December 11, 2018

Washington Nationals Game 155 Review: Nats Fall Apart in Finale Against the Phillies

As if being eliminated from the playoffs not even 24 hours earlier wasn’t enough, the Washington Nationals experienced a complete meltdown in the ninth inning of Sunday’s home game against the Philadelphia Phillies who beat the Nats 12-5.

To make matters worse, closer Jonathan Papelbon assaulted outfielder Bryce Harper in the dugout after Harper popped out to left field in the eighth inning. To add to the escalating in-game tension, Papelbon went back out to pitch the ninth and Harper was replaced by outfielder Matt den Dekker who switched from left to right field. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 98 Review: Marlins top Nationals 4-1

FERNANDEZ QUIETS NATS BATS, ZIMMERMANN VULNERABLE IN LOSS

The Washington Nationals and Miami Marlins dueled on Tuesday night in Miami, with the Nats falling 4-1. Jose Fernandez, recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2014, went six full, allowing one run on four hits, walking four, and striking out five. Jordan Zimmermann matched Fernandez for five innings, allowing one run on five hits, striking out two and walking none, but came apart in the sixth, surrendering three hits, two more runs, two walks (both intentional) and left the game after six.

The Nationals’ only run came on a sacrifice fly in the second. Wilson Ramos drove in Bryce Harper on a deep fly ball to right field, having advanced to third on Ryan Zimmerman’s double to the wall in left. That was all the Nationals could do off Fernandez, who was working the edges like a professional.

The Marlins answered in the fifth with a pair of singles from J.T. Realmuto and Ichiro Suzuki with one out. Adeiny Hechavarria popped the ball out to Bryce Harper, and that looked like all they would get on the night. The sixth inning told a very different story, unfortunately for the Nationals.

Dee Gordon (2-for-3 on the night) started things off with a long fly ball to the wall, a stand-up triple. On the next pitch, Martin Prado singled to left to score Gordon, making it 2-1. Christian Yelich singled to right, letting Prado advance to third without issue. With no one out, the Nationals opted to walk Derek Dietrich to set up the force at home. J.T. Realmuto would drive in Prado on a ground ball to Escobar that was just far enough in and slow enough to put Escobar’s only play at first, making it 3-1. Zimmermann would issue another intentional pass, this time to Ichiro Suzuki to load the bases with two out. Thankfully for the Nationals, Hechavarria would ground out to Ryan Zimmerman to end the inning with limited damages.

Sammy Solis was called on to pitch the seventh inning, and it did not go well for the young left hander. Cole Gillespie, entering the game as part of a double switch, immediately pounced on the rookie, raking it up the middle. Dee Gordon laid down a beautiful bunt to move him up, just barely out on a quick relay from Solis. The Nats would issue their third intentional walk of the night to noted Nat-killer Martin Prado,

Against Miami closer A.J. Ramos, the Nationals would put up some fight. Michael A. Taylor drew a one-out walk, followed by a pinch-hit double for Clint Robinson off the bench. A borderline walk to Anthony Rendon gave them the go-ahead run at the plate, but an unfortunate grounder from Yunel Escobar ended the game on a 6-4-3 double play without a run scoring.

HERO: Ryan Zimmerman got aboard three times in his return from the DL, going 2-for-3 with a walk.

GOAT: Sammy Solis for his lamentable 7th inning performance.

NATS NOTES:

  • Tonight marks the first game since May 15th that seven of the Nationals “expected” starters appeared in the starting lineup. They have yet to have all eight expected position starters this season.
  • Jayson Werth was 1-for-4 with a single in his return from a broken wrist.

NEXT UP: Doug Fister vs. Tom Kohler at 7:10pm tomorrow night.

Washington Nationals Game 95 Review: Pirates out-slug Nationals, win 7-5

NATIONALS DROP BRUISER BATTLE TO PIRATES 7-5

The Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates battled like heavyweights on Friday night before a sold out crowd at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. The Pirates would blast a trio of knockout home runs off Scherzer – with Pedro Alvarez’s two-run shot in the second inning ending up in the Allegheny River – before forcing him from the game after five innings. The Nationals would strike for four runs against Jeff Locke in the fourth inning, and Ian Desmond would tie the game at five in the sixth with a muscled home run.

Sammy Solis would surrender a pair of runs in the sixth inning, putting the Pirates back on top just after the Nationals had tied the game. Francisco Cerelli started the rally with a single to right, and scored on Brent Worel’s pinch-hit double. Gregory Polanco, fresh off a moon shot home run off Scherzer, singled up the middle to score Worel, and give the Pirates a 7-5 lead after six.

Scherzer’s night (5IP, 7H, 5ER, 8K, 1BB) was marred by three mammoth home runs by the Pirates. The first, by Pedro Alvarez, would come to rest in the river beyond right field. The second, a two-run blow by Gregory Polanco, would end in the last row off the right field leachers. The third, a solo shot by Neil Walker, landed on the berm past the center field wall. The Pirates had their A-game on Friday, hitting Scherzer’s secondary pitches, and reading his rhythm very well.

Aaron Barrett threw a scoreless seventh inning for the Nats bullpen, giving way for Casey Janssen to do the same in the eighth. Both are pitching like they know who’s going to get cut if there’s a trade for Aroldis Chapman.

The Pirates’ pen combined for three scoreless innings after Desmond’s solo shot, with Hughes, Watson and Melancon shutting down the Nationals without much effort. Robinson, a late scratch, would ground into an untimely double play in the ninth to shut down their only rally attempt in the late game.

The Mets dropped their game to the Dodgers on Friday night in New York, keeping the division lead to three games.

The Pirates and Nationals return to PNC Park on Saturday night, the Nationals facing a 0-2 deficit in the series.

HERO: No hero tonight. Honorable mention for Ian Desmond for his 101st home run.

GOAT: Games like this one are a team effort, no goat tonight.

NATS NOTES:

  • Clint Robinson was a late scratch today, moving Moore to 1B and putting den Dekker in the lineup.
  • The Pirates’ three home runs off Scherzer matches a season high.

NEXT UP: Rematch with the Pirates tomorrow, Gio Gonzalez (7-4, 3.93) vs A.J. Burnett (8-3, 2.44), 7:05pm.

Washington Nationals Game 89 Review: Kershaw and the Dodgers Beat the Nats

The Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Washington Nationals 4-2 on Saturday afternoon in front of a sellout crowd of 41,426  as the result of a dominant performance by All-Star starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw.

Kershaw struck out 14 batters — a season high for him and the most strike outs at Nats Park by an opposing team since 2005 — to give the Dodgers the win. He threw 101 pitches and 73 strikes in eight scoreless innings pitched and gave up three hits.

The pitching dominance exhibited by the Dodgers along with their productive offense left the Nats bats mostly dormant and Nats starting pitcher Doug Fister in a rough place.

Fister threw 91 pitches and 58 strikes in five innings of work. He gave up nine hits and four runs while striking out one, walking two (one intentionally), and hitting a batter.  [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 28 Review: Strasburg Struggles Due to Shoulder Issue, Marlins Take Advantage

A previous streak of success against the Miami Marlins didn’t provide much solace for Washington’s right-handed starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg on Tuesday night. The Nationals fell to the Marlins 2-1 while Strasburg made an early exit after three innings of work due to discomfort under his right shoulder blade.

Miami took advantage of the opportunity presented to them while Strasburg struggled to settle due to the shoulder irritation. Strasburg’s problems were apparent from the start. Outfielders Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna singled and walked with two out in the first inning. Strasburg got out of that situation unscathed but the Marlins found a way to get ahead of the Nats and score.

Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto led off the second inning with a triple hit past shortstop Ian Desmond, off of Strasburg, before scoring on a RBI-single hit by outfielder Ichiro Suzuki. A bunt attempt by Miami’s starting right-handed pitcher Mat Latos with nobody out and two men on base initiated an error made by Strasburg allowing Ichiro to score and giving the Marlins a 2-0 lead.

Washington answered back with a run in the bottom half of the second inning thanks to a  patient yet aggressive offensive appearance at the plate by first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman led off the second inning  against Latos by drawing a walk in an eleven pitch at-bat. Catcher Wilson Ramos followed Zimmerman with a double off Latos moving Zimmerman to third. Second baseman Dan Uggla drove in the only run with a RBI-groundout sending Zimmerman home, allowing the Nats to score, but Miami’s starting pitching proved superior when compared to Strasburg’s short-lived appearance.

Strasburg’s three innings of work included four hits, two runs, two walks, two strikeouts, and one hit batter. He threw 64 pitches and 37 strikes before being replaced by recent call-up and left-handed reliever Sammy Solis in the fourth inning.

Solis made his second Major League appearance with three innings of work while giving up one hit and striking out two batters. Manager Matt Williams was impressed by the amount of strikes Solis has thrown in his pair of outings with Washington thus far. He has thrown five scoreless innings and retired nine of 10 batters faced, including seven straight.

Unfortunately, Washington’s offense tallied only three hits and left eight men on base while drawing six walks against Miami. The Nats’ bullpen posted six spotless innings of work thanks to right-handed relievers Blake Treinen and Aaron Barrett and left-handed reliever Matt Thornton — in addition to Solis, but the lack of offensive productivity left the Nats a run behind; Marlins 2, Nats 1.

HERO: The bullpen for preventing the Marlins from scoring any more runs from the fourth inning onward and Ryan Zimmerman for showing patience in his first at-bat of night, ultimately allowing the Nats to score their sole run.

GOAT: Stephen Strasburg. He’ll be getting his shoulder looked at on Thursday. The silver lining here is that there was mutual acknowledgement from Strasburg and the coaching staff indicating that the best choice for the starter’s health and the team as a whole was to remove him from the game shortly after identifying the issue. Washington made the right move taking him out in order to play it safe and not have him alter his mechanics.

NATS NOTES:

  • Nationals Manager Matt Williams said it seemed unlikely that Strasburg’s shoulder strain will warrant a trip to the disabled list but his condition will be reviewed on Wednesday.
  • Doug Fister had a solid pinch hit at-bat when he hit in Strasburg’s place during the third inning. He had a hard-hit single drop in the outfield but was called out due to a double play induced by outfielder Denard Span. Great piece of hitting though.

UP NEXT: RHP Tom Koehler (2-2, 4.67) and the Miami Marlins face RHP Max Scherzer (1-3, 1.26) and the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park at 1:05 p.m. on Wednesday.

 

Washington Nationals recall Michael Taylor and Sammy Solis

The Washington Nationals recalled OF Michael Taylor and LHP Sammy Solis from AAA-Syracuse before Wednesday’s game against the Atlanta Braves. OF Reed Johnson was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left calf strain suffered in Tuesday’s 13-12 comeback win and the game’s starter, A.J. Cole, was returned to Syracuse.

From the Nats press release on Solis:

Solis, 26, joins the Nationals for the first Major League assignment of his career. Should he pitch in either of the Nationals’ next two games, he will become the fifth rookie to make his Major League debut this month for Washington.

Entering the season as the highest-rated left-handed pitcher in the Nationals’ system (No. 15), according to Baseball America, Solis is 0-0 with a 2.25 ERA in three games for Harrisburg this season. Joining the Senators from extended Spring Training just 10 days ago, Solis struck out three batters in four innings and allowed one earned run. Over the course of his Minor League career, Solis is 12-5 with a 3.30 ERA.

A second-round selection of the Nationals’ in the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft, Solis has consistently been rated as one of the organization’s top talents. Working hard to come back from 2012 Tommy John surgery, Solis is 4-2 with a 2.58 ERA since returning in 2013.

It’s interesting the Nats would bring Taylor back up to be a bench player when at this point in his career he, and the team long-term, would be better off with him playing everyday. At Syracuse, Taylor was hitting .385/.452/.538, while Matt den Dekker, also on the 40-man roster, was at .196/.226/.196. Tony Gwynn, Jr, not on the 40-man, is at .167/.222/.227. The only other outfielder on the 40-man roster is Brian Goodwin, who just started his season at AA-Harrisburg after staying back at extended spring training.

As for Solis, he’s only thrown four innings for Syracuse and given up one earned run on four this and no walks, striking out three. Veteran lefty Rich Hill, not on the 40-man, has thrown eight innings and allowed one earned run on six hits and five walks, striking out 13.

Washington Nationals Spring Training: Nats tie Astros

The Washington Nationals got some production out of the middle of their opening day batting order but the Houston Astros put together a late rally to force a 6-6 at Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Florida. The teams declined to play extra innings.

The Nats put together a three-run third inning behind RBIs by Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman, all with two outs. Tony Gwynn Jr got the rally started with a single to right. Ian Desmond followed with a walk from Scott Feldman. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Spring Training Preview: The Starters

This week, District Sports Page will review the players currently on the Washington Nationals 40-man roster and their potential contributions to the Major League roster this season.

Monday: Catchers
Tuesday: Infielders
Wednesday: Outfielders
Thursday: Starters
Friday: Bullpen

Max Scherzer
2014 AL: 33 games, 220.1 IP, 18-5, 3.15 ERA, 1.175 WHIP, 10.3 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 (6.0 WAR) [Read more…]

Washington Nationals 2014 Top 25 Prospects: No. 8 Sammy Solis

In this series, District Sports Page has provide detailed scouting reports on our list of Top 25 Washington Nationals prospects. You can find our overview with the entire list here. We will now move into even further detailed reports for our Top 10.

Here’s our scouting reports on prospects Nos. 21-15, prospects Nos. 16-20 and Nos. 11-16.

And so far in the Top 10:

No. 10 Eury Perez
No. 9 Jake Johansen

Now without further ado, here is prospect No. 8, left-handed pitcher Sammy Solis.

8. Sammy Solis
Bats: Right, Throws: Left
Height: 6′ 5″, Weight: 230 lb.
Born: August 10, 1988 in Litchfield Park, Arizona, US (Age 25)
Draft: Second Round, 2010

Fastball Velocity Fb Movement Fb Command Knuckle Curve Change Off Spd Cmd Delivery Overall Future Potential
55/55 60/60 55/60 45/50 55/60 50/55 Average MLB Starter

Solis hasn’t pitched above high-A ball, but he’s ready for a Major League job. In terms of ability, he’s been ready for years, but injuries have seriously stalled his career and have lowered the organizations expectations for him somewhat.

Solis is a smart pitcher and has consistently been more advanced than his peers at every level, dating back to his high school days in Arizona. Solis was an outstanding amateur pitcher, totaling a 25-8 record during his Agua Fria High School career and his 358 strikeouts are second-most in Arizona 4A history. A week prior to participating in the ’06 Area Code Games, Solis was busy leading his team to victory in the Connie Mack World Series. He struck out 12 batters in Game 2, and then tossed a four-hit shutout in the championship.

He passed on the MLB after high school and went on to a dominant career in San Diego. He made the WCC All-Conference team as a freshman before missing a season to undergo back surgery. He rebounded nicely though, and finished off his college career with a superb 2009-2010 season. He went  9-2 with a 3.42 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 92 innings pitched, for a juggernaut Toreros team that went 19-2 in the WCC.

The Nationals drafted Solis in the second round back in 2010handing him an over-slot $1 million bonus. At the time, the organization believed his polished repertoire, intelligence and spotless makeup would get him to the Majors in a couple of seasons. Injuries have slowed down his timetable considerably and Solis is now preparing to celebrate his 26th birthday without throwing a pitch in the high minors.

Solis’ pro career has been impressive. He’s not flashy, but in 160.1 pro innings he has posted a 3.20 ERA, 3.31 K/BB ratio, a nice 2/1 groundball/flyball ratio and only 11 total home runs allowed. He returned from Tommy John surgery last May and ended up putting together a pretty nice 2013 campaign with the Potomac Nationals. He came back throwing harder than he had pre-surgery, and he posted  a solid 2.57 ERA through his first 57 innings before getting blown up for dix runs in his final start.

Solis has had to overcome two serious injuries in four years. He first had to undergo back surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back while at San Diego. Then, after battling discomfort during his AFL stint in the 2011-2012 offseason, he went under the knife for reconstructive elbow surgery. Though his stuff hasn’t suffered too much, his delivery has stiffened significantly, leaving his mechanics and timing much worse off. His injury history and mechanical flaws, combined with the Nationals rotation depth almost certainly ticket him for the bullpen.

Solis’ best assets are his intelligence and feel for pitching. He’s a crafty southpaw that uses his three-quarters delivery and natural two-plane break on his off-speed stuff to work the inside and outside edges of the strikezone. He has great fastball command, and is proficient at running his tailing two-seamer away from righties and forcing week contact. He spots his heater in all four quadrants of the zone, and is very effective working the bottom edges with quality strikes in the 90-93 mph range. He’ll also throw a cutter from time to time on the hands of right-handed batters.

Solis can run his fastball up to 94 mph when he wants to max out, but he’s most effective spotting his heater in the low 90’s, working his two-seamer in and using his changeup to keep opposing hitters off balance. His plus changeup is his best secondary pitch, and it shows nice two-seam fade. He has solid command of the pitch, and is comfortable throwing it in any count, making it extremely difficult for hitters to know what’s coming and put a confident swing on the ball. His changeup arm speed and release is visibly identical to his heater, and he throws between 81-85 mph.

Solis’ curveball has developed into a solid pitch and now rates as MLB-average. It’s still a little bit short, but he throws it with nice, firm two-plane break and it’s deceptive out of his three-quarters arm slot. His lack of an effective breaking ball made him more susceptible to left-handed hitters earlier in his career, but he did a better job closing his platoon split last season.

Solis has the package to be a quality mid-rotation starter, or a strong reliever in the big leagues. His three-pitch arsenal plays up because of his command and pitching IQ, and he’s lauded for his makeup and ability to make his pitches in the clutch. However, Solis’ mechanics have deteriorated from a strong point to a red flag. He’s very good at repeating his delivery, but he has stiffened up — presumably from back and elbow injuries. He has a short stride, forcing him to rely on his upper-body for power, and his timing is visibly out of sync. His arm lags behind his body, putting a lot of extra pressure on his shoulder and elbow.

Solis is traditionally more effective against right-handed hitters than lefties, which doesn’t endorse him for a bullpen role. His injury history and delivery problems also make it more difficult to project him as a starter long-term. However, his stuff is above-average for a left-hander, as is his command and control. He’s definitely a big league pitcher, and he looks ready, but the Nationals will have to figure out what to do with him this spring.

Washington Nationals Top 25 Prospects Overview

For the Washington Nationals, the flip-side of  a decade-long losing streak is their extraordinarily talented, affordable roster. Their poor records came at the perfect time, just as baseball scouting was expanding and implementing new analytics methods to assess performance, and the big league draft was still unfettered by a hard-slotting system. As a result, their savvy front office accumulated a bevy of high draft picks and used them to rake in a gluttonous share of the baseball’s best athletes.

The Nationals were able to heist the franchise talents of Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Lucas Giolito, Anthony Rendon and Ryan Zimmerman, along with a bounty of other blue-chip prospects. The injection of young, affordable star-power led them to put together the franchise’s best stretch over the past three years, and they managed to snap a 31-year playoff drought in 2012.

Despite a step back in Major League production in 2013, the Nationals are still looking stronger than ever heading into the 2014 season. Healthy and more polished versions of Strasburg and Harper lead a stacked 25-man roster that is looking almost unbeatable following the addition of Doug Fister and the maturation of Anthony Rendon.

The franchise’s farm system isn’t what it was a couple of years ago. Naturally, promoting so many stud prospects to the Major Leagues and competing with homegrown talent comes with a price. Over the past few seasons, the club’s farm system has graduated starting pitchers Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Ross Detwiler, Taylor Jordan and Tanner Roark, gifted relievers like Storen,  Stammen and Ian Krol (now with the Tigers), as well as a long list of position players that includes Harper, Zimmerman, Rendon, Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa, Wilson Ramos and Derek Norris (with the Athletics). Two thirds of their projected opening day roster is comprised of homegrown players, or former prospects that spent their final seasons in the Nationals farm system.

Additionally, the cost of winning has dropped the club’s annual draft slot to the back of the line, and has forced the front office to play for the short term. They’ve traded away blue-chip prospects like Alex Meyer, Derek Norris and Robert Ray for short-run contributions, and have also parted ways with sure-fire contributors like Nate Karns, Tommy Milone, David Freitas and Steve Lombardozzi.

So, the Nationals don’t have the prospect starpower they normally do. A couple of years ago, they had the best system in the minors. Now, though they’re still strong, they’ve faded to the middle of the pack.

The Nationals savvy amateur scouting, particularly out West, has helped Mike Rizzo maintain a competitive farm system in spite of the organizations determination to put a winning roster on the field annually.

The farm system lacks balance. It doesn’t have a stand-out prospect at the upper levels at the moment, and the losses of Nate Karns, Alex Meyer and Robbie Ray have depleted a lot of their pitching depth.  Their lack of left-handedness was also exacerbated by the Doug Fister trade, which sent the extremely underrated Robbie Ray to Detroit along with Ian Krol–who’s poised to be an elite-level left-handed setup man. To get a southpaw in the bullpen finally — a void that killed their bullpen effectiveness last year as opposing managers were able to stack their lineups with lefty sluggers — the front office had to deal Billy Burns to Oakland for Jerry Blevins. While Burns isn’t a star, the little speedster looks like a superb fourth outfielder and pinch runner.

On the bright side, the lower levels of the system do sport many of the game’s most gifted athletes. 2013 first-round pick Lucas Giolito, now recovered from Tommy John surgery, is an elite-level arm when healthy, and has the stuff, intangibles and command to be an ace in a few years. Brian Goodwin, Harrisburg’s center fielder in 2013, has gotten stuck in double-A over the past two years after rising quickly through single-A ball. Though Goodwin’s five-tool profile pretty much makes him a sure bet to be a valuable player in the MLB.

The Nats didn’t have a first-round pick last June, but still made the most of their resources by grabbing a pair of high-ceiling stars from cowboy country. Former Dallas Baptist right-hander Jake Johansen largely flew under the radar in college, but his mid 90’s fastball and NFL tight end frame bless him with intriguing upside. And farmboy Drew Ward, taken in the third round last year, profiles as a left-handed version of Nolan Arenado.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll post detailed scouting reports on the players that made District Sports Page’s list of Top 25 Prospects in the Nationals organization. Below, though, are the names of the Nats’ top prospects to watch this season.

Top 25 Prospects

1. Lucas Giolito, RHP

13. Blake Treinen, RHP

2. Brian Goodwin, OF

14. Austin Voth, RHP

Robert Ray, LHP

15. Jefry Rodriguez, RHP

3. AJ Cole, RHP

16. Tony Renda, 2B

Nate Karns, RHP

17. Felipe Rivero, LHP

4. Drew Ward, 3B

18. Christian Garcia, RHP

5. Steven Souza, OF

19. Sandy Leon, C

6. Zach Walters, SS

20. Drew Vettleson, OF

7. Michael Taylor, OF

Adrian Nieto, C, 

8. Sammy Solis, LHP

21. Cody Gunter, 3B

9. Jake Johansen, RHP

22. Nick Pivetta, RHP

10. Eury Perez, OF

23. Rafael Bautista, OF

11. Matt Skole, 3B

24. Brett Mooneyham, LHP

12. Matt Purke, LHP

25. Pedro Severino, C

Billy Burns, OF 

Honorable Mention: Dixon Anderson, Aaron Barrett, Cutter Dykstra, Randy Encarnacion, David Napoli, Travis Ott, Raudy Read, Danny Rosenbaum, Hector Silvestre, Maximo Valerio

________________________

Ryan Kelley is a Contributor to District Sports Page. He’s a web application developer by day and an aspiring sports journalist living in the D.C. area. He has lived in Washington since graduating from The George Washington University and has past experience working within Minor League Baseball and for Team USA. He is founder of BaseballNewsHound.com, and specializes in scouting prospects playing in leagues on the East Coast and in the Mid-Atlantic region. A life-long ballplayer himself, he enjoys hitting home runs with his writing and scouting reports. You can follow him on Twitter @BBNewsHound and @Ryan_S_Kelley.

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