The Nationals and Mets have another game tonight in this battle of the NL East and each team is trying to show their strengths while the other team exposes their weaknesses. Last night was an old-fashioned pitchers duel that the Mets came up on the right side of.
The Nationals had a few opportunities to make things happen last night and failed. We want to illustrate one of the biggest moments and opportunities in the game.
In a key spot with runners on 3rd and 1st in the 2nd inning with 1 out turned out to be the Nats best chance of breaking the game open. Noah Syndergaard needed a strikeout or a groundball and only threw the batter, Wilson Ramos, sinkers, in fact 3 of them at 99.80, 100.25 and 100.8 MPH and Ramos did what he could with it and smoked the ball right at the 2nd baseman for a tailor-made 4-6-3 doubleplay. When you look at the variables at the time of the at-bat, a manager has to analyze if the factors are in his favor for a hit and run play: 1) Syndergaard throws a sinker 2) hard to center the ball on the bat 3) high groundball batter 4) good baserunner at 1st base 5) pitcher not quick to the plate.
Those factors add up to a great chance for a “run & hit” or straight steal opportunity. Ramos should only swing at a ball in the zone and you hope he hits it on the ground as Zimmerman would score from 3rd with one out and with any luck Walker would vacate his spot near 2nd base to cover the bag for what he thinks is a steal and Ramos hits it towards 2nd base and you get the bonus where the groundball goes through the vacated hole at 2nd base and Rendon scampers to 3rd base, and Ramos is on 1st with a single. When a hit & run works, it’s a back-breaker to the other team as they get the grounder they wanted but it finds a vacated hole. Dusty Baker didn’t put a play on.
We learned once again that in a key point in the game Dusty Baker went to Michael Taylor off the bench for a pinch-hit spot where the Nationals desparately needed base runners and Taylor swung through 3 pitches at the hands of Addison Reed. There were several players with good numbers against Reed including Taylor who had a grand slam against him in Arizona at a time when Reed was struggling. It didn’t work and Taylor who is 1-13 in his career as a pinch-hitter showed once again a lack of plate discipline. The Nats needed base runners, and Ramos grounded out followed by strikeouts by Espinosa and Taylor.
Dusty did have a quick hook on Max Scherzer with a man on 1st and no outs and the bullpen came in and did it’s job.
Tonight it’s the Mets #5 pitcher going (Bartolo Colon) against Gio Gonzalez. We will once again see what strategic moves are made or not made.
For those of you who do not remember, Bartolo Colon could have been an original Washington Nationals’ player. Colon for a short time was a Montreal Expo in probably the worst trade of this century as he was traded with Stephen Drew‘s brother Tim for a bunch of prospects including Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore, and Brandon Phillips. Colon didn’t stay in Montreal long and the trade never worked out for Montreal or the Nationals as the farm system was almost barren of top prospects after that trade. The history is muddled with Omar Minaya in the center of the transaction, but think what that 2005 Nats team could have looked like if that trade never got made. Full circle, and Colon is still around 14 years later.
Here are your Nats stats against Bartolo Colon:
Here are Gio’s stats against the Mets:
Lineups (subject to change without notice):
- Ben Revere CF
- Jayson Werth LF
- Bryce Harper RF
- Daniel Murphy 2B
- Ryan Zimmerman 1B
- Anthony Rendon 3B
- Danny Espinosa SS
- Jose Lobaton C
- Gio Gonzalez LHP
Here are your NL East standing as of this afternoon: