If you watched the Team USA game last night in San Diego, you saw a come-from-behind thriller as Team USA won 4-2 in front of a small crowd (16,635) against Team Venezuela. It didn’t have the raucous crowds of the games played in Miami that almost went into delirium each time a great play was made or a run scored.
Here is your WBC stats for Team USA and you will certainly notice Daniel Murphy at the bottom. One game played and Murphy went 0-for-4 with a hard luck line-out on a diving play made in left field on his final at-bat which was back in Team USA’s first game on March 10th, six days ago. Murphy has been glued to the bench ever since.
Team USA is carrying only 4 outfielders, but an imbalance of 8 infielders. Of the 8 infielders, 3 of them are 2nd baseman. Daniel Murphy has only appeared in one game as the DH.
Manager Jim Leyland knows Ian Kinsler and he has started all 4 games thus far at 2nd base and leading off. Jim Leyland used to manage the Tigers, but never managed Kinsler, rather he got to know Kinsler through his role as a special assistant to the general manager.
No roster moves for @USABaseball before second round; Tanner Roark, who could have been removed via DPP, remains on active roster. @MLB
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) March 14, 2017
On Team USA, Tanner Roark signed on and pitched in relief in Game 2 and was pulled quickly after surrendering 3 runs in 1 1/3 innings to Team Dominican Republic in Miami on March 11th. Roark signed on as a DPP which is the acronym for Designated Pitcher’s Pool, and it was expected Roark would pitch once and be returned to the Nationals. That did not happen and Leyland kept him, and it was reported by Jon Morosi that Roark was supposed to pitch in relief last night and that never happened.
We are just 18 days away from the first pitch of Opening Day for the Washington Nationals. You have serious concerns if you are Mike Rizzo and Dusty Baker on the readiness of Tanner Roark who hasn’t pitched much (41 pitches on March 11) and needs to be stretched out as Roark should have been up to 60-70 pitches in the pitching protocol to be ready for his start in the first few days of the season. The original plan was Leyland was going to return Roark and add another pitcher. That did not happen. Roark was supposed to pitch last night and that didn’t happen either.
Daniel Murphy hasn’t seen anything other than BP pitching for almost a week, and his timing was not right before he left to join Team USA. The next scheduled game is tomorrow for Team USA against Puerto Rico with a rematch against Team Dominican Republic on Saturday. We would expect both players Murphy and Roark to appear, but at this point, who knows.
“You’d prefer [Roark] here, but he signed on for [Team USA], and you have to complete your obligation is the way I look at it,” Dusty Baker said to the media before last night’s game. “I’d prefer Murphy back, too. He didn’t have his stuff together when he left. But like I said, when you sign up for something, you have to complete it, and while they’re there, they might as well try to win for the USA.”
That was then and this is now. Of course, the Derek Norris situation was finalized yesterday as he was unconditionally released by the Nationals and is now a free agent. Only Mike Rizzo knows the true story as Nationals’ fans wondered why they released the player who was the proposed starter until Matt Wieters was officially added to the roster 17 days ago. The most relieved man in West Palm Beach has to be Jose Lobaton who is once again the back-up to the starter unless Pedro Severino can impress management enough.
FanGraphs has removed Derek Norris and has adjusted Matt Wieters to 416 plate appearances. The Nationals dropped in the FanGraphs 2017 projections from 92 wins to 91 wins after Norris was removed. Wieters is now projected to be a +1.5 WAR. By the way, Joe Blanton when he was added to the roster was projected at a +0.5 WAR. Ryan Zimmerman was adjusted down to a +0.1 WAR.
Speaking of Ryan Zimmerman, he broke his O-fer streak and got 2 hits yesterday, and also hit his 3rd line drive of the Spring for a double. Zimmerman had been mired in a streak of pounding groundballs on balls-in-play, and it was a good sign that he barreled up a ball in his third at-bat yesterday. While it could be debated whether or not the outfielder should have caught the line drive, BABIP worked, and Ryan Zimmerman was rewarded with a double. He is now 2-20 in spring training with 3 walks.
Several of the Nats offensive starters are not getting hits, and while it is about process, soon it has to start turning into results. Trea Turner hit a ball to deep short that normally he would leg out for a hit, but in Spring Training he isn’t going to push it to OffCon 5 at this point yet just like on defense he isn’t going to go full-out in DefCon 5 mode. It is important for fans to realize that health and well-being are priority number one as they have been instructed by Dusty Baker.
Speaking of health and well-being, Max Scherzer will throw in a minor league game today to Wieters as his battery mate, and Scherzer will debut his normal grip fastball today to go with that three-finger grip on his fastball that he had been using. He said the knuckle is feeling much better.
Today’s game will not be on the radio or the television at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches as
Steven Matz right-handed Zack Wheeler and left-handed Gio Gonzalez face-off to start this game. Matz is a lefty pitcher and Dusty Baker will bat Jayson Werth second today and Adam Eaton seventh. Matt Wieters will not start today, and it is Pedro Severino who gets the start.
Today’s starting line-up against the Mets is:
- Trea Turner SS
- Jayson Werth LF
- Bryce Harper RF
- Anthony Rendon 3B
- Pedro Severino C
- Ryan Zimmerman 1B
- Adam Eaton CF
- Stephen Drew 2B
- Michael Taylor DH
Gio Gonzalez LHP
Meanwhile, Max Scherzer was pitching on the back fields in a Minor League tune-up and walked away feeling great. He was able to throw his fastball with a normal tw0-finger grip, and as we projected he pitched to Matt Wieters as his catcher.
Gio Gonzalez faced a Mets line-up sans Yoenis Cespedes and no-hit them for 5 innings today. That is quite the outing for Gio!