October 25, 2014

Washington Nationals Game 1 Pregame: Manager Matt Williams meets the press

Washington Nationals manager Matt Williams met with gathered media ahead of Game 1 of the NLDS Friday morning. The skipper talked about the roster construction for the first round, Ryan Zimmerman’s availability and his bullpen.

Earlier in the day, the Nats announced their playoff roster. Zimmerman was indeed included, which meant someone had to be left off. The odd man out was outfielder Scott Hairston, who was on the roster all season long. Nate Schierholtz, a left-handed hitting outfielder with some speed who was a waiver claim late in the season, retained his spot.

Williams conceded that Zimmerman would come off the bench as a right-handed pinch-hitter, a move most assumed as his playing time down the stretch was managed heavily by the Nats first-year manager. Zimmerman obviously has not fully recovered yet from the torn hamstring that cost him over 50 games this season.

Zimmerman played only sparingly in the field upon being activated from the disabled list, and when he did was shaky, at best. Since the Face of the Franchise will be limited to pinch-hitting duties for the most part, that meant Hairston, who’s also primarily a right-handed pinch-hitter, became superfluous.

That situation played out in the bullpen as well. Ross Detwiler, who started the pivotal Game 4 in the 2012 NLDS, was left off the roster as well, in favor of Rafael Soriano, the demoted closer. Williams referred to Detwiler as the “third lefty” and said he preferred to carry just two: Matt Thornton and Jerry Blevins. Blevins was much maligned early in the season — though not nearly as much as Soriano was late — but the veteran recovered in the last month of the season to dominate down the stretch.

Soriano took the opposite tack. The veteran righty was dominant in the first half of the season and really could have represented the Nats in the All-Star game. But as good as he was early, he was that bad in the second half, running up a 6.23 ERA since the midsummer classic. His inclusion on the roster is curious, but Williams said he likes the luxury of having three 40-saves relievers in his bullpen, saying that his confidence in Soriano “never waivered.”

The last nugget of information to come out of the press conference was that Tanner Roark, who started 31 games with a 15-10 record, 2.85 ERA and 1.092 WHIP, was moving to the bullpen with the shortened playoff starting rotation. Though Williams didn’t mention him by name, Gio Gonzalez thus retains his spot in the rotation, unless the Nats decide to come back with Strasburg in Game 4 on one day short rest — a situation that would probably only arise if the Nats trailed in the series.

The Nats Game 2 starter, Jordan Zimmermann, also spoke with the media Friday. He said most of the players in the clubhouse are trying to go about their business as normal, but acknowledged that the playoffs brings a different edge and it helps the team went through it two years ago.

“We didn’t really know anything coming in two years ago,” Zimmermann said. “Jayson [Werth] is the only guy who said ‘It will be crazy, something you guys never experienced.’ You know, after going out there [in 2012], and experience it one time, I think we are all more prepared now and kind of know what to expect.”

Washington Nationals vs San Francisco Giants NLDS Series Preview

After winning the NL East as well as owning the best record in the National League, the Washington Nationals welcome the San Francisco Giants, winners of the NL Wild Card Game, to Nationals Park on Friday afternoon to kickoff a best-of-five National League Division Series.

Teams

Washington Nationals (96-66, 1st in NL East vs San Francisco Giants (88-74, 2nd in NL West) [Read more...]

DC-IBWA announces 2014 Player Achievement Awards

The Washington, DC chapter of the Internet Baseball Writers Association is an organization comprised of Internet writers, on-line media outlets, and bloggers.

In accordance with its stated goal of promoting the members of the association and increasing awareness and respect as active members of the media that cover the Washington Nationals Major League Baseball club, the DC-IBWA is pleased to announce its member-voted winners of the 2014 Player Achievement Awards.

Each individual award is named after a member of the district’s storied baseball heritage, to promote awareness of the significance of the history of Washington, DC baseball. Biographies of the honored historical players can be found at this link.

Voters were asked to name first, second and third place for each category. First place votes received five points, second place votes received three points and third place votes received one point.

In addition, the voters were also asked to respond to six survey questions about the Nationals and the on-line media community.

We received 21 ballots from association members from the following online media outlets: District Sports Page, Federal Baseball, WeLoveDC.com, The Nats Blog, D.C. Baseball History, DC is for Baseball, Let Teddy Win!, Matt’s Bats, Nationals Arm Race, Nationals GM, Nationals Prospects, Nationals Review, Nats Nation, Nats Noodles, Natstadamus, Red Porch Report.

You can find more information about the DC-IBWA, or our membership, by visiting our website at http://dc-ibwaa.blogspot.com/ or contacting us at DCIBWA@gmail.com.

2014 WASHINGTON NATIONALS PLAYER ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS

Goose Goslin Most Valuable Player
(Player most valuable to the success of the Washington Nationals):

1st: Anthony Rendon (62 points, 9 first place votes)
2nd: Denard Span (38 points, 4 first place votes)
3rd: Jayson Werth (25 points, 2 first place votes)

Others receiving votes: Adam LaRoche (17, 1 first place vote), Doug Fister (8, 1 first place vote), Ian Desmond (7, 1 first place vote), Tanner Roark (4), Jordan Zimmermann (1).

Walter Johnson Starting Pitcher of the Year
(Excellent performance as a starting pitcher):

1st: Jordan Zimmermann (64 points, 10 first place votes)
2nd: Doug Fister (46 points, 6 first place votes)
3rd: Tanner Roark (26 points, 2 first place votes)

Others receiving votes: Stephen Strasburg (26).

Frederick “Firpo” Marberry Relief Pitcher of the Year
(Excellent performance as a relief pitcher):

1st: Drew Storen (76 points, 11 first place votes)
2nd: Tyler Clippard (68 points, 7 first place votes)
3rd: Rafael Soriano (10 points)

Others receiving votes: Craig Stammen (4), Aaron Barrett (2), Matt Thornton (1).

Sam Rice Hitter of the Year
(Excellence in all-around hitting, situational hitting and baserunning):

1st: Anthony Rendon (67 points, 12 first place votes)
2nd:  Denard Span (39 points, 3 first place votes)
3rd: Jayson Werth (36 points, 3 first place votes)

Others receiving votes: Adam LaRoche (10), Ian Desmond (5).

Frank Howard Slugger of the Year
(Excellence in power hitting):1st: Adam LaRoche (71 points, 15 first place votes)
2nd: Ian Desmond (33 points, 2 first place votes)
3rd: Anthony Rendon (29 points, 1 first place vote)Others receiving votes: Jayson Werth (11), Wilson Ramos (3), Bryce Harper (2), Ryan Zimmerman (1).

Joe Judge Defensive Player of the Year 
(Excellence in fielding):

1st: Denard Span (68 points, 12 first place votes)
2nd: Anthony Rendon (46 points, 4 first place votes)
3rd: Ian Desmond (14 points, 2 first place vote)

Others receiving votes: Adam LaRoche (13),  Bryce Harper (7), Wilson Ramos (4), Danny Espinosa (3), Jayson Werth (3), Asdrubal Cabrera (2), Jose Lobaton (1).

Mickey Vernon Comeback Player of the Year
(Player who overcame biggest obstacle in the preceding season to contribute on the field):

1st: Drew Storen (51 points, 8 first place votes)
2nd: Adam LaRoche (30 points, 4 first place votes)
3rd: Wilson Ramos (16 points, 2 first place votes)

Others receiving votes: Denard Span (13, 1 first place vote), Bryce Harper (8), Danny Espinosa (5), Ryan Zimmerman (3), Kevin Frandsen (3), Aaron Barrett (1), Rafael Soriano (1).

Josh Gibson Humanitarian Player of the Year
(Player who meritoriously gave of himself to the community):

1st: Ian Desmond (51 points, 7 first place votes)
2nd: Ryan Zimmerman (41 points, 5 first place votes)
3rd: Adam LaRoche (27 points, 3 first place votes)

Others receiving votes: Bryce Harper (10, 1 first place vote), Denard Span (8), Tyler Clippard (3), Wilson Ramos (1).

Minor League Player of the Year
(Minor league player most destined for big league success):

1st: Lucas Giolito (47 points, 8 first place vote)
2nd: Michael Taylor (47 points, 4 first place votes)
3rd: Steven Souza (42 points, 5 first place vote)

Others receiving votes: A.J. Cole (13), Taylor Hill (1), Reynaldo Lopez (1).

__________________________________________________

SURVEY QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

1. Which players on the 40-man roster at the end of the season are least likely to return in 2010?

Rafael Soriano (19), Adam LaRoche (12), Asdrubal Cabrera (10), Nate Schierholtz (10), Ross Ohlendorf (6), Scott Hairston (6), Ross Detwiler (6), Ryan Mattheus (5), Kevin Frandsen (5), Danny Espinosa (4), Erik Davis (4), Jerry Blevins (3), Tyler Moore (2), Pedro Florimon (2), Xavier Cedeno (2), Nate McLouth (2), Jhonatan Solano (2), Jose Lobaton (1), Denard Span (1), Matt Thornton (1), Ian Desmond (1).

2. Will the Nats sign Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann to long-term contract extensions before they reach free agency?

Desmond Yes (12), Desmond No (7), Zimmermann Yes (5), Zimmermann No (14).

3. What player was the biggest surprise for the Nats this season?

Tanner Roark (15), Anthony Rendon (3), Drew Storen (1), Denard Span (1).

4. What player was the biggest disappointment for the Nats this season?

Rafael Soriano (7), Bryce Harper/health (6), Ryan Zimmerman/health (3), Ross Detwiler (2), Nate McLouth (1).

5. Who is your favorite professional Nationals writer?

Adam Kilgore (8), Mark Zuckerman (6), James Wagner (3), Barry Svrluga (3), Tom Boswell (1).

6. Who is your favorite non-professional Nationals writer?

Patrick Reddington-Federal Baseball (6), Red Porch Report (3), Dave Nichols-District Sports Page (3), Luke Erickson-Nationals Prospects (3), James O’Hara-Citizens of NatsTown (2), Joe Drugan-The Nats Blog (2), Nationals Archive (1), Nationals GM (1), Nationals 101 (1), Stuart Wallace-District Sports Page (1), Harper Gordek-Nationals Baseball (1).

Washington Nationals Game 162 Review: Zimmermann no-hits Marlins; First in Nats history

ZIMMERMANN THROWS FIRST NO-HITTER FOR NATIONALS

As if the Washington Nationals march to the pennant and playoffs wasn’t dramatic enough, Jordan Zimmermann authored a little bit of history on the season’s final day.

The Nats stoic right-hander dominated the Miami Marlins in the final game of the season, no-hitting the young Marlins in a 1-0 win on Sunday.

Zimmermann walked one and struck out 10 to record the first no-hitter for the franchise since the relocation in 2005. There have been two previous no-hitters in Washington baseball history, and the Montreal Expos had four no-hitters in their history. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 161 Review: Strasburg runs scoreless innings streak to 20 in win over Marlins

Stephen Strasburg threw six scoreless innings and the Washington Nationals topped the Miami Marlins 5-1 in the next-to-last game of the 22014 regular season.

The Nats jumped on Marlins starter Nate Eovaldi for multiple base runners in the early innings and pushed a run across in the second. Bryce Harper led off with a single just past lumbering first baseman Justin Bour. He went to second on Wilson Ramos’ infield single. Asdrubal Cabrara forced Ramos as second, but beat the relay to set up first and third with one out.

Strasburg sacrificed to move Cabrera up, and Harper waited until Eovaldi made the throw to first to break for home. He beat the relay and tag by catcher Jeff Mathis, sneaking his mitt-covered left hand just ahead of the tag to put the Nats up 1-0.

It stayed that way until the fifth. With one out, Denard Span singled up the middle and went to second as Anthony Rendon drew a base on balls. Jayson Werth’s line drive single to center brought home Span.

Span set the Nationals’ record for most multi-hit games in a season with 58 and tied Christian Guzman’s team record for hits in a season with 183. Obviously, Span has one more game to stand alone.

But the rally ended there. Adam LaRoche grounded out to short, and after an Ian Desmond walk, Bryce Harper struck out swinging to end the frame.

Strasburg was done after six terrific innings on just 83 pitches, 55 for strikes. He gave up a nere two base hits and walked one with seven strikeouts. He generated eight ground ball outs opposed to two fly outs. With six scoreless innings Saturday, Strasburg finished the regular season with 20 consecutive scoreless innings pitched.

After Jerry Blevins pitched a perfect seventh inning and Tyler Clippard a 20-pitch scoreless eighth, the Nationals blew the game open in bottom of the eighth.

Ryan Zimmerman — who entered in the sixth at first base — and Ian Desmond singled, then Bryce Harper drew a walk to load the bases with no outs. Wilson Ramos forced Zimmerman at home with a grounder to short, but Asdrubal Cabrera drilled a double to right center that cleared the bases to put the Nats up 5-0.

In the ninth, Drew Storen loaded the bases with a pair of one-out singles and an error by Zimmerman, and another error by Rendon allowed a run to come home. But Ian Desmond snared Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s line drive up the middle to end it without further angst.

Washington Nationals Game 160 Review: Marlins win slugfest in spring training atmosphere

SOUZA HOMERS IN LOPSIDED LOSS AFTER EARLY CLINCHER

With homefield advanatage sewn up by virtue of their in in the first game of a day-night doubleheader on Friday, the nightcap took on a spring training feel, with Taylor Hill called up to make his Major League debut behind mostly minor league teammates.

Hill struggled, as did Miami Marlins starter rookie Andrew Heaney, and the slugfest went clear into the ninth inning as the Marlins topped the Nats 15-7.

The Marlins went right to work in the top of the first, as Christian Yelich walked, went to third on a single by Donovan Solano and scored on Casey McGehee’s RBI single. Three batters into his first start, Hill had already surrendered a run. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 159 Review: Nats secure homefield throughout NL Playoffs

DOUG FISTER’S GEM CLINCHES N.L.’s BEST RECORD IN 2014

Doug Fister has been sold short his entire MLB career, despite standing 6’8″. It’s well beyond time baseball fans acknowledge him for what he is: one of the best pitchers in the game.

Fister threw a 3-hit, complete-game shutout, beating the Miami Marlins 4-0, in the first game of a day-night doubleheader on Friday, clinching the National League’s best record for the Washington Nationals, securing home field advantage for the N.L. Championship Series, should the Nats advance.

The American League holds that distinction for the World Series by virtue of winning the All-Star Game. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals vs Miami Marlins Series Preview

Fresh off a 2-3 series win over the New York Mets, the Washington Nationals will finish off the regular season with a 4-games series against the Miami Marlins.

Teams

Washington Nationals (95-63, 1st in NL East) vs Miami Marlins (76-82, 4th in NL East) [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 158 Review: National League Crown in Sight as Gio, Nats Top Mets

Near the top of a long list of indicators the Washington Nationals want to see as the gear up for the postseason is the return of the Gio Gonzalez of old.

And, on Thursday night, the Nats saw just that as Gonzalez delivered his greatest outing of the season to help the Nats to a 3-0 win over the New York Mets in game two of a split doubleheader at Nationals Park.

Gonzalez (W, 10-10) threw 70 of 103 total pitches for strikes, allowing just one hit and two walks through seven innings pitched while fanning a career-high 12. His fastball reportedly reached 94 MPH, and his entire arsenal worked as the Mets struggled to make contact. In fact, Gonzalez struck out six consecutive batters beginning with Lucas Duda to start the top of the second and ending with starting pitcher Zack Wheeler to close out the third.

The Nats’ offense was slow to awaken against Wheeler (L, 11-11), but in the fourth, they made do with back-to-back singles by Jayson Werth and Wilson Ramos. Nate Schierholtz drew a walk to load the bases before Tyler Moore grounded into a force out that plated Werth to make it 1-0 Nats.

Then, Scott Hairston walked and Mets catcher Anthony Recker came up with a passed ball as Ramos came home to make it 2-0.

With two outs and the bases loaded once more, Wheeler hit Anthony Rendon with a pitch to hand the Nats a 3-0 lead.

The inning would turn out to be Wheeler’s ugliest of the night, and the Mets’ relief tossed three innings of scoreless baseball, but Gonzalez and the Washington bullpen never let up.

Lefthander Matt Thornton allowed no runs on two hits in the eighth, and Drew Storen tossed a 1-2-3 ninth to close out the Nationals’ victory.

 

THE GOOD: For most of the season, the Nats have seemingly waited for Gio Gonzalez to perform like Gio Gonzalez again. And, as of late, he has done exactly that – with Thursday night’s outing amounting to his best performance yet. On the heels of Gonzalez’s phenomenal delivery, the Nats’ magic number for the best record in the National League is just one.

THE BAD: The Nats went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine base runners.

THE STATS: 3 R, 6 H, 4 BB, 10 K, 1-for-11 RISP, 9 LOB

 

Washington Nationals Game 157 Review: Nats drop early game to Mets

In the early game of a day-night doubleheader caused by Wednesday’s rainout, the Washington Nationals fell to the New York Mets for just the fourth time in 18 games this season, 7-4, before an announced crowd of 28,629 at Nationals Park.

In reality, with the almost insignificant, unscheduled day game being played in gloomy conditions, there were probably less than 10 percent of that announced crowd actually on hand. [Read more...]

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