August 31, 2015

Washington Nationals call up No. 2 prospect Trea Turner

The Washington Nationals promoted SS Trea Turner from Triple-A Syracuse and placed 1B/OF Tyler Moore on the disabled list, reportedly because he stepped on a ball during batting practice Thursday evening and sprained his ankle.

To make room on the 40-man roster, Aaron Barrett was transferred to the 60-day DL.

Turner, 22, was hitting .314/.353/.431 at Syracuse with three home runs and 15 RBIs and 14 of 16 steals in 205 plate appearances. He’s had three stops in the minors this season and is a combined .322/.370/.458 in 500 plate appearances.

Turner came to the Nats in the Steven Souza trade, along with Joe Ross, from the San Diego Padres. Up until the last two days, Turner had exclusively played shortstop as a professional. He’s played the last two days at second base in Syracuse, presumably to ensure he could be used as a utility player at the big league level for now.

It’s hard to envision where Turner will get playing time in the bigs at this point, other than pinch-hitter and pinch-runner. Ian Desmond was once a strong candidate to be benched, but he has hit .262/.331/.500 with eight homers and 21 RBIs since the All-Star break. Yunel Escobar continues to hit, and between Anthony Rendon and Danny Espinosa, second base is already pretty crowded.

Turner is athletic, fast and has good baseball instincts. His batting average is propped up by a pretty high BABiP, one that’s unsustainable at the MLB level, but his speed allows him to reach base on a high number of infield hits. He has the range and arm strength to stick at shortstop and while he might not be the second coming of Ozzie Smith, he should play MLB-average defense at the position.

With the Nats still carrying an extra pitcher, this move leaves the Nats with a bench of Jose Lobaton, Clint Robinson, Espinosa and Turner.

Washington Nationals Game 87 Review: Nats take rubber game with Baltimore behind stellar Scherzer show

Max Scherzer allowed one run and recorded seven strikeouts in 8.2 innings of effort, and a three-run fourth inning propelled Washington to a 3-2 win over Baltimore on Sunday afternoon at Camden Yards.

[Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 70 Review: Offensive Miracle in the First Allows Sweep

NATIONALS BAT AROUND IN FIRST, SCORE NINE IN SWEEP OF PITTSBURGH PIRATES

It didn’t take long for the Washington Nationals to build an insurmountable lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates, completing a three-game sweep, with a 9-2 victory. The Nationals sent 12 men to the plate in the first inning, scoring nine runs, and knocking out Charlie Morton before 2:15pm.

The first inning was a disaster for Pittsburgh, as the Nationals gathered 8 hits and a walk against Charlie Morton before he was finally relieved of his duties. Bryce Harper and Yunel Escobar each hit no-doubt home runs, and Clint Robinson and Gio Gonzalez added doubles. Before the end of the first, eight of the nine Nationals had reached safely. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 53 Review: Buehrle Tosses A Complete Game Shutout, Washington’s Jordan Struggles Early

The Washington Nationals fell to the Toronto Blue Jays 8-0 on Wednesday night in D.C. after a dominant starting performance by left-handed pitcher Mark Buehrle and a rough opening tossed by Nats starter Taylor Jordan. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 51/52 Review: Nats Split Doubleheader with Toronto

JORDAN ZIMMERMANN CRUISES IN GAME 1, BULLPEN SHANKS GAME 2

The Washington Nationals split their Tuesday doubleheader with the Toronto Blue Jays, winning the first game 2-0 behind Jordan Zimmermann’s excellent effort, and dropping the second game 7-3 after the Blue Jays cracked open the Nationals bullpen and ate them like a briny Rappahannock oyster.

Jordan Zimmermann was the star of the show on Tuesday afternoon, walking one, striking out four and scattering six hits in eight innings pitched. His command was top-notch, and he scored one of the two Nationals run in the fifth after a single. The weather worked in Zimmermann’s favor, with cold air deadening the carry in the outfield. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 42 Review: Scherzer Dominates The Phillies, Harper Goes Long

The Washington Nationals treated a crowd of 35,893 to nine innings of one-run baseball on Friday night beating the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 after a strong eight-inning performance from right-handed starting pitcher Max Scherzer.

Scherzer gave up four hits, one run, and one walk while striking out six batters. He threw 110 pitches and 79 strikes.  And — thanks to some timely offense — he also helped the Nationals take their 2-1 lead in the sixth inning. [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.

Washington Nationals Game 9 Review: Bats Arise in 10-5 Victory over Boston

The Washington Nationals exploded for six runs in the third inning on Wednesday afternoon in the finale with the Boston Red Sox, on their way to a 10-5 final. The closing game of the six-game road trip was their first decisive win of the 2015 campaign. Gio Gonzalez pitched six strong innings in his first win, and Ian Desmond and Tyler Moore each smacked home runs. Rafael Martin make his MLB debut in relief and struck out five straight Red Sox, becoming the oldest player in history (30) to make his MLB debut in Fenway Park since 1947.

The third inning was the big story for the Nationals, as it was their first real offensive explosion of the nine-day-old season. Ian Desmond had a Green Monster shot to kickstart the offense. A single from Jayson Werth, his first of the year, led off the rally followed by a pair of walks to Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman. The wheels had come off for Wade Miley at this point, but Boston Manager John Farrell left him in one batter too long. Wilson Ramos cleared the bases with a double to the left field corner as the finishing blow, making the score 6-2.

With Wade Miley gone, Anthony Varvaro came on to mop up the mess and only made it worse. Dan Uggla and Michael A. Taylor each added RBI doubles before Yunel Escobar grounded out to end the six-run third inning. The Nationals sent ten men to the plate, scored six runs, and gathered two walks to complete an offensive explosion that had been a long time coming. After the game, starter Gio Gonzalez said, “Let’s not kid ourselves, the offense was amazing.” Finally, the Nats offense had arrived.

Four Nationals amassed multi-hit games (Harper, Ramos, Taylor and Moore), with only one Escobar shut out of the hit parade, and only two shut out of the RBI column. The Nats’ twelve hits were a season-high mark for the struggling offense.

Gonzalez had a strong day, with 6IP, 4ER, 6K and just 2BB, netting his first win. Rafael Martin, in his MLB debut, struck out five in his two relief innings, allowing no runs on just one hit. The 30-year old has worked his way up from the Mexican leagues through Potomac, Harrisburg and Syracuse over the last six seasons, and today he was impressive.

Drew Storen notched an uneventful ninth inning at Fenway in his third outing of the year.

HERO: Let’s give this one to the battery of Wilson Ramos (2 for 5, 2R, 3RBI, 2H) and Rafael Martin (2IP, 5K, 1H).

GOAT: Yunel Escobar is the only player to have missed out on the offensive awakening, and his error in the second came back to haunt the Nats. Even so, Escobar’s day shouldn’t earn him a full goat award, so we’ll award him just a tiny goat. Like this one.

NATS NOTES

Martin was recalled from Syracuse as Xavier Cedeño was designated for assignment. He becomes the first Nationals pitcher to strike out five in a row in their major league debut since Stephen Strasburg in June of 2010, and the first major leaguer to do it since Jason Grimm in 2012.

The Nationals 5 for 11 with runners in scoring position is far and away their best of the year. Coming into Wednesday’s game, the Nationals were 11 for 56 with runners in scoring position, a .197 average. They finish at 16 for 67, a .239 average.

UP NEXT: The Nationals return home Thursday to face the Philadelphia Phillies at 7:05 pm. Doug Fister (0-1, 0.00) hosts Cole Hamels (0-1, 3.75).

OPINION: Nationals Have Options as Opening Day Approaches

The Nationals’ roster for Opening Day is starting to come into focus, and there are some surprises as compared with a month ago. With Anthony Rendon, Jayson Werth and Denard Span expected to start their seasons in rehab assignments, the Nats find themselves looking at some additional bench slots, as players on the roster shift around to fill the gaps. Here’s a look at a few of the swaps fans will likely see come April 6th.

Michael Taylor has had quite a spring, including a pair of home runs against Justin Verlander, and is well-positioned to find himself both the CF for Opening Day and the lead off man for Matt Williams. The 24 year old rookie has plus speed and a solid glove, but will likely be back at Syracuse once Span returns barring a miracle. It will be worth it to catch the coming attractions while they’re here, Nats fans, Taylor may well be your Opening Day Center Fielder in 2016, as well.

Danny Espinosa will likely find himself at the hot corner until Anthony Rendon’s knee has fully recovered, which could be until May. Now righty-only, Espinosa has seen some good at-bats this spring against right-handed pitching but his whole season is predicated upon a return to the hitting of his rookie season. Many have praised his approach this spring, but it’s safe to say his career with the Nats hangs in the balance.

Tyler Moore will likely be your starting left fielder on April 6th, and the perennial bench favorite has earned the opportunity his spring with a slash line of .320/.327/.580. While no one will confuse Moore for Jayson Werth and his luxurious beard, that the Nationals can find replacements for three core bats speaks volumes about the depth of the roster right now. For that, Mike Rizzo should be applauded.

What this will do to the bench bats for Matt Williams, though, is a little less clear. I would argue that it is likely to be Kevin Frandsen, a rejuvenated Dan Uggla, the recently acquired Matt den Dekker, and Tony Gwynn Jr., who’s found his swing again. That is definitely not the bench anyone was predicting in February – rather, if you were, please drop me an email with proof and I’ll buy you a beer. It is entirely possible that recently acquired Reed Johnson might displace recently acquired den Dekker in the final roster spot, but I suspect we’ll see a fierce battle with the two of them each getting substantial playing time over the next five days.

This isn’t the Opening Day Roster that Mike Rizzo wanted to run out there; the injuries this spring could conceivably cost this team as many as 4-5 wins this season, though I suspect that’s a worst case estimate. Before you start, fair reader, don’t go blaming these events on a Sports Illustrated curse — curses are silly, and you’re better than that — but do look at the current roster options and rest a bit easier, Nats fans. There’s a lot of depth here, and the prognoses for May returns for Rendon, Werth and Span all bode well for the Nationals.

Washington Nationals Spring Training: Nats 9, Braves 8

Tyler Moore continued his hot spring, going 2 for 3 with a triple and home run and five RBIs to pace the Washington Nationals over N.L. East foe Atlanta Braves 9-8 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Moore hit a two-run homer off Braves starter Alex Wood in the second inning with Dan Uggla (1 for 2, run, RBI) aboard. In the fifth, Moore tripled to center off former Nats farmhand Juan Jaime, plating Tony Gwynn Jr and Emmanuel Burris.

The Nats got their winning run in the seventh when Matt Skole scored on a wild pitch by Arodys Vizcaino.

Freddie Freeman homered for the Braves off Craig Stammen in the fifth.

Jordan Zimmermann started for the Nationals and pitched two scoreless innings. He allowed a bloop single and walked one with no strikeouts.

NATS NOTES:

  • Taylor Jordan followed Zimmermann in his first action since being shut down last season with elbow discomfort and subsequent bone chips surgery last October. He gave up three earned runs on four hits. He didn’t walk anyone and struck out one.
  • Stammen was hammered in his inning of work. The veteran reliever gave up a whopping five runs on eight hits.
  • NRI invitee Rich Hill struck out two in 1 1/3 innings.
  • Matt Grace, Even Meek and Manny Delcarmen all pitched a scoreless inning in relief.
  • In addition to Moore, Kevin Frandsen and Ian Desmond both had two-hit days. Skole was 1 for 2 with a double and two runs scored.
  • Sandy Leon was the DH and went 0 for 4.
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