Skip to content

State of the Nats: An impressive weekend

May 4, 2015, 6:00 AM EDT

Photo by USA Today

Top storylines:

Strong showing in New York – The Nationals traveled to New York this weekend to face the Mets, who at the beginning of the series were undefeated at home and owners of the best record in baseball. The Nats also lost Denard Span for two-plus games during the series, yet they took three of four and cut their deficit in the division from six games to four along the way.

If the Nats had lost this series, they would have returned home with significant ground to make up in the NL East. Now they have to feel a lot better about themselves after showing they can beat the Mets even while missing Span for several games and even with Anthony Rendon’s continued absence.

The Nationals’ wins on Saturday and Sunday were particularly impressive, as they got two victories despite scoring a combined two runs. It was the first time in franchise history they won back-to-back games by a score of 1-0. The last D.C. team to accomplish that was the 1915 Senators. With key contributors missing from their lineup and a Mets team built with elite pitching, the Nats had to play clean, mistake-free baseball. They did just that and came away with as impressive a series win as they come this early in the year.

What is going on with Anthony Rendon? Rendon was out of the lineup at Double-A Harrisburg on Sunday once again, the seventh time in the last eight days he has sat out. Now it’s side tightness that is affecting him, a new injury that the Nats say is separate from the left MCL sprain that has already kept him out for two months. Whatever it is exactly that is going on, it seems to be getting less and less promising by the day.

The Nationals have said very little about Rendon’s progress dating back to March 9 when he first injured his knee. It was first supposed to be a day-to-day thing, but here we are months later and Rendon is yet to play for the Nats. Given the lack of information, it’s tough to tell when he will return. Regardless, he continues to experience setbacks and right now it appears wise to at the very least exclude Rendon from any of the Nats’ plans for the near future. They need him back 100 percent whenever he can return and it doesn’t look like that will be any time soon.

Surgning Marlins in town – The Marlins stumbled out of the gate with one of the worst starts in the majors and at one point seemed to be hovering quite closely over the panic button. After starting 3-11, rumors emerged of manager Mike Redmond being on the hot seat, a players-only meeting was held, Giancarlo Stanton called out his teammates’ commitment and their catcher first got benched and then DFA’d.

Now the Marlins are 12-13 after winning nine of their last 11 and they had a four-game winning streak going before the Phillies avoided the sweep against them on Sunday. The Marlins are starting to look like the team many predicted to compete for a playoff spot and they come to Washington a group that must see the Nats as an early season test.

One thing to watch will be the pitching matchups, as the Nats could have a big advantage this week:

Monday – Jordan Zimmermann (2-2, 4.88) vs. David Phelps (1-0, 3.38)
Tuesday – Stephen Strasburg (2-2, 4.60) vs. Mat Latos (0-3, 6.86)
Wednesday – Max Scherzer (1-3, 1.26) vs. Tom Koehler (2-2, 4.67)

NL East Standings


Offensive game of the week: Dan Uggla 4/28 vs. Braves – 3-for-5, HR, 3B, 5 RBI, 2 R

Pitching game of the week: Doug Fister 5/3 vs. Mets – 6.1 IP, 0 ER, 5 H, 0 BB, 3 SO. 89 pitches, 68 strikes.

Quote of the week:

Zimmermann with a playful jab at Scherzer after driving in three runs vs. the Braves on Wednesday:

“I like hitting. I’m just not as fragile as some guys on this team.”

Tweet of the week:

Fan tweets at Span, Span tweets back…


Road ahead

MON – 7:05 p.m. vs. Miami Marlins (Zimmermann)
TUE – 7:05 p.m. vs. Miami Marlins (Strasburg)
WED – 1:05 p.m. vs. Miami Marlins (Scherzer)
FRI – 7:05 p.m. vs. Atlanta Braves (Gonzalez)
SAT – 4:05 p.m. vs. Atlanta Braves (Fister)
SUN – 1:35 p.m. vs. Atlanta Braves (Zimmermann)

109 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. Ghost of Steve M. - May 4, 2015 at 6:14 AM

    Great recap. What a series in NYC and can never forget “The Comeback” in Atlanta while down 9-1.

    Having Desi hitting should bode well for this Marlin series. Let’s hope JDub”s bat wakes up along with situational hitting.

    • Doc - May 4, 2015 at 8:21 AM

      Let’s hope that TyMo gets some time in the lineup, while JDub’s bat is waking up!

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 4, 2015 at 9:22 AM

        This is still Jaysons Spring Training when you consider how many at-bats he’s had, but yes, he could use some off days.

    • Guapo - May 4, 2015 at 11:04 AM

      Huge week coming up for Nats. Six games vs. two division rivals with similar records. Series wins in each could put them solidly in second and get the record to .500. Both huge milestones based on where this club was two weeks ago. If they can get even with the Mets by the AS break and hopefully have Rendon back by then, it could be an exciting second half.

      • npb99 - May 4, 2015 at 12:25 PM

        By AS break? You’re a pessimist!

      • Guapo - May 4, 2015 at 2:52 PM

        Realist. The Mets are a good team. They are not going to lay down. Nats could have easily dropped this series. Scored two runs in two games.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 4, 2015 at 12:56 PM

        The All Star break is a little more than 2 months away and with just 4 games now separating the Nats from 1st place I’d hope it takes a matter of weeks to make up that ground.

        Just a week ago the Nats were 8 games back and whittled off 4 games! It can be done as witnessed.

      • Guapo - May 4, 2015 at 2:53 PM

        Sure, it can be done. but it to NYM going 2-8 to get there. Any the Nats winning back to back games where they scored one run. Better plan is to focus on realistic goals and get there step by step.

  2. Ghost of Steve M. - May 4, 2015 at 6:35 AM

    To have Aaron Barrett step into the “Stopper” role and shutdown and shutup the Mets was impressive. He was spinning sliders that were moving like wiffle ball pitches.

    Just impressive.

  3. Ghost of Steve M. - May 4, 2015 at 6:41 AM

    The Friday night game of Scherzer/Harvey was a joy to watch for the first 7 innings. You just felt the 1st team that scored was going to win. The Nats situational hitting woes started on Friday but sometimes credit has to be given to the opposing pitchers.

    At the time I called it a heavyweight fight which it felt like. As a baseball purist and a fan of the game, it was just great to watch while they were both in the game, and some team would lose a heartbreaker.

    Even though Scherzer lost giving up 1 run, I thought he was brilliant. Tip of the cap.

    • rayvil01 - May 4, 2015 at 7:12 AM

      If Werth doesn’t misplay that ball the series would have had three consecutive 1-0 games. It tells you what kind of pitching is involved for both sides.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 4, 2015 at 7:22 AM

        I think there was 1 out at the time of the Werth mishap which I think that flyout would have been a Sac Fly. Either way, 1-0 or 2-0, certainly not 4-0 which distorted how close that game was.

      • rayvil01 - May 4, 2015 at 7:56 AM

        You are correct. One out at the time. For some reason I was thinking there were two.

        Tight game. TyMo came close to making it really interesting. He reacted at the plate like he got it. He needs some ABs.

      • nats128 - May 4, 2015 at 8:02 AM

        Your right rayvil. TyMo hit that well. Wind blowing in some and the colder weather that came in kept that in the park. What could have been.

  4. knoxvillenat - May 4, 2015 at 6:52 AM

    “One thing to watch will be the pitching matchups, as the Nats could have a big advantage this week.”

    We saw both Latos and Koehler in Miami earlier and that didn’t go very well. Let’s hope it gets better when playing at home.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 4, 2015 at 6:55 AM

      Exactly. I count on how Nats pitchers are doing.

      • nats128 - May 4, 2015 at 8:00 AM

        Be nice to see MW get more creative with his offense.

      • Doc - May 4, 2015 at 8:25 AM

        Yea MW needs to release his inner Bochy and Madden! He’s a long way on the creative scale from either!

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 4, 2015 at 8:44 AM

        In MWs defense, his players didn’t do their job in situations where even productive outs would have scored runs.

        I credit Gonat with the top suggestion yesterday when Fister K’d and you had 1 out with bases loaded you have to bring in Uggla for Span against the lefty. You can then insert Taylor to play CF.

        It just made too much sense when that suggestion was posted. Uggla had been en fuego (SSS) and Span was 1-10 against lefties at that moment.

        Oh well. Nats won anyway.

      • therealjohnc - May 4, 2015 at 9:23 AM

        With one out, where I need a ball in play to score a run, even against a LHP I would take Span over Uggla ten times out of ten. Even if you believe in the “hot hand” it had been a few days since Uggla had really done anything with the bat. And it’s not like Span had been in a deep slump or something. Further, not only is Uggla more likely to strike out than Span, he’s much more likely to hit into an inning-ending GIDP. No, thanks. To PH Uggla for Span there is mindless matchup stuff over rational thought.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 4, 2015 at 9:33 AM

        John, we all have opinions but the manner in which you shut them down as a 10 put of 10 is ridiculous. It’s playing the numbers and Uggla was 1 for 2 against Torres with a K but it’s playing that hot hand to force the Mets.

        I liked the idea and part of baseball is putting pressure on the other team.

      • natinalsgo aka Gonats - May 4, 2015 at 9:48 AM

        therealjohnc – May 4, 2015 at 9:23 AM

        “against a LHP I would take Span over Uggla ten times out of ten”

        There’s lefties that own Span which makes an “always” 100% statement outrageous. I can name lefties who own Span like Avilan, Bastardo, Sipp and Rafael Perez. In fact Rafael Perez has K’d Span 5 out of 13 times. There’s other lefties also. Ten out of ten, laughable as a blanket statement.

        ” To PH Uggla for Span there is mindless matchup stuff over rational thought.”

        To make such an abrasive comment about my comment is just nasty. It’s one of the reasons that myself and others don’t post here anymore. Uggla was 1 for 2 against Uggla and while I acknowledged it was a sample size that was insignificant, Uggla has been launching balls. When you need a ball it far, Span might have 2 HRs in the last week but Uggla has a triple and a HR in less ABs.

        You are the King of know-it-alls. Never wrong, always right, omnipotent and quick to put down others.

        No thank you.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 4, 2015 at 10:08 AM

        Yah, I don’t get at what’s with therealjohnc but if you say anything that would seem negative about Span or RZim’s health his head explodes.

        It really had nothing to do with Span as much as the matchup as Span still making adjustments to lefties as this is his Spring Training.

        I’m also not a fan of therealjohn’s comments. Nothing like diplomacy. Sheesh.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 4, 2015 at 10:24 AM

        Let me rephrase, I’m really not a fan of therealjohn’s comments above. I actually like a lot of his comments. Maybe he’s having a bad day. I don’t get it but I understand why a lot of the old-timers have left.

        Who wants to be berated like that.

      • natinalsgo aka Gonats - May 4, 2015 at 10:39 AM

        I appreciate that. I don’t know John. I just found it rude and belittling as in How Dare I.


      • natinalsgo aka Gonats - May 4, 2015 at 9:49 AM

        Should read 1 for 2 against Torres.

      • ICYMI - May 4, 2015 at 11:08 AM

        There’s not a manager in the world who would have pinch hit Uggla for Span in that situation. Span hit .300 last year, set a team record for hits. You don’t “play matchups” with a hitter like that. Not ever.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 4, 2015 at 12:52 PM

        I don’t know who you are so I assume you’re THEREALJOHNC. Someone made a good out of the box comment in-game. The attacks on him and me are wearing thin.

      • therealjohnc - May 4, 2015 at 1:39 PM

        ICYMI isn’t me, FWIW. While I don’t regard myself as “King of know-it-alls. Never wrong, always right, omnipotent” I concede that I’m occasionally pompous and pedantic. I also try to be occasionally self aware. I do regret the “mindless” comment as unnecessarily abrasive, and I apologize for that. And yeah, I tend to be convinced that I’m right – but I try to at least consider the possibility that I might be wrong from time to time. I think that in itself would prevent me from being King. Maybe Duke, or perhaps even only Baronet.

        But I pretty much stand by my “ten times out of ten.” Note: I’m not saying I never pinch hit for Span there. I’m saying that I don’t hit Uggla for Span there. This is for a variety of reasons, one of which is that at this stage of their careers Span is much better to start with. And although the pitcher was a LHP, Span’s career platoon splits aren’t that dramatic (.756 OPS vs. RHP, .720 vs. LHP); he’s had a few seasons where his numbers were actually better against LHP. His platoon splits in 2013 were – Span sucked against LHP in 2013 (OPS .226 worse than against RHP). This one season has led many Nats fans write him off against LHP. But it was very anomalous, and Span’s numbers bounced halfway back to normal last year (.694 OPS vs. LHP, .108 worse than against RHP). Simply put, Span is not a LH batter that has been flummoxed by LH pitchers, 2013 notwithstanding.

        On the other side is Uggla. Not only has he not been very good for years, but he actually has a career reverse platoon split – he’s better against RHP than LHP. On top of that, with only one out I want contact – and Uggla K’s at a much higher rate (24.2%) than Span 11.5%). And in their careers Span’s K’s have been trending down where Uggla’s have been trending up. While the GIDP rates are closer than I expected (probably due to Uggla’s whiff rate and the fact that his GB/FB ratio is lower), Span’s speed and left handedness more than offsets the GB%. Uggla offers a better chance of the Grand Slam (although Span is the one with two HRs in the last week, weirdly enough). But in that situation power wasn’t at a premium, contact was – and if we needed another lesson, the importance of contact in that situation was amply demonstrated throughout the last two games by the Nationals.

        PH Uggla there also burns two players off of my bench (Uggla AND MAT) that I might need later in the game, and at least slightly (at this stage of their careers) degrades the defense as well. I guess it’s theoretically possible that Uggla could have some LHP that he completely wears out over enough at bats for me to pay attention to – 30+? 40+? – it would depend on how recent the experience and how thorough the ownage. Suffice it to say, 2 ABs isn’t going to do it. So maybe “ten out of ten” was rounded off. Maybe let’s go with “199 times out of 200, in that game situation.”

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 4, 2015 at 2:05 PM

        Span was just inserted back in the line-up aftwr more time off for his core injury and giving him an early shower was another reason why it made sense and I think it was the 6th inning and using a PH there after Fister failed to counteract the Mets managers move made sense if you have an open mind to others ideas.

        It wasn’t my idea but I liked it and Span just didn’t look good all game which is the read you make with the eye test.

        There’s no rewind button as they say and Span didn’t have a good AB.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 4, 2015 at 2:09 PM

        And BTW, throw out all the platoon splits and every thing else as the current platoon splits vs lefties hasn’t been good. When he’s 100% he has always hit lefties nearly as good as righties, but he isn’t 100% not is Werth. The same will happen when Rendon comes back as I don’t expect him to be 100%.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - May 4, 2015 at 1:50 PM

        You are the King of know-it-alls. Never wrong, always right, omnipotent and quick to put down others.

        Game of Thrones.

        Doncha love watching the royals go at it?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 4, 2015 at 2:11 PM

        LOL, King for a day!

      • therealjohnc - May 4, 2015 at 2:49 PM

        His “current” platoon splits total 12 plate appearances (with a BABIP of .111 – fun with SSS!). No, I don’t put any weight on that at all. I can’t throw that out because I never brought it in. Nor should MW and the Nats, if they know their business.

    • NatsLady - May 4, 2015 at 11:45 AM

      I have to agree on NOT pinch-hitting Uggla for Span. Not only are you taking out a guy with a proven record, and one who normally doesn’t have a strong platoon spit, but you are weakening your defense in a close game.

    • NatsLady - May 4, 2015 at 11:49 AM

      As for “therealjohnc” berating some other poster, well, sometimes silly ideas are silly ideas and you find yourself mentioning that fact. Maybe a little harsh, but not incorrect.

  5. rabbit433 - May 4, 2015 at 7:51 AM

    I’d love to see Anthony back in the lineup, but he has been out so long that I have actually begun to forget about him. We just have to move on. Use Rendon as if he were a backup, only because, with all his time on the DL, he only puts in backup time on the field. Our pitching is top of the line, but we will need to support it much more next season.

    • nats128 - May 4, 2015 at 7:53 AM

      Look who is back. It was cool watching Nate Karns shutout the Oreos for 5 innings yesterday on 2 hits. Unfortunately the Rays bullpen couldnt pitch well.

    • Hiram Hover - May 4, 2015 at 8:18 AM

      he has been out so long that I have actually begun to forget about him.

      While that may be a revealing statement about you, it really says nothing about Rendon.

      • Doc - May 4, 2015 at 8:30 AM

        The rodent is having memory problems.

        Baseball is much safer when he is nibbling his hole. He still is hoping that Health Bell replaces Treinen in the pen.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 4, 2015 at 8:33 AM

        Silly Rabbit Trix are for kids. I thought you were gone and going to watch real baseball in Baltimore to paraphrase your goodbye to us.

        Nats are winning and playing great baseball and you’re back.

  6. rlndtln - May 4, 2015 at 8:06 AM

    What happened to our 8th inning pitcher Jansen.Is he out for the season?

    • nats128 - May 4, 2015 at 8:11 AM

      Hes still rehabbing and should be on a Minor League assignment soon.

  7. Section 222 - May 4, 2015 at 8:18 AM

    I was away for the weekend, but enjoyed catching Charlie and Dave for most of all three games. H/t to the MLB app. Best $19.95 ever spent.

    Only 4 games out after the lousy start we had is just fine. All four starters did their job, which it’s clear is the key. Now we have to start winning series. It’s a marathon, not a sprint as they always say.

    When Rendon returns he will be in the lineup. When that will be, remains to be seen. Must be even more discouraging for him than it is for us.

    • Serious Jammage - May 4, 2015 at 9:34 AM

      Couldn’t agree more on the $19.95 well spent. That app is awesome. Cold beverage on the roof and the game on the speakers was pretty priceless this weekend.

  8. chapjim - May 4, 2015 at 8:24 AM

    Where is Lucas Giolito? He’s not on the P-Nats roster. Doesn’t seem to be on any roster.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 4, 2015 at 8:34 AM

      He’s in extended Spring Training so they can manage his start to the season. He will be with the PNats shortly.

      • chapjim - May 4, 2015 at 12:36 PM


      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 4, 2015 at 12:53 PM

        Any time. Probably will be an announcement shortly.

  9. laddieblahblah - May 4, 2015 at 8:29 AM

    Turns out they are who we thought they were. The pen was almost as awesome as the starters were in those last 2 games. If RZ’s shot to RF had carried another 10 feet, and Cuddyer’s had carried 10 feet less, then the Nats would have swept. The Mets were baseball lucky to get even that one win.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 4, 2015 at 8:36 AM

      “Turns out they are who we thought they were.”

      That’s a classic line.

      “If RZ’s shot to RF had carried another 10 feet, and Cuddyer’s had carried 10 feet less…”

      I think you mean TyMo’s shot in the Friday game.

      • laddieblahblah - May 4, 2015 at 10:07 AM

        I meant the double that RZ had against Harvey in the 2nd game. It hit the base of the RF wall at about the same point that Cuddyer’s HR barely cleared the same wall. Ten feet on both shots made the difference between 1-0 Nats, and 1-0 Mets. With a 1-0 lead, Matt leaves Scherzer in to finish off the Metropolitans, and the Mets probably do not score those 3 runs in the 8th.

        “I think you mean TyMo’s shot in the Friday game.”

        TyMo would not have been hitting for Scherzer if the Nats had the lead at that point.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 4, 2015 at 10:21 AM

        Gotcha on the RZim and the sequence.

      • laddieblahblah - May 4, 2015 at 10:11 AM

        “That’s a classic line.”

        Those of us without shame steal other people’s stuff, like, from Denny Green, for example:

        You can’t trust me, Ghost.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 4, 2015 at 10:22 AM

        Oh I know the line. Coors did that commerical on it which was great.

        I appreciated your twist on it!

    • nats128 - May 4, 2015 at 11:36 AM

      “Turns out they are who we thought they were.”

      I also appreciate the reference. Just perfect for the situation considering how many were freaking out 2 weeks into the season. There were dozens of calls (mostly by the same people) demanding MW be fired.

  10. manassasnatsfan - May 4, 2015 at 9:47 AM

    For the Marlin series we have a decided starter advantage, but then again we did in Miami, we didn’t take advantage then. We will this week.

    One game at a time, one series at a time.

    Last time JZim pitched against the Marlins at Nats Park it turned out OK.

  11. Eugene in Oregon - May 4, 2015 at 9:47 AM

    While I was delighted with both Ws and found the Nats pitching (and defense!) impressive, I’m not sure I’d call the two 1-0 victories ‘impressive’ wins. Both games were on the proverbial razor’s edge and could have gone either way. I honestly believe that the Nats are beginning to turn around whatever it was that made the first few weeks so unimpressive (and almost unwatchable), but I’m still looking for more offense on a regular base and some sort of happy medium between 13-run games and 1-run performances.

    • ehay2k - May 4, 2015 at 10:06 AM

      Perhaps only impressive in the sense that they ground out two 1-0 wins on the road, against the division leaders, who were 10-0 at home until the Nats showed up and took 3 of 4. The pressure was on the Nats, because the fan base and media would have been all over the team and MW if they had lost this series. So under pressure, they delivered. That’s a big improvement over their games we saw in April.

      Apparently it’s also rare to win two 1-0 game sin a row on the road? Who knew?!?

      Livo game tonite will be there for sure!


      • adcwonk - May 4, 2015 at 10:34 AM

        Further, for two of three phases of the game it downright _was_ impressive: pitching and defense. How we longed for a “clean” game just a week or two ago.

      • Eugene in Oregon - May 4, 2015 at 10:48 AM

        Agreed. And I’m not trying to get too hung up on adjectives. I guess my point is that I’m hopeful the Nats will soon be moving into the category of regularly having decisive wins, where all three elements — pitching, hitting, defense — are on display. Maybe that’s being greedy, but I think that’s what many of us anticipated heading into the season.

  12. Theophilus T.S. - May 4, 2015 at 10:05 AM

    “Impressive” is not a word I would use. Basically, if you win a 1-0 game, with all of your runners left on base, you were lucky and dodged a bullet. ((Scherzer can testify.) If you win two 1-0 games in a row you look for ventilation in your torso. Gonzalez and Fister were back-to-back lifesavers. Gonzalez pitched above his norm; Fister did what we expect him to do but I do think he is still fighting to keep his pitches down in the zone. Momentum for the offense, such as it is, is coming from the bottom of the order (six thru one). Harper is striking out at a Desmondian-plus rate and, phenomenally (to me, anyway), is making contact on fewer than fifty percent of his plate appearances. All those walks would be more impressive if the batters behind him were turning them into runs — which they’re not. And he’s not the only whiffer in the lineup.

    Things ought to turn around starting today. Talent-wise, advantage Nats on all three pitching matchups. The hitters have to get better against Latos. Unfortunately, I don’t see any signs of a turn-around for Werth. It’s not just a matter of timing anymore. He seems to think he can game the strike zone, choosing to attach pitches out of the zone he thinks he can reach and ignoring pitches where he and the blind newspaper vendor behind the plate end up with a difference of opinion. He needs to, at once, become more selective and less selective. I think it’s time to sit him down for a couple of days.

    By the end of the week, the Nats will be at .500 or better.

    • Theophilus T.S. - May 4, 2015 at 10:07 AM

      “attack,” not attach. +1 to Eugene, who got there first.

    • Bruxtun - May 4, 2015 at 10:37 AM

      Winning 1-0 does make you lucky, but leaving all those runners on base also means you were unlucky, to me. People are probably sick of MW saying it but I agree; the best thing you can do is keep giving yourself those opportunities and eventually you will knock them in.

      • adcwonk - May 4, 2015 at 10:39 AM


      • nats128 - May 4, 2015 at 11:41 AM

        Part of it was unlucky when it comes to BABIP. Striking out or swinging at a poor pitch to drive like Bryce did on 3-0 isnt unlucky.

    • adcwonk - May 4, 2015 at 10:39 AM

      Harper is striking out at a Desmondian-plus rate and, phenomenally (to me, anyway), is making contact on fewer than fifty percent of his plate appearances. All those walks would be more impressive if the batters behind him were turning them into runs — which they’re not

      Harper leads the league in walks. He also leads the team in runs scored. (He’s scored 18. Ian, who’s scored 13, is the only other Nats with more than 10).

    • Section 222 - May 4, 2015 at 11:17 AM

      All those walks would be more impressive if the batters behind him were turning them into runs — which they’re not.

      Actually, whether the walks are impressive regardless of what the batters behind him do. Would you rather he swing at bad pitches and ground out to second base?

      Harper’s patience and growing knowledge of the strike zone are going to pay rich dividends as the season goes on. You can’t pitch around him every time.

      • Eugene in Oregon - May 4, 2015 at 11:28 AM

        Agreed. Some of complaints against Joey Votto are of the same sort (“he walks too much!”). If the alternative is swinging at pitches outside the zone, I’ll take the walk every single time.

      • Section 222 - May 4, 2015 at 11:34 AM

        Exactly. Of course, sometimes when a player walks, he has taken one or two hittable pitches as well. Adam Dunn was often accused of that. I don’t get the sense that Bryce is taking a lot of strikes, but in any event, I wouldn’t mess with his newly acquired plate discipline. It’s part of what is going to make him a superstar.

      • nats128 - May 4, 2015 at 11:39 AM

        Part of it was unlucky when it comes to BABIP. Striking out or swinging at a poor pitch to drive like Bryce did on 3-0 isnt unlucky.

      • nats128 - May 4, 2015 at 11:47 AM

        I commend Bryce on his plate patience which had been excellent and as soon as I do he forces a 3-0 swing on a inside pitch with a man on 3rd and 1 out which was impatient and forced what wasnt there.

  13. thewerthwhisperer - May 4, 2015 at 10:47 AM

    Going tonight, and looking forward to my bike ride to Nas Park from Freibdship Heights. I seem to have lucked out, having gotten 4 Bobblehead games without pre-knowledge. So….gotta stock away all of them in order to trade for the Rendon Garden Gnome to keep my JW Gnome company. BTW, that gnome kept my tomatoes safe last summer! Pretty scary even to me!

    OK, let’s play,”losing Rendon is like…” And then fill in the blank, such as “the Marlins losing Stanton”.

    Go Nats!

    • thewerthwhisperer - May 4, 2015 at 10:48 AM

      Could have used spell check in my post. :>)

    • natsbikevalet - May 4, 2015 at 12:14 PM

      Right on on the bike riding to the Park. I live in Friendship – how do you go? As per my nom de plume, this is the best way to get to the Park and then park for free. I haven’t driven to the Park for the past 3 years. I then bike back to the Red line and take the metro back home.

      Sadly, or happily, I had to sell my Livo Head tickets tonight, because a little thing called the Stanley Cup playoffs are in town. Luckily, I can do the Wed Nats matinee and then go to the nightcap at Verizon Center. What a great time of year!

      • thewerthwhisperer - May 4, 2015 at 2:03 PM

        I pick up the bike trail at Connecticut and Calvert, then straight to the Pak, veering off at Arena Stage 45 minutes to get there

      • thewerthwhisperer - May 4, 2015 at 2:05 PM

        Little over an hour to get home, uphill, Pennsylvania Abe past White House, then mass ave to 17th street all the way into Adams Morgan across Calvert to Connecticut.

      • thewerthwhisperer - May 4, 2015 at 2:07 PM

        And happily trade my extra Livo for Rendon Garden Gnome if that’s one of your games. :>)

      • sec112 - May 4, 2015 at 3:39 PM

        I also cycle to all my games (from Bethesda). In addition to being a nice ride, with no traffic or parking costs, it allows me to not feel guilty about having a beer and stadium food!

  14. nats4me - May 4, 2015 at 11:06 AM

    Another take away from this weekend’s games.
    1) Starting pitching is starting to become the factor we all hoped it would be.
    2) Bullpen has started to pitch better, yet giving up 3 runs late on Friday’s game wasn’t very good.
    3) Situational hitting still sucks. You can’t leave the bases loaded without scoring a run. You can’t leave a runner on third with one out without even coming close to scoring a run. I’d almost rather see a double play ball up top with the bases loaded and score a run, than see three straight strikeouts.
    4) Our bench is just slightly better than last year. Which isn’t saying much.
    5) Our fielding is much improved, and the Mets ran into too many outs…thanks Mets!

    Yet the whole weekend comes down to our 1-0 games. Quite honestly, those games should have been closer to 4-0 than 1-0, but we can get men on, but can’t get them home. We are a streaky team that when hitting homers goes on to outslug…when we don’t hit dingers, we could be in trouble. So during playoffs, when the air is cooler, the stakes are higher…the homeruns fewer, we don’t score enough to win those close games.

    • jd - May 4, 2015 at 11:24 AM

      I would be careful with drawing too many conclusions from the weekend. The Mets pitch well but their lineup without D’Arnaud, Wright and even Flores is really not that intimidating. The Marlins on the other hand have real crappy starting pitching (without Fernandez and Alvarez) but a much better lineup than the Mets.

      • natsjackinfl - May 4, 2015 at 11:41 AM

        The problem the Mets have is that there is no way to hide the defensive inabilities of Flores, Murphy and Cuddyer.

      • virginiascopist - May 4, 2015 at 12:07 PM

        Agree on the Marlins lineup. However, Yelich is still on the DL and Morse hasn’t been able to hit himself out of a paper bag lately.

    • adcwonk - May 4, 2015 at 12:17 PM

      Again, the Nats RISP BA (and men on base BA) is higher than their overall BA (even after factoring in the last three games, where we scored a grand total of two runs). So the problem is hitting in general.

      • Steady Eddie - May 4, 2015 at 1:42 PM

        Sorry, wonk, inadvertently reported your comment without even knowing I did it.

      • manassasnatsfan - May 4, 2015 at 2:11 PM

        As we say often, whoever the programmer was that placed the report comment next to the reply button wasn’t thinking clearly for sure.

        If you are going to have the next to each others at lease add a line that sends a message back saying “Did you really mean to report that comment.”

        Apparently the programmer doesn’t have fat fingers and is clueless.

  15. jeromeaquino - May 4, 2015 at 11:13 AM

    natinalsgo aka Gonats:

    I agree with every word in your post above. Also, Sherzer’s performance Friday night was awesome. That was the best pitching performance of the series.

  16. adcwonk - May 4, 2015 at 11:17 AM

    Man, reading yesterday’s game thread was quite an experience. It seems like 80% of the comments were negative. (Hard to believe we were ahead the entire game)

    I want to make a couple of observations:

    1. As was pointed out, finally (thanks Eugene!), towards the end of the game, the Nats RISP BA is actually *higher* than their overall BA. Which means that it’s not the RISP that’s lacking, it’s the hitting in general that’s lacking. But we all know that already.

    2. Blaming the batters for three K’s after bases loaded give no credit at all to Torres. Span and Escobar probably have the *lowest* strike out rates on the team. The fact that they both struck out consecutively should tip us off that Torres was throwing wicked stuff — not that the approach of Span and Esco were bad. (Span *was 2d in the league* last year in lowest K rate! And even after yesterday, his rate this year is even lower than last year.

    3. Criticizing MW for not using Uggla as PH is unfair. Just because *some* here think that Uggla would have been a better choice (and I don’t, actually) MW’s choice was defensible. Yes, MAT could have played CF after that, but, ask yourselves, when you’re protecting a 1-0 lead, who would you rather have playing CF? I’d go with Span, hands down. MAT is good (and will improve), but Span, at this point, is still better. Another reason: Span’s low strike out rate. If he hits a fly ball, a run scores. If he hits a grounder, unless they get a play at the plate, he’s probably going to beat out a DP ball. Again, my point is this: there were good enough reasons to leave Span in that calling MW out on it just because you would have managed differently is unfair, IMHO.

    4. And speaking of “batting approaches.” Yes, yes, we all know that Ian has that problem. And others from time to time. But that doesn’t mean that every single time a Nats batter swings and misses at a FB up in the zone it’s a “bad approach.” It sometimes means the batter was fooled on the pitch, and already started his swing, and he’s got not choice but to keep swinging in hopes he hits it. It happens to the best hitters. No matter — the coaches get blamed anyway. (Really?)

    5. Bases loaded, no bunt called. Somebody finally noted that, because of the force at home, it fails pretty often. No matter — MW is still called an idiot.

    So, why this post?

    When the Nats are losing and/or playing badly, I often skip the thread and/or don’t participate, because the neg-anons and/or Oreo’s fans come in to make fun, pile on, rub salt, what have you.

    But when we’re winning right from the top of the 1st inning and on, and our regular fans are just writing negative comment after negative comment (starting even during that first inning, right up until the 3rd out in the ninth) . . . well, that’s just a bummer to many fans. I know it’s frustrating to have guys on third with less than two out and not scoring. That happens to the best of teams. And we were winning. And we still get comments like “we refuse to hit” or “what do the coaches do” — well, sheesh.

    I’m a fan because I get enjoyment out of it. Let’s at least try to enjoy game we’re winning!

    • jd - May 4, 2015 at 11:33 AM

      Exactly right Wonk. This is why I rarely join in the conversation during games. I think people get to emotional and therefore aren’t all that rational. I think second guessing the manager is fair game but making comments where your opinion is ‘obviously’ right and the manager is ‘obviously’ an idiot is pure chutzpah and does not deserve reasonable consideration.

      For the record I think pinch hitting Uggla for Span is a fairly bad idea and also considering pinch hitting for a pitcher who is ahead, has a low pitch count in the 6th inning is a bad idea. These are my opinions and I won’t call people who disagree names but that’s just not cool.

    • letswin3 - May 4, 2015 at 11:42 AM

      A thoughtful comment. Thanks.

    • Section 222 - May 4, 2015 at 11:44 AM

      Lots of good comments here. I followed the game posts more than I usually do because I was out of town and listening to C&D. I found that they were sometimes entertaining, and often provided some context from people watching the game, which I wasn’t able to do. The negativity can be annoying, but you shouldn’t take it so personally. It’s a place where people just throw out their immediate reactions. Just like at the park, different people watch a game in different ways. And personally, I enjoy hearing peoples’ ideas about strategy, especially if they aren’t just after the fact complaints.

      In a one run game, I would have liked to see MW try a squeeze play with Fister. He can handle the bat, and he can run (to avoid a DP) you never know what can happen. If there’s a force at home, you’re no worse off than if he strikes out, which is what he ended up doing.

      As far as PHing for Span with Uggla, I would never do that for the reasons you give. But I certainly don’t mind hearing the suggestion. Yes, it’s going too far to say that MW’s an idiot for not doing it, but I don’t remember anyone saying that. And of course, those who throw out ideas like that should remember though that Span striking out didn’t make your idea any better. Uggla could easily have done the same thing.

      • adcwonk - May 4, 2015 at 12:11 PM

        Thanks (and thanks to letswin and jd) for your support.

        Yes, I get that people type their immediate reactions — but “arggh, that was frustrating has heck” is different from “he’s refusing to hit” or “doesn’t he have a clue with the bat” or “don’t the coaches teach not to do that” or some such thing.

        (As for Uggla PH — although I didn’t think it was a good idea, I see the point (it would have drastically increased the probability of a DP, btw) — but my point is this: there is a difference between: (a) disagreeing with MW but realizing that there are pros and cons to the decision; and (b) thinking that our own out-of-the-box idea is the only way to go and if MW doesn’t something different he’s foolish.

        FWIW, I was hoping to see Fister bunt, too — but I have no idea what the odds on that are.

        Also, FWIW, I don’t take such comments personally. I’m just disappointed that, during a game where we’re winning the entire way, there’s such negativity. Life’s too short for that.

      • nats128 - May 4, 2015 at 12:23 PM

        Way to much thought to should have done something different. When you play out the scenarios every time you think outside the box based on something not working the next time it comes up it works. It seems to even out and thats why theres stats for situational hitting.

        Span didnt get the job done but to blame Escobar is worthless becuz at that point theres already 2 outs and a productive out wont work.

        To many failures, the biggest being not making contact. Striking out is not a option and suggesting thats better than a doubleplay if ridiculous. You ground the ball hard is BABIP at work.

      • jd - May 4, 2015 at 12:29 PM


        To say a strikeout is not an option is also a bit over the top. The opposition pitcher is trying to have you avoid contact and sometimes they succeed.

      • nats128 - May 4, 2015 at 12:30 PM

        “adcwonk – May 4, 2015 at 12:11 PM
        Thanks (and thanks to letswin and jd) for your support.”

        Am I missing something. Was someone attacking you. I didnt comment over the weekend and I just quickly went over the weekend barbs and it seemed tame since the Nats were winning the trolls were in hiding under the bridge.

        It just seems when you start attacking others ideas and specifically mentioning what wasnt a negative idea of a PH you in fact are causing friction instead. That seems negative as I can read above that it looks heated. Let it go and stay out of it if it isnt your fight.

      • jd - May 4, 2015 at 12:31 PM


        They don’t flat out call MW an idiot but the implication is pretty clear.

      • adcwonk - May 4, 2015 at 1:06 PM

        They don’t flat out call MW an idiot but the implication is pretty clear.

        Actually MW was called an “idiot” (once).

        nats128 wrote:

        Am I missing something. Was someone attacking you. I didnt comment over the weekend and I just quickly went over the weekend barbs and it seemed tame since the Nats were winning the trolls were in hiding under the bridge.

        Nope — nobody was attacking me. And most of the people weren’t trolls. I was just noting that the proportion of negative comments, during a win, was really high, and that I was disappointed with that.

        It just seems when you start attacking others ideas and specifically mentioning what wasnt a negative idea of a PH you in fact are causing friction instead. That seems negative as I can read above that it looks heated. Let it go and stay out of it if it isnt your fight

        I’m sorry I left that impression. I was not attacking the idea of the PH (for Span), I was saying that there were also good reasons _not_ to PH for Span, and that just because MW didn’t PH doesn’t mean he’s a bad manager.

        I tried not be negative. I didn’t use any quotes, and didn’t cite anybody by name. Again, I was just commenting that I was disappointed to see so much negativity during a game where the Nats led from start to finish.

      • nats128 - May 4, 2015 at 1:30 PM

        adcwonk, during winning streak different types pop out of the woodwork. Its usually the eternal optimist. Execution of situational hitting was horrendous. Im glad I wasnt commenting. If people werent complaining they werent watching. The pitching and fielding and defense and making plays on the defensive side but a few were phenominal.

        The good news is the trolls who were asking for MW to be fired are back under there bridges.

      • Section 222 - May 4, 2015 at 3:30 PM

        wonk, MW was called an idiot by someone who thought Espi should have bunted Desi to third with none out in the 8th. Actually several people strenuously thought he should have sacrificed there, but only one called MW an idiot for not calling that play.

        Having anyone but the pitcher bunt with none out is the almost the very definition of NOT a no-brainer. There are times you do it, but to say that MW is an idiot for having Espi swing away there (when he hopefully can at least hit the ball to the right side) was ridiculous.

        Fister in the 6th with the bases loaded and none out would seem like a good situation to try a squeeze. One commenter called MW “clueless” for calling that play. I guess that’s better than being an idiot. But again, to me that’s a judgment call. You do have the top of your order coming up with only one out if he whiffs, and he might luck into a sac fly, or even a 6-4-3 DP that scores a run.

    • dcwx61 - May 4, 2015 at 2:02 PM

      we need to give some credit to the umpire for point number 2. for both teams, he extended the strike zone horizontally esp during key situations. it is a great way to keep the game times down. Thanks Ump!

  17. nats128 - May 4, 2015 at 12:04 PM

    Baseball is a funny game. Nats win 3 of 4 and everyone today loves Matt Williams it seems becuz nobody is asking for him to be fired. Funny how that works.

    I wasnt posting over the weekend but I have to say the Nats made plenty of mistakes and none of them cost the Nats a win on Saturday or Sunday which is why we arent discussing the numerous failures.

    I thought the slider from Thornton yesterday that turned into a Wild Pitch was near disaster and when you call for it from a lefty where the tilt is to your glove hand and not a backhand, you have to do a better job than Lobaton did. That was almost a costly mistake. I saw that same play by Andrew Miller last night in the Yankees game and he threw slider after slider as a lefty and his catcher was ready and pouncing.

    The decision to pull Fister after the Plawecki double was ballsy and it paid off.

    Espi once again looked like a deer in the headlights. He has Desi on 2nd after a leadoff walk. Either you bunt him over or have enough confidence that Espi can show he can pull the ball to the rightside as he was facing the righthander and batting LH. Espi pops it up to the shortstop.

    The decisions made the last 2 days in 1-0 leads to not add-on 1 run and the lack of execution where you had right man up at the right time is the stuff that makes your head explode!

    The lone run that scored yesterday was on a broken bat bloop that Duda took the wrong path to. If it wasn’t 2 outs the runner would have to had to hold at 2nd and wouldn’t have score. Better to be lucky than good sometimes. The first contact of the day by RZ was his only hit.

    • jd - May 4, 2015 at 12:27 PM


      It certainly wasn’t perfect but sometimes you have to give credit to the other guys.

      • nats128 - May 4, 2015 at 12:31 PM

        You sure do. They get paid also. Both pitching staffs were brilliant at getting out of trouble.

  18. Theophilus T.S. - May 4, 2015 at 12:33 PM

    Pulling Fister was the right move, not especially gutsy. Fister survives in part on guile, part on stuff that is deceptive because of unusual or late movement. For the most part he depends on contact. I wish he could go deeper but his stuff is what it is. A pitcher like Gonzalez or Strasburg has residual velocity, or a knock-out pitch (Gonzalez: curve; Strasburg: change-up) good enough to survive getting a bit tired. With Fister, however, eventually, the pitch that’s been moving five inches as it crosses the plate starts moving four-and-a half or four-and-a quarter inches and weak contact becomes sharp contact — e.g., a double. Time to let him sit down and enjoy watching someone save the win. (As Johnson was sometimes accused, pull the pitcher before he has a chance to turn a good outing into a loss.)

    • Eugene in Oregon - May 4, 2015 at 12:54 PM


    • nats128 - May 4, 2015 at 1:30 PM

      I agree with your first sentence. No brainer in my book.

    • Section 222 - May 4, 2015 at 1:57 PM

      I don’t know if it was right (except in retrospect) or gutsy, but it was certainly not a no-brainer. Fister was at only 89 pitches and after giving up hits to the first two batters of the game, he had retired 19 of 21 batters. It’s by no means obvious that the hard double was a sign he was tiring. Certainly neither his pitch nor how he had done in the previous inning suggested that. But maybe MW saw something. In any case, it worked out. Good for him.

  19. dcwx61 - May 4, 2015 at 2:06 PM

    and yes I think umpire’s even consistent strike zone have an impact on keeping games low scoring. A wider strike zone puts a batters preference for a pitch in question and may influence them to swing at more borderline pitches.
    The umpire rules…. bring on pitch track for the love of the game

  20. rlndtln - May 4, 2015 at 9:22 PM

    You need an experienced bullpen.How we could have traded Blevins an experienced veteran to our competition for a minor leaguer is unbelievable.2of our 3 lefties have zero experience.





As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at Click here for past audio clips.

Follow us on Twitter