July 1, 2015

Washington Nationals Game 60 Review: Washington Falls to Milwaukee After Late-Inning Throwing Error

The Washington Nationals fell 6-5 against the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday night after a throwing error by second baseman Anthony Rendon in the eighth inning allowing the eventual go-ahead run to move into scoring position in a tied game.

Starting pitcher Tanner Roark had a solid outing despite giving up nine hits. Roark gave up five runs, one of which was a solo homer to outfielder Gerardo Parra in the seventh inning, while walking one batter and striking out four. He threw 101 pitches and 67 strikes. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 46 Review: Harper and Span go long but Cubs squeak by Nats

CUBS WIN ON WALK-OFF DOUBLE AFTER COSTLY DESMOND ERROR IN NINTH

The Washington Nationals fell 3-2 to the Chicago Cubs Tuesday night as second baseman Addison Russell hit his first career walk-off with a double against left-handed reliever Matt Grace, wasting a solid seven innings pitched by Jordan Zimmermann.

Despite a shaky opening with Zimmermann giving up a lead-off home run to Cubs outfielder Dexter Fowler to start the game, the right-handed starter struck out five batters and only surrendered that one run while walking two. Zimmermann regained his dominance and maintained his momentum against Chicago’s offense after giving up that initial run in the first. He even tallied three strikeouts against the top the Cubs’ order in the fifth inning before finishing out the seventh inning with a Fowler strikeout. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 40 Review: Zimmerman Hits His Tenth Career Walk-Off Home Run, Nats Beat Yankees in Extras

ZIMMERMAN JOINS IMMORTALS MUSIAL, PEREZ, SCHMIDT, PUJOLS AND BONDS WITH 10-PLUS WALK-OFFS

The Washington Nationals and New York Yankees held the same record of 22-17 going into Tuesday night’s game at Nationals Park.  But after ten innings of baseball played in the nation’s capital, the Nats emerged victorious beating the Yankees 8-6 thanks to a two-out, two-run walk-off home run hit by Mr. Walk-off himself — first baseman Ryan Zimmerman — against left-handed reliever Andrew Miller.

Offense is what kept the Nats in the game despite a shaky starting appearance made by left-handed pitcher Gio Gonzalez. The Nats got a jump start with home runs hit by shortstop Ian Desmond and outfielder Bryce Harper off right-handed starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi in the first inning making it a 2-0 game in favor of Washington. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 28 Review: Strasburg Struggles Due to Shoulder Issue, Marlins Take Advantage

A previous streak of success against the Miami Marlins didn’t provide much solace for Washington’s right-handed starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg on Tuesday night. The Nationals fell to the Marlins 2-1 while Strasburg made an early exit after three innings of work due to discomfort under his right shoulder blade.

Miami took advantage of the opportunity presented to them while Strasburg struggled to settle due to the shoulder irritation. Strasburg’s problems were apparent from the start. Outfielders Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna singled and walked with two out in the first inning. Strasburg got out of that situation unscathed but the Marlins found a way to get ahead of the Nats and score.

Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto led off the second inning with a triple hit past shortstop Ian Desmond, off of Strasburg, before scoring on a RBI-single hit by outfielder Ichiro Suzuki. A bunt attempt by Miami’s starting right-handed pitcher Mat Latos with nobody out and two men on base initiated an error made by Strasburg allowing Ichiro to score and giving the Marlins a 2-0 lead.

Washington answered back with a run in the bottom half of the second inning thanks to a  patient yet aggressive offensive appearance at the plate by first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman led off the second inning  against Latos by drawing a walk in an eleven pitch at-bat. Catcher Wilson Ramos followed Zimmerman with a double off Latos moving Zimmerman to third. Second baseman Dan Uggla drove in the only run with a RBI-groundout sending Zimmerman home, allowing the Nats to score, but Miami’s starting pitching proved superior when compared to Strasburg’s short-lived appearance.

Strasburg’s three innings of work included four hits, two runs, two walks, two strikeouts, and one hit batter. He threw 64 pitches and 37 strikes before being replaced by recent call-up and left-handed reliever Sammy Solis in the fourth inning.

Solis made his second Major League appearance with three innings of work while giving up one hit and striking out two batters. Manager Matt Williams was impressed by the amount of strikes Solis has thrown in his pair of outings with Washington thus far. He has thrown five scoreless innings and retired nine of 10 batters faced, including seven straight.

Unfortunately, Washington’s offense tallied only three hits and left eight men on base while drawing six walks against Miami. The Nats’ bullpen posted six spotless innings of work thanks to right-handed relievers Blake Treinen and Aaron Barrett and left-handed reliever Matt Thornton — in addition to Solis, but the lack of offensive productivity left the Nats a run behind; Marlins 2, Nats 1.

HERO: The bullpen for preventing the Marlins from scoring any more runs from the fourth inning onward and Ryan Zimmerman for showing patience in his first at-bat of night, ultimately allowing the Nats to score their sole run.

GOAT: Stephen Strasburg. He’ll be getting his shoulder looked at on Thursday. The silver lining here is that there was mutual acknowledgement from Strasburg and the coaching staff indicating that the best choice for the starter’s health and the team as a whole was to remove him from the game shortly after identifying the issue. Washington made the right move taking him out in order to play it safe and not have him alter his mechanics.

NATS NOTES:

  • Nationals Manager Matt Williams said it seemed unlikely that Strasburg’s shoulder strain will warrant a trip to the disabled list but his condition will be reviewed on Wednesday.
  • Doug Fister had a solid pinch hit at-bat when he hit in Strasburg’s place during the third inning. He had a hard-hit single drop in the outfield but was called out due to a double play induced by outfielder Denard Span. Great piece of hitting though.

UP NEXT: RHP Tom Koehler (2-2, 4.67) and the Miami Marlins face RHP Max Scherzer (1-3, 1.26) and the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park at 1:05 p.m. on Wednesday.

 

Washington Nationals Game 15 Review: Cardinals capitalize on Nationals mistakes, win 4-1

With the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals tied at a game apiece in the series, Thursday’s getaway day matchup was intense. Michael Wacha and Max Scherzer went toe-to-toe in a pitchers’ duel at Nationals Park. The cool weather didn’t deter the crowds, nor did the 7pm faceoff of the Capitals game. The cool heads, though, weren’t to be found. The Cardinals capitalized on the Nationals’ defensive miscues again, and won 4-1, despite an excellent start from Scherzer.

The Cardinals scored their first run early on a Matt Carpenter double, a Jason Heyward single, and a rare wild pitch from Scherzer, and that was all the offense the Cardinals assembled until the sixth inning. The Nationals responded in the fifth, getting a double off the bat of Danny Espinosa, who moved to third on an error by first baseman Matt Adams on a grounder off the bat of Scherzer. Denard Span drove in Espinosa — and Scherzer went from first to third! — on a single to the right field gap. [Read more…]

Statistically Speaking: Aaron Barrett’s Third Pitch

In a continuation of my personal infatuation with the members of the Washington Nationals bullpen, this week’s Statistically Speaking looks at the contributions and success of one of the non ‘Big Three’ relievers, rookie Aaron Barrett. A 2.79/2.52/3.09 ERA/FIP/xFIP pitching slash line to go along with a 0.6 fWAR has all been made possible for the righthander due to a solid fastball-slider combination, with the breaking pitch being particularly tough on hitters, as alluded to by Barrett’s 28.7% strikeout rate.

Not immune to many of the foils of a rookie season, Barrett’s 2014 has been bisected by a brief return to the minors—the entire month of August was spent at Class AAA Syracuse—which saw him work not only on a small mechanical hiccup, but also on a third pitch, a circle changeup.

[Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 146 Review: Nats Fall Behind Early, Lose Late to Mets

NATS CAN’T COMPLETE COMEBACK, LOST TO METS

In front 25,000 at Citi Field on Friday night, the Washington Nationals fell to the New York Mets 4-3 in a comeback effort that fell just short of a winning mark.

The Mets got things started in the bottom of the first inning, taking advantage of a lead-off single and a hit and walked batter. With the bases loaded and just one out, Travis d’Arnaud doubled to clear the bases. On the play, Lucas Duda appeared to have been thrown out at home, but catcher Wilson Ramos (1-for-4, RBI) couldn’t hang on to the baseball. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Minor League and Prospect Report for August 3rd

Another week of minor league baseball is in the books. Here are some players making headlines inside the Washington Nationals’ organization. [Read more…]

Statistically Speaking: Bullpen Efficiency

The Washington Nationals bullpen as a unit are having a fantastic season in support of their more acclaimed starting rotation brethren. While the actual ranks differ by which all-encompssing statistic you prefer to use—the bullpen ranks tied for second in MLB with 2.8 wins above replacement (WAR) and fourth in RE24 at 27.53—the overall sentiment that the team’s relief corps is among the best in the business is not lost without the statistical confirmation.

It hasn’t been a smooth ride throughout the course of the season overall, with the likes of ever-dependable setup man Tyler Clippard and immensely talented former starter Ross Detwiler taking their lumps in the form of blown leads and inherited runners scoring. Yet, these shaky outings have been countered and exceeded by the efforts of Drew Storen, Rafael Soriano, and rookie Aaron Barrett, among others, and has kept the bullpen ledger in the black and the team in whispering distance of first place in the NL East.

Looking further at the polarizing outings of Clippard led me to come to this particular stat last week:

With the polarizing outings of Clippard to go along with the some similar clean outings by polarizing personality of Soriano, the Nats have a pair of relievers that face the minimum number of hitters half of their outings, which goes a long way to accruing the WAR and RE24 values the bullpen has thus far. It also speaks to how efficient the guys in the ‘pen are in getting hitters out and preventing the big inning for the opposing team. Do the rest of the Nats relievers follow suit and could this ability to keep additional runners (and potential runs) at bay be a reason for the success of 2014 from a group that hasn’t changed much in terms of roster from last year’s staff that finished 18th and 20th in MLB in WAR and RE24, respectively?

First, let’s outline what bullpen efficiency means. Efficiency is essentially how many batters a pitcher faces over the number that was expected from an outing. From there, we will also look at ‘clean outings’, where a pitcher faces the minimum number of batters for a given outing, with game situation considered. The fewer batters faced over the minimum, the better, as this obviously keeps runners off the base paths.

Let’s look at some data.

Name G IP xIP IP, Diff TBF xBF BF, Diff Efficiency(%) AppClean/Pct. RE24
Aaron Barrett 28 25.2 26.2 1 108 77 31 59.74 13/46.4% 2.77
Craig Stammen 22 38.1 39 0.2 152 115 37 67.83 6/27.3% 6.72
Drew Storen 29 24.1 26.2 2.1 93 73 20 72.80 16/55.2% 5.94
Jerry Blevins 33 27 29.1 2.1 116 81 35 56.80 16/48.5% 2.82
Rafael Soriano 31 31 31 0 114 93 21 77.42 17/54.8% 9.83
Ross Detwiler 20 29 31.2 2.2 137 87 50 42.53 4/20% -7.08
Tyler Clippard 37 34 36.1 2.1 137 102 35 65.70 19/51.4% 2.11

 

The table above is a little busy, but the explanations of the various columns are very straightforward and on the lighter side, mathematically. Aside from the standard games, innings pitched, and RE24 values, we also have a couple of variables that were calculated to help capture efficiency.

The first of these is expected innings pitched (xIP), which is the number of inning pitched that were expected from a pitcher, with game and outing specific information included. For example, if a pitcher has an outing where he pitched 0.2 IP, he could have an xIP of 0.2 if he came in relief with one out in the inning—he was only expected to get the other two outs to complete the inning.

Conversely, he could have a xIP of 1, but failed to get the third out of the inning before being pulled. Calculating xIP and confirming game situations was dine using game log data from Baseball Reference. Total batters faced (TBF) is simply that and expected batters faced (xBF) is calculated similar to xIP, with game situation taken into account. With xIP and xBF, care was taken with the Nats bullpen members who are more situational relivers, in particular, Jerry Blevins, to account for how they were pulled.

If they left an outing due to poor performance with runs scored or runners put in scoring position, then they were allotted the full inning of work expected and the batters faced. If they were pulled due to situation—bringing in Blevins to face a tough lefty, for example—then a full inning pitched was not assumed. Differences between actual performance and expected data re capture with the ‘Diff’ categories. From the game log data also comes the clean outing data (AppClean/Pct.), where the number of clean outings specific to game situation were tallied, with percentages also provided for comparison.

With the variables exhaustively described, let’s talk results. Not surprisingly, the Big Three of the Nats bullpen—Clippard, Soriano, and Storen—lead the way in clean outings, with Soriano and Storen also showing the most efficiency in terms of batters faced over the minimum (BF, Diff.).  Percent efficiency was calculated by taking the percentage difference between xBF and TBF and then subtracting this value from 100 and again shows how well both Soriano and Storen have been, not only in terms of performance, but in terms of being economical.

Not to be forgotten are the performances of Barrett and long man Craig Stammen, who both show a high rate of efficiency, despite subpar clean appearance numbers. Despite some encouraging recent outings, a very rough start to the season skews Ross Detwiler’s numbers greatly and shows a propensity for big innings and difficulties in keeping hitters off of the base paths.

Does this idea of efficiency trend with performance?

Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.45.04 PM

In our very small sample, it indeed does, as the above graph of RE24 by number of batter faced of the minimum (BF, Diff in our table above) shows. As the number of extra hitters faced rises, RE24 drops, which makes this a negative correlation with a very strong R-squared of 0.72, providing us confirmation of good fit of the data. However, with seven data points, it would be very unwise to make any grand inferences out of these results. Despite this, we do see an interesting aspect of the bullpen’s success that doesn’t necessarily show up in the box score or in the formulas of the numerous advanced metrics available—not only are they keeping runs off of the scoreboard, they’re doing so in tidy fashion.

Data courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference and current through 6/24/2014.
____________

Stuart Wallace is a Contributor to District Sports Page. A neuroscientist by day, the Nevada native also moonlights as an Associate Managing Editor for Beyond the Box Score, stats intern at Baseball Prospectus, and a contributor at Camden Depot. A former pitcher, his brief career is sadly highlighted by giving up a lot of home runs to former National Johnny Estrada. You can follow him on Twitter @TClippardsSpecs.

Washington Nationals vs Miami Marlins Series Preview

WASMIA

After a forgetful 1-3 road trip to Pittsburgh to play the Pirates, the Washington Nationals now return home for a three-game stint against the Miami Marlins. Here’s your complete series preview. [Read more…]

%d bloggers like this: