The pitching matchups for the first 9-games of the second half! #Nats

Photo by Lynn G for TalkNats

The Washington Nationals have lined up their rotation which moves Max Scherzer to the #3 spot in the reconfigured ordering for the start to the second half of the season. It was revealed that Scherzer was dealing with some back pain which is why he was pushed back to Sunday as well as the reason he did not pitch in the All-Star game. The Nationals will face the Phillies on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday with a day-off on Monday.  This also will set-up the “Big Four” for the crucial four-game series against the the Atlanta Braves next weekend. The Braves have no off-days next week which should have Dallas Keuchel pitching against the Brewers on Wednesday afternoon. The Phillies have a four-game series against the Dodgers from Monday to Thursday. Continue reading

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Umpiring and technology and pay the best

In recent years, there has been more clamoring by many critics for MLB to do something about the Homeplate umpiring that has seemed to get worse yearly in accurately calling balls and strikes. Whether or not that is accurate or just based on recency bias can be debated, but there seems to be ball and strike mistakes that are critical in some games that should concern MLB. The game should be free of bias as well as total incompetence, and the technology should be accurate enough to use or at the very least more accurate than the human element. Tennis adopted the Hawk-Eye system to decide challenges after a succession of blown calls in a 2005 tournament enraged players and fans. Hawk-Eye Smart Replay® is actually used by MLB teams to review plays in their internal decisions of whether or not to challenge a play.  Continue reading

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Baseball’s second half and improving the roster

With the All-Star break upon us, the Washington Nationals will begin baseball’s second half in second place in the NL East and first place in the NL Wild Card. Mathematically, the Nats only have 73 games remaining, and they amazingly have 14 head-to-head games against the first place Atlanta Braves. The Nationals have been playing at a .718 winning percentage since May 24th, and if they finish the season at a .630 winning percentage, they would win 93 games for the season. The key word is “if” and the Nationals are at a record of 47-42 before they play their next game on Friday against the Phillies. Continue reading

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Another starting pitcher’s gem plus Victor Robles on defense and offense!

Photo by Andrew Lang for TalkNats

As general manager Mike Rizzo said, “We have a very good Big Four” as a sincere compliment to his starting pitchers of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, and Anibal Sanchez. Many people have referred to them as the “Big Three” which excluded Sanchez and was an old term for the American auto makers, and Rizzo made it a point to let everyone know this starting rotation from 1-to-4 is excellent. With Patrick Corbin’s 7.0 inning shutout gem today, the Nationals have shown they are one of the best in the Majors. Corbin’s “win” evaporated after a blown save by Sean Doolittle, but then the Nats bats were awoken and Doolittle vultured the 5-2 win on this final game before the All-Star break. Continue reading

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Game #89 Nationals have Corbin to get the Nats into the All-Star break!

Photo by Marlene Koenig for TalkNats

The Nationals have their final game before the All-Star break, and the team’s opportunity to get rested up for the final 73 games of the season. For this game, Patrick Corbin gets the start to against the Royals. With Max Scherzer going deep in Saturday’s game, he was able to get his bullpen mates some extra rest. Speaking of Max Scherzer, he will fly to Cleveland for his 7th consecutive All-Star game, and Anthony Rendon will stay behind in Washington, D.C. for daily treatment on his left leg.  Continue reading

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Max Scherzer pitches another gem to wrap up his pre-All-Star game record!

On Expos Day, it was a good day as Max Scherzer got the Washington Nationals back in the winner’s circle with a gem of a game. He struggled in the first inning, but then settled down to throw a 7.0 inning shutout with only 4 hits and 11 strikeouts. Scherzer is now 3rd in the Majors in ERA at 2.30 trailing only Hyu-Jin Ryu at 1.73 and Luis Castillo at 2.29. Scherzer only trails Castillo by the smallest of margins by .01. Of course Scherzer leads all pitchers with 181 strikeouts. More importantly,  Scherzer has now win seven consecutive starts for his team. By going 7.0 innings of “no drama” baseball, the Nationals got him 6-runs of support, and Scherzer did the rest in this 6-0 win whole resting most of the bullpen. Continue reading

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Game #88 Max Scherzer is back as the Expos take on the Royals!

Photo by Marlene Koenig for TalkNats

Every team loses 40 games and wins 40 games — it is what you do with the other 80+ games that make the difference in the final standings. The Nationals blew a very winnable game last night, and there was plenty of blame to go around from managerial decisions to poor situation hitting to weak starting pitching to a throwing error to some inexcusable umpiring behind the plate. We have baseball today, and the Nationals need to start a new winning streak. To get back on the winning path, Max Scherzer starts today upon his return from the paternity list.  Continue reading

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Nats claw back to tie and don’t take advantage in extra innings!

Photo by Marlene Koenig for TalkNats

The game started off with some shaky starting pitching by Austin Voth as he lasted just 4 1/3 innings giving up 4-runs. The Nationals trailed by a 4-1 score until they tied it in the 9th inning setting up a dramatic ending that the home team was clearly hoping for another walk-off. For the game, Ryan Zimmerman hit three doubles and drove in two runs to surpass 1,000 RBI for his career, but it was Zimmerman in the 10th inning with a runner on 3rd base and one out with the golden opportunity to walk-off the game — and he popped up on the infield on a hanging slider from a left-handed pitcher. A pitch that was begging to be crushed. Baseball is an unforgiving game in “what have you done for me lately.”  Zimmerman was handed the script and his character was set as the hero. He had already recorded two clutch hits in the game to help his team claw back into a tie. Royals’ manager Ned Yost intentionally walked Juan Soto to pitch to Zimmerman with runners on the corners. Conventionally, you might walk the bases loaded to have the force at home. Maybe this move was a little reminiscent of Joe Maddon in 2016 when he was walking the batter in front of Zimmerman .  In this game, Royals’ pitchers walked Juan Soto three times in front of Zimmerman. Whether Yost’s decision was right or wrong pitching to Zimmerman in the 10th inning, it paid-off when Zim made weak contact to popup the ball on the infield. Yost was clearly hoping that Zimmerman would hit into an inning ending doubleplay, but sometimes it is better to be luckier than good as the player nicknamed Mr. Walk-off actually walked back to his dugout after he popped-up on a slider over the center of the plate for the second out of the inning. Continue reading

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Game #87 The Royals are in Washington, D.C. to play the Nationals!

Photo by Marlene Koenig for TalkNats

The Royals are in town to face the Washington Nationals in an inter-league three game weekend series to take us to All-Star break. This is manager Dave Martinez‘s chance to put the pressure on the rest of the NL East teams as well as the potential Wild Card teams. Everything the Nationals have done for the last six weeks to put themselves in a position to climb up the standings is an everyday thing. As Martinez says, the team takes it one game at a time. He is right that you should not look ahead and need to concentrate on the task at-hand.  Continue reading

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The Washington Nationals take the first seed in the Wild Card race & 2nd place in the NL East

The landscape of the top teams just changed in the National League, and for today, the Washington Nationals now own the best record in the Wild Card race, the second best record in the NL East, and now have the third best record of all teams in the National League. On the morning of May 24th, the Nationals were 12-games under .500, and the Philadelphia Phillies were in first place. Exactly six weeks later, the Nationals are the hottest team in Major League Baseball with a 26-10 record and a .722 winning percentage since May 24th, and the Nationals have leapfrogged the Phillies in the standings. Continue reading

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