December 8, 2021

Washington Nationals Game 144 Review: Nats Lose As Braves Strike Late


Looking for a sweep, the Washington Nationals fell to the Atlanta Braves in a Wednesday afternoon contest at Nationals Park, 6-2.

In the first two games of the Nats three-game series with the Braves, Washington used some early offense to boost them to victory. On Wednesday afternoon, Braves’ starter Aaron Harang kept Washington’s offense in check while Atlanta slowly built a lead in the latter innings of the contest. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Spring Training 2014 Preview Part V: The Bullpen

Washington Nationals RHP Tyler Clippard pitched 8th inning and earned 10th hold against Baltimore Orioles, May 20, 2012. (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Washington Nationals RHP Tyler Clippard in action of May 2012. (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

As a whole, the Washington Nationals return mostly intact from the teams that won 98 games in 2012 and 86 games in 2013. This is a veteran team with high aspirations of competing in the World Series. I hardly think rookie manager Matt Williams will boldly proclaim “World Series or Bust” as his predecessor did, but the implications are there.

If the team overachieved in ’12 and underachieved last season, what is the logical progression for 2014? If the ’12 and ‘13 results had been flipped, I think everyone would be riding the Nats as an odd-on favorite this season. They may be anyway.

With a rotation as solid No. 1 through No. 4 as any in baseball, a deep bullpen, an infield full of silver sluggers and a versatile outfield led by a burgeoning superstar, the Washington Nationals seem poised to make noise this season on a national level.

For the next two weeks, District Sports Page will preview the Washington Nationals 2014 season. This week, we’ll do profiles of the players on the 40-man roster and significant non-roster invitees, players that have a chance to make an impact on the Nats roster this season.

Here’s the schedule:

Monday: The Infield
Tuesday: The Outfield
Wednesday: The Catchers
Thursday: The Rotation
Friday: The Bullpen

In week two, we’ll profile the manager and front office, reveal our Top-25 minor leaguers and prospects, examine the “big picture” the Nats this season, and do a little statistical analysis and projecting.


Rafael Soriano, RHP: The saves were there last year, the elite skills were not. Soriano’s ERA and WHIP were their highest in any season he’s been a team’s top closer. On top of that, his K rate went down precipitously as he transitioned from a pitcher with a slider out pitch to a fastball pitcher, one who’s lost velocity each of the past four seasons. He lowered his walk rate, which obviously is good, but his hit rate jumped. His ground ball rate has dropped the past three seasons as his line drive and fly ball rates have risen, more evidence of him abandoning anything but the fastball. If the walk rate goes back to his normal seasonal allowance, he could be in a world of trouble. As it is, the velocity and strikeout rate drops are a big warning sign for a 34-year-old pitcher who hates not closing.

Tyler Clippard, RHP: Clippard turned in another exceptional season for the Nats with a 2.41 ERA and ridiculous 0.859 WHIP. All was bolstered by an incredibly unsustainable 4.7 H/9 rate and .172 BABiP, which completely mirrored his 2011 All-Star campaign. Those types of numbers are just unheard of, so he’s unlikely to repeat them, but he’s a funky pitcher. He succeeds with high fastballs and a changeup that almost impossible to identify out of his unusual and, frankly, weird delivery. The strikeout and ground ball rates were down just a tick but not alarmingly so. Clippard should be just fine in his established role. The big thing to worry about him is the price tag. He avoided arbitration by signing a one-year, $5.88 million contract and he isn’t a free agent until after 2016, so the price tags is just going to keep going up. That’s a lot for a non-closer reliever — albeit one of the best in the game.

Drew Storen, RHP: Oh boy. Where do we start? Storen was fairly terrible in the first half, pitching to a 5.95 ERA, fueled by a .355 BABiP and outrageously high hit rate. The walks were fine, the Ks were fine, he was just simply unlucky as to balls finding their way into green space. He was sent to the minors on July 26 after wearing a the final inning of an 11-0 drubbing by the Mets on a day that he ran a 103 degree fever. When he came back Aug. 16, he was the same old Storen. Well, not really. He ditched the silly straight leg kick for a more conventional one that allowed him to have a more consistent delivery, but the results were more attributable to normalization. He held batters to a .200/.263/.214 line upon his return.

Jerry Blevins, LHP: Obtained from the A’s for Minor League Player of the Year Billy Burns, Blevins is more than a typical lefty specialist — he actually owned better numbers against righties than lefties last season. Overall, a 3.15 ERA and 1.067 WHIP were solid. He has a four-pitch repertoire and faced four or more batters in more than half of his appearance last season. Blevins won’t overwhelm with his fastball, and his K rates will keep him in a set up or LOOGY role, but he knows how to pitch. Has improved his walk rate each of the past three seasons.

Xavier Cedeno, LHP: Want the good news? Cedeno enjoyed his career year last season at age 26, earning a 1.50 ERA and 1.000 WHIP for the Nats. He struck out 9 per nine innings and walked just 1.5. Want the bad news? He also suffered his worst season as a big leaguer last year, as he allowed 11 runs (eight earned) in 6.1 innings for Houston before they cut him in April. Am I being dramatic? You betcha. But Cedeno’s numbers for the Nats came in just 6.0 over 11 games. Against lefties, Cedeno provided a .231/.333/.269 slash. Against righties, that jumped to .391/.517/.522. Granted, we’re talking 29 and 31 plate appearances here. Call me skeptical, but I just don’t see Cedeno coming anywhere near approaching his numbers for the Nats last season again. He’s not a kid, and nothing in his history indicates this was anything more than a couple of good appearances in a row against limited competition.

Craig Stammen, RHP: Stammen could start for half the teams in baseball. His stuff is that good. All his peripherals continue to go in the right direction and his traditional numbers are solid across the board. Is this a pitcher that has found his spot? Or are the Nats hiding a gem, either intentionally or not. Either way, Stammen has proven to be an absolutely invaluable arm in the long role that he’s occupied the past two season for the team. His walk rate dropped by 0.7 this year over last — if that holds, he should earn higher leverage late innings if Clippard gets too expensive.

Ryan Mattheus, RHP: On the other hand… Mattheus was unlucky, sure. His BABiP of .405 screams it. But look at the rest. Rising walk rate. K rate less than 6 per nine. Lost velocity on his sinker. Punching a locker, breaking his hand and being completely and utterly lost once he returned. The hit rate is going to stabilize somewhat, but how much is luck and how much is just erosion of skill? He’s 30, not a youngster that needs to figure things out. He needs to prove health and competence or there are plenty of arms that will push him out of a job.

Josh Roenicke, RHP: Roenicke is famous for being the son of former Baltimore Orioles outfielder Gary Roenicke and also being Ian Desmond’s brother-in-law. Roenicke the pitcher, however, is mediocre at best. He was brought in as an NRI and will provide depth in Syracuse most likely. He walks way too many (5.2 per nine in 62 IP last season) without the high K rate (just 6.5/9) that allows you live with it.

Erik Davis, RHP: Davis made his MLB debut last season at age 26, compiling a 1-0 record, 3.12 ERA and 1.269 WHIP in 8.2 innings, striking out 12 while walking just one. This was after going 3-7 with 15 saves, 3.10 ERA and 1.433 WHIP in AAA, so small sample caveats abound. Davis was slated to compete for a role in this year’s pen, but was placed on the 60-day D.L. with an “elbow strain” on the same day the Nats traded for Jose Lobaton. It’s quite possible he never throws a pitch to Lobaton.

Christian Garcia, RHP: “If only Garcia could stay healthy…” Any Nats fan that knows more than just Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg will cite Garcia as their secret weapon. He’s got the stuff, he knows how to pitch, and he’s still young enough (27) that he could impact the MLB roster. Unfortunately, that part of staying healthy just keeps eluding Garcia. He’s already had two Tommy John’s while he was property of the Yankees and last season he was limited to 13.1 innings in the minors after suffering a torn wrist tendon, which triggered shoulder soreness and hamstring injuries. He owns four quality MLB pitches, he just needs to get on a mound to show them off. Problem is, he can’t.

Manny Delcarmen, RHP: Delcarmen, 32, hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2010 with the Rockies. Why is he here? Well, he’s always had good stuff and has had several full seasons of downright goodness at the big league level. In 07-08 with the Red Sox he was a quality righty in their pen and some thought he had closer written all over him. Problem is, his walk rate was always high and got higher the older he got and his K rate plummeted after he hit 27. When he should have been in the peak of his career, he busted. Read into that however you want. Last year in AAA, he went 3-3 with a 2.83 ERA and 1.222 WHIP in 54 innings, so there might be something left. At the triple-A level, anyway.

Aaron Barrett, RHP: Barrett was drafted four times: by the Dodgers in the 44th round of the ’06 draft, by the Twins in the 20th round in ’08, by Texas in the 27th round in ’09 and finally by the Nats in the 9th round in 2010 after his eligibility ended for the University of Mississippi. Barrett, at age 25, dominated AA last year for Harrisburg, going 1-1 with a 2.15 ERA and 1.093 WHIP, 2.7 BB/9 and outrageous 12.3 K/9. In fact, in 149.2 IP in his minor league career, Barrett owns a 12.0 K/9 rate. He does this all with an average fastball, but a slider that Baseball America deemed best in the Nats’ system. At 6’4″, 215 he has a big league build. He needs to pitch against players his own age this year but his arm is definitely intriguing.

Clay Hensley, RHP: Hensley is a slight (5’11”, 190) righty that for the past few seasons has been able to fool enough batters to keep getting chances in the big leagues. But at 33 now, he’s running out of gas. Last season for San Francisco in 50.2 IP he walked 5.3 per nine and his ERA (4.62) showed it. Coupled with a 5.19 ERA for Florida in ’12, Hensley’s hanging on to the end of his rope.

Washington Nationals injury updates: Mattheus no surgery; Espinosa with broken wrist

Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson had a couple of injury updates in his pre-game press conference Friday before taking on the Philadelphia Phillies. One injury we knew about was an update — Ryan Mattheus will miss a “couple months” but will not need surgery on his broken hand, sustained last Saturday after he punched a wall following his five earned run with a balk appearance.

The other injury news was a surprise, but not really considering the player. Johnson revealed 2B Danny Espinosa sustained a broken bone in his wrist when he was hit by a Paul Maholm fastball late in April and has been playing through the injury since. With Espinosa hitting .163/.196/.291, it’s not shocking to hear this news. Espinosa also has been dealing with a torn rotator cuff in his left (non-throwing) shoulder as well.

Johnson indicated that the team would make a move Saturday, returning a reliever to the minors (most likely Yunesky Maya) and calling up a position player from AAA. Johnson was specific that Anthony Rendon is not being considered for a recall. For now, it appears the Nats will allow Espinosa to sit for a few days to see if that will help with the pain in the wrist.

Among the candidates for recall are Will Rhymes (.299/.366/.344 in 178 PAs at AAA), Jeff Kobernus (.333/.378/.420 in 193 PAs) and Zach Walters (.215/.244/.436 with 9 HRs in 181 PAs). None of the three players are on the Nats 40-man roster.

If the Nats are content to allow Steve Lombardozzi play everyday until Espinosa either feels better or goes on the D.L., then most likely the move will be Rhymes, a player with Major League experience who is more capable of sitting on the bench and coming in as a pinch-hitter. Walters probably would have been at the top of this list coming out of spring training, but his mostly terrible first two months in AAA probably keeps him there for now.

Washington Nationals Game 44 Review: Padres tally 13 runs against Nationals’ rocky pitching

Dan Haren (L, 4-5) lasted but five innings and gave up seven runs as the Washington Nationals (23-21) fell 13-4 to the San Diego Padres (20-23) Sunday afternoon at Petco Park.

The Nats went down in order in the first against right-hander Andrew Cashner (W, 3-2), but the Padres by no means returned the favor.

Everth Cabrera led off  the bottom of the inning with a single and stole second base before Chase Headley walked to give the Padres first and second with one out. Carlos Quentin doubled in Cabrera and Yonder Alonso brought home Headley on a sacrifice fly to quickly make it 2-0 San Diego. Before Haren could regain control, however, Jedd Gyorko – who’s hit hard off the Nats this series – doubled on a sharp grounder to left to make it 3-0. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Spring Training: Wilson Ramos contributes in Nats’ walk-off win over St. Louis

The Washington Nationals topped the St. Louis Cardinals Sunday afternoon for the second day in a row, this time with a 7-6 walk-off win fueled by a double off the bat of the newly returned Wilson Ramos.

Ramos received a warm applause from the Space Coast Stadium crowd as he stepped into the batter’s box for the first time since tearing his ACL and meniscus last May. His first at-bat yielded little for Washington, but the long-missing catcher nearly belted a walk-off homer over the center-field wall in his second trip to the plate.

Those in attendance saw a lot of back-and-forth hitting from both teams as neither Washington nor St. Louis seemed ready to settle into a pitching groove. [Read more…]

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…]

2013 Washington Nationals NatsFest (with fan photos)

“We’re going to the World Series this year.” – Principal Owner Mark Lerner said during a “State of the Nationals” forum for season ticket holders at NatsFest.

The Washington Nationals held NatsFest on Saturday, January 26 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. By all accounts, it sounded like a big success with more than 7,000 fans (per @NationalsPR).

Fans got a chance to see new Nationals Denard Span and Dan Haren as well as several other Nats players and prospects, including Corey Brown, Tyler Clippard, Ian Desmond, Ross Detwiler, Danny Espinosa, Christian Garcia, Gio Gonzalez, Brian Goodwin, Bryce Harper, Nathan Karns, Steve Lombardozzi, Ryan Mattheus, Tyler Moore, Ryan Perry, Anthony Rendon, Will Rhymes, Matt Skole, Drew Storen, Kurt Suzuki, Chad Tracy, Jayson Werth and Jordan Zimmermann.

Nationals GM Mike Rizzo and Mark Lerner, one of the team’s Principal Owners, as well as team broadcasters Bob Carpenter, F.P. Santangelo, Charlie Slowes and Phil Wood were also in attendance. [Read more…]

NATS: 2013 NatsFest Details

Washington Nationals fans should check the website for updated information as all player appearances and activities are subject to change.

Ryan Zimmerman and fan at 2010 NatsFest (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Ryan Zimmerman and fan at 2010 NatsFest (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Nationals fan at 2010 NatsFest (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Nationals fan at 2010 NatsFest (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Washington Nationals GM Mike Rizzo answering fan questions at 2010 NatsFest (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Washington Nationals GM Mike Rizzo answering fan questions at 2010 NatsFest (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)


Event to take place Saturday, January 26 from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m. at
Washington Convention Center

The Washington Nationals today released new details about 2013 NatsFest, taking place for the first time at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on Saturday, January 26, 2013.

More than 25 Nationals players and prospects are expected to attend the fun-filled baseball festival, including but not limited to*: Corey Brown, Tyler Clippard, Ian Desmond, Ross Detwiler, Danny Espinosa, Christian Garcia, Gio Gonzalez, Brian Goodwin, Bryce Harper, Nathan Karns, Steve Lombardozzi, Ryan Mattheus, Tyler Moore, Michael Morse, Ryan Perry, Anthony Rendon, Will Rhymes, Matt Skole, Drew Storen, Kurt Suzuki, Chad Tracy, Jayson Werth and Jordan Zimmermann.

Nationals GM Mike Rizzo and Mark Lerner, one of the team’s Principal Owners, as well as team broadcasters Bob Carpenter, F.P. Santangelo, Charlie Slowes and Phil Wood will also be in attendance. In addition, Nationals fans will have the first opportunity to meet two of the team’s latest additions, Dan Haren and Denard Span. Please note that all autograph vouchers are SOLD OUT; autograph voucher holders are encouraged to visit for important information.

Open to fans of all ages from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m., NatsFest will offer a variety of activities including:
o Q & A sessions with players and coaches on topics including ‘Preparing for Games’ and ‘Life on the Road’

o Opportunities to take photos with players and team mascots

o A special Jr. Nats Kids Forum featuring Player Story Times and Kids Press Conferences

o The chance to learn about the team’s innovative virtual ticketing system

o Games, interactive events and surprises

The event will also feature:
o Live broadcast by 106.7 The Fan, the team’s official flagship radio station

o Opportunities to purchase the latest Nationals merchandise as well as game-used and autographed memorabilia

o Batting cages, inflatable games and 2012 trophy display

o D.J. Stylus Chris spinning music throughout the day

o Concessions for purchase

NatsFest will also offer fans the first opportunity to purchase individual and group tickets to see the Nationals take on the New York Yankees in a special preseason exhibition game on Friday, March 29 at 2:05 p.m. Tickets for NatsFest are currently on sale for Season Plan Holders at $15 for adults and $5 for children under the age of 12, and for the general public at $20 for adults and $10 for children under the age of 12 and can be purchased at

Fans planning to utilize Metro’s Red Line to attend NatsFest are encouraged to add at least 20 minutes to their planned travel time due to scheduled weekend track maintenance. For directions and parking, visit the Convention Center website at

*All player appearances are subject to change

NATS: Happy Birthday, Ryan Mattheus


Washington Nationals Pitcher Ryan Mattheus was born on 11/10/1983 in Sacramento, California.

Follow Ryan Mattheus on Twitter (@RyanMattheus) and be sure to wish #52 a Happy 29th Birthday.

Ryan Mattheus replaces Jordan Zimmermann in the 7th inning – Los Angeles Dodgers v. Washington Nationals, Game One of Doubleheader on September 19, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Fans got to watch the Nats “champagne shower” in the clubhouse on the scoreboard. Love Ryan Matthew’s goggles and snorkling gear (middle of photo) – Philadelphia Phillies v. Washington Nationals, October 1, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)


Washington Nationals NLDS Game 1 Review: Moore’s pinch-hit delivers Nats a 3-2 win

If someone told you a rookie outfielder would deliver the key hit in for the Washington Nationals in the top of the eighth inning in Game 1 of the National League Division Series, it probably wouldn’t come as that big of a surprise, considering the Nats have one of the most celebrated first-year players to ever play in the majors. But the hero in the Nats 3-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals probably isn’t the guy you would have thought of first.

No, it wasn’t Bryce Harper that delivered the key hit. It was Tyler Moore, one of several rookies that made the Nats post-season roster, who singled to right off Cardinals reliever Marc Rzepczynski to drive in two in that pivotal at bat in the eighth inning to give the Nats a lead that eventually turned into a win to take a 1-0 series lead over the Cards.

This one wasn’t pretty. There were several defensive miscues. Both team stranded a ton of runners. Nats starter Gio Gonzalez walked seven batter. Yes, seven. But in the end, a Major League team from the District won their first playoff game since 1933.

The eighth inning rally started with Michael Morse’s hard hit grounder to short, which Pete Kozma misplayed into an error. Ian Desmond (3-for-4, run) singled, moving Morse over to third. Danny Espinosa, who had struck out three times to that point in the game, tried to bunt for a base hit and was out easily when his bunt dies about 10 feet in front of home plate, but Desmond did move up 90 feet. Kurt Suzuki struck out against righty Mitchell Boggs, bringing up the pitcher’s spot.

Nats manager Davey Johnson sent up lefty Chad Tracy to hit in the spot, so Cards manager Mike Matheny called upon his left-handed specialist, Rzepczynski. Johnson countered by pulling Tracy and instead inserting Moore into the key situation in the game. Moore got into a 2-2 count, then flared a 93-MPH fastball ont he outside corner into right field, scoring both Morse and Desmond, who’d gotten a terrific jump on the ball.

That left the Nats needing to record just six outs to notch the win. Tyler Clippard, who struggled down the stretch and eventually lost the closer’s role, did his job, allowing just one base runner, who reached on a Ryan Zimmerman throwing error. Drew Storen pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to record the first playoff save of his career and allowed the Nats to earn no worse than a split in St. Louis.

But this was a nailbiter all the way. With the Cardinals nursing a 2-1 lead much of the game, every inning saw a key play or decision that might have swayed the outcome. In the sixth with a runner on, Cards second baseman Daniel Descalso lofted a fly ball to the right field wall, but Jayson Werth leapt at the last and caught the potential homer with the heel of his glove, keeping the score at 2-1.

In the following frame, the Cardinals loaded the bases with no outs against Craig Stammen, pitching his second inning of work. Johnson asked for his other right-handed middle man, Ryan Mattheus, and the unheralded reliever threw two pitches — and recorded three outs. Mattheus coaxed a grounder to short from cleanup hitter Allen Craig, and Desmond calmly threw home to force the runner at the plate. His next pitch was grounded to Zimmerman at third by Yadier Molina and Zim started a 5-4-3 double play to end the threat.

Gio Gonzalez did not have the playoff debut he would have hoped for. The 21-game winning lefty fought his control all game, walking seven in five innings. Of his 110 pitches, only 59 were strikes. But with as many runners as he gave the Cardinals, they never could come up with the big hit to bust things open, only reaching Gonzalez for one hit in his erratic performance.

THE TAKEAWAY: It was absolutely imperative the Nats earn a split on the road in St. Louis and they were able to do just that right away in Game 1. In the ludicrous situation the Nats find themselves — having won the N.L. East, earning the league’s best record along the way, and being forced to play the first two games of the series on the road — they needed to split to make what little homefield advantage they’ve been given in this series worth something. The Cards, down 0-1 now, are really behind the eight ball having to with three of the next four games, with the last three coming in D.C.

And kudos to Davey Johnson, sticking to his guns by using Moore in a big pinch-hitting spot interchangeably with Chad Tracy. In fact, he could have been massaging the situation by going to Tracy in the first place, knowing Matheny would counter with a lesser pitcher for the presumably more favorable handedness matchup. It didn’t work though, as Davey used his whole roster, just as he did all season and just as he said he would continue to do in the playoffs.

THE GOOD: Desmond, Moore, Mattheus, Clippard and Storen all played the hero today. Add in Suzuki for delivering the Nats first run on a tow-out hit in the second inning.

THE BAD: Jayson Werth. The home run saving catch was great, but Werth had a rough day at the plate, going 1-for-5 and leaving the bases loaded twice. He stranded seven runners in total.

THE UGLY: Danny Espinosa. He’s been in the doghouse quite a bit lately, and his performance in Game 1 won’t do anything to get him out of there. Officially, he went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and a sacrifice bunt, stranding four runners. Twice he came up with a runner on third and one out and couldn’t make contact to bring in that run. In his last at bat, with runners on the corners, he swung through strike one and then bunted on strike two, getting thrown out in the process. Replays showed Michael Morse wasn’t coming on a squeeze play, so either someone missed a sign or Espinosa was trying to bunt for a base hit. Not a good play, either way.

THE STATS: 8 hits, 4 BBs, 13 Ks. 2-for-9 with RISP, 10 LOB, no GIDPs. E: LaRoche (1), Zimmerman (1), 2 DPs.

NEXT GAME: Monday at 4:30 pm in St. Louis. Jordan Zimmermann (12-8, 2.94) faces lefty Jaime Garcia (7-7, 3.92).


Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Nats and the Caps, and previously wrote Nats News Network and Caps News Network. Dave’s first sports hero was Bobby Dandridge. Follow Dave’s Nationals coverage on Twitter @NationalsDSP.

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