August 2, 2015

MLB Trade Deadline: Where do Nats fit in?

The MLB non-waiver trade deadline is this Friday. It’s a frenzied time of year, with baseball fans glued to social media to see who their favorite team has picked up — or traded away.

Fans of the Washington Nationals are no different, with rumors the team has been attached to acquiring big-name relievers such as Aroldis Chapman, Craig Kimbrel, Jonathan Papelbon and former Nats-Tyler Clippard, who was traded to the division-rival New York Mets on Monday.

It’s easy to assume, then, that the Nats are looking for bullpen help. The anchor of the bullpen, Drew Storen, has All-Star qualifications this season, but the rest of the equation is still a work in progress. Matt Thornton, quietly, has been excellent, but Tanner Roark has been wildly inconsistent, Blake Treinen was demoted and David Carpenter, a basement-bargain pick-up, was disabled.

So it only seems that a deal for consistent reliever would be in the offing.

But looking at the roster, it’s hard to determine, other than that, what the Nats really need.

We still haven’t seen the real Nats on the field this season with all the injuries. It’s easy to see Anthony Rendon back in uniform, and imagine Denard Span, Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman joining the team as well to finally field the team Mike Rizzo thought he put together at the start of the season.

Many have been trying to make the point that the Nats are in first place without all these starters on offense, so their re-joining the team will be better than any trade deadline acquisition — without giving up any prospects to do so.

But what are the Nats getting with these guys coming back to the lineup? Rendon is still young and should reasonably perform up to standards once he gets him MLB timing back. Span was performing admirably before his balky back required a now-lengthy stay on the DL. But Werth and Zimmerman have been accumulating injuries the past several seasons and there’s really no way to tell what they are going to provide to the offense until they are back in the lineup.

We can’t just assume they will both return to their pre-injury performance level. Werth’s age, and the nature of Zimmerman’s injury, really leave the door open to what level of play they’ll bring once they return to the field.

It’s one thing for a fan to look at the sheer number of players returning from the DL and assume things will be better once all these players are back in the lineup. And there’s no doubt Rendon and Span should provide a boost to the top of the order.

But counting on Werth and Zimmerman to provide pre-DL production is a risky move for anyone looking at the roster with an analytic approach.

 

Washington Nationals Game 73 Review: Fister Excels Against the Braves for a Series Sweep

Starting pitcher Doug Fister shut out the Atlanta Braves on Thursday afternoon leading the Washington Nationals to a 7-0 win at Nationals Park. Fister threw 111 pitches and 72 strikes in seven innings pitched. He gave up four hits, one walk, and struck out four batters while the Nats offense did their best to hit Braves starting pitcher Matt Wisler. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 72 Review: Desmond’s Sacrifice Beats the Braves

A sacrifice fly hit to left field by Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond off reliever David Ardsma in the eleventh inning with one out and the bases loaded led Washington to a 2-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves in D.C. after a solid eight-inning performance from starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann on Wednesday night. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 67 Review: Harper injured in loss to Rays

HARPER INJURED IN 5-3 LOSS TO TAMPA BAY RAYS

The Washington Nationals were washed away in a rain delay by the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday night, giving up four runs after a short downpour delay, as manager Matt Williams left Doug Fister on the mound two or three batters too many. The Rays struck for four runs in the sixth, as Fister worked on fumes for ten pitches before Williams came out with the hook. Shortly before Fister’s departure, Bryce Harper came up lame on an errant throw in right field, clutching his left knee and hamstring. [Read more…]

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 59 Review: Span singles Moore home in 11th to beat Yanks

Denard Span beat out an infield single, allowing Tyler Moore to scored from third in the 11th inning, lifting the Washington Nationals to a 5-4 win over the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.

The Nats (31-28) snap a three-game losing streak and momentarily tie the New York Mets for first in the N.L. East depending on the result of the Mets late game. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 48 Review: Nats Bats Not Clutch, Strasburg Hurt

STRASBURG LEAVES EARLY, NATS DROP SERIES OPENER

The Washington Nationals, riding high on nine straight series victories, rolled in to Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati to face the Reds Friday night. They wouldn’t stay that way. Leaving 12 runners aboard and going 3 for 12 with runners in scoring position, the Nats fell to the Reds, 5-2.

Stephen Strasburg started the evening on the bump for the Nationals, but wouldn’t make it out of the second inning, Not because he was getting shelled, but rather because he appeared to be struggling with command and a potential physical problem. An already hobbled Nationals team, missing Jayson Werth (broken wrist), Anthony Rendon (strained oblique, sprained knee), and Doug Fister (strained flexor), was dealt a blow when Strasburg began to struggle in the second. After just one batter in the second, and sixteen pitches on the night, trainer Lee Kuntz walked Strasburg back to the clubhouse. [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 45 Review: Nats 2, Cubs 1

NATIONALS EKE OUT 2-1 WIN AGAINST CUBS ON THE LONG BALL

The Washington Nationals turned to their number six starter Tanner Roark for his first start of the season Monday against the Chicago Cubs. Wilson Ramos and Denard Span each had home runs, and kept the Nats in it against a parsimonious Cubs staff as the Nats won 2-1. Kris Bryant homered off Roark for the Cubs’ only run.

The best part of having a pitching staff as talented as the Nationals is being able to go to your long man for a spot start and have it come out as well as it did Monday. Tanner Roark made his first start of the year at Wrigley today, going five innings and striking out three. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 41 Review: Ump Show Deluxe

UMPIRE MARVIN HUDSON HERO OF GAME, EJECTS MISCREANTS HARPER AND WILLIAMS

The Washington Nationals completed a two-game sweep of the New York Yankees in a 3-2 victory marred by the ejection of Bryce Harper and Matt Williams for reasons only Marvin Hudson knows. Denard Span would single in a run late to break a tie, and Tyler Moore and Ian Desmond each had solo home runs.

There’s really no good time to get tossed from a game as a player. You’ve got one job when it comes to the umpires, as a player, and that’s steer clear of what’s going to get you thrown out of the game. You can’t hit from the clubhouse, after all.

All that said, home plate Marvin Hudson clearly had a bad night’s sleep last night. Or food poisoning. Or a rude flight attendant. Or got some bad news from family. He was charged up for a fight on Wednesday night, and Bryce Harper just happened to be the unfortunate man in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Harper took a called first strike, low in the zone, and reacted slightly. There was barking from the first base dugout, mostly in objection to a strike called four inches below the bottom of the strike zone. As Hudson jawed with Matt Williams, Harper stepped out of the conflict zone. Hudson tossed Harper for stepping out of the box.

Williams came out of the dugout, incensed by Hudson’s quick heave-ho, and found himself headed for the showers shortly thereafter. He did cover the plate with dirt before giving up and leaving the lineup card in Randy Knorr’s hands, and expressed some vehement objections on the way out.

But back to the actual game.

The Yankees jumped out to an early lead, getting a pair off Jordan Zimmermann in the first. Brett Gardner singled to right to start the game for the Yankees, and came around to score on a double by Carlos Beltran. Beltran would advance on a grounder, and then score on a sac fly off the bat of Brian McCann, whose sad beardless face made Braves fans everywhere gnash their teeth.

After that, it was all Jordan Zimmermann. He went seven full tonight, scattering 3 more hits through six more innings, and notching six strikeouts and just one walk. His curve was devastating at times, and his fastball places was light years better than his last start, and the Yankees couldn’t do much against it.

The Nats would strike back in the first, with Ian Desmond going yard off Adam Warren, a shot to deep center field just to the right of the gate. In the third, Tyler Moore, in for the injured Jayson Werth, pulled a ball out of the zone over the fence in left to tie the ballgame.

Adam Warren had a pretty good night for the Yankees. He was getting the low strike from Hudson behind the plate and racked up four strikeouts on the evening. He also surrendered four walks, including two in the seventh, before getting the hook. The Nationals started the seventh with Wilson Ramos reaching on an error by Chase Headley. Tyler Moore drew a walk to complicate matters for the Yankees. After a great play by Headley to catch a pop-foul bunt by Danny Espinosa, pinch hitter Dan Uggla walked to load the bases and end Warren’s evening.

Leadoff hitter Denard Span fought back against Justin Wilson, ahead in the count. He poked a grounder back through the left side. The Yankees were playing in on the grass, and were out of position to catch the weakly hit ball as it transited the infield dirt. Ramos sprinted home with the go-ahead run, and the Nationals claimed their first lead of the night.

Matt Grace and Drew Storen combined for two scoreless innings in relief, and Storen added a pair of strikeouts to clinch his twelfth save. Storen fanned Alex Rodriguez on three pitches to end the Yankees’ late threat, and claim the Nationals 7th straight series win.

HERO: Marvin Hudson, obviously. Who else did everyone come to see?

GOAT: Bryce Harper, who gets tossed for the second time in a week, in a conflagration with Marvin Hudson. Look, it’s clear Hudson was off his rocker, but you don’t poke the bear. You can’t win games from the showers.

NATS NOTES:

  • Harper’s ejection was his second in seven days.
  • Williams’ ejection was his second in seven days.
  • Wilson Ramos’ 19-game hitting streak came to an end Wednesday night.
  • The Nationals take sole possession of first place on their seventh consecutive series win.

NEXT UP: an off day! The 17-24 Phillies arrive on Friday for a three-game set. Scherzer (4-3, 1.75) vs TBA, 7:05pm start.

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