Game #11 Tanner Roark gets the early start; Murphy has the right idea

Of the Washington Nationals current starting pitchers, Tanner Roark has to join Strasburg, Scherzer and Gio in the 3.00 ERA or better club. Roark is currently at an ERA of 4.09 and must clean that up. If Roark can throw 6 shutout innings today, he would drop his ERA to 2.65. The current Nationals starting pitchers have been a strength for Dusty Baker.

Speaking of strengths, Daniel Murphy continues to be incredible. Murph is probably also the most humble player on the team. His message after delivering the walk-off win on Friday was showering praise on his teammates and looking towards today.

“It’s a good win,” Daniel Murphy said. “Yeah, good win. Try to do it again [Saturday].”

Indeed, the Nationals could use a win and get a winning streak started. Yesterday, we looked at the Nationals offense as an additional strength. Inside the overall stats, we will look today at 10 days of RISP (runners-in-scoring-position) statistics. The Nationals overall are batting an excellent .320 with an unworldly .404 OBP. Sample sizes are still very small where BABIP can easily skew the numbers.

With that said on BABIP, we noted yesterday that Ryan Zimmerman was 0-8 when a runner is standing on 3rd base and 0-3 in bases loaded situations; however, when a runner is on 1st base and/or 2nd base only, Zimmerman is an incredible 7-12. Zimmerman is batting .412 when bases are empty. This 3rd base issue has to be some sort of crazy coincidence, right? It just makes no sense how much Zimmerman has struggled with a runner on 3rd base and since the beginning of last season, Zimmerman is now 6-44 (.136 BA) and he is now 0-14 including the playoffs in bases loaded spots.

The good news is that Ryan Zimmerman is getting hits and scoring runs, and we would expect that this 3rd base stat and RISP stats to improve with more opportunities.

Some more good news is that Trea Turner is taking batting practice and is eligible to come off of the 10-day DL in 4 more days (Wednesday). It is unknown right now if the plan is to send Turner to a minor league affiliate in the next couple of days to play in a live tune-up game.

“[Trea Turner] hit the other day, and said he felt pretty good,” Dusty Baker said. “He’s been getting a lot of treatment, riding the bike, and running as tolerated. My experience with hamstrings is whenever they tell you they are ready, then I believe in giving them another couple days. I haven’t really pressed him on how he’s feeling because you hate to be injured and then somebody always asking you every day and nothing really changes that much from day to day.”

In other news, the Nationals bullpen threw a shutout yesterday. That is very good news as that group has been at the center of most of the early season criticism, and once again the small sample sizes can be skewed although two stats stand-out as the Nats bullpen has given up 9 home runs, but their combined 10 bullpen walks happens to be the 4th best in the Majors and in a stark contrast, the Mets bullpen has walked 27 so far in 2017.

“If we pitch to not walk people, we’re going to walk people,” pitching coach Mike Maddux said when specifically asked about walks. “We pitch aggressively. We pitch to get guys out. We don’t pitch to the negative.”

Fans hate walks and what seemed to be a major issue has been a strength of this bullpen. Today is another day, and another day for these Washington Nationals to improve.

The Phillies pitch Jeremy Hellickson who the Nationals faced over the weekend. In that weekend start, Hellickson was pulled early as his hand cramped and was stuck in a claw grip as he could not readily straighten his fingers. This is something to watch for today.

Today is also Jackie Robinson Day when all team uniforms will be numbered with 42 which was Jackie’s retired jersey number. Dusty Baker started playing youth baseball on integrated teams thanks to Jackie Robinson.

“I remember things when I was a kid, inequities would come up, like rich kids making the [youth] All-Star teams because their dad’s name would be on the back of the uniform as sponsors,” Dusty Baker said. “I’d be an alternate. I would get mad and want to quit, and my dad would say, ‘What would Jackie do?’ I’d get in fights, and my dad would say, ‘What would Jackie do?’ My dad was telling us about Jackie all the time. It was always, ‘What would Jackie do?’ I’d tell him, ‘I’m not Jackie.”‘

Dusty Baker is correct, he is not Jackie. Jackie Robinson was one-of-a-kind, and today Dusty Baker will once again think ‘What would Jackie do?’.

Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals
Stadium: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.
1st Pitch:  1:05 pm EDT
TV: MASN2, WUSA9, CSN Philadelphia, MLB.TV

Line-ups  (subject to change without notice):

  1. Wilmer Difo SS
  2. Anthony Rendon 3B
  3. Bryce Harper RF
  4. Daniel Murphy 2B
  5. Ryan Zimmerman 1B
  6. Chris Heisey LF
  7. Michael Taylor CF
  8. Jose Lobaton C
  9. Tanner Roark RHP
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