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State of the Nats: Almost home

Jun 15, 2015, 10:53 AM EDT

Jun 12, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) celebrates after hitting a home run during the second inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Top storylines:

Fister set to return this week  The Nationals’ rotation looked excellent this weekend with Joe Ross and Max Scherzer each turning in gems against the Milwaukee Brewers. But with the Nats’ staff struggling overall in recent weeks, getting Doug Fister back will certainly be a welcomed sign.

Fister threw six scoreless innings for Double-A Harrisburg on Friday night with just two hits and no walks allowed against the Trenton Thunder. It was his second rehab outing and he came out of it about as well as the Nats could have hoped. With Ross’ turn in the rotation coming up Thursday, that would seem a good spot for Fister to jump back into the mix.

Nats return home soon for lengthy stretch – The Nationals have two more games to go on their road trip as they play the first two of a four-game split series against the Tampa Bay Rays. After that they return home to play 14 of their next 20 games at Nationals Park.

That should be a good sign for the Nats, who are 16-12 at home this season and just 17-18 on the road. But the opponents they have coming to town will not make matters easy for them.

The homestand begins with two games against the 35-29 Rays, then three against 35-27 Pittsburgh, followed by three against the division rival Braves. They then go on the road to play in Philly and Atlanta before returning to host the 34-30 San Francisco Giants and the Reds, who are 28-34 but swept the Nats in late May.

Who is next in the Nats’ farm system? – Seeing Trea Turner finally join the Nationals’ organization on Sunday got me thinking: with all the prospects the Nats have called up to debut this season – seven of them so far – who is next to get their first experience in the majors?

The answer really isn’t very simple, as most of the top prospects who were close to MLB-ready before the season began have already debuted. Matt Grace, Felipe Rivero, Sammy Solis, A.J. Cole and Rafael Martin would be in that category. Then there were several who came up surprisingly early like Ross and Wilmer Difo.

Pitcher Lucas Giolito is still only 20 years old with 39 total minor league appearances. Catcher Jakson Reetz is only 19 and in his first season in the minors. Reynaldo Lopez looks to have a bright future, but he’s working as a starter and struggling at Single-A Potomac.

According to most top prospects lists, that leaves Austin Voth and Turner as the biggest names left who could potentially debut this year. Voth is also a starting pitcher and Turner plays a position that is very deep on the Nats’ roster right now. Neither would seem likely to debut this season, but you can never say never with how things have transpired for the Nationals so far in 2015.

NL East Standings

source:

Offensive game of the week: Danny Espinosa 6/10 vs. Yankees – 3-for-5, HR, 2B, RBI, 2 R

Pitching game of the week: Max Scherzer 6/14 vs. Brewers – 9.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 0 BB, 16 SO. 119 pitches, 69 strikes.

Quote of the week:

Brewers’ Carlos Gomez on his single to break up Max Scherzer’s perfect game bid on Sunday:

“I got lucky,” Gomez told MLB.com. “I mean, I don’t enjoy it. I would enjoy it if I hit a real base hit.”

Tweet (Instagram) of the week:

source:

Road ahead

MON – 7:10 p.m. at Tampa Bay Rays (Gonzalez)
TUE – 7:10 p.m. at Tampa Bay Rays (Roark)
WED -7:00 p.m. vs. Tampa Bay Rays (Zimmermann)
THU -7:05 p.m. vs. Tampa Bay Rays (TBA)
FRI – 7:05 p.m. vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (Scherzer)
SAT – 4:05 p.m. vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (Gonzalez)
SUN – 1:35 p.m. vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (Roark)

  1. Bruxtun - Jun 15, 2015 at 11:03 AM

    Was there any mention of what Fister’s velocity was in his latest rehab game?

    • TimDz - Jun 15, 2015 at 11:08 AM

      I asked that question in an earlier thread and Ghost noted that it was “up,” but didn’t give any actual numbers. He is not a flame thrower by any stretch of the imagination, but he was tossing his FASTBALL at 83 or so (no bueno). Hopefully, they won’t bring him back until he is at his 88-90 mph….

      • jd - Jun 15, 2015 at 11:14 AM

        Tim,

        He’s coming back. He threw 6 innings last time out and was effective so there’s not much sense in pitching in the minors any longer. I also think that it’s best for Joe Ross to return to the minors despite how good he looked on Saturday. I think further development away from the pressures of a pennant race would only do him good.

        I also have faith in Tanner Roark despite his mediocre showing as a starter lately.

      • Bruxtun - Jun 15, 2015 at 11:36 AM

        Thanks Tim. Yeah I remember after his rehab start before this last one twitter was saying he was around 84. 88-90 is where he was last year right? Certainly not a power pitcher, but if he’s 88+ that’s good enough for me. Big Doug fan, but I want him back when he’s ready. Very encouraged by his last rehab.

      • hokiepokster92 - Jun 15, 2015 at 3:04 PM

        Re: Roark and his “mediocre” showing. It’s more a result of him not being stretched out. If you look back at his starts, opposing teams really start to tee off on him around the 5th-6th innings. It’s fatigue more than anything else.

  2. langleyclub - Jun 15, 2015 at 11:13 AM

    On Saturday night, Fister pitched 6 shutout innings, walked no one and struck out 4.

    Fister is coming back this week regardless of what is velocity was.

    • jd - Jun 15, 2015 at 11:15 AM

      Exactly.

      • Bruxtun - Jun 15, 2015 at 11:43 AM

        “Exactly”

        Didn’t say, imply, or infer otherwise. Just wanted to know for my own benefit. You guys acted like I insulted Doug or something.

    • Bruxtun - Jun 15, 2015 at 11:40 AM

      Is curiosity banned on this forum? Why even reply with that? The stat line you posted was in the article. I can’t wait for Doug to get back, but his velocity was at 84 the start before last, which is well below his usual.

      • jd - Jun 15, 2015 at 11:51 AM

        Bruxton,

        Not at all. My feeling is that when someone goes on a rehab assignment we focus too much on results. It could be that the velocity was down purposely, may be he didn’t want to air it out the 1st time out. But when I hear that he came away from a strong 6 inning stint feeling good and healthy I’m fairly certain that his next start will be in the big leagues.

        Also, please take what I say with a grain of salt. I don’t claim to have inside knowledge or any high level of expertise. I’m just a long term fan with some opinions, some of which may even be correct.

      • Bruxtun - Jun 15, 2015 at 12:01 PM

        thanks jd, I appreciate that comment. I’m very encouraged by his rehab game. I’ve been a huge Doug fan since the trade and that’s only grown since he’s been here. I just didn’t care for langley’s comment, whose comments I usually enjoy. It came across as a weirdly defensive non-answer, but of course tone isn’t present in text.

        The reason I asked in the first place was about the possibility that the decreased velocity before he went to the DL was due to the injury itself, so if the velocity is creeping back up that’s one more reason to feel good about it. Either way, can’t wait to see him back on the rubber no matter how fast he’s throwing.

  3. Joe Seamhead - Jun 15, 2015 at 11:14 AM

    Chase, I would not discount the possibility of Turner getting a September cup of coffee if he puts up similar numbers as to what he did in San Antonio. But the Texas League is a hitter’s league. We’ll see.

    • therealjohnc - Jun 15, 2015 at 11:48 AM

      People keep saying this, but in fact the Texas League is not particularly a hitters’ league. Several of the western minors are – the PCL (AAA) is very much a hitters’ league, as is the California League (High A). Out of the AA leagues, the Texas League is pretty much on par with the Eastern League; the Southern League is a bit more pitcher-friendly than either. Further, Turner’s home park in San Antonio is more pitcher friendly than most.

      Source: http://www.baseballamerica.com/minors/minor-league-ballpark-effects-2014/

      So, while I make no assumptions about how Turner will do in Harrisburg, the outcome won’t be because he’s moving to a more favorable ballpark/league.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 15, 2015 at 12:41 PM

        You are bringing it today. I’ve enjoyed your posts!

      • therealjohnc - Jun 15, 2015 at 2:49 PM

        Thank you, Ghost! I try to enjoy the days when the arsenal is working, because sometimes I’m just throwing slop and hanging [stuff].

  4. TimDz - Jun 15, 2015 at 11:17 AM

    Any word on Harper and his knee/quad?

    • manassasnatsfan - Jun 15, 2015 at 11:31 AM

      +1.

      Can find nothing on Twitter or anywhere else.

  5. jd - Jun 15, 2015 at 11:21 AM

    Joe,

    The Texas league may be a hitter’s league by Turner was 3rd in the league in BA, 7th in OBP, 6th in slugging, 8th in SB, 4th in RBI’s and 5th in OPS. So even in a hitter’s league Turner was very strong relative to everyone else in that league.

    I never under estimate the difficulty in the jump to the big leagues but I don’t think this kid is too far off.

    • manassasnatsfan - Jun 15, 2015 at 11:32 AM

      I am guessing unless a derailment, he starts next April in D.C.

      • jd - Jun 15, 2015 at 11:41 AM

        Tough to tell manassas. I don’t think that was the plan initially but it might come to that. I also think that if he’s ready next year they will hold him out until May to control service time.

      • therealjohnc - Jun 15, 2015 at 11:51 AM

        They didn’t start Harper at the beginning of the 2012 season. The Cubs didn’t bring up Bryant at the beginning of the 2015 season. Service time considerations will almost certainly keep Turner from playing in DC on Opening Day next season. They won’t add him to the 40 man roster until they call him up, either, so they won’t have to burn a minor league option to start Turner in the minors next season.

        However, if all goes well, Turner may well play in Nats Town in 2016.

  6. NatsLady - Jun 15, 2015 at 11:55 AM

    TCU clobbered LSU 11-3 but our boy Stevenson got a double (stranded) and an RBI grounder (which I happened to see). The Vanderbilt games was suspended due to storms with Vandy losing 3-0. Wiseman also doubled.

    • manassasnatsfan - Jun 15, 2015 at 12:15 PM

      If I remember Wiseman is on second when the game resumes.

  7. NatsLady - Jun 15, 2015 at 12:28 PM

    With regard to the Fangraphs question JSeamhead asked, this may be the explanation.

    What you see are projections, for each team, for each position, based on the players at those positions, as assigned by our team depth charts. For some of you, this might seem strange — this process leans on projections, instead of what the players and positions have actually done in 2015. But projections are better at knowing the future than we are, and decisions shouldn’t be made based on what’s taken place. They should be made based on what will take place.

    The problem with this is that Sullivan then uses this chart for his article on what teams need what in trades. http://www.foxsports.com/mlb/just-a-bit-outside/story/mlb-trading-traed-deadline-rangers-padres-orioles-tigers-royals-contenders-upgrades-061315

    Another problem I see with this article is he set the bar at “contending” too low (10%) so the White Sox show up. The White Sox have lots of needs. That’s why they probably aren’t a contender.

    I sent him this comment:
    The use of the (original) depth chart projections is VERY SUSPECT this late in the year. You are calculating the Nats’ 2B based on Yunel Escobar playing there which he has NEVER done and won’t EVER do in 2015 (he could play SS, but it’s unlikely; at every chance when Desmond hasn’t played there, Espinosa has).You projected that WAR for 2B in the spring before a single regular-season game.That projection was not based on history, but on the Nats’ PLAN for Escobar, a plan which melted away in the middle of March. So, you used “math” based on the projections, but the projections were not based on math, they were based on plans.

    • adcwonk - Jun 15, 2015 at 3:09 PM

      FWIW, B-R has a “wins above average” chart at the bottom of http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/NL/2015.shtml. If you select a team, it will highlight it for you.

      Going by that chart, it seems like the Nats are being carried by starting pitching and Bryce Harper.

  8. chapjim - Jun 15, 2015 at 12:36 PM

    Not to be too picky but my schedule looks like 14 out of the next 20 at home. Three game series on the road against PHI and ATL.

    Also, I guess it depends on how one defines “very deep roster” but I don’t see SS as being a position where the Nats are very deep. Okay, we have lots of guys who can play SS but only by moving them from some other position. Basically, we’ve had one player at SS most of the year and he is or ought to be on a bubble.

    • ehay2k - Jun 15, 2015 at 2:26 PM

      You mean 3 games each at Nats Park North, and Nats Park South? We should own those two teams, given the struggles each is having. But of course, should and will are two different things entirely.

      I do want a healthy Harper more than I want a rapidly returning Harper. Same for Zimm. If can we just find a way grind out a few more series wins before the ASB that would be huge.

      GYFNG!

  9. unkyd59 - Jun 15, 2015 at 1:16 PM

    “With Ross’ turn in the rotation coming up Thursday, that would seem a good spot for Fister to jump back into the mix.”
    ———
    Why not start Fister on Tuesday? Five days rest, puts Roark back in the ‘pen, rested, and gives Ross another start or two until Stras comes back… I’d like to see Ross take another W back to the minors.

    • tcostant - Jun 15, 2015 at 1:21 PM

      Ray Knight suggested that same thing on Saturday’s post game show.

    • pdowdy83 - Jun 15, 2015 at 1:25 PM

      Fister had his rehab start on Friday. Tuesday would be on 3 days rest.

      • unkyd59 - Jun 15, 2015 at 3:04 PM

        Right…Wait. Isn’t that four days? Any way, you’re right, it’s not five…

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 15, 2015 at 1:46 PM

      Might be a good idea to push Scherzer back a day for extra rest. He was throwing max effort and all those warm-up pitches between innings to go with a complete game shutout.

      • therealjohnc - Jun 15, 2015 at 2:10 PM

        Doesn’t Scherzer always throw with “Max” effort?

        Thanks, I’ll be here all week …

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 15, 2015 at 2:19 PM

        Max is a Max guy. He says he saves his bullets like a sprinter for his final push. I think I read somewhere that’s his final 15 pitches. He knows how to pace himself. Of course he also threw a reachback fastball yesterday at 97 to K on Braun so he will go Max effort on 1 pitch in the 4th inning also.

        As a baseball fan, that was a great game to watch.

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