October 7, 2015

Washington Nationals Game 37 Review: Bats alive as Nats pound Padres

The Washington Nationals pounded out 10 runs on 16 hits and three walks while Jordan Zimmermann cruised through six innings and the Nats pounded the San Diego Padres 10-0 before a subdued crowd at Petco Park.

Bryce Harper, has he has all season, led the hit parade with three, including his 13th home run of the season, and also drew his league-leading 34th walk of the campaign. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 21 Review: Cole pounded, but Nats complete miracle comeback


With Max Scherzer’s regular spot in the rotation skipped due to his bruised thumb, the Washington Nationals called upon No. 2 pitching prospect A.J. Cole to temporarily fill his spot through the rotation, hoping the player making his MLB debut could play stopper of a six-game losing streak.

It didn’t happen.

Cole was pounded, allowing nine runs — though just four were earned due to yet another error  — and the Nats were in a 9-1 hole after two innings.

But they still play nine. And the Nats used all of them. Dan Uggla’s three-run home run in top of the ninth off Atlanta Braves closer Jason Grilli completed a stunning comeback, and the Nats snapped the losing streak in the most incredible of ways, winning 13-12 in front of a small and incredulous crowd at Turner Field. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals recall prospect A.J. Cole for spot start

With Max Scherzer still nursing his sore right, injured last week when batting, the Washington Nationals called up their No. 2 pitching prospect, A.J. Cole, to make Scherzer’s regularly scheduled start Tuesday night against the Braves. According to reports, Scherzer threw in Atlanta early on Tuesday before the game and told reporters he was “good to go.” His next turn in the rotation is Sunday, but the Nats make juggle the rotation a bit if they feel he’s ready to get back in there sooner.

As for Cole, here’s a snippet of his prospect profile we published last spring:

Cole has outstanding pure stuff. His fastball velocity is exactly the kind of fire scouts want to see from a young arm, and he’s consistently out-gunned other top pitchers at his age and level. He sits in the 93-95 mph range throughout his starts, working batters in and out with solid command of the strike zone, and he can reach back for 97 mph. He uses his excellent athleticism and body control to generate velocity cleanly, consistently and smoothly. He pitches very well out of the stretch, and he’s very quiet in his release and follow-through, leading evaluators to believe he’ll carry plus command with him to the mound one day. On the downside, his thin, wiry frame isn’t the type that will hold muscle mass well. Like a young Phil Hughes, he’s somewhat slender and could risk tightening up if he focuses on bulk and power. Still, no pitcher needs more than the combination of plus velocity and plus fastball command.

Cole couples his razor-edged four-seamer with a heavy tailing two-seamer that has developed into a killer pitch. He gets huge sink and tail on it in the low to mid 90’s, so much so that it often resembles a splitter. The evolution of the pitch has seemingly helped him to miss more bats and create more soft contact recently, after having so many of his heaters get launched into the stratosphere in 2012.

Cole’s off-speed stuff and movement are both solid. He relies on his fastball as heavily as any 97-mph-hurler should, alternating between tailing two-seamers to his arm-side and cutting four-seamers that he likes to attack lefties with. But he’s definitely not a one-trick pony.

His mid 80’s changeup looks like his most reliable offspeed pitch right now, as he’s able to throw it for strikes consistently and take 7-10 mph off while throwing with his fastball effort. His release tends to over-pronate, possibly tipping the pitch to smarter batters and creating some unpredictable tumbling movement. Overall though, the pitch has a lot of promise, and his ability to throw it in any count is extremely valuable. It’s already fringe-average and should eventually be solid to plus as he builds up feel for it from continued use.

Cole also throws a potentially solid power curve. The pitch flashes late downward movement when he fires it as his chase, swing-over pitch. It has a ways to go though. He softens up on it more than many scouts would like, and his overall feel for it looks iffy. It tends to roll off to his arm-side with big, loose break.

From the team’s press release:

The Washington Nationals recalled right-handed pitcher A.J. Cole from Triple-A Syracuse on Tuesday and optioned right-handed pitcher Rafael Martin there. Cole will start Tuesday night’s game against the Atlanta Braves. President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcement.

Cole, 23, entered the 2015 season ranked as the Nationals’ No. 6 prospect, and the No. 91 prospect in all of baseball, according to Baseball America. The hard-throwing right-hander, who was added to the team’s 40-man roster this past winter, will join the Nationals for the first Major League assignment of his career.

Coming off a tremendous 2014 season, in which he posted a 13-3 record with a 3.16 ERA in 25 starts between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse, Cole is 0-0 with a 2.40 ERA in three starts for Triple-A Syracuse this season.

Cole, who owns a career strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4.28/1, has struck out 9.0 batters per nine innings over the course of his Minor League career.

A fourth-round selection of the Nationals’ in the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft, Cole was traded to the Oakland Athletics in the six-player deal that brought left-hander Gio Gonzalez to Washington in advance of the 2012 season. The right-hander was then re-acquired by Rizzo in January of 2013, along with right-hander Blake Treinen and left-hander Ian Krol, in the three-team transaction that sent Michael Morse to Seattle.

Martin, 30, made his Major League debut for the Nationals on April 15 at Boston in dominant fashion: striking out five consecutive batters in two scoreless innings. The right-hander appeared in four games for the Nationals, working to a 9.00 ERA with 11 strikeouts.

Washington Nationals Game 20 Review: Everything is Awful

Nothing is going the Nationals way right now. Not a blessed thing.

Monday night, the Washington Nationals gave up runs early and often to the struggling Atlanta Braves at Turner Field in an 8-4 loss, their sixth in a row. Doug Fister continued his struggles with sinker location, walking a pair in the first, and giving up a double and a sacrifice fly to stake the Braves to a 1-0 lead right off the bat. He struggled with velocity and placement most of the evening, bringing into question his health.

The Nationals battled back in the third, with a leadoff ground rule double from Danny Espinosa from the right side of the plate to the right-center stands. Ryan Zimmerman followed up with a double to the left field wall to score Espinosa, but that would be all the offense could muster as they struggled against a Braves lineup that has given anemic a new definition this season.

Doug Fister left his sinker up a bit in the fourth inning and the Braves jumped all over it. Alberto Callaspo and Kelly Johnson each had line drive singles to put runners at the corners with nobody out. Jace Peterson hit a fly ball to center field, letting both runners tag, and Callaspo score, but Denard Span gunned down Johnson to wrap up the double play and let Fister off the hook. The Nationals trailed 2-1 after four.

Fister did it again in the sixth and it lead to his ouster. Kelly Johnson smacked a two run homer that Bryce Harper had to watch into the stands. Fister did himself no favors in the field tonight, twice botching pickoffs and allowing runners to advance two bags. In the sixth, Jace Peterson took advantage of one such miscue, and then scored on Eric Young Jr. bunt to make it 5-1.

The Nats were hurting in the field as well as at the plate, and the Braves compounded that in the fifth on a slide that sent Yunel Escobar’s glove into the Braves’ stands. Fister threw over to Ryan Zimmerman at first to try to catch Andrelton Simmons on the move, only the throw got away and Simmons bolted for third. Escobar had him dead to rights, only Simmons raised his cleat and got Escobar square in the glove. The glove was sent flying, and Escobar came right out of the game with an unspecified hand injury.

After the game it was revealed Escobar got spiked and was cut. Reports said he would miss a game or two but it was nothing serious.

Rafael Martin settled that particular score in relief in the seventh, putting a fastball into Simmons’ ribs to lead off the inning. Martin, however, missed the part of the lecture that says if you’re going to give a runner a free base, you’d best make sure he doesn’t advance past it. Instead, Ian Desmond botched a routine double-play ball and the Braves managed to get a pair off Martin to bury the DC squad for good.

There were no highlights in tonight’s game worth mentioning for the Nationals, save for the broadcasting crew’s ability to valiantly resist torrents of profanity at regular intervals.

HERO: There were no heroes tonight. Sorry. None. If there were any heroes, they might have been Dan Uggla, with a two-run little league homer. But there weren’t any heroes tonight.

GOAT: Doug Fister gets a goat for the pair of throwing errors and high sinkers exploited for run after run. Ian Desmond gets a goat for his 9th error of the year. Rafael Martin gets a goat for his plunking of Andrelton Simmons that lead to a run. So. Many. Goats. This many goats:


  • Anthony Rendon was scratched from a rehab start tonight in Harrisburg due to fatigue, according to reports from the Washington Post.
  • After eight games of clean play, Ian Desmond’s ninth error of the season was charged in the seventh inning.
  • Fister’s line of 5.2IP, 10H, 5R, 2BB, 3K is a particularly… depressing line for one of the Nats’ heralded five.
  • In a rare bright spot, Harper still leads the big leagues with 19 walks, adding two to his total tonight.
  • After the game, the Nats announced that No. 2 prospect A.J. Cole will be recalled to make Max Scherzer’s regularly scheduled start on Tuesday.

UP NEXT: A.J. Cole (MLB debut) vs. Julio Teheran (2-1, 4.64) at 7:05pm tomorrow night. Pray for rain.

Washington Nationals Spring Training: Nats pound Verlander, tie Tigers

The Washington Nationals pounded Detroit Tigers starter Justin Verlander for three home runs — two from Michael Taylor — but the Tigers got to the Nats bullpen and the game ended in a 7-7 tie at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida.

Taylor, one of the Nats top prospects and pegged to play center field while Denard Span recovers from abdominal surgery, homered in the third and fifth innings off Verlander. He finished the day 2 for 4 and is hitting .324 this spring. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Spring Training: Nats fall to Mets 11-9

Stephen Strasburg had a problem with an in-grown toenail, so the Washington Nationals starter stayed home to pitch in a simulated game rather than face the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie. He was better off, as A.J. Cole had a tough go of it early, then the Mets pounded the Nats bullpen in the eighth for nine runs and the Mets won 11-9 in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

Cole, the Nats No. 2 pitching prospect, had a rough go of it early against the Mets regulars.  He went 1 2/3 innings, allowing one earned run on four hits and two walks without a strikeout. He threw 47 pitches total, 27 for strikes. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Spring Training: 4-run sixth help Nats top Cards

The Washington Nationals upped their Grapefruit League record to 3-0, using a four-run sixth inning to top the St. Louis Cardinals 6-5 on Saturday in Viera.

Wilson Ramos led off the frame with a ground ball single and was replaced by pinch-runner Dan Butler. Michael Taylor followed with a line-drive single to left and Butler moved up 90 feet. After Cutter Dykstra was called out on strikes, Rafael Bautista’s line-drive single loaded the bases. Derrick Robinson struck out swinging, but Matt Skole followed with a single to center that plated Butler and Taylor, with Bautista going to third and Skole going to second on the throw.

Second base prospect Wilmer Difo then singled to right to score both Bautista and Skole.

The Nats picked up another run in the seventh when Dykstra’s triple scored Taylor, who reached on a fielder’s choice.

Stephen Strasburg started for the Nats and wasn’t particularly sharp. He went 1 2/3 innings and allowed two earned runs on three hits and two walks, striking out two. No. 2 prospect A.J. Cole followed and went 2 1/3 innings, allowing two runs — one earned — on two hits.


  • Ryan Zimmerman joined Difo as Nats with two hits. Zimmerman was 2 for 3 but did not factor in any scoring.
  • Anthony Rendon was 0 for 3 and still looking for his first hit of the spring.
  • Bryce Harper was 1 for 2 before giving way to Clint Robinson.
  • Jerry Blevins, Casey Janssen and Felipe Rivero all pitched scoreless innings in relief.
  • Danny Espinosa, Rendon and Difo all made errors.

Washington Nationals Spring Training Preview: The Starters

This week, District Sports Page will review the players currently on the Washington Nationals 40-man roster and their potential contributions to the Major League roster this season.

Monday: Catchers
Tuesday: Infielders
Wednesday: Outfielders
Thursday: Starters
Friday: Bullpen

Max Scherzer
2014 AL: 33 games, 220.1 IP, 18-5, 3.15 ERA, 1.175 WHIP, 10.3 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 (6.0 WAR) [Read more…]

Washington Nationals’ Minor League and Prospect Report for Week Ending May 18th

As another week of minor league baseball comes to a close, here is an update on the Washington Nationals’ farm system. We’ll work our way around the organization, checking in with players that have already made this list, plus highlighting some new faces and prospects making headlines. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals’ Minor League and Prospect Report for Week Ending April 27

Syracuse Chiefs, AAA International League, 10-13

Brian Goodwin: In the Chiefs past 10 games, Goodwin has batted just .216. One of the fastest men in the clubs’ system, he’s stolen just two bags all season long. In the past 10 games, the 23-year old has 5 RBI, a triple and two doubles. This is his first season at triple-A, so it may take some time to adjust to the elevated level of play.

Ryan Mattheus: Once an important member of the Nationals’ bullpen, the right-handed Mattheus is off to a rough start in Syracuse. Through nine outings, he’s amassed a 5.40 ERA and opponents are hitting .275 against him.

Jhonatan Solano: If not for Sandy Leon, Solano would be the backup behind home plate. In triple-A, his season is off to a solid start. Through 54 at-bats spanning 15 games, Solano is hitting .333 with a .537 slugging percentage. He’s hit five doubles, two homers and 11 RBI.

Harrisburg Senators, AA Eastern League, 5-16

Destin Hood: In his second full season with the Senators, the outfielder leads the team with a .329 batting average. In the past 10 games, he’s collected at least one hit in six of them. On the season, Hood has stolen six bases, scored nine runs and has collected 5 RBI.

Matt Skole: Possibly the most powerful bat in the Nationals’ farm system, Skole is off to a rather slow start. In 74 at bats, he’s hitting .149 with a slugging percentage of .189. He has hit three doubles and 6 RBI, but is still waiting on his first long ball. Last year, an early season injury saw his season cut short; so it’s important to stay patient with him as he returns to action.

A.J. Cole: One of the brightest young arms in the system, Cole got off to good start, but has hit some tough times in recent outings. He started off 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA, but went 0-1 in his next two games and gave up 17 hits and five runs collectively.

Potomac Nationals, High-Class A Carolina League, 14-8

Tony Renda: Before a quad injury sent him to the disabled list on April 11, second baseman Tony Renda got off to quite a start for Potomac. He put together a slash line of .375/.400/.438 with two doubles and eight RBI. On the base paths, he found success stealing three bags and scoring eight runs.

Bryan Harper: Bryce’s older brother, Bryan Harper has been pitching well out of the bullpen for Potomac. In 9.1 innings of relief work, Harper has given up just one earned run while striking out seven. The left-hander has been rather versatile as he’s been a solid option for 1-2 innings of work.

Brian Dupra: Another young arm available out of the bullpen, right-hander Brian Dupra has been just as solid as Harper. Over 17 innings of long-relief spanning five games, he’s allowed just one run across the plate and opponents are batting just .177 against him. He’s struck out 23 while walking just one.

Hagerstown Suns, Low-Class A South Atlantic League, 18-5

Wilmer Difo: Difo has spent time bouncing around the lower ranks of the Nationals’ farm system, but he’s beginning to bear the fruits of that hard work. In 22 games this season with the Suns, he’s batting .313 with eight doubles, two triples and 17 RBI. On top of that, he’s stolen nine bases and has at least three hits in three of his last five games.

Lucas Giolito: The Nationals’ first round pick in 2012, Lucas Giolito is off to a solid start in his first full season of action (last year he missed due to Tommy John Surgery). In five starts, he’s 1-0 with a 2.95 ERA. He’s struck out 24 batters and opponents are hitting just .192 against him.

Drew Ward: Difo’s biggest competition for most valuable player through the early part of the season, Drew Ward is off to just as good a start, if not better. Through 61 at bats, Ward is batting .311 with a slugging percentage of .508. The third baseman has hit four doubles, a triple, two homers and 21 RBI. He’s currently on an eight game hitting streak, as well.

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