Game #18 If it’s broke — fix it!

The Washington Nationals came out swinging last night, and one terrible decision quickly derailed everything. Once again a miss-sized batting helmet cost the Nats. Instead of stopping at third base, CJ Abrams was a costly out at homeplate because he tried catching his batting helmet that popped off his noggin as it does every single time he runs the bases. Discretion is the better part of valor, and they make batting helmets in 1/8th sizing increments!

If Abrams stopped at third base with no outs, and trusted in his teammates, who knows what happens. That Abrams mistake as manager Dave Martinez called it, just changed everything in an instant. Jesse Winker‘s two-run homer a few innings later couldn’t save the Nats from another horrendous start from Patrick Corbin who walked four Dodgers to go with nine hits that included a booming home run. A 2.053 WHIP won’t cut it. This is Groundhog Day with Corbin who somehow saw his ERA improve to 8.06 from 8.44. That is a tongue-in-cheek joke. Corbin gave up five earnies over his 6 1/3 innings — and truth be told, the defensive and defensive positioning saved Corbin who gave up an eye-popping 66.7 percent hard hit rate. Compare that to the Dodgers’ Ryan Yarbrough who averaged 28.6 percent on his hard hit rate.

Something has to change. The Corbin supporters will say but but but he eats innings. He’s averaged 5.58 innings in his four starts. So who cares. The newbie, Mitchell Parker, went 5.0 innings the day before in his MLB debut against the same lineup. If that half inning is so key to you over Corbin’s season, get a reliever who can effectively pitch more than one inning like other teams do. The name of the game is run prevention on defense. This is not hard to figure out. And Corbin isn’t the only issue, but he and injured starter, Josiah Gray, have started a combined six games and lost five of them as the pitchers of record. The other five starters used so far have combined for only ONE loss. The rest of the losses were collared in the bullpen (four). Yes, 5+1+4 = 10 losses. Tanner Rainey only gets used as a mop-up guy and has been trusted to enter just six games this season, the least of any reliever in the bullpen on the Opening Day roster. Why is he still here?

Add to all of that the lethargic play of Eddie Rosario which is about as impassioned as a Luke Voit re-run. That’s sarcasm if you didn’t pick up on that. Last night, a single was turned into a double because Rosario was in “jog” mode from his left field position. Can you just say it any clearer that you don’t give a flying ####? Rosario is batting .122 with a .363 OPS. Winker has a higher batting average than Rosario’s OPS. The wisdom to put Rosario on the Opening Day roster when he signed his deal in the second week of March was not wise. I said it at the time so this isn’t hindsight. The Mets still haven’t called-up J.D. Martinez who was also signed in Spring Training with a deal on March 23. A bad decision to force Rosario onto the roster. Best thing that could happen is that he has a hang-nail and has to go on the IL so he can do a rehab assignment in Triple-A and ride on a bus trip or too.

While some may complain about Joey Gallo and his .647 OPS, at least he is a 100 points from where you expected he would be. His defense has been impeccable. I’m not sure what his swing & miss rate would be in a HR Derby as he is getting BP meatballs — but I suspect he would miss a few. He is a flawed hitter — and general manager Mike Rizzo knew that. This one gets a little more rope. With Gallo, it at least looks like he is trying. By the way, Gallo’s OPS is nearly 100 points better than Lane Thomas who actually had one of the Nats’ six hits last night. Thomas looks like he is close to figuring it out.

Look, the sample sizes are small and there is time for some guys. I’d rather have guys like Jacob Young or even Alex Call because they would run through a wall for you. Or maybe you just call up top prospect James Wood? Young saved how many extra base hits last night? Probably at least three. Joey Meneses has been glued to the bench, and it is probably time that Rosario rides the pine with Meneses, and put Winker or Ildemaro Vargas into left field.

So the theme here is that if it is broken then fix it. We are only talking about a few broken spots. This is a point in the season to show that you want to win. Make a few tweaks and move forward.

The team kept Parker on the roster so it looks like he will pitch on Sunday against Houston, and we have a good idea how the rotation will look until Josiah Gray returns from his forearm muscular strain. Here’s what we think the schedule could look like:

  1. Wednesday: Jake Irvin vs. Dodgers
  2. Thursday: Day-off
  3. Friday: MacKenzie Gore vs. Houston
  4. Saturday: Trevor Williams vs. Houston
  5. Sunday: Mitchell Parker vs. Houston
  6. Monday: Day-off April 22
  7. Tuesday: Corbin vs. Dodgers
  8. Wednesday: Irvin vs. Dodgers
  9. Thursday: Gore vs. Dodgers
  10. Friday: Williams vs. Miami
  11. Saturday: Parker vs. Miami
  12. Sunday: Corbin vs. Miami
  13. Monday: Irvin vs. Miami
  14. Tuesday: Gore vs. Texas
  15. Wednesday: Williams vs. Texas
  16. Thursday: Parker vs. Texas
  17. Friday: Corbin vs. Toronto
  18. Saturday: Irvin vs. Toronto
  19. Sunday: Gore vs. Toronto
  20. Monday: Day-off May 6

Your top Washington Nationals on the FanGraphs’ WAR leaderboard has Jesse Winker at a +0.9 WAR. That is incredible. Hunter Harvey and Abrams are at +0.6 WAR with MacKenzie Gore and Trevor Williams at +0.5. The next tier has six Nats now at +0.2.

“We swung at a lot of first pitch breaking balls, which was uncharacteristic. I think we should’ve been a little bit more patient.”

— manager Dave Martinez said yesterday

The Nats starting pitchers have a combined ERA of 5.60 and tied for 28th in MLB. Obviously sample sizes are miniscule at this point. Still a lot of work for the Nationals to improve in the rankings.

Here is how they rank:

No. 5 Starter: Josiah Gray 14.04
No. 4 Starter: Patrick Corbin 8.06
No. 3 Starter: Jake Irvin 4.24
No. 2 Starter: Trevor Williams 3.45
No. 1 Starter:  MacKenzie Gore 2.81

Washington Nationals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

Stadium: Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California
1st Pitch: 3:10 pm EDT
Radio: 106.7 The Fan radio and via the MLB app; In Spanish on DC 87.7 FM and La Pantera 100.7 FM/1220 AM. On Sirius/XM, the Nats will be online only, and the opposing team on Channel 183.

Line-up subject to change (without notice):

TalkNats is Celebrating the 5 and 100 year anniversaries of World Series Wins by providing Game-by-Game Summaries.
Game 18:
The 2019 Nationals lost on 4/19 against the Marlins and moved their record to 9-9 on that date. Box Score / Standings
The 1924 Senators lost on 5/5 against the Boston Red Sox resulting in a Senators’ record of 8-10 on that date. Box Score / Standings

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