November 29, 2015

Washington Nationals extend qualifying offers to Desmond, Zimmermann

Shortstop Ian Desmond returned to the lineup - New York Mets v. Washington Nationals, August 17, 2012.  (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

(Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

The Washington Nationals began their player-focused portion of the offseason Friday, extending $15.8 million qualifying offers to shortstop Ian Desmond and starter Jordan Zimmermann, declining to make offers to center fielder Denard Span and starter Doug Fister.

Across the league, a record 20 potential free agents were tendered qualifying offers, including New York Mets playoff hero Daniel Murphy, former Nats starter Marco Estrada (Toronto) and the Dodgers’ Zack Greinke.

Players have until Nov. 13 to accept the offer. In the three previous offseasons of the current collective bargaining agreement, none of the 34 qualifying offers was taken as free agents sought contracts with longer terms. [Read more…]

For the Nats and Strasburg, at what point is enough, enough?


I was going to start this column by listing all the members of the Washington Nationals 40-man roster who spent time on the disabled list this season. But I stopped for fear I wouldn’t have room to actually make my point after that.

We’ve already seen plenty of “What wrong with the Nationals” or “Most disappointing team in the majors” pieces being written about the club, but the simple fact remains: The organization was able to field its projected starting lineup twice this season — all season — and not until late August when they were already 5 1/2 game out in the division. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 126 Review: Nats Squeak by Padres, Injuries Arise

The Washington Nationals beat the San Diego Padres 4-2 on Thursday night in D.C. but suffered quite a blow in regards to injuries.

Outfielder Michael A. Taylor and third baseman Yunel Escobar were down for the count by the end of the night but Washington still managed to sneak by the Padres.

Taylor ran into the outfield wall tracking down a fly ball and came up lame and needed help get off the field with a knee contusion. Escobar was hit by a pitch in his wrist — which drove in a run — and left the game.

Starting pitcher Joe Ross threw six innings of one-hit, one-run ball while walking two batters and striking out seven for the Nats. He threw 77 pitches and 48 strikes. [Read more…]

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


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


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…]

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