Redefining the 2019 Washington Nationals

Mike Rizzo is never far from his phone; Photo by Andrew Lang for TalkNats

If there is one blueprint the Los Angeles Dodgers have used to reach the World Series in back-to-back years is a rested starting rotation for the post-season. Clayton Kershaw, their ace, only threw 161 1/3 innings this season. Hyun-Jin Ryu who is the Dodgers #2 pitcher only threw 82 1/3 innings this season. Rookie Waker Buehler threw a combined 153 1/3 innings between the Minors and Majors this season. The Dodgers number four pitcher, Rich Hill, threw 132 2/3 innings this season. The Dodgers had 7 pitchers this season with at least 15 starts. Contrast that with the Washington Nationals staff of 2016-2018, and you will see a much different approach in use and usage.  Continue reading

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The wheels are moving with Bryce Harper as the Big Wheel!

There is always a mathematics lesson to the budget of a sports team. The dollars are finite, and there are restrictive rules in place for fairness and parity in MLB’s collective bargaining agreement. The Nationals have been spending above their means for years now. They are near the bottom of TV revenue in terms of regional TV annual rights fees for their cut for MASN broadcasting their games, and they are continually passed in deals by smaller market teams including more recently the Phillies, Cardinals, Padres, and even the Tampa Bay Rays have a new deal. While the Braves complain about their TV deal, they still make more than the Nats plus they have a lucrative stadium naming rights deal with SunTrust Bank and a booming baseball district where they are pocketing large revenues. Continue reading

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Small sample size clutch in the postseason is a factor of circumstance!

Overall, the amount of “clutch” we have seen in this postseason has to go to the pitching and defense and maybe even to fan interference. Last night’s Astros’ game practically started with an historic umpire call that negated a two-run home run in the first inning on fan interference and the game ended on an Alex Bregman bases loaded line drive that was caught by Andrew Benintendi with only a 21% Statcast™ catch probability. So far this postseason has seen numerous Web Gems as well as some key pitching performances. The debate can rage on if there is a “clutch” gene and whether or not that is even fair to say in small sample sizes.  Continue reading

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The Changing Game: Relief Pitching

Baseball is different from the days of Christy Matthewson and Walter Johnson

Professional baseball is a system.  Within the confines of the game changes apply pressure to one or multiple components.  The system reacts to the pressure with responses of its own.  This can all happen in a short period of time.  Typically, however, baseball is slow to respond to stimulus.  It is only when looking over the decades that the magnitude of the changes is really appreciated.  Today’s game is far different than it was fifty years ago.  It is placing stresses in places that will require a systemic response. Continue reading

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Happy 26th birthday Bryce Harper!

Today Bryce Harper turns 26-years-old.  In just a few weeks, he will be an unemployed free agent. Don’t feel sorry for the birthday boy because he is already in the wealthiest 1% in the world. When he becomes employed under his next contract, Harper will sign a guaranteed deal that could set a new record in baseball. Where the 2015 MVP lands is still a mystery. Harper probably only knows where he will not go, but there are some teams like the Braves who have already said they will not be pursuing Harper. In the end, the interest in Harper must be mutual for both sides. As Mike Rizzo says, “It takes two to tango.” Continue reading

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Washington Nationals’ priorities for the 2019 roster plus sourced commentary on the budget!

There should not be much doubt in what the top two priorities are for Washington Nationals’ general manager Mike Rizzo for this off-season. He has already said that improving the starting rotation with the departure of Gio Gonzalez and Jeremy Hellickson is a top priority along with finding a frontline catcher with Matt Wieters headed to free agency. Somewhere intertwined in all of that, Rizzo has stated that re-signing Bryce Harper is something they want to do, and Harper is in the plans — but we all know that just saying you want something is not always enough.

How many starting pitchers Rizzo acquires is unknown as the Nationals activated Joe Ross from the 60-day DL in September from his recovery from UCL (Tommy John) surgery, and Tanner Roark is due for his final year of arbitration. The Nationals control Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Tanner Roark and Joe Ross for 2019. Continue reading

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The Top-10 Free Agents on’s list and their #1 is not Bryce Harper!

Photo by Sol Tucker for TalkNats

When compiled their Top-10 free agents, their first pick was Manny Machado and not Bryce Harper. Sure, Harper is the second player listed, and he might end up with the larger contract in terms of dollars. When it comes to mega contracts, it is a caveat emptor. It was Machado who hit a ball deep in the shortstop hole yesterday in a key NLCS game and Machado did not bother running to first base. He was out by several steps on a ball he might have beat out if he had busted it out of the box. Members of the national press like Joel Sherman, Jon Heyman and others took notice of Machado’s lack of effort. Continue reading

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The Nats alumni appearing in the NLCS/ALCS could have included Bryce Harper

Last year Brad Peacock saved Game 3 of the World Series with a nasty slider for his Astros team. He was the bullpen star beating the Los Angeles Dodgers for the World Series championship. This postseason so far, Peacock was left off both the ALDS and the ALCS rosters. The Astros don’t believe in feel good nostalgia as they went with their hottest bullpen. “What have you done lately” is a good mantra for postseason roster construction. So far we have seen Nats alumni in this round of the championship series in prominent roles like Gio Gonzalez, Xavier Cedeno and Ryan Madson. The Red Sox will have catcher Sandy Leon on their postseason roster, but the one name not on a roster is Bryce Harper. Continue reading

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NLCS Game #1 Gio Gonzalez is the “Opener” for the Nats Brewers

Photo by Marlene Koenig for TalkNats

For fans of the Washington Nationals, they have seen Gio Gonzalez pitch in four NLDS for their team, and his record in his 6-starts is 0-0. Gonzalez never factored into a decision in any of the games and finished his Nats career with a 4.78 ERA overall (6.57 in his last 3-starts) and a 1.481 WHIP. For Milwaukee Brewers fans, they will get their first taste of Gio starting a post-season game, but he could be in the game for a quick cameo as an “opener” pitching a few innings or less. The last game Gonzalez pitched in was back in the regular season when he threw only 74-pitches on September 30th. He has had 12-games of rest, and the Brewers are hoping for him to give them shutout innings to get the game to their vaunted bullpen.  Continue reading

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Free agent catchers and the #Nats options for 2019

Photo by Marlene Koenig for TalkNats

With Matt Wieters headed to free agency, the Washington Nationals depth chart of catchers consists of Spencer Kieboom, Pedro Severino, and Raudy Read. While those pickings seem slim, the Nationals through attrition dug deep in their farm system and plucked Spencer Kieboom, and he finished strong for the Nats batting .375 after September 10th with a 1.108 OPS and a +0.6 WAR on the season.  You can expect Mike Rizzo to upgrade the catcher position through a trade or free agency, and this is a good market for free agent catchers this year. Previously, the Nationals were tied firmly in trade rumors to Miami’s All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto and nothing ever seemed close to getting done as the rumored asking price was too much. Continue reading

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