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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Nats win 10-1; Joe Ross pitches 8 inning gem; Rendon crushes!

When we wrote in the title of the “gamer” article that “Joe Ross is Back!” we were keeping it positive as he also pitched well 6 days ago for the Syracuse Chiefs. The Nationals spotted Joe Ross with 10 runs of support to add to the 52 runs he got in his last 3 starts. That set a record of 62 runs of support over a 4-game stretch.

The Nationals went long-ball in this game has Anthony Rendon had 2 home runs, Jayson Werth had one, and Bryce Harper added one on his statline. Ryan Zimmerman was 3-4 and Trea Turner had a single and a triple with RISP. Michael Taylor continues to improve his batting average with 2 more hits. In fact, every Nats starter including Joe Ross had at least one hit in this game.

Ross went 8 innings in the game and had the sinker and slider working with great movement. Ross was efficient as he induced two doubleplays in the game and finished with 101 pitches. Continue reading

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Game #44 A rare visit by the team from the state of Washington; Joe Ross is back!

The Seattle Mariners head to Washington, D.C. for a rare inter-league series. It is only their 3rd trip to play the Nationals in the District of Columbia, and their first since 2011. The Nationals have a lifetime record at home of 6-0 against the Mariners.

The weather probably seems like Seattle weather with a rainy and cloudy forecast and on the cool side. The match-up tonight has Christian Bergman who has two starts this year and has also worked out of the bullpen. Bergman went 7 1/3 innings against the A’s while giving up no runs. For the Nats, Joe Ross gets another chance as he returns from Triple-A Syracuse. Continue reading

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The Over-Use of the #Nats starters continues

Photo by Art Guillory for

There is never a clear cause and effect based on pitch counts because there are a myriad of factors that affect each performance. On May 5th, Stephen Strasburg threw 119 pitches against the Phillies and won the game even though the bullpen had to cover 3 1/3 innings for him as Strasburg was not pitch-efficient that outing as he gave up 4 walks. Unfortunately in Strasburg’s next start five days later, he was flat and had his worst outing of the season giving up 5 earned runs over 6 innings.

Was the poor May 10th start caused by the season-high pitch count on May 5th? Who knows. Conversely, Tanner Roark had a career-high pitch count of 125 pitches on May 2nd and pitched one of his better games on May 7th (2 runs, no earned runs) then Roark had his worst two back-to-back starts of his career giving up 11 earned runs over 9 2/3 innings in his last 2 starts. Roark’s start on Thursday night was a struggle from the start as he could not locate pitches. Some have theorized it is due to his heavy workload where he leads the NL in pitches thrown and others think it is due to pitching in the World Baseball Classic while there are the few that always say when Roark falters that he just is not that good (the MLB stats differ). Continue reading

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Strasburg does get the win! New Talk Nats Podcast is up! A super-fan discussion and Prospects!

Stephen Strasburg delivered a much needed win! Koda Glover with the save and the Nats get a well-earned day off tomorrow.

Strasburg had a shutout going into the 8th inning and was clearly on fumes on a hot and humid day while he could be seen stretching out his legs as it would seem he was cramping. Strasburg began the 8th inning at 93 pitches, and he struck out Jace Peterson to begin the inning then walked Rio Ruiz to raise his pitch count to 103 pitches.  There was nobody warming up in the bullpen at that exact moment. The phone rang and Koda Glover got up.

The next batter was Brandon Phillips who was inserted as a pinch-hitter and Strasburg struck him out on a 3-2 count pushing the pitch count to 108. Ender Inciarte singled to put runners on 1st and 2nd base. Strasburg’s pitch count stood at 110 when Swanson stepped into the batter’s box.

The MASN cameras showed Dusty Baker inside the dugout in a deep conversation with his bench coach Chris Speier and his pitching coach Mike Maddux. No change was made as Koda Glover was ready to go, and Baker stuck with Strasburg. Dansby Swanson fouled off pitches and also looked at a slider that was in the zone (pitch #5) on a pitch that should have been strike 3, and Strasburg did not get the call. On the 8th pitch of the at-bat Swanson sent a low liner to the opposite field just out of Bryce Harper‘s reach for a 2-run double.

Strasburg ended up throwing 25 pitches in the 8th inning to finish with giving up 2 runs on 118 pitches and departing with the tying run on 2nd base. Koda Glover was brought in as Strasburg departed and angry. Luckily, Glover got Nick Markakis for the much needed 3rd out on a strikeout.

Glover closed out the 9th aided by a nifty unassisted doubleplay by Ryan Zimmerman on a Matt Adams hard liner.

Daniel Murphy, Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper provided the offense.

Talk Nats Podcast

The creative duo of Kevin Nibley and Bryan King have an exciting new TalkNats Podcast for us which includes the full Jude Oz interview, and Mike Weisman from  to discuss the prospects in High-A which includes players like the Nationals number 1 prospect Victor Robles.

Continue reading

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