has the lowest BB/9 of his career at 0.8 this season. Continue reading

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Tanner Roark was ready and takes the game!

The Nats win behind Tanner Roark and some robust offense led by Daniel Murphy. The Nats clinch a series win in Cincinnati taking the first 3-games with the season finale tomorrow.

The Nationals needed a rested Tanner Roark to step-up and he did giving up no earned runs over 6-innings. Roark was not his sharpest but he also was victimized by 3 errors by his defense leading to 3 unearned runs. Roark did not have his swingback fastball working but the rest of his repertoire was including a good looking chamgeup. Continue reading

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Game #91 Tanner Roark is rested; Is he ready?

This is the third game of this four game series between the Nationals and Cincinnati Reds. The Nationals are up 2-0 in this series and looking for Tanner Roark to return to his Cy Young competitive form of 2016 when he finished with a career best 2.83 ERA and finished 10th in the Cy voting. Roark started off 2017 in fine form but hit a wall in June and saw his ERA and record spiral out of control. When you’re not pitching well, you get extra rest with short outings and Roark got more rest with the All-Star break. Now Roark has to prove he is ready.

Roark goes up against Homer Bailey who has an 8.31 ERA and has been on a downward slide since 2015 and Bailey is due $21 million next year and $23 million in 2019. The 2017 ERA is a small sample size of 4 games. The last 2 games, Bailey has looked much better as he went 6+ innings in both starts on the road and gave up only 1-run to the Rockies and Diamondbacks. Bailey did walk 4-batters in his last start along with 7 hits and seemed fortunate to exit with only one run given up.

That all leads to the question of which Roark and Bailey do we see today? That’s the $23,315,000 question. This is why we play the games. Tanner Roark has to step up as the #4 pitcher for the Nationals with the season-ending injury to Joe Ross.  Continue reading

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Scherzer leaves at 10-0; Grace saves it at 10-7!

A pretty shutout by Max Scherzer turned into an ugly win with Anthony Rendon‘s grand slam the difference in a 10-7 win.

Matt Grace two nights in a row had to save a laugher. Max Scherzer departed with a shutout after the 6th inning and Enny Romero pushed the shutout and a 10-0 lead into the 8th inning when Austin Adams made his MLB debut but could not get an out and left the bases loaded with a 10-2 score for Oliver Perez who performed a “Houdini Act” after Ollie inherited bases loaded and no outs and did not allow another run to score.

Trevor Gott took over the 9th inning and gave up 5 runs as he was pulled with a 10-7 score. Matt Grace came in and closed out the game getting all three outs and his second save in two days.

Anthony Rendon had a two home run with his grand slam and a single and 2 walks to go with his 6 RBI game which raised his season RBI total to 61 and his OPS to 1.002 which only trails Bryce Harper on the team. Both Harper and Daniel Murphy had 2-hits a piece in this game.

The Nats improved to a season’s best 18 games over .500 with this win.

 

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