October 4, 2015

Washington Nationals Spring Training: Gio solid, bullpen not in loss to Mets

The New York Mets got one run in the sixth, two in the seventh, four more in the eighth and tacked one on in the ninth to turn a tight game into a laugher, beating the Washington Nationals 8-3 at windy Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Florida.

Gio Gonzalez started, and while the lefty walked three — including back-to-back free passes in the third — he didn’t allow a run and gave up just two hits, one an infield variety that he fielded and made a late throw. He struck out five in five innings of work.

That was the good. The rest? Not so much.

Tanner Roark, Jerry Blevins and Craig Stammen — all relievers the team will rely upon heavily this season — were knocked around by a collection of mostly Mets backups.

Roark gave up two runs on two hits  in one inning of work, striking out two without a walk. Blevins surrendered consecutive homers to Matt Reynolds and Juan Lagares in the seventh. Stammen was touched for four runs on three hits — including a homer by Matt den Dekker — and a walk in 2/3 of an inning.

After two straight rough outings, Stammen’s spring ERA is 8.68.

The Nats picked up all their runs in the sixth inning. Michael Taylor doubled home Kila Kaiaihue, who walked,  and then scored on Clint Robinson’s double. Derrick Robinson pinch-ran for Clint and scored on Ryan Zimmerman’s RBI single. Wilson Ramos followed with a single, but Ian Desmond struck out to end the rally.


  • Spring Training numbers to be taken with a grain of salt: Roark’s ERA hit 9.00 and Blevins’ sits at 8.59 after today’s runs.
  • Yunel Escobar led off and played second. He went 1 for 3 in his third game of the spring.
  • Desmond choked down a throw, bouncing it to first. When Zimmerman couldn’t make the backhanded scoop, Desmond was charged with his second error of the spring. He double-clutched a ball on the transfer in the next inning, but got a force at second.
  • Tyler Moore, who can’t afford to take any play for granted in his battle for a roster spot, flat-out dropped a fly ball in left field in the first inning.
  • Bryce Harper did not play for the second straight day with a stomach virus.


Washington Nationals Spring Training: Nats 9, Braves 8

Tyler Moore continued his hot spring, going 2 for 3 with a triple and home run and five RBIs to pace the Washington Nationals over N.L. East foe Atlanta Braves 9-8 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Moore hit a two-run homer off Braves starter Alex Wood in the second inning with Dan Uggla (1 for 2, run, RBI) aboard. In the fifth, Moore tripled to center off former Nats farmhand Juan Jaime, plating Tony Gwynn Jr and Emmanuel Burris.

The Nats got their winning run in the seventh when Matt Skole scored on a wild pitch by Arodys Vizcaino.

Freddie Freeman homered for the Braves off Craig Stammen in the fifth.

Jordan Zimmermann started for the Nationals and pitched two scoreless innings. He allowed a bloop single and walked one with no strikeouts.


  • Taylor Jordan followed Zimmermann in his first action since being shut down last season with elbow discomfort and subsequent bone chips surgery last October. He gave up three earned runs on four hits. He didn’t walk anyone and struck out one.
  • Stammen was hammered in his inning of work. The veteran reliever gave up a whopping five runs on eight hits.
  • NRI invitee Rich Hill struck out two in 1 1/3 innings.
  • Matt Grace, Even Meek and Manny Delcarmen all pitched a scoreless inning in relief.
  • In addition to Moore, Kevin Frandsen and Ian Desmond both had two-hit days. Skole was 1 for 2 with a double and two runs scored.
  • Sandy Leon was the DH and went 0 for 4.

Washington Nationals Game 145 Review: Nats Strike Early, Hold Off Mets Late


Opening up a three-game series against the New York Mets in Queens, New York, the Washington Nationals got on the scoreboard early and held off the Mets late to take Game 1 of the series, 6-2.

The Nationals got things going early offensively. With Anthony Rendon (3-for-5, 2 RBI) on base with a single, Adam LaRoche (2-for-5, 3 RBI) took a two-out 3-2 pitch off the right field foul pole to give the Nationals an 2-0 lead. For LaRoche, it was his 24th homer of the year and 28th all-time against the Mets, the most homers he’s hit against any team throughout his career. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 142 Review: Nationals Out-Duel Braves in Victory


In front of 25,000-plus fans filled with “Natitude,” the Washington Nationals defeated the Atlanta Braves 2-1 to reduce their magic number to 12.

The Nationals gave Doug Fister an early run, and in return he gave them a seven-inning gem that earned him his 13th win of the year. [Read more…]

Statistically Speaking: Craig Stammen’s Success Against American League Teams

As the season begins to wind down and the Washington Nationals gear up to face the Seattle Mariners later this week for their final interleague series of 2014, it is easy to use the matchup as a way to gauge how prepared the team is to face American League competition in the playoffs, as their chance for a postseason berth becomes more and more inevitable. While this sort of talk is pretty premature, it nonetheless gives us as good of a real time advance scouting report as we can get.

One of the more crucial components to the success of the season thus far and any extended playoff appearance is the bullpen. While many will focus on the performances of the ‘Big Three’ of the relief corps of Tyler Clippard, Rafael Soriano, and Drew Storen as key to the team’s success and potential long playoff run, it very well could be the play of oft-forgotten middle reliever Craig Stammen, who has been just as productive and impressive as the aforementioned trio, putting up a 3.56/3.06/3.41 ERA/FIP/xFIP pitcher ‘slash line’ in 65.2 innings in 2014, that sways a decision towards the win column.

[Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 123 Review: Nats Walk Off for Third Straight Game to Extend Win Streak to Seven

It’s been the same story for three consecutive games, but for the Washington Nationals, it hasn’t gotten old.

To cap off an up-and-down performance against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Adam LaRoche hit a solo home run to hand the Nationals a 5-4 walk-off win in 11 innings at Nationals Park Monday night.

The victory marked the Nats’ third straight walk-off win – a feat that has never before happened in Nationals history.

Washington starter Jordan Zimmermann came up with a decent performance, allowing three runs on four hits and three walks through seven innings pitched, while striking out only two. It was, however, enough to keep the Nationals in the hunt, although Zimmermann did allow the Diamondbacks to retake the lead in the eighth before being relieved.

Until that point, Zimmermann’s only run allowed came by way of a Mark Trumbo walk, Miguel Montero single and, following a sacrifice bunt, a sacrifice fly by Jake Lamb that made it 1-0 Diamondbacks. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 106 Review: Nats Fall to Phillies off Rough Start by Gio

On a beautiful night in the District, there was little to marvel at in the Washington Nationals’ 10-4 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies Thursday night.

As opposing starters, Washington’s Gio Gonzalez and Philadelphia’s Cliff Lee hardly topped a combined five innings pitched on the night. Lee lasted just 2.2 innings thanks to an elbow strain, and Gonzalez failed to round out a full four innings, having given up five runs on eight hits and 77 total pitches.

Oddly enough, both teams held the game scoreless through the first three innings.

In the fourth inning, Gonzalez fell apart fast, giving up back-to-back singles to Marlon Byrd and Carlos Ruiz to start.

Grady Sizemore followed through with two-run double before Darin Ruf drew a walk. [Read more…]

Statistically Speaking: Finding the Nats’ pipe shots

Much like last week’s Statistically Speaking article, this week’s will have a bit of an All-Star flavor to it. While this season’s game has left a sour taste in the mouths of many Nationals fans due to the lack of some very deserving players, the team ultimately selected, Nats player or otherwise, appeared to be a reasonable representation of the respective leagues. Adding insult to injury for the National League, however, was this peachy comment from the NL’s starting pitcher, St. Louis Cardinals righthander Adam Wainwright:

“I was gonna give him a couple pipe shots. He deserved it,” Wainwright said. “I didn’t know he was gonna hit a double or I might have changed my mind.”

The player deserving of said pipe shots—a pitch grooved right down the middle of the plate—was of course soon-to-be-retired New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. Not surprisingly, Jeter did exactly what Wainwright (and everyone else) expected him to do with the gimmie, knocking the 90 mile-per-hour offering into the outfield for a double. Upon realizing the gravity of his ‘pipe shot’ comment, Wainwright about-faced on giving Jeter the mulligan:

“Sometimes my humor gets taken the wrong way,” Wainwright said in a dugout interview in the eighth inning. “I feel terrible about this if anyone is taking any credit away from what Derek Jeter’s done today or off me. It was mis-said. I made a mistake.

Regardless of the ultimate result or intention of the pipe shot, the pitch was exactly as published:


The PITCHf/x data also shows us (courtesy of Brooks Baseball), the pitch’s ‘px’ value was 0.1545 feet and its ‘pz’ value was 2.320 feet, which are the left/right distance of the pitch from the middle of the plate as it crosses the plate and the height of the pitch as it crosses the plate, respectively, while having 0.3206 inches of horizontal movement and 9.667 inches of vertical movement. Add it all up, and it was about as close as a pitcher could get to putting the ball on a tee for a hitter.

For Wainwright, this location and ‘grooving’ was intentional; sometimes, it isn’t quite the case, and pitches end up rolling down that pipe and right into a hitter’s sweet spot; has this been an issue for Nats pitcher this year, as talented as they are? First, let’s look at what Nats pitcher’s have done in terms of pitch location for all fastball types (the pitch of choice when you’re looking to groove a pitch), with Wainwright’s pitch in red for reference:

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 11.10.26 PMThere appears to be quite a few pitches that could fit the bill as a pipe shot, so let’s slim the field down with some additional criteria, with some help from an old Greek. By taking the px and pz information from Wainwright’s pitch and considering that the bulls eye for all pips shots, we can use the following calculation to figure out how close each of the above 8935 fastballs were to being pipe shots:

(x-center_x)^2 + (y - center_y)^2 < radius^2 

where x is a given pitch’s px value, center_x is the Wainwright pitch px, y is a given pitch’s pz value, and center_y is the pz for Wainwright’s pitch. From here, we apply a numeric value to the radius to shrink our sphere of influence for what we will consider pipe shots. To cut to the chase and to keep numbers to a dull roar, I selected a radius of 0.001 for our pipe shot ‘winners’, which are displayed below, with the Wainwright’s pitch again in red and the average strike zone outlined in black for reference:

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 11.09.46 PMHere, we find seven winning pitches, from, surprisingly, seven different pitchers; for those curious the table below provides additional information as to count, velocity, and pitch movement (HMov and VMov):

name pitch_type pitch_result start_speed HMov VMov balls strikes
Clippard, Tyler FF Flyout 90.7 -1.22 11.59 1 1
Fister, Doug FF Groundout 89.2 -7.278 6.27 1 2
Gonzalez, Gio FF Called Strike 92.5 6.475 9.676 0 0
Jordan, Taylor FT Called Strike 88.2 -9.67 6.25 3 0
Roark, Tanner FF Called Strike 92.6 -7.61 8.37 1 0
Stammen, Craig FT Called Strike 91.4 -10.97 4.82 2 1
Strasburg, Stephen FT Called Strike 94.5 -9.03 10.17 0 0

Overall, the pipe shots from the Nats haven’t been terribly egregious, with a pair being first pitch strikes and only one grooved in a hitters count, courtesy of Taylor Jordan. Thankfully for the Nats, all of these grooved pitches ended up without any damage being done in the form of hits balls or runs scored, unlike Wainwright’s cookie to Jeter; despite this sliver of luck with the approach, the infamous pipe shot probably isn’t the best method of garnering strikes and outs, and should be best left to the Home Run Derby.


Data courtesy of Baseball Savant, unless otherwise noted.

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 and a contributor at Camden Depot and Gammons Daily. 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 Game 98 Review: Zimmerman injured, Nationals power past Rockies


A mile above sea level at Coors Field on Tuesday night, the Washington Nationals came back to defeat the Colorado Rockies 7-4. The victory didn’t come without a cost, however, as Ryan Zimmerman was pulled from the game in the sixth inning with a right leg injury.

The Nationals’ other Zimmerman(n), Jordan Zimmermann, took the mound for his first start since his early exit on July 11th due to a strained right biceps. On Tuesday, he just wasn’t his best and Washington fell into an early hole because of it. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 88 Review: Nats Crumble in 11th to Open Beltway Series with Loss

The Washington Nationals came back from a two-run deficit to carry Game 1 of the Battle of the Beltway to extras, but Chris Davis sparked a six-run 11th to help the Baltimore Orioles to an 8-2 win.

Stephen Strasburg was solid through seven innings, allowing just two runs on four hits and no walks, while striking out nine. He was nearly matched by Baltimore right-hander Chris Tillman, who gave up just two runs on five hits and a walk, while striking out six.

In the end, it was the often-reliable Craig Stammen who lost control of the game in the 11th in what amounted to one of his worst outings of the season.

To get to that point, the Orioles drove in their first two runs in in the fourth after Manny Machado singled and Nelson Cruz hammered his 28th homer of the season to make it 2-0 Baltimore with Strasburg on the mound.

The Nats answered in the sixth in a similar fashion after Denard Span led off with a single and Anthony Rendon homered – his 13th of the season.

From there, both bullpens held it together, giving up few opportunities for either squad.

Washington had a chance to walk off in the ninth after Ryan Zimmerman hit a one-out double and Orioles’ pitcher Darren O’Day intentionally walked Harper. But, O’Day forced both Ian Desmond and Wilson Ramos to chase strike three to end the inning. [Read more…]

%d bloggers like this: