July 23, 2014

Washington Nationals make roster changes before series with Mets

Sitting with a record below .500 after Memorial Day is no way for a World Series hopeful to conduct business.

Tuesday, before their game against the New York Mets, The Washington Nationals placed second baseman Danny Espinosa on the 15-day D.L. with a broken right wrist, recalled infielder Anthony Rendon, and designated Henry Rodriguez and Zach Duke for assignment. In addition, the team called up LHP Ian Krol, who was acquired in the off-season trade of Michael Morse.

Saying Espinosa has struggled this season is a gross understatement. The 26-year-old was hitting .158/.193/.272 at the time of his disabling with just three homers and 12 RBIs this season. He had struck out 47 times and walked just four times. He injured his left shoulder last August and later was diagnosed with a partially torn rotator cuff. In April of this year, he was hit with a Paul Maholm fastball and was later diagnoses with a fracture and bone chips in his right wrist.

According to reports in the clubhouse, Espinosa cleared his locker out. It’s not usual protocol for a player on the 15-day D.L. to clear out his locker.

Rendon starts his second stint with the team. He was recently promoted to AAA and got three games in for Syracuse before being recalled. He played all three games at second base. Rendon hit .307/.452/.575 between Harrisburg and Syracuse this season.

Rodriguez, the 100-MPH fireballing reliever, owned a 4.00 ERA and 1.667 WHIP at the time of his release. Always one to have trouble with his control, he was walking a whopping 8.0 per nine innings while his usually stellar K/9 was down to 5.5.

Duke was 1-1 with a 8.71 ERA and 1.887 WHIP in 12 games, including one start.

Krol. a 22-year-old left-handed reliever, had a 0.69 ERA, 0.8080 WHIP and 10.0 K/p in AA-Harrisburg and has never pitched above Double-A.

 

Washington Nationals Game 45 Review: Nats manage just three hits in loss to Giants

The Washington Nationals are struggling offensively. They rank statistically near the bottom of the pack in the National League in batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage and runs scored. It doesn’t matter how well they pitch right now, you still have to score to win the game. The San Francisco Giants seemed to be the perfect panacea to the Nats hitting woes, having given up 52 runs in their last six games.

Unfortunately, it was the Giants that got well, shutting the Nats (23-22) out 8-0, punishing each and every reliever the Nats threw out there last night, as the long-men in the bullpen were tasked with pitching in Ross Detwiler’s normal rotation spot.

The Giants started the scoring in the second inning off Zach Duke (0-1, 8.84). Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt hit back-to-back one-out singles. Andres Torres lashed a double to left and Pence scampered home from second base. Brandon Crawford grounded to second for the second out of the game, but Belt came in to score to make it 2-0.

In the fourth, the Giants added to their lead. Belt led off with a single and went to second on Torres’ single. Crawford hit a comebacker that deflected off Duke’s wrist. Duke was able to corral it and get the middle runner, Torres, at second. Craig Stammen relieved, and Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong executed a safety squeeze, with Belt scoring from third. Angel Pagan followed with a double to right field, bringing home Crawford. Marco Scutaro delivered a single to center and Pagan scored, increasing the Giants lead to 5-0.

Belt got his third hit of the night in the fifth inning, a solo home run off Stammen, his sixth of the season. Later in the inning, though, Vogelsong swung through a pitch for a strike that actually hit him on the right hand, forcing him from the game. Later, the Giants announced Vogelsong suffered a fractured hand and would have surgery and miss extensive time.

The Giants (25-20) went back to work in the seventh inning against Henry Rodriguez. Hot Rod walked Hunter Pence on four pitches to start the inning. Belt singled; Pence moved to third. Torres grounded to first and Adam LaRoche was able to throw home and eventually got Pence. No matter. Rodriguez walked Crawford to load the bases. After Gregor Blanco popped up, the Giants got their clutch hit, with Pagan singling to center, which scored Belt and Torres for the final 8-0 margin.

THE GOOD: Nothing. There was no good to come of this. No hitter had more than one hit. All three pitchers gave up two or more runs. Just lousy baseball all around.

THE BAD: 17 hits allowed with 3 BBs (all courtesy of Hot Rod). Every Giants starter had a hit and six had multi-hit games, including Brandon Belt’s 4-for-5 game.

THE UGLY: The Giants had surrendered 52 runs in their last six games. The Nats mustered all of three singles and two walks.

THE STATS: 3 hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. 0-for-2 with RISP, 4 LOB. No errors, 1 DP.

NEXT GAME: Tuesday at 10:15 pm ET against the Giants. Stephen Strasburg 92-5, 2.83) faces Matt Cain (3-2, 5.43).

NATS NOTES: After the game, the Nats revealed Ryan Mattheus broke his hand in Sunday’s game and would head to the DL. The team planned to recall RHP Yunesky Maya and LHP Fernando Abad from AAA Syracuse. OF Eury Perez will be sent down to make room on the roster.

Washington Nationals 2013 Season Preview: The Bullpen

This week, District Sports Page will take a look at the players that should comprise the 2013 roster of the Washington Nationals. Following a record-setting season last year that saw the Nats finish first in the N.L. East and advance to the playoffs for the first time since the relocation, GM Mike Rizzo has tweaked the roster a bit and expectations have never been higher for the organization, which is expected to be a legitimate World Series contender this season.

Monday, we looked at the starting pitchers. Today, it’s the bullpen.

PROJECTED OPENING DAY BULLPEN: Rafael Soriano, Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard, Ryan Mattheus, Craig Stammen, Zach Duke, Henry Rodriguez/Christian Garcia [Read more...]

Washington Nationals activate Ryan Mattheus from D.L., designate Brad Lidge for assignment

Before Sunday’s game with the New York Yankees, the Washington Nationals activated relief pitcher Ryan Mattheus from the disabled list and designated veteran reliever Brad Lidge for assignment.

Lidge, 35, struggled since his return from the D.L. last week. In four appearances he allowed six earned runs on six hits and four walks in 2 1/3 innings. For the season, Lidge, signed for $1 million over the off-season to add a veteran presence in the bullpen, went 0-1 with two saves and a 9.64 ERA in 11 appearances with a combined 23 hits and walks in 9 1/3 innings.

Mattheus missed the last 24 games with a plantar fascia strain in his left foot. The 28-year old is 2-1 with six holds and a 2.25 ERA in 19 appearances. He’s activated form a rehab stint where he went 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in three appearances (3.0 IP) with Double-A Harrisburg and Single-A Potomac.

There will be more moves in the bullpen to come, as Henry Rodriguez will be beginning a rehab assignment soon and closer Drew Storen has increased his rehab, having thrown from a mound and is expected to rejoin the team around the All-Star break.

Washington Nationals Game 42 Review: Burnett cleans up for Hot Rod in 2-1 win over Phillies

For the better part of eight innings, the Washington Nationals held a small, but seemingly comfortable, lead over the Philadelphia Phillies, missing much of the roster that for the last five years have seen them run roughshod over the N.L. East. But in the ninth inning, clinging to a 2-0 lead, Davey Johnson might have finally found a breaking point with Henry Rodriguez.

After another ninth inning melt-down by Hot Rod, Sean Burnett came on to save a 2-1 win and make a winner of Gio Gonzalez after another quality start. The Nats have taken three of four this year from the Phillies, and have gone 12-3 against the former bullies in the last 15 meetings between the division rivals. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 37 Review: Gio, LaRoche power Nats past Pirates 7-4

The Washington Nationals have been in more one-run games this season that just about anyone in baseball. For the first five innings of Wednesday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates nothing looked any different. But a semi-explosion of offense accounted for five runs in the sixth and seventh innings as the Nats knocked off the Pirates 7-4, before a nice crowd of 25,942 at Nats Park.

The big hit was Adam LaRoche’s bases-loaded double in the seventh that cleared the bases, the 1,000th career hit for LaRoche. The veteran first baseman homered earlier and ended up 3-for-4 with four RBIs.

“He’s been indispensable,” manager Davey Johnson said of his first baseman. “You know, we’re missing other guys in the lineup, even [Ryan Zimmerman] has been struggling. He been the one constant since day one.” [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 35 Review: Burnett – not Hot Rod – saves Nats win in 9th

Nats catcher Sandy Leon, making MLB debut, injured on play at the plate. May 14, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Henry Rodriguez has had a tough couple of days.

Despite his manager vowing before — and after — the game that Rodriguez and his 100-MPH fastball was still his closer, that he had the utmost of confidence in the erratic, but dynamic, right-hander, it was left-hander Sean Burnett that sealed the Washington Nationals 8-5 win over the San Diego Padres Monday night, before a soggy and nervous crowd of 19,434 — at least, officially anyway.

Burnett was called upon in a one-out, bases loaded situation set up by three consecutive walks by Rodriguez, who could not command any of his three pitches. Rodriguez threw 21 of them, just nine for strikes. But Burnett got Padres No. 3 hitter Jesus Guzman to tap back to the mound, and the emergency closer threw calmly to home to start a 1-2-3 rally — and game — killing double play. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 34 Review: Votto slams Nats with walk-off homer against Hot Rod

The game was delayed for over three hours due to a steady rain that fell in the Cincinnati area overnight, continued into the morning, and just kept on falling throughout the game. Maybe now the Nats wish they went ahead and called it.

Leading 6-5 going into the bottom of the ninth, “Bad Henry” showed up again, as Henry Rodriguez gave up a seeing-eye single ahead of two walks, bringing up Joey Votto, who had only gone 3-for-4 with two home runs and a double to that point in the game. On a 2-2 fastball that caught too much of the plate, Votto ended it, sending the 96-MPH offering into the batter’s eye in center field, delivering a walk-off grand slam and a 9-6 win for the Reds. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 4 Review: Lack of execution dooms Nats in 4-3 loss to Mets

In the end, it all boils down to execution. Last night, in the ninth inning, the Washington Nationals didn’t and the New York Mets did. As a result, the Mets stretched their early season record to 4-0, sending the Nats (2-2) to a 4-3 loss to start the three-game series at Citifield.

Henry Rodriguez was tasked with pitching the ninth inning of a tied ballgame after getting the last out of the eighth, striking out pinch-hitter Scott Hairston with a nasty breaking pitch. But Rodriguez walked pinch-hitter Mike Baxter to start the ninth. Then, shortstop Ruben Tejada laid down a sacrifice right out in front of the plate. Rodriguez (L, 0-1) looked at second, then short-armed a lackadaisical throw to first, which got past Danny Espinosa covering on the play.

Tejada actually smacked Espinosa in the head on his way through the bag, but Espinosa recovered to fire a strike back to third, nearly nailing Baxter, who was stopped by third base coach Tim Teufel. No matter, as Daniel Murphy lined a single to right to plate Baxter with the winning run two pitches later. [Read more...]

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