Mets travel to TBOTPB; Fedde starts; Team USA victorious!

Photo by Kevin Nibley for TalkNats

We got TV coverage today for the 1:05pm game between the New York Mets and the Washington Nationals on MASN! This will give everyone a good look at the Nationals top pitching prospect Erick Fedde.  Continue reading

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Tanner Roark and Daniel Murphy are the best of baseball

Do you think Abner Doubleday could have envisioned that baseball would be played worldwide? Chevrolet tried to show the symbolism of America as “Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and Chevrolet”. Baseball has risen to a fever pitch worldwide as witnessed in the World Baseball Classic. Team USA is about to attempt something they’ve never done – win the World Baseball Classic. Heck, they’ve never even had a chance to play in the finals. A huge part of why they are on the brink of world baseball domination is because of the efforts of Washington Nationals starting pitcher Tanner Roark. Continue reading

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Max Scherzer makes his Grapefruit League debut; Roark stars in the WBC; Zimmerman is in a groove

What an exciting 24 hours in Nats camp! Team USA is heading to the WBC finals which was all made possible by a four-inning shut-out performance by the Washington Nationals’ own Tanner Roark! Roark spun a 2-hit gem while throwing 48 pitches in a classic pitch-to-contact performance where he was pitch efficient averaging just 12 pitches per inning. Team USA defeated Team Japan 2-1 in a winner-take-all elimination game to advance to the finals tonight against Team Puerto Rico. Daniel Murphy unfortunately did not appear for Team USA. This is the first time Team USA has ever advanced to the finals of the WBC.

Back in Florida, Max Scherzer prepares for his first Grapefruit League start of 2017 and he gets to face the Cardinals in Jupiter. Scherzer had been working strictly on the minor league side of camp to get his work in and build up arm strength while he was recovering from a slight fracture in the knuckle of his ring-finger on his right hand. Scherzer had been throwing all 3-finger grip fastballs to alleviate the pain, but five days ago in a minor league start was able to throw his normal 2-finger grip fastball without pain. Continue reading

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Nats Bats on the Upswing?

On Tuesday Fangraphs published an article about how Danny Espinosa is changing his hitting style to try to swing with an upwards curve. This reminded me of something that I had heard last year that the Nats are being coached to swing straight down, like an executioner swinging a sword. So I searched a little further and found not only a series of Fangraphs articles on the subject but a potential conflict of opinions between the old school downward chop proponents like Dusty Baker and the upswing trend setters led by Daniel Murphy. Continue reading

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Tanner Roark gets the historic start for Team USA in what he acknowledged is the biggest game of his career!

Sports allows do-overs of sorts, and Tanner Roark is getting a chance to redeem himself in the World Baseball Classic after his 1 ¹/3 inning setback against the Dominican Republic in Miami way back on March 11th in which he gave up 3 earned runs.

Roark was part of the DPP ( Designated Pitcher Pool) and was not supposed to be pitching with Team USA at this point in the tournament, but Chris Archer departed and told Jim Leyland that he was not returning which opened this chance at redemption for Roark. Whether Roark is getting this start by default or fate, he is relishing the opportunity in what he acknowledged is “the biggest game of his career”.

MLB Network graphic

Roark will face Japan and their starting right-hander Tomoyuki Sugano in the semifinals at Dodger Stadium tonight in this single-elimination game with the loser-go home-format. The Americans are trying to reach the championship game for the first-time ever in the World Baseball Classic.

For Japan, Tomoyuji Sugano is the ace of the Yomiuri Giants and he has allowed five earned runs through 8 1/3 innings (5.40 ERA) in the tournament. He’s struck out 10 batters and has yet to issue a walk .

“It’s finally here,” Sugano said with his usual confidence. “Tomorrow, for sure we’ll win and advance to the final, that’s how I feel.”

Japan advanced to the semifinals by winning Pool E with a 3-0 record. USA finished second to Puerto Rico in Pool F with a 2-1 record.

“[Roark has] gotten the short end of the stick a little bit so far, to be honest with you, the way things worked out,” Team USA manager Jim Leyland said. “But he deserves this start. He’s been a trooper. He signed up for this event, and I’m pitching him. I feel very, very comfortable about it.”

 

The Japanese line-up is filled with mashers and Tsutsugoh and Nakata each have 3 home runs in the tournament. Japan’s top hitter is Sakamoto who has a .522 on-base-percentage. Tanner Roark will be facing an unfamiliar line-up but his strategy is simple.

“The key is to pitch to my strength, and that is throw strikes and get outs,” Tanner Roark said. “Just trying to stay mentally focused on the game.”

The Japanese squad is much different from the United States’ opponents in Rounds 1 and 2 that looked like All-Star teams of Major League players, but most of Japan’s roster comes from Nippon Professional Baseball and are virtually unknown to this Team USA roster because their only MLB player is Royals outfielder Norichika Aoki as Ichiro Suzuki and past stars like Hideki Matsui are not part of this team nor are Japanese star pitchers such as Yu Darvish, Hisashi Iwakuma, Masahiro Tanaka or Kenta Maeda.

Team USA has scouted Team Japan, and the winner moves on to the championship game tomorrow night at Dodger’s Stadium for a winner-take-all game against the undefeated Team Puerto Rico.

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The Braves travel to TBOTPB; Words exchanged between Baker & Leyland over WBC

Photo by Sol Tucker for TalkNats

The Washington Nationals have a Grapefruit League game today with the Atlanta Braves at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches at 1:05 pm and about 5 hours after that game is complete, Tanner Roark will be pitching for Team USA in place of Chris Archer who is not returning to the World Baseball Classic. Continue reading

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The Bronx Bombers visit TBOTPB; Vance Worley gets the start! Ryan Zimmerman update

The New York Yankees made this trip to Palm Beach County as a true road trip. If you were to drive from their stadium in Tampa to The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, it is over 204 miles and it would take you almost 3 1/2 hours. If you were to fly by a charter, it would take about 30 minutes. The Yankees stayed in a hotel overnight in Palm Beach County as they played the Astros yesterday in front of a sell-out crowd dominated by Yankees fans.

The Yankees will have a few regulars in today’s line-up plus an impressive glimpse into their farm system as they play top prospects like Gleyber Torres (.444 BA), Greg Bird (.400 BA), Clint Frazier (.343 BA),  and Aaron Judge (.275 BA). You might also see a few veterans like the nefarious Pete Kozma who is in Yankees camp competing for a bench spot.

The scheduled starters today are Vance Worley for the Washington Nationals and Michael Pineda for the Yankees. The game time is 1:05pm and will be televised on MASN and on MLB Network out-of-the-area. Continue reading

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What Does Statcast’s New Catch Probability Metric Tell Us About the Washington Nationals?

 

The acquisition of Adam Eaton in the Washington outfield will provide a new look in 2017. Will he help last year’s below average defense?

I helped introduce MLBAM & Statcast’s new Catch Probability metric at RO Baseball on Friday. Take a look through the article to get up to speed on the new metric, and let me know if you have any questions on the particular study I attempted.

But today I will be looking at solely the Washington Nationals and what the new data can tell us to expect in 2017. The posted chart of all 30 teams’ change in catch probability placed the Nationals as one of the biggest “drops” in the statistic from 2015 to 2016. Whether it was due to the loss of Denard Span, less playing time for Michael Taylor, or more playing time for Jayson Werth, the unit appeared to regress. Continue reading

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Back to Jupiter with Stephen Strasburg; Team USA wins Roark/Murphy

Roger Dean Stadium by Photo by Kevin Nibley for TalkNats

The Nationals travel less than 14 miles north once again to Roger Dean Stadium for a game against the NL East Miami Marlins in Jupiter, Florida. Roger Dean Stadium is also the home for the St. Louis Cardinals which makes this destination a journey the Nationals will make 9 times during the Grapefruit League schedule, and only 17 minutes away. This was the original plan to make travel easy for the Nats.

Today’s 1:05pm game projects the starting pitchers as Stephen Strasburg for the Washington Nationals and left-handed pitcher Adam Conley for the Marlins. Continue reading

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Nats and Astros again in TBOTPB; Werth scratched; WBC Murphy/Roark

Photo by Kevin Nibley for TalkNats

How does Dusty Baker put together a line-up? He tries many variations in Spring Training because that is what Spring Training is for. Adam Eaton was off the charts last year as a defensive RF, and today he is in left field and batting in the bottom of the line-up once again with Michael Taylor batting clean-up and playing center field. Continue reading

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