Dusty Baker is giving Erick Fedde the most momentous start of his career today against the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie facing their “A” team. This will be the closest Fedde has ever come to pitching in an actual Major League game.
For the Nationals offense, Bryce Harper has been absolutely en fuego as he continues to pepper the outfield berm with home run balls. Unfortunately, most of Harper’s teammate have been the opposite going frío como el hielo. Bryce Harper has 7 hits in 21 at-bats and of those 7 hits, Harper has slugged 4 home runs plus a double. His slugging % is .952 and his OPS is 1.369. Derek Norris and Anthony Rendon lead the regulars with batting averages of .385 and .368 respectively, but it is downhill from there with the remaining starters.
The Nationals have scored a total of 12 runs in the last week and with the day-off on Monday that averages to only 2 runs scored per game. If you look at the regulars, only Harper, Rendon and Norris have driven in runs in the last week. The rest of the runs were driven in by reserves like Wilmer Difo, Michael Taylor, and Grant Green while they have faced non-starters.
Sure, there are starters who are frustrated as they are fierce competitors. With all that said, these stats do not mean much unless you are fighting for a roster spot. For the starters, the formula is stay healthy, get your reps in, and work on specific parts of your game. That is what spring training is intended for with regards to the starters as this is a tune-up for Opening Day.
Wilmer Difo is the most intriguing of the bench hopefuls. Not only did he play centerfield again yesterday, he continues to hit the ball. Difo is batting .435, and leads the infielders and outfielders in batting average. The 5’11” Difo is a switch-hitter who has now played both middle infield positions and the center of the outfield which is a key to whoever gets the last spot on Dusty Baker’s bench. The only outfield locks are Chris Heisey and Adam Lind can fill-in as a passable leftfielder, but the four men penciled in for the Nats bench lack speed and even Heisey is not the the player you want to substitute for spot starts in centerfield. That leaves the coveted last positional roster spot most likely between Difo and Michael Taylor, but there is always the slight possibility as Karen Flynn pointed out that the Nats could cut a veteran like Lind to make room for both Taylor and Difo.
“We love Difo, but we don’t like mistakes,” Dusty Baker said about Difo rounding 2nd base this week as he batted in a run and was thrown out as he headed to 3rd base. “And so far it’s been mistakes on the bases. It’s happened more than a couple times, so it’s like we’re in the process of trying to round him out to be a ballplayer.”
We could only find one Wilmer Difo base running gaffe, and it was not egregious as Difo anticipated a play at the plate. There is no indication why Dusty Baker specifically called out Difo who is a speedster on the base paths and does not have a reputation as a poor base runner. On the other hand, Michael Taylor led the Nationals last season in TOOTBLANs as a function of times on base.
Good news, Joe Blanton made his Grapefruit League debut yesterday and pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the 6th with a strikeout.
“Blanton was surprisingly sharp for his first time out,” Dusty Baker said. “But that goes to show you how he’s really worked in the off-season. [His pitches] were all strikes or near strikes.”
TheWhistle.com produced a fantastic video with Major League Baseball through their official partnership that they have with the league. They have also produced MLB Funniest Moments of 2016 and MLB Before They Were Stars (featuring Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper). This Trea Turner video is excellent and is the first exclusive video TheWhistle.com has done with a Nationals player:
Today’s 1:10pm game against the rival Mets will be televised on the Mets network with the radio feed with Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler.
Today’s starting line-up for the Nationals is:
- Michael Taylor CF
- Chris Heisey LF
- Brian Goodwin RF
- Adam Lind 1B
- Neftali Soto DH
- Derek Norris C
- Wilmer Difo SS
- Matt Skole 3B
- Corban Joseph 2B
Erick Fedde RHP