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Another abbreviated start plagues Nationals

Jun 16, 2015, 6:00 AM EDT

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Just when you thought it was safe to turn on a Nationals game and have some semblance of confidence in the starting pitcher’s ability to take control, Gio Gonzalez took the mound Tuesday night and reminded us this rotation remains something less than desired right now.

Gonzalez lasted only 3 1/3 innings during the Nationals’ 6-1 loss to the Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla., giving up five runs before departing. Truth be told, he was lucky the damage wasn’t much worse.

Gonzalez faced 22 batters during the outing and let 12 of them reach base safely (eight hits, three walks, one hit batter). He loaded the bases three times in four innings, and if not for great defensive plays by Michael Taylor (leaping to make a catch at the wall in left field) and Danny Espinosa (snagging Gonzalez’s bounced throw to first) he might well have given up a whole lot more.

This was yet another head-scratcher during what has been a wildly inconsistent season for Gonzalez. He has allowed two or fewer runs six times in 13 total starts, but he has allowed five or more runs five times.

The end result: a 4.82 ERA and more head scratching.

Of course, the same could be said for the entire Nationals rotation, which like its lone left-hander has been wildly inconsistent this season, leading to plenty of head scratching. Yes, Max Scherzer has been brilliant, never more so than he was during Sunday’s 1-hit, 16-strikeout masterpiece in Milwaukee. And yes, Joe Ross came up huge during Saturday’s win, despite his inexperience.

But in the bigger picture, the Nationals rotation remains something of an enigma. That group now owns a collective 4.14 ERA, which ranks 10th in the NL. Opponents are hitting .273 against Nats starters, 12th out of 15 NL clubs.

And, in perhaps the most-telling sign of the rotation’s inconsistent nature, Nationals starters have now failed to complete four innings nine times in 64 games this season. They did that only 10 times throughout all of 2015. Only the Rockies, with 11, have done it more times this year.

This, to put it mildly, is not what anybody expected from what everybody expected was among the best rotations in baseball. And it may not continue, not with Doug Fister and Stephen Strasburg close to returning from the disabled list.

But right now, for a Nationals club that is dealing with a banged-up lineup and an ever-changing bullpen, the one constant should be this rotation. Instead, those starters have been just as inconsistent as the rest of the roster during a wildly up-and-down first 2 1/2 months to the season.

111 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. nats1924 - Jun 16, 2015 at 6:52 AM

    I know ive been doing a lot of Desi hating.

    But, since we’re approaching the halfway mark, and the re-emergence of Espi, w Yunel being productive as he is (not too mention a better fielding SS) and 3B being a better fit for rendon — Is it time for Desi to ride the pine?

    ..go Nats!

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 16, 2015 at 8:51 AM

      Just saying, in Chicago, they have been having the same conversation about Starlin Castro for a few years now.

      How’s that working out for them, you ask?

    • bowdenball - Jun 16, 2015 at 9:41 AM

      Benching Desi is complicated. In addition to the many examples of talented guys like Desi breaking out of long slumps- like for example Espinosa, whose 2+ season struggle makes Desi’s issues look like a blip on the radar- there’s also the question of what it does to the clubhouse and the organizations’ reputation with players. Benching Desi now instead of giving him a chance to work through his problems would cost him literally tens of millions of dollars. What would the current clubhouse think about a front office that benches a three time Silver Slugger winner for two bad months? You remember the issues when Drew was sent down- this would dwarf that for a number of reasons. How would it play with free agents or potential trade partners? Would the resulting added pressure of knowing that even a long track record of outstanding play can’t save you in the eyes of the Nats negatively affect performance?

      It’s a lot more complicated than asking if there’s a player out there who could outperform Desmond right now.

      • soonernat - Jun 16, 2015 at 9:51 AM

        +1 Bowden!

      • davebinmd - Jun 16, 2015 at 10:36 AM

        Players want to win ballgames, they know only too well which teammates are helping them win games, and which teammates aren’t. Desi’s poor performance is a drag on the entire lineup. If you think Desi’s teammates are going to be upset because he got benched because of the way he’s playing, you are sorely mistaken. Their overwheming emotion if that happened would be relief, and it could well provide a psychological boost to jump-start the offense.

        I wouldn’t call Desi’s struggles a blip on the radar, since his first full season (2010), Desi leads all Major League shortstops in errors and strikeouts, and no one else is even close in either category. As consolation for that we got 20-25 homeruns a year for the last 3 seasons, enough to win the Silver Slugger for each of those years, which convinced the less-knowing baseball fans that Desi was an offensive asset. That hasn’t really been the case since 2012 when he batted .292.

        Hopefully those aforementioned fans are watching Yunel Escobar closely and learning the benefit of not striking-out nearly as often while putting the ball in-play, taking more walks, and knowing what situational hitting means, even if that means half as many homeruns a season, the benefits over the course of a full season are much greater. It’s painfully clear by now that Desi can’t, or won’t, learn those traits himself, and that’s why he’s not being brought back. BTW: Trea Turner does have those traits, and with a bit more power than Escobar, so the future of the Nats infield is looking great, once they can remove Desi from the picture.

      • Section 222 - Jun 16, 2015 at 10:47 AM

        +1. Desi is not going to be benched. Period. That won’t stop the daily conversation here about it. But remember, we had the same discussion in early 2012. And in 2011 for that matter. For the past five years, sometimes Desi is up, sometimes he’s not. I don’t know why anyone would assume he can’t snap out of it, nor do I know why anyone would assume that if he does he won’t ever have another slump. He’s that kind of player, But he’s also our starting SS and he’s going to remain so for the rest of this year.

      • ITGSOT - Jun 16, 2015 at 11:10 AM

        What issues when Storen was sent down? As I recall, Clippard and (obviously) Storen were pretty upset. But Clippard got over it pretty quickly, as did Storen – in a big way. All in all, a positive move. Same with removing Espinosa from the lineup for large chunks of time. The move worked out quite well for both Espi and the team.

        As for Desmond, “benching” him doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. The way he’s playing now, he shouldn’t be playing every inning of every game. Give him two or three days off a week, especially since Escobar or Espinosa at SS are excellent replacement options for him. Sure, he can and probably will play his way out of his current funk. But he can do that just as well playing four days a week instead of seven.

      • bowdenball - Jun 16, 2015 at 11:11 AM

        Desi is not being brought back because he’ll be 30 and expensive and the organization has young talent at his position. It has nothing to do with his situational hitting or lack thereof.

        I am, however, impressed with the arrogance on display here in claiming that the Silver Slugger winner in 2013 and 2014 was actually an undeserving fraud considering it is the managers and the players who vote on that award. You claim to have significant insight into how they feel about Desmond and how they’d respond to his benching- why do you think they collectively have been so wrong about Desmond’s value at the plate not once but twice?

        As for his struggles being two months long and not “since 2010”: his OPS is about 130 points lower than it was last season and for his career and 160 points lower than it was 2013. Even if you (wrongly) think he was a poor hitter in 2013 and 2014, or since 2010, I assume you’d still agree that a drop of 130 OPS points is not simply more of the same, yes?

      • infideljack - Jun 16, 2015 at 11:59 AM

        So we should wait 2 seasons for Desi?
        What does the clubhouse think about losing while we carry non performers?
        Desi cost himself, he had a $100 million offer from the Nats.
        If he does not get a lot better fast, Desi will not get a QO and even if we make post season, he will be absent.

      • richardp6 - Jun 16, 2015 at 12:27 PM

        I think I know what has happened with Desmond and Espinosa this season. Somehow, they have switched bodies. Must have happened during the offseason. 🙂

      • unkyd59 - Jun 16, 2015 at 4:01 PM

        “Desi is not being brought back because he’ll be 30 and expensive and the organization has young talent at his position. It has nothing to do with his situational hitting or lack thereof.”

        Cart, just a little bit before the horse, there… The organization has talent there, BECAUSE of the other factors. But, I don’t see him collecting splinters, either. I could see a trade, even at a bargain rate, if he doesn’t find some way of contributing positively. Right now, he’s prolly one of the very worst players in the game… And remember, I’ve been boosting Desi, for years… It makes me sad, but in his present form, he’s too big a gaping hole for a team with aspirations like this one does…

    • chrisrw109nats - Jun 16, 2015 at 1:46 PM

      ‘I know ive been doing a lot of Desi hating. ‘

      … so let me do a bit more, because that never, ever, ever, gets old… and is completely relevant to the inability of starters to go more than 4 innings.

  2. laddieblahblah - Jun 16, 2015 at 7:02 AM

    Chris Bostick is on his way to Harrisburg to join Will Difo and Trea Turner. While those two have garnered most of the attention, Bostick has been tearing it up at Potomac. Check out his splits, especially his progression from April, to May, to June (scroll down):

    He is becoming this year’s Will Difo. Harrsiburg is where the future mainstays of the Nats are playing.

    • unkyd59 - Jun 16, 2015 at 7:16 AM

      What….they gonna put one of them at third? Unless Difo is getting ready to become one of the Best 25…?

      • laddieblahblah - Jun 16, 2015 at 7:41 AM

        “What….they gonna put one of them at third?”

        I don’t know, but we won’t have to wait very long to find out. It just makes sense to have those guys playing together, right now.

      • natsjackinfl - Jun 16, 2015 at 7:55 AM

        Just a thought but if the Nats are serious about Chapman, some one like Difo plus others will have to be in the deal.

      • laddieblahblah - Jun 16, 2015 at 8:21 AM

        “Just a thought but if the Nats are serious about Chapman, some one like Difo plus others will have to be in the deal.”

        Could be. Depends on how badly Rizzo wants to win this year vs. how good they can be two years hence.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 16, 2015 at 7:48 AM

      “Harrsiburg is where the future mainstays of the Nats are playing.”

      Yes, and best to promote them from there. Syracuse is where the AAAA guys are.

      Thanks for bringing us up to date on Bostick.

    • natsguy - Jun 16, 2015 at 7:50 AM

      It always has been, AA has been where the true prospects are put for 20 years. AAA is where they put the cannon fodder.

    • laddieblahblah - Jun 16, 2015 at 8:27 AM

      “Thanks for bringing us up to date on Bostick.”

      Been eyeing him all season, Ghost. Figured that Rizzo’s brain trust must have spotted something they liked in him, even tough he wasn’t ranked very high among the Rangers’ own prospects. As you know, Rizzo got him for Detwiler:

      Could turn out to be one of the biggest steals of Rizzo’s larcenous career.

      • adcwonk - Jun 16, 2015 at 9:04 AM

        Could turn out to be one of the biggest steals of Rizzo’s larcenous career.

        You know what’s awesome — that there are a number of contenders for that!

        For kicks — can we name some other contenders?

      • laddieblahblah - Jun 16, 2015 at 9:10 AM

        Wonk, that’s not easy. But Fister, Turner & Ross probably top that list.

      • therealjohnc - Jun 16, 2015 at 9:14 AM

        -Matt Capps for Wilson Ramos
        -Ryan Langerhans for Mike Morse
        -Mike Morse for A.J. Cole, Blake Treinen and Ian Krol (remember it was only one year of Morse before free agency, and what turned out to be bad year at that)
        -Steve Lombardozzi, Robbie Ray and Ian Krol for Doug Fister (although Ray may yet turn out to be decent)
        -Alex Meyer for Denard Span (and remember how people howled at the time)
        -Cristian Guzman for Tanner Roark and Ryan Tatusko

        I would argue Steven Souza for Joe Ross and Trea Turner should be on this list as well, but it’s really too early to know.

      • therealjohnc - Jun 16, 2015 at 9:27 AM

        Cole, Norris, Milone and Peacock for Gio is an interesting trade to put on the list. They got Cole back, of course, and Milone is likely to be a #5/swing starter at best in his career. Not sure what happened to Peacock. Norris has been a good bat but not a very good catcher (especially against the running game). Although if he got to just hit against the Nationals all the time he’d be a Hall of Famer.

        One that I’m keeping an eye on is Matthew Spann, a LHP who seems to be making a move this year at age 24. He’s had only a handful of starts above High A, but they’ve been excellent. The reason that I’m keeping an eye on him is that he’s the “arbitrage” acquisition from when Rizzo picked David DeJesus off of the waiver wire and then was able to flip him for Spann. DeJesus was with the Nationals for four days and two at bats, and the Nationals gained a prospect out of someone else’s DFA!

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 16, 2015 at 9:27 AM

        Detroit traded Fister for a group of players led by Robbie Ray and the funny thing is they quickly traded Ray to Arizona and Ray last night no-hit the Angels through 2 outs in the 7th inning and finished with a 2 hit shutout for 7 full.

        Hindsight is how I judge trades. The Morse trade was a good one too. I think the addition by subtraction of ridding the team of Nyjer Morgan was a great trade.

      • dcwx61 - Jun 16, 2015 at 12:49 PM

        Probably also should point out a few not so good trades…although these are far outweighed by the brilliant scouting analysis for arms the NAT Front office has accomplished.

        1. J. Willingham for H.Rod/aCorey Brown (would have been nice to get something for Willingham)
        2. Billy Burns for Jerry Blevins for Matt VanDecker (this could turn out to be one of the Nats worst trades)
        3. Nate Karns for Lobaton/Vettlesong/Rivero…. (could be a fair trade)
        4. Zack Walters for A. Cabrera (Nats probably won this one)
        5. Fister for Robby Ray (Nats probably won this one)

  3. natsfan1a - Jun 16, 2015 at 7:15 AM

    Only saw a couple of early innings but did see most of Gio’s start. Ugh. Probably won’t catch up with the DVR today, as I’ll be doing final preps for my Chicago-now-Denver baseball buddy’s visit to DC. (My house hasn’t seen a cleaning frenzy like this in some time. My cat’s all “WTH?) Will be with my buddy at the P-Nats game on Friday and the Washington Nats game on Sunday.

  4. rayvil01 - Jun 16, 2015 at 7:27 AM

    Max had a Game Score of 100. Gio followed that up with a 40. (HBP counting as a walk). Penthouse to Outhouse.

    The bowl is going to need brushing after this flush.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 16, 2015 at 7:57 AM

      Gio couldn’t locate at all with any of his pitches. Lucky it wasn’t worse than that.

    • NatsLady - Jun 16, 2015 at 9:52 AM

      Gio’s Game Score was 22, If you look at his gamelog, you can see the roller coaster season he’s having.

      • nats128 - Jun 16, 2015 at 10:44 AM

        If you go to encouraging/discouraging his home/road splits are good at home and real bad on the road. Last night was as bad as Ive seen him.

      • rayvil01 - Jun 16, 2015 at 11:06 AM

        Ooops! Forgot the -4 for each earned run; 5 of ’em. I count 20. But, it’s such a bad number it isn’t worth quibbling. Just plain rotten start.

  5. laddieblahblah - Jun 16, 2015 at 7:38 AM

    I enjoyed watching the way the Rays play baseball. They seem to have embraced the new paradigm of contact guys who get on base and who can move up and over, with a couple of power bats to help them along the way – with the Giants they are Posey and Pence, and the Cards have Adams and Holliday. Kiermaier is the epitome of the small ball side of that approach. The Rays have only one real power bat to complement their grey hounds, and he never got to put the ball into play, last night. They still won, going away.

    Rizzo has not been sitting on his hands. He has stocked the Nats with OBP race horses of our own, from trading for Bostick and Turner, to developing in-house talents like Taylor and Difo, to drafting our own Kiermaier clone, young Mr. Stevenson from LSU. While still pursuing a title this year, he is also conducting a team makeover that will transition the team to the new paradigm in no more than 2 years. All of those youngsters can steal bases in bunches, and will. Matt will finally have the tools to play small ball blitzkrieg.

    We already have the quintessential power bat for that paradigm in Bryce Harper, who not only can hit and hit for power, he also gets on base like no one else in the game and can get himself around the base paths as well as any power hitter. If Ryan were healthy, he would fit that model (although not as well), a solid power guy who is also an excellent base runner. If he were the old Jayson Werth, JDub would be the 3rd big bat, who also can get on base and get himself around the base paths. The Nats already have some of the parts, but not enough, yet, to create the new whole.

    Everyone of those younger guys also plays solid to superlative defense, as well. In two years’ time, if not sooner, both Werth and Zim will either be replaced or will be making room for new blood. Taylor might be the guy in LF, but he is going to have to become more of a contact hitter and less of a strike out machine. He also seems to lack the fire of Kiermaier and the other Rays baseball zealots, as well as of guys like Pence and Posey in SF. The new, winning paradigm loves guys like Kiermaier, Pence, Harper and Stevenson.

    Pitching and defense are the other big pieces to that winning model of offense. Rizzo has been busy systematically building a starting rotation second to none, with new guys who can pick ’em up and lay ’em down on D. For every struggling starter like Gio and (lately) Stras and JZ, Rizzo has a Ross, Fedde, or Giolito on the way.

    The Giants and Cards have been winning titles, and have led the way. Whatever they can do, and have done, Rizzo is likely to do better. He is a quick learner. Just look at the Nats big picture.

    • soonernat - Jun 16, 2015 at 9:55 AM

      +5 or 6 or is it 7!

  6. ehay2k - Jun 16, 2015 at 7:45 AM

    To me, the bigger concern is Harper. If the bottom of the quad muscle was damaged, then he is going to have knee stability problems. It sure looked like he was having issues staying stable during and after his swings last night. And his swing was off trying to compensate, so he’s not helping anyone. I would rather they give him a couple of days off, even from DH-ing, and let everything clam down, than try to keep him in the lineup. He has already had one knee injury in his short career, and tried to play through it. Would prefer to avoid the deja vu this time around.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 16, 2015 at 8:10 AM

      ” It sure looked like he was having issues staying stable during and after his swings last night.”

      I heard FP say that multiple times during every one of Bryce’s at-bats.

      Bases loaded, 9th inning, all I know is Bryce smoked that pitch….right into the 1st baseman’s glove unfortunately.

      • adcwonk - Jun 16, 2015 at 9:08 AM

        OTOH, it might not be a “stability” problem at all — just a “painful” one. I.e., just a bruise that’s still painful to put full weight non.

        And, yes, he sure smoked that last pitch of the game.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 16, 2015 at 9:23 AM

        Exactly right. I think FP says things so many times that it influences his audience. He could be right, he could be wrong. I wouldn’t expect Bryce to be 100% after being smoked by a 95.

      • adcwonk - Jun 16, 2015 at 9:30 AM

        I don’t recall if FP said stability of the knee. He might have, I just don’t recall it. FP did point out, correctly, and immediately, that he was favoring it a lot, and you could see it quite clearly that after he swung he, almost involuntarily, lifted up his left leg to reduce the weight on it.

  7. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 16, 2015 at 8:01 AM

    Robbie Ray of the D’Backs had a no-hitter going against the Angels into 2 outs in the 7th inning before the Angels got a single. He was pulled at the end of the inning.

  8. natsjackinfl - Jun 16, 2015 at 8:07 AM

    I get to watch the Rays on a regular basis and always thought that they play with alot more urgency and enthusiasm than the Nats.

    With the Nats on the same field with them, I have gone from “thinking” they do to “knowing” they do.

  9. natsjackinfl - Jun 16, 2015 at 8:07 AM

    I get to watch the Rays on a regular basis and always thought that they play with alot more urgency and enthusiasm than the Nats.

    With the Nats on the same field with them, I have gone from “thinking” they do to “knowing” they do.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 16, 2015 at 8:55 AM

      You can say that again!

      • npb99 - Jun 16, 2015 at 2:29 PM

        Ha! Im sure you posted after he did, but good one anyway.

  10. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 16, 2015 at 8:54 AM

    They don’t need Chapman. They already have a guy who throws hard. He’s on the DL at the moment, but he could use a break from starting, anyway, and they do have other starters. He’s got a fresh clean-shaven look and everything. It would work, I tellya.

    • Just. Dave - Jun 16, 2015 at 9:07 AM

      I agree with Strasburg to the pen. It just might suit him. I think the team is too concerned about hurting his feelings, so they won’t make the move now, but a couple more more awful starts and their hands will be forced.

      • adcwonk - Jun 16, 2015 at 9:13 AM

        Well . . . but doesn’t Strasburg take a while to get in the groove? His ERA for the first 3 innings pitched of a game (3.52 over his career) is worse than it is for innings 4 thru 6 (2.91)

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 16, 2015 at 10:14 AM

        Well, it might get him out of his head a little, which seems to be the consensus diagnosis. Roark said it did as much for him. He could just announce his presence with authority for one inning, instead of trying to pace himself. You never know. Might work.

      • therealjohnc - Jun 16, 2015 at 10:30 AM

        Roark had been used as a swing starter/bullpen guy in the minors – so it wasn’t completely foreign to him. Strasburg has never come out of the bullpen during a game in his career. Between that, the fact that Strasburg’s first inning is often his worst, and the fact that Strasburg has been pretty frickin’ bueno the past three years as a starter – are we really going to move Strasburg to the ‘pen to make room in the rotation for a guy who has two MLB starts – one meh, one good-but-not-great?

        That would be … counterintuitive. It’s interesting for fan chatter, but it’s not going to happen – nor should it.

      • Bruxtun - Jun 16, 2015 at 10:52 AM

        Just a quick note: although Strasburg has never pitched out of the bullpen in his professional career, he was a closer in college. For only one year I think, before he put it all together and became the “generational starting pitching prospect”. So he’s done it before. I still don’t think he moves to our bullpen, that would be earth shattering. Although the Giants did it with Lincecum so there’s a bit of precedence.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 16, 2015 at 1:34 PM

        It’s interesting for fan chatter, but it’s not going to happen – nor should it.

        I take it as a given that all this here is fan chatter. Bill Veeck tried it the other way, and it didn’t catch on.

    • nats128 - Jun 16, 2015 at 10:45 AM

      I read that a few weeks ago here that someone suggested that as a fallback scenario. That would have to be a real fallback scenario given what Strasburg has meant to the Nats drafting and development.

  11. scnatsfan - Jun 16, 2015 at 9:08 AM

    Why Gio is so allergic to first pitch strikes is beyond me. He puts himself in the situation where hitters know he has to come in. Been like that his whole career.

    • therealjohnc - Jun 16, 2015 at 9:18 AM

      You mean “been like that his whole very accomplished career.”

      Although yes, the constant nibbling drives me nuts. His stuff is so much better than John Lannan’s, he doesn’t need to pitch like Lannan.

      • scnatsfan - Jun 16, 2015 at 9:21 AM

        To be fair, anyone who reaches the majors has had an accomplished career. You wonder what Gio could be if he could just throw strikes. Its not like he’s Nolan Ryan missing with 100 MPH fastballs, he just has trouble finding edges. Missing and the center of the plate he found just fine last night lol.

      • therealjohnc - Jun 16, 2015 at 9:31 AM

        I agree that MLB players are all accomplished, but for all the aggravation he causes Gio has been between very good and excellent for the Nationals overall, whether by old school stats (46-30 W/L record) or new (12.7 fWAR) in 3+ seasons.

      • adcwonk - Jun 16, 2015 at 9:38 AM

        You mean “been like that his whole very accomplished career.”

        To be fair, anyone who reaches the majors has had an accomplished career.

        C’mon — Gio has clearly been more accomplished than most. Not “anyone” finished 3rd in Cy Young (which Gio did in 2012 — and the NL all star team)

        I”ll also add that in 2011, his last year with the A’s, a year in which he made the AL all star team, and finished 10th in AL in ERA — he also lead the AL in walks!

        I.e., he walks a lot of guys. That’s just him. He has, nevertheless, been fairly successful despite that weakness. Why? Because over his career he gives up so few darn hits.

        Consider this surprising stat:

        Of *all* active pitchers with over 1000 IP — Gio is top ten in MLB in fewest hits per 9 IP. ranking just behind Cueto, and above guys like King Felix, Max Scherzer, Verlander & Wainwright

    • adcwonk - Jun 16, 2015 at 9:28 AM

      Dug up some stats. If we ignore at bats that ended on the first pitch, I think I have the following:

      For Gio’s entire career, he is ahead in the count, 0-1, 51.5% of the time
      For Stras’s entire career, he is ahead in the count, 0-1 57.9% of the time
      For Max’s entire career, he is ahead in the count, 0-1 58.5% of the time
      For JZ’s entire career, he is ahead in the count, 0-1 62.7% of the time
      For Fister’s entire career, he is ahead in the count, 0-1 58.5% of the time

      For the NL, everybody, for 2015 only, just for comparison, the figure is 56.2 % of the time

  12. nats106 - Jun 16, 2015 at 9:30 AM

    Back to the sombrero suggestion-I was otherwise occupied last night, so couldn’t check the board (or the game) yesterday. Hats off to all the great suggestions for that many strikeouts almost in a row. While I like the Kryptonite Sombrero, that infers that the player is some sort of superman, and I’m not sure that applies.

    Personally I like the Plutonium Sombrero, and I don’t think it’s taken. Eric, if that’s too harsh we could also go with the Neutron bomb sombrero.

    • ehay2k - Jun 16, 2015 at 9:41 AM

      Lead Sombrero? – it implies a heavy weight on the batter, and no value. Or Iron Sombrero, because it also has the connotation of pressing?

      • nats106 - Jun 16, 2015 at 9:53 AM

        Lead is really good. Because it’s also toxic in nature, but more insidious in how it does damage. The lead sombrero-I like it!

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 16, 2015 at 10:20 AM

      Nevermind that. I want to know what to call a five-walk day. Golden globes? Brass spheroids?

  13. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 16, 2015 at 9:36 AM

    Look at how low that strikeout pitch on Harp was in the 1st inning. You’ll notice Bryce swung at pitch #3 in a similar spot.

    • adcwonk - Jun 16, 2015 at 9:41 AM

      Arggh, that gets me angry. He swung at pitch 3 and missed it. He then learned “ok, if I see a pitch like that again, it’s a ball, and I won’t swing”.

      He does see a pitch like that again, doesn’t swing, and then blue rings him up.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 16, 2015 at 9:49 AM

        Once again MASN’s K Zone was not callibrated to Bryce and had the pitch borderline. The eye test looked way low and the official F/X confirms.

        Hate when that happens —- to Nats players. If you rewatch the replay I’m thinking the ump had his mind made up even before Rivera jerked his mitt straight up.

        Glad Bryce didn’t get tossed.

      • Guapo - Jun 16, 2015 at 10:15 AM

        Would be interesting to know if #34 asked the umpire after pitch 3 if it was a ball or a strike. Sometimes, umpries will let you players know if they swung at a ball, sometimes not. That said, a hitter really can’t complain about getting punched on the exact same pitch they took a hack at earlier in the AB. If they can misread a pitch, so can blue. Both humans.

      • therealjohnc - Jun 16, 2015 at 10:33 AM

        It was also borderline on the MLB pitch track; is F/X really “official” – as in, does MLB regard F/X as authoritative in some way that the other pitch tracking programs are not?

      • nats128 - Jun 16, 2015 at 10:53 AM

        Interesting. They used to be the MLB official K Zone company. I no longer see the words “official”. There’s also that Nats Strike Zone on Twitter that gives more leeway on a pitch as they don’t report every ball/strike that is outside the box.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 16, 2015 at 11:01 AM

        Good pick-up and looks like they are not official anymore.

        Here’s that Twitter:

    • dcwx61 - Jun 16, 2015 at 1:05 PM

      with this data, it would be pretty easy to come up with an umpire BS score for each ump in the league. Then their bonuses would be partly tied to their BS score.
      Do it BR.

      (#balls called balls – #Balls Called Strikes + strikes called strikes – #Strikes called Balls)/(number of pitches called)

      or BS score = ( (BB – BS) + (SS – SB))/ NP
      Perfect score it 1.0

      Could also weigh by when the missed pitch was called
      1. for strike 1-2, balls 1-2
      1.2 for ball 3
      2. for ball 4 missed or strike 3 missed
      but some would argue a miss on any pitch would have an equal effect on the final outcome of the at bat

  14. pchuck69 - Jun 16, 2015 at 10:16 AM

    Before we lay all the blame on Gio, who was awful, by the way. The offense scored one run, in the 9th inning. When you score one run, you’re likely to lose that game, regardless of how well your starting pitcher performs.

    • rlndtln - Jun 16, 2015 at 10:27 AM

      The whole game changes when you get a solid start .Just look at the previous 2 games.Everything starts with the starter.Last year with the injuries we were able to stay in games where we did not hit because we generally got a good pitching effort.Our problems start with the pitcher.Only Scherzer has been able to do that and we have been in every game he started.

      • pchuck69 - Jun 16, 2015 at 10:48 AM

        Nope, can’t agree. It’s not Gio’s or any starters fault when the offense strands a dozen base runners. You can make the argument that “the whole game changes when you get a solid start” but the offense has to at least be competitive. They were completely non-competitive on offense last night.

        The Rays scored their second run in the 3rd inning and, at that point, the game was over. That’s what happens when you have a offense that’s non-competitive like this. When a team’s offense is so non-productive, as the Nationals offense has been frequently this season, it makes good pitching not good enough too many times.

        If Gio had pitched an average game, how many more runs would they have scored? If Gio had pitched a great game, how many more runs would they have scored? I’m guessing in either scenario, they wouldn’t have scored many more than the one they did score in the reality where Gio had a terrible game.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 16, 2015 at 1:31 PM

        Everything changes everything.

    • nats128 - Jun 16, 2015 at 11:14 AM

      Review how many mistakes the Nats made and the call the ump made just in the 1st inning. Span singles. Rendon out. Esco hits a ball deep in the hole and the shortstop has to go get and throws wide of 2nd base pulling the 2nd baseman off the bag and Span slides way past the base not even on a take-out slide. What was Span thinking and doing? That would have been 2nd and 1st with 1 out and Bryce at the plate. That changed what could have been a huge inning. It also later revealed that Escobar wasnt credited with a single based on some MLB rule revealed later by Carp.

      Thats how quickly things change in this game. Theres no way the sequencing to Bryce would be the same with men on 2nd and 1st with one out.

      In the bottom of the 1st, Gio struggled with control but got through it with no runs scored.

      In the bottom of the 2nd, Gio gets Asdrubal out then the Kiermaier grounder up the middle fielded by Denard and Kiermaier runs like its a double out of the box and Denard with his head down picks up the ball with no urgency and that seemed to put Gio’s day in a tizzy as if the long 1st inning wasnt bad enough.

      Yes, Nats only scored 1 run but the issues started from the very 1st inning. Different ballgame if the Nats go up 3-0. Gio pitches better when hes more relaxed.

      • Section 222 - Jun 16, 2015 at 1:24 PM

        I thought Span was doing a take out slide, not realizing how good a chance of beating the play (and of course not knowing that the 2B would be pulled off the bag). That’s why he slid past the bag. Agree that it was not a good play by him, and very unfortunate. But like the missed DP the night before, the game didn’t turn on that one play.

        Span also really botched the Kiermaier “double.” Hope he’s learned his lessons for the year.

      • nats128 - Jun 16, 2015 at 2:51 PM

        Just a tough game all round. Would have been nice to see a relaxed and in control Gio.

  15. Guapo - Jun 16, 2015 at 10:32 AM

    Despite a staff that has dramatically under performed, an inconsistent offense, and a wave of injuries that would bury most team’s, the Nats are still at the top of the division. They’ve hung in there against all the obstacles because the roster is that good, and that deep. The club will get healthy, they will become more consistent, and they will win the division. Who knows…maybe all the DL time will help in Sept/Oct…less wear and tear.

    • therealjohnc - Jun 16, 2015 at 10:36 AM

      They’ve also, to be honest, hung in there because the rest of the NL East is not very good.

      • micksback1 - Jun 16, 2015 at 11:00 AM

        you may have hit the nail on the head, both East divisions, AL: and NL are the weakest respectiviley. This means the Nats probably will make major moves in 2016, there seems to a be a slight deterioration with the team, but, it is fixable with the right moves. I bet Rizzo knows this and is just hoping the team can get by and win the division. Fister MUST comeback and one more BP arm is a must from now until September.

      • Guapo - Jun 16, 2015 at 12:15 PM

        agreed. if they are in a better division, the season could be lost already.

  16. micksback1 - Jun 16, 2015 at 10:32 AM

    former Nats GM Bowden said this morning that he predicts that by 8/1 Trea Turner will be the starting SS and Desi will be gone by then, any thoughts?

    • therealjohnc - Jun 16, 2015 at 10:35 AM

      My thought is that such a move would be very, very unlikely. Bowden’s current role is to have a take and come strong to the microphone with attention grabbing statements. I hope he’s better at that than he was as the Nats’ GM (with a nod to the fact that he was not in an ideal situation here).

      • micksback1 - Jun 16, 2015 at 10:38 AM

        I agree with you and Turner needs more time and should be a Septemeber call up when roster expands. But, I am done with Desi and I wish Rizzo was as well. Desi may just need a change and if he has personal issues and since he is free agent, which I believe effects the other players, then let him work them out eleswhere. Escobar, Espi, Rendon can fill in nicely. I guess the question would be, who would be the utility infielder?

      • Danny - Jun 16, 2015 at 10:44 AM

        We get not much of anything if you deal Desi now. Just gotta hope he turns it around. And, we can get that compensation pick. If he gets back on track, we will keep him through the season.

      • virginiascopist - Jun 16, 2015 at 12:46 PM

        Bowden has always been a huge Turner fan. I recall last December when the trade was announced, he was gushing about it from the Nats’ perspective — and, frankly, I don’t even remember him mentioning Joe Ross at all.

        That being said, although I certainly think a September call-up is possible, starting shortstop is a stretch, given that either Espinosa or Escobar would be above him on the depth chart were they to bench or trade Desi — something which I can’t envision happening. His value couldn’t be any lower and any acquiring team wouldn’t be able to make him a qualifying offer — although if things continue apace, we might have to think twice about making him the QO.

    • Section 222 - Jun 16, 2015 at 10:52 AM

      About as reliable as most of the predictions Bowden makes.

      I’m surprised he’s dumping on Desi, one of the last remaining guys he can take credit for.

      • micksback1 - Jun 16, 2015 at 10:54 AM

        good point on Bowden, put mike in front of anyone, i guess?

      • natsguy - Jun 16, 2015 at 2:28 PM

        Bowden didn’t have anything to do with drafting Desmond.

      • Section 222 - Jun 16, 2015 at 2:46 PM

        Right, but that wouldn’t stop him from taking some credit, right. Desi made his way through the minor league system on Bowden’s watch.

    • micksback1 - Jun 16, 2015 at 10:54 AM

      you may be right Danny, the Nats would get very little in return for him so I guess the question will be, how many more games does Desi have to lose for the team before he is sent down, he is already batting 9th in the order. Unless MlB makes new rule that add a 10th batter, he can not dip any lower.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 16, 2015 at 10:59 AM

      Unlikely for a team with postseason aspirations.

      Would you put a Rookie in to start with so much on the line? Easy to cave under the pressure.

      Even next year the Nats have Rendon, Esco and Espi.

    • nattygoats - Jun 16, 2015 at 3:59 PM

      I think it will happen. This team should be way out of it by then.

  17. micksback1 - Jun 16, 2015 at 10:35 AM

    I just praised Gio yesterday. it was clear early on he did not have his pitches, i wonder why he wa snot pulled earlier, why not roark come in or someone else. This is where I have major issues with MW

    • Danny - Jun 16, 2015 at 10:42 AM

      Roark is starting today.

      • micksback1 - Jun 16, 2015 at 10:47 AM

        OK, I guess they are thin right now.

        Fister needs to come back and if Stras does not work out his basket case mental issues, this will be the down fall for the Nats in 2015. The one area we thought that was solid may become the weakest link. Max is amazing but he can not pitch every night like they did in the 19th century, lol

    • adcwonk - Jun 16, 2015 at 12:43 PM

      if Stras does not work out his basket case mental issues

      You think his physical injuries were fake? Or had nothing to do with his woes?

      • micksback1 - Jun 16, 2015 at 1:48 PM

        no, his physical injuries are real as is “every” other bg time MLB players injuries are real. The difference is how he deals with them and a memo to you, I Mick am not the only fan who feels Stras has some serious issues that have nothing to do with the physical aspects or any of his injuries. In otherwords, I am not alone in this view, although you seem to think i am.

      • adcwonk - Jun 16, 2015 at 2:05 PM

        I don’t think you are the only person (you might want to be careful about making assumptions about what other people are thinking).

        But you said he was a mental basket case. I don’t see evidence that that was his main problem this year. He’s clearly frustrated — but he’s had three physical injuries already in succession (ankle, then something in his right arm because of the ankle, and then his left trapezious), which would drive anyone to frustration.

      • nattygoats - Jun 16, 2015 at 4:07 PM

        I think physical issues are fake. He’s a mental wreck.

    • chrisrw109nats - Jun 16, 2015 at 2:14 PM

      Yes, I completely agree. I also have major issues with Matt WIlliams when he doesn’t put tomorrow’s starter in the game for long relief. I’m just as angry that he didn’t bring in Stammen or Werth to relieve. Who cares about things like availability, or DL status.

      These guys are professional’s, generally you don’t pull your SP in the 1st or 2nd unless he is completely incapable of getting outs. Gio was getting smoked, yes but a certain amount of Managing is showing those guys you’ll let them work it out… while also essentially insisting that they DO work it out.

      Unfortunately, yesterday Gio couldn’t do that.

  18. nats128 - Jun 16, 2015 at 11:21 AM

    To me this entire season has been “what have you done for me lately”.

    1. Strasburg
    2. Ryan Zimmerman
    3. Desi
    4. Gio
    5. Werth
    6. Aaron Barrett
    7. Fister

    That is 60% of the starters and almost 1/3 of the projected starters if you include the Stammen injury to say this is a problem and all but Desi and Gio have been on the DL.

    Matt Williams and Rizzo have a uphill climb. If they can win the NL East it will be a incredible accomplishment.

    • nats128 - Jun 16, 2015 at 11:34 AM

      I put those in order of who I think have been criticised most this season altho a case to flip RZ with Desi.

      • Eric - Jun 16, 2015 at 2:11 PM

        I think Desi’s taken far more heat than Zim as Zim has been stellar 1st while Desi was horrific at short to start the season.

      • nats128 - Jun 16, 2015 at 2:52 PM

        Thinking I should have reversed those. Natsinsider is a kinder place then others.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 16, 2015 at 4:04 PM

        Which reminds me of a meme

      • nats128 - Jun 16, 2015 at 5:02 PM

        Tell me about it

  19. Eric - Jun 16, 2015 at 1:52 PM

    Re: Desi, I have no idea how likely it is or is not that he’ll be benched (i.e., lose his starting role). I do think it’s *extremely* unlikely that he’ll be sent down given his history, but I do find myself wondering if he’s ever been this intractably bad for this long. IIRC, even his lone hot streak this season was short-lived and still prominently featured his concerning trends (Ks, poor RISP performance). And, now he’s hurtling onto the interstate at Werth-like speeds.

    I’m a bit torn about the opposing points regarding how benching him would affect morale. I think batting him 9th when in an AL park might actually be a great way to thread the needle of player perception, but alas, that’s a fleeting option.

  20. micksback1 - Jun 16, 2015 at 2:15 PM

    a healthy Fister and a Stras who at least can get some consistency will bandade all of the problems with Desi and RZim. But, its a big if?

  21. nattygoats - Jun 16, 2015 at 4:03 PM

    This is not a slump. This is who they are. If the Nats were in the Central or west the season would basically be over. The talent is overrated. The leash for these struggling players is way too long. Every time Desi plays it shows how bad Matt Williams is.





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