Game #75 Tanner Roark must get back on track

Tanner Roark is coming off of his worst start in years where he was pulled after only 2 2/3 innings and only 69 pitches. Roark has been the least efficient pitcher in baseball in 2017, and maybe it all started with the World Baseball Classic and the change in his pre-season routine. Maybe it was due to a career high 125 pitches as the calendar turned from April to May. Yes, Tanner Roark has been fighting his mechanics. His two-seam swingback fastball which is one of his must-have pitches hasn’t been moving and unfortunately has been grooving in the wrong spots. Some thought Roark is hurting and needed a DL move — who knows. He sort of got a break 6 days ago when he threw 36 less pitches than his average of 105 pitches per game this year, and Roark got an extra rest day due to the Thursday team scheduled day-off.

For the Nationals, they need a healthy and productive Tanner Roark as the pitching depth down on the farm is thin with A.J. Cole as the next man up. We all hope today is the day that Roark figures it out in his 5th start this month where his ERA for the month of June stands at 8.02 before 1st pitch today.  Continue reading

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An 18-3 blow-out as Trea Turner and Michael Taylor combine for 9 hits, 8 runs, & 5 RBIs


Photo by Kevin Nibley of Trea Turner earlier today!

The offense backed Joe Ross from the start in this 18-3 thumping of the Cincinnati Reds. Ross threw 7-innings of 1-run baseball, and the offense had his back again today. The run support in Joe Ross games now totals 104 runs in only 10 games. Yes, you read that right.

Michael Taylor was 4-for-5 with 2 home runs and a double. He was just a triple shy of the cycle. Trea Turner was 5-for-5 with a walk which is a career high for Trea Turner for hits in a game. Both batters pumped up their stats. Michael Taylor is surprisingly only in 4th place ratings for OPS behind Kolten Wong, Yasiel Puig, and Jordy Mercer for batters with at least 100 plate appearances while batting 8th. Continue reading

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Game #74 Afternoon baseball with a new CF

The Washington Nationals have Michael Taylor starting today in centerfield which essentially puts Wilmer Difo back on the bench today which comes a day after Difo debuted in centerfield last night. We still don’t know what kept Taylor on the bench the past 4 days.

In today’s game, Joe Ross will be pitching for the Nats and Homer Bailey for the Reds. It is Bailey’s 2017 debut for the Cincinnati Reds after he had surgery to remove bone spurs in his right elbow. Continue reading

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#Nats walk-off saves the team amidst some questionable decisions

Bryce Harper gets a walk-off single to win this game in extra innings and saves a game of many questionable decisions that started off as a key to starter Stephen Strasburg falling into a 4-0 deficit.

Who knew that Michael Taylor was available to play and the fans who questioned the decision to start Wilmer Difo in centerfield realized their worst nightmare as 4-runs scored after 2 misplayed balls in centerfield. On top of that, Adam Lind was used to pinch-hit in the classic bunting situation with runners on 2nd and 1st and no outs where you could use an excellent bunter like Max Scherzer off your bench. Joe Ross was not used as a pinch-runner when Matt Wieters was on first base. There were more questions when Michael Taylor also could have pinch run in a key spot.

The Nationals clawed back and into the game many times, and they had some amazing opportunities with bases loaded and one-out and Ryan Zimmerman bounced into a doubleplay and 2 innings later with men on 2nd and 1st and one out Zimmerman bounced into his 2nd doubleplay of the game. But it was the rookie Bryan Goodwin who had 2 HRs, 2 walks, and a key 10th inning single to get Bryce Harper up to the plate to win the game.

The Nats bullpen went 5 innings of shutout baseball while the Reds bullpen coughed up 4 runs and it should have been even more. It has been a while for us to say the lousy bullpen belonged to the other team and the Nats had the great bullpen. In fact the Nats bullpen threw a one-hitter with no walks. Continue reading

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Game #73 Nationals must get back to consistency, but roster is still a moving target!

The Washington Nationals roster took a surprising turn. Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post was hinting that Sammy Solis could be called up today as A.J. Cole was optioned back to Triple-A Syracuse. In fact, it is Wilmer Difo taking Cole’s spot on the roster, and Cole never pitched during his latest call-up.

Yes, it made sense but not happening — today.

Stranger than that is there is no word so far on Koda Glover who was scheduled to come off of the disabled list yesterday. Jayson Werth is at Nationals Park today but he will not be playing this weekend although he is out of his walking boot and feeling better. Continue reading

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4th 18-gamer: Fits and Starts

For previous 18 gamers, click here.

The fourth 18-game set was the worst of the Nats’ season so far, 9-9. As regular readers of these 18-gamers know, averaging 10-8 in the nine sets in the season gets you 90 wins, and probably a playoff berth. 9-9 gets you just 81 wins, and an early trip to the golf course. So far this season, we’ve gone 13-5, 10-8, 11-7, and 9-9. A strong start to be sure, and more important, good for 14 games over .500 and an imposing 9 1/2 game lead in the NL East. But judging from the comments on this blog over the past several weeks, all is certainly not well in NatsTown. Continue reading

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The Day After: What Dusty said about the no-not!

Here is a transcript from Virginascopist of Dusty Baker’s post-game media session after yesterday’s loss:


QUESTION:  Dusty, Max [Scherzer] pitched so well for you today.  What are the factors that you’re kind of considering in that inning as things are kind of unfolding the way that they were?


DUSTY:  Well, you know, the thing about it is, you know, it was “his” game.  And he was still throwing the ball great and, you know, who could you bring in that was throwing better than him?  That’s how you’ve got to consider it.  I mean, you know, he worked two-and-a-half hours or two hours-plus, you know, to get in that position.  Started out with a little cheap infield hit, and then — you know, and then we had the error, and then we ‑‑ you know, these things are — it’s different if they’re hitting him around the ballpark, but they weren’t.
And then he [hit-by-pitch] Dee [Gordon], and then we had the wild pitch and, you know, Raburn almost come up with that ball, and, you know, to throw Dee out at the plate, you know, it was a heck of a play.  So, you know, those are the main factors that ‑‑ you know, it was his game.
QUESTION:  Had you guys ‑‑ I mean, was it kind of hard because I’m sure he probably didn’t want to talk about staying in that game, but was it hard to kind of get a sense of where he was strength‑wise, given that his pitch count was kind of climbing there in the seventh inning?


DUSTY:  No, but, I mean, Max knows how to close it out.  And, you know, we’ve got an extra day, you know, on our rotation because of the off day tomorrow.  And so, you know, you keep an eye on the radar gun.  He was still throwing 95, 96.  And, you know, he was looking strong, and he didn’t have any stressful innings, you know, so ‑‑ yeah, I mean, the thing about it is, I mean, you think about, well, who do you want to bring in out of the bullpen that’s throwing better than Max, and it’s his game. Continue reading

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A No-Hitter turns into a No Win situation

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction, and that was the case today in Miami. Max Scherzer had a no-hitter into the eighth inning and left with 121 pitches and a complete-game loss while giving up no earned runs.

The Nationals lost 2-1 on 2 unearned runs on an Adam Lind error that prolonged the inning which turned into a complete-game loss.

Once the no-hitter ended in the 8th inning, Dusty Baker did not go to the bullpen but the 3rd out should have been recorded before a run scored which came later on a Scherzer wild pitch and then a single to Giancarlo Stanton.

Max Scherzer finished at 121 pitches which was a season-high for him eclipsing the 118 pitches he threw 5 days ago. That’s a total of 239 pitches in the last week.

Ryan Raburn was the offense and was the reason the final score wasn’t 3-1 after he threw out Dee Gordon at the plate in the decisive 8th inning. Raburn scored the only Nats run today on a solo home run.

This is only the second time in Washington Nationals history that a pitcher has lost a complete-game giving up no earned runs — the other time was Jordan Zimmermann losing to Dan Haren of the Angels 1-0 in 2011. This was also the second time in Washington Nationals history that a pitcher gave up 2 or fewer hits in 8 innings or more and was debited with a loss — the other time was Stephen Strasburg losing to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2013.

While it seemed what happened today was rare, it has happened to other great pitchers in Washington Nationals history. Of course in any rare feat, it is never apples to apples in comparison as Jordan Zimmermann only needed to throw 93 pitches in his complete game loss with no earned runs.

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Game #72 Winner takes this series as Dusty rests all the regulars older than 28!

Last night’s win behind Gio Gonzalez made the frustrating loss on Monday just one of those games that is now easier to forget, and last night’s game one you want to remember for a while as Gio never relinquished the lead and worked in-and-out of trouble in his “bend but don’t break” style he has done all season plus the offense put up 6 runs between the 8th and 9th innings to make it a laugher at the end.

Yes, Gio Gonzalez teeters on the edge sometimes, but really clamps down when runners are in scoring position where the opposition has an MLB worst batting average and that makes Gio the best pitcher with 20 innings or more as he is at a .107 batting-average-against (BAA).

By the way, Gio Gonzalez has exited 11 of his 15 games this season with his team ahead and 2 other games he departed in a tie game which is another reason he is back to being one of the elite pitchers again in baseball. Gio is now 7th in NL ERA at 2.96, and Gio’s official record is now 7 wins and 1 loss (7-1) but the team is only 9 wins and 6 losses in games he has pitched in and that is what has to improve as much of that is predicated on how deep Gio Gonzalez goes into games but also on the amount of run support he receives.

This afternoon, the best pitcher in all of baseball takes the mound if you trust what Brian Kenney of MLB Network has to say to about Max Scherzer:

Scherzer takes the mound almost 4 1/2 days after his 8 inning performance on Friday night in New York where he came back on the mound for the 8th inning seemingly laboring with a 4-0 lead before surrendering a home run and continued in the game as he was audibly grunting from pitch number 104 to pitch number 118 when he finished the inning. Serena Williams was known for her loud grunts which became a popular ringtone, but Scherzer may have topped Serena on the decibel level on Friday night.

We just hope Max Scherzer is alright as that was a new season high in pitch count at 118 pitches and it also moved Scherzer into the lead of most pitches thrown through 14 starts at a total of 1,496. One suggestion was to move Scherzer to Friday for his next start to give him 2 extra rest days since tomorrow is a day-off but that clearly wasn’t an option that was considered by the Nationals.

The Dodgers and Dave Roberts just adjusted their pitcher workloads again for all of their pitchers during their long stretch of consecutive games and inserted Kenta Maeda back in the rotation for one start to push everyone back a day. Clayton Kershaw just made his 15th start and has now thrown a pitch efficient 1,491 pitches in total over 103 1/3 innings.

With the day-off tomorrow, Dusty Baker is wisely resting Daniel Murphy, Ryan Zimmerman and Matt Wieters. You may have noticed that Wieters has been scuffling with the bat and his batting average dropped to .249. Wieters was batting .278 just 2 weeks ago. Since Opening Day, Wieters had not been below the .700’s on his OPS and he has now dropped to a disappointing .690 OPS. That has moved Wieters to 23rd on qualified catchers on OPS, and unfortunately his fWAR is now a -0.1.

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Nats win 12-3 behind Gio Gonzalez and a lot of offense!

This game stayed close for a while behind Gio Gonzalez until the Nationals offense kept adding runs. Gio pitched 7 full innings and only made a few mistake pitches but limited the damage. Blake Treinen pitched a scoreless 8th when the score was 7-3, and we finally saw Matt Albers pitch after 7 rest days. Albers pitched a scoreless 9th inning as he struck out the side.

Bryce Harper opened the scoring tonight with a 2-run single. It remained a 2-1 lead until the 5th inning when the Nats scored 4 runs. The Nats added 1 in the 8th and 5-runs in the 9th. The hitting star was Stephen Drew who was 3-for-5 with 3 RBIs. Matt Wieters went 0-for-5 and his slump continues with his batting average dropping below .250.

The Nationals were 7-for-14 with runners-in-scoring-position tonight. Gio Gonzalez improves his record to 7-1.

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