Game #119 The first of four games in Petco Park, San Diego

The Washington Nationals arrived last night in Stephen Strasburg’s city for a four-game series in San Diego against the Padres. It is the last regular season series for the Nationals west of Texas.

Tonight the Nationals face Jhoulys Chacin who happens to be the 2nd toughest pitcher in the Majors when pitching in his home stadium. Of course you already knew that Gio Gonzalez was the #1 toughest pitcher in his home park in the Majors with that 1.79 ERA.

Edwin Jackson gets the start for the Nationals and will face another team he once played for tonight. Jackson had 13 starts for the Padres in 2016 and was very good in Petco with a 3.05 ERA overall.  Continue reading

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Who are these guys? Mike Rizzo digs deep to find an outfielder.

It is fitting that the newest addition to the Nationals team is like the old white pages of your C&P phone book if you are old enough to know what that means. Phone books had alphabetical listings from A-Z. Mike Rizzo added a player DE AZA who is the ultimate A-Z-A. This team is missing so many players that even backups to backups are now on the DL like Ryan Raburn and Rafael Bautista who is on the Minor League 7-day DL. Same with Trevor Gott. The following graphic (below) was the actual 2017 Washington Nationals opening day roster with an extra position player as Joe Ross was the 5th starter who wasn’t needed initially.

The Nationals now have 10 of their original 25 projected opening day roster on the DL which is 40% of the team and 12 of the actual opening day players are either on the DL, a DFA or traded which is 48% .  The Nats entire opening day outfield of Bryce Harper, Adam Eaton and Jayson Werth is on the DL, their opening day shortstop Trea Turner, plus starting pitchers Stephen Strasburg and Joe Ross. The entire back of the opening day bullpen is on the DL or traded. Reliever Blake Treinen was traded and Koda Glover, Shawn Kelley and Enny Romero are all on the DL. Bench player Chris Heisey was DFA’d from the DL and Stephen Drew is on the DL. Replacement outfielders Brian Goodwin and Ryan Raburn are both on the DL.

Look at that opening day outfield. Only Michael Taylor is on the roster currently, and he should still be on a rehab assignment but was hurried back when Bryce Harper was injured.

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One mistake pitch and a lot of missed opportunities add up to a 3-2 loss

Most one run losses can be traced back to one or two mistakes. Tanner Roark was the hard luck loser in this game going 7.0 innings holding the Angels to 4 hits and 2 walks but 2 of the hits were home runs adding up to 3-runs. It was the Kole Calhoun‘s 2-run home run in a 2-1 game in the 6th inning which was the difference in this one.

Ryan Zimmerman staked the Nationals to a 2-0 lead on a booming home run. After that it was a whole lot of missed opportunities with runners in scoring position for the Washington Nationals.

In relief, Sammy Solis was excellent once again out of the bullpen striking out Mike Trout on his way to a perfect 1 2/3 innings.

Michael Taylor turned in a Web Gem to run down a ball in the left-center gap that ended in a full dive to catch the ball. It was just another great defensive play that this team has turned in on this 9 game homestand. Continue reading

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Game #118 Nationals and Angels wrap-up their season inter-league series

Photo by Kevin Nibley for TalkNats

On the season finale with the Angels, you have to wonder if they will be able to get their way into a wild card spot for the post-season. If they do, you never know if the Nats and Angels could meet in October. It is certainly a long-shot, and most likely this will be the last time that these two teams meet in 2017, and the next time they could play each other in other in the regular season projects to 2020. It gets you thinking what these 2 rosters will look like in 3 years, and Mike Trout would be in his final year with the Angels under his current contract. In 2020, Pujols would be 40-years-old and in his second-to-last season under his 10-year contract with the Angels. How time flies! Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg will hopefully still be pitching to them, and Trea Turner at shortstop and Adam Eaton in centerfield, but imagine how different these teams will look in 3-to-5 years.

Say what you want about Bryce Harper, but Trout is the perfect example of a superstar who has only been with his team once to the post-season and they were swept in 3 games in the 2014 ALDS and Trout batted .083. It is something rarely talked about in the Trout and Harper comparisons. You can see the Trout treatment. He seems to get the benefit of the doubt, but last night he was called out on strikes on a pitch that was millimeters from the top of the strike zone and Trout unloaded on homeplate ump Tony Randazzo who did not eject Trout. We have seen Harper called out on strikes for more egregious calls, and tossed out of the game for far less. There seems to be different treatment for these superstars. Continue reading

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The Dodgers weren’t willing to see if Howie Kendrick could bounceback

The Los Angeles Dodgers were trying to do some housekeeping and dump Howie Kendrick and his $10 million salary after the worst season of his career slashing .255/.326/.366/.691. The Phillies came calling and it was one of the first trades made after the World Series on November 11th of 2016.

One the bizarre parts of the trade was that the Dodgers received Darin Ruf and Darnell Sweeney and both players are off their roster now. Ruf is in Korean baseball and Sweeney was purchased by the Reds.

For Kendrick, he had never played for a team outside of Los Angeles before the trade to the Phillies. The issue for the now 34-year-old Kendrick was staying on the field due to injuries. The Phillies were hoping to trade Kendrick for a haul, but the fish weren’t biting. Kendrick had an oblique injury that landed him on the DL then a hand injury at the time he was traded to the Nationals. He had only accumulated 156 plate appearances with the Phillies before the trade to Washington. Continue reading

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Gio with the shutout; Howie with 2 homers; “The Firm” closes the case!

Tonight, Gio Gonzalez moved into the upper echelon of pitchers in baseball leapfrogging over Chris Sale in ERA.  Gio threw a 6-inning shutout and had a no-hitter going into the 6th inning when Cameron Maybin got an infield hit. Gio’s ERA was lowered to 2.49, and the combination of Matt Albers, Brandon Kintzler and Sean Doolittle (9th save for the Nats) finished the game in a 3-1 win.

Gio’s ERA in Nats Park this year is 1.79, and that dominance would be wonderful in a home start in the post-season. Dusty Baker made a good decision to go to the bullpen for the 7th inning even though Gio was at 91 pitches.

The scoring offense was mostly provided by two solo home runs from Howie Kendrick and his first home run was a milestone #100 in his career. The Nationals had many other chances to push across runs but went 0-for-9 in RISP spots. Anthony Rendon had 3-hits and Daniel Murphy added 2 hits. Wilmer Difo was 1-for-3 with a walk.

For the Nats, this game was won with another split-squad looking line-up and they played without Brian Goodwin tonight. The starting outfield was Kendrick, Michael Taylor and Andrew Stevenson. Continue reading

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Game #117 First of Two Games with the Angels

All of a sudden the Los Angeles Angels are in the Wild Card hunt and sporting a winning streak. What is different with these Angels? They are playing with a renewed sense of urgency. They also made some roster changes and one of those changes was a DFA and full release of Danny Espinosa who then became a free agent.

The Nationals made some roster moves today by optioning pitcher AJ Cole back to Triple-A Syracuse for catcher Pedro Severino. It was also reported that Brian Goodwin won’t play today and he could go on the 10-Day DL with an injured groin. Dusty Baker just needs healthy bodies right now as he is playing with a short bench. The healthy position players on the 40-man roster are few, but calling up another player would require a roster move. Mike Rizzo still has to make room on the 40-man roster once Jayson Werth and Koda Glover are brought back up. The Nationals will also need to clear a roster spot when they recall Stephen Strasburg on Saturday to start in San Diego.

Tonight it is the battling lefties between Gio Gonzalez and Tyler Skaggs. There are only two Nationals players who have faced Skaggs before — Daniel Murphy and Anthony Rendon.

Other significant news is Trea Turner took live batting practice on the field today. We were told by a source that Trea Turner will head to the Nationals facility at West Palm Beach on Wednesday night to continue his rehab before he is sent to a minor league facility. Continue reading

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The PNats have location, location, location

A real estate agent learns quickly about the key to location, location location. The Potomac Nationals would make Mister Rogers proud with his “It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood” as the PNats were conceived from the original 1978 Alexandria Dukes which came 10 years after Mister Rogers first television show. There was no professional affiliated baseball in those parts after the Washington Senators left. Who knew that one day MLB baseball would be back in Washington, D.C., and the Potomac Nationals would take over the affiliation in 2005 from the Potomac Cannons who were a Cincinnati Reds minor league affiliate.

Immediately, there was an important relationship due to the close proximity of the PNats stadium location, and the Washington Nationals could take advantage of that for any rehabbing players. The list is long of Nationals stars who have made appearances for the PNats, but also there has been the lengthy list of top prospects who have been regulars for the PNats and most recently the Nationals number 1 prospect, Victor Robles, was just promoted from there last month. Daniel Johnson and Jakson Reetz who are both top prospects were just promoted from the Low-A Hagerstown Suns to the PNats.

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A slippery slope on-base changes the course of Bryce Harper’s season

Before Bryce Harper‘s unfortunate slip and fall in the 1st inning of Saturday’s 3 hour 1 minute rain delayed game that actually got underway at 10:06 pm while rain was falling, he had aspirations for another great full-season leading his Washington Nationals’ team to the post-season and playing healthy.

Maybe winning his second league MVP was in the back of his mind. How could it not be? Long before he went 5-for-14 last week against the World Series champion Chicago Cubs and raising his OPS the week before that to 1.087 to lead the Majors at the time; Harper was being discussed as the MVP throughout the media. Now being on the DL will chip away at his stats and could derail any chances at winning that award. Harper made it clear in a press conference yesterday that his sights are set on getting healthy and being ready for the post-season.

“The World Series is definitely on my mind, the playoffs, things like that,” Harper said. “But one award is on my mind as well, if you guys know what that one is. It’s a big one to me. So definitely team accolades and things like that come in front of my own, but it’s what I’m striving toward.”

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Adam Eaton Charity Car Show

In the wee hours of Saturday morning, I willingly put on real pants (a rarity on a weekend) and left my house at the crack of dawn to attend Adam Eaton’s Rev Up the Park charitable event at Nationals Park, and it was totally worth the effort. The event brought together hundreds of car lovers, Nats fans, and Eaton’s teammates Gio Gonzalez and Howie Kendrick to enjoy some coffee and conversation while raising money for the Dragonfly Foundation.

The Nats rehabbing centerfielder had the idea for a cars and coffee charity event during spring training and with the Dragonfly Foundation and the Washington Nationals lending their support and the newly named “Geico Garage” formerly known as “Garage B” in leftfield they set in motion this first event that hopefully will be an annual event.

“Getting together with Jayson [Werth] and a few other guys,” Eaton said. “I knew that there was a very vibrant car fanbase here, so I thought ‘let’s try to do cars and coffee.’ We started talking about it in spring training and throughout the season it started to amount to something. [The Nationals] did a great job helping me put this on. It all just came together, and it actually turned out way better than I thought it was going to. I was hoping for 100 cars, and I think we got 200 and I don’t even know how many. You can have all these events all you want, but if you don’t have the people, it doesn’t matter. People really showed up, and I’m very thankful for all the money we’ve been able to raise. That’s really the key to success.”

Rev Up the Park was a benefit for the Dragonfly Foundation, a non-profit charity dedicated to helping children and young adults with cancer and their families. Continue reading

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