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Stock Watch: Rotation continuing to dominate

Jul 1, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT

Jun 30, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann (27) pitches against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Each week this season, we’ll take the temperature of the Nationals roster to see whose stock is rising or falling.  

Record: 5-1

Team slash: .269/.336/.406

Team ERA: 2.29

Runs per game:  4.6

 

STOCK UP   

Jordan Zimmermann, SP: 1-0/ 15.2 IP/ 0.00 ERA  

For this edition of Stock Watch, we probably should have just put ‘the starting rotation’ in this section, but we’ll still single people out. Zimmermann was battling a brief bout of inconsistency  — he allowed 13 earned runs in his three starts prior to last week — before he posted back-to-back stellar outings. With 15 1/3 shutout innings over two starts, he’s lowered his season ERA to 3.16.

Stephen Strasburg, SP: 1-0/ 7.0 IP/ 9 K 

His first outing back from the disabled list was encouraging, but not dominant. His second was just about everything the Nats hoped for from a healthy Strasburg. His fastball had life, touching 97 mph at times, which set up his off speed pitches in two-strike counts. When he’s able to pair his heater with that devastating breaking pitch, he looks like the guy who took the game by storm when he was first called up in 2010. It’s been just two starts since his return, but if he’s going to pitch like this in the second half of the season — look out.

Casey Janssen, RP: 2 GP/ 0.00 ERA 

Sure, it’s easy to notice how dominant the starting staff has been over the past week or so. But don’t forget about the bullpen, which has quietly stabilized of late. There are the occasional hiccups, of course, but for the most part things have been relatively smooth. Take Janssen, who since his disastrous outing in Cincinnati on May 30 (four runs allowed in just one inning) hasn’t allowed a run to cross the plate since. In fact, that appearance in Cincy accounts for the only runs Janssen’s yielded all season long. He and recent addition David Carpenter have served as an more than adequate bridge to Drew Storen in the ninth inning.

Michael Taylor, LF: .304 AVG/ .360 OBP/ .478 SLG  

It’s pretty evident that Taylor is getting more and more comfortable as he gets extended playing time in left field. The 24-year-old rookie had a pretty up-and-down start to his season, but he’s now seen his average rise from .214 on May 30 to .250 as July begins. He’s more confident at the plate, taking fewer poor swings and doing a better job of working the count in his favor. And when he gets his pitch, he usually doesn’t miss. The gaudy power numbers he had in the minors haven’t showed up yet in the big leagues, but there’s no reason to doubt those will come if he continues to develop.

Clint Robinson, 1B: .286 AVG/ .429 SLG/ 5 RBI 

Raise your hand if you had Robinson batting cleanup for an extended period of time before the season started. Don’t worry, we’ll wait. The 30-year-old utility man, who prior to 2015 was a career minor leaguer, has proven to be a key presence off the bench while filling in admirably for the injured Ryan Zimmerman. He along with Taylor and others show just how deep the Nats’ roster is; so much so that the club can get by for a few games without many of the regulars playing, as it did over the weekend in Philadelphia. That’s a credit to them as players, but it’s also a nod to the organization for building a complete squad.

 

STOCK DOWN

No one this week. That’ll happen when a team wins nine of their last 10 games.

  1. nats128 - Jul 1, 2015 at 11:23 AM

    Quite kind not having Roark on the Stock Down

  2. Ellie - Jul 1, 2015 at 11:23 AM

    No stock down for Desmond? Yeah, he blind squirrelled a couple of nice hits last week, but his 4 K performance last night looked like he was back to his old self.

    Or is it just that he’s already hit rock bottom and can’t possibly sink any lower?

    • nats128 - Jul 1, 2015 at 11:25 AM

      Desmond’s last 7 days have been good. Cant just base it on the 4 Ks last night. Look at that slugging %

      .250/.286/.550/.836

      • hokiepokster92 - Jul 1, 2015 at 1:16 PM

        +1

      • bowdenball - Jul 1, 2015 at 1:26 PM

        Sorry nats128, but this sort of informed posting and rational perspective is not welcome in the comments section here at IanDesmondistheworst.com (recently moved from the now-dormant URL DannyEspinosaistheworst.com).

      • nats128 - Jul 1, 2015 at 1:37 PM

        That got me laughing.

    • ehay2k - Jul 1, 2015 at 11:28 AM

      He is what he is. Not up or down this week, just consistently infuriating.

      • nats128 - Jul 1, 2015 at 12:35 PM

        He had the Walk Off Sac Fly within the last week and 2 HRs.

      • ehay2k - Jul 1, 2015 at 2:06 PM

        Right, followed by a nice new hat. So, he is consistently inconsistent. But there is a hitting coach out there who thinks he can fix him and will lobby for his team to sign Desi next year. I like Desi, but have to believe we can easily improve the team at SS with what we already have in the organization.

  3. natsnatsnatswoo - Jul 1, 2015 at 11:35 AM

    Stock Down: Matt Williams, who let himself be out maneuvered and outsmarted by a dysfunctional organization and a brand new interim manager on the rain delay issue.

    • therealjohnc - Jul 1, 2015 at 12:40 PM

      Heh. The team wins nine of ten and the manager’s stock is down because he can’t forecast the weather? Hint: the National Weather Service can’t guarantee it’s weather forecasts, even the hour-by-hour ones. Honestly, have you ever tracked the hourly chances of rain? They shift around all the time.

      Oh, that’s right, I forgot: anything that goes well is despite the manager, and everything that goes badly is because of the manager. Nevermind; carry on!

      • natsnatsnatswoo - Jul 1, 2015 at 1:14 PM

        Nothing’s guaranteed, but the accuracy of forecasts gets a lot better the closer you get. And even if you think that a smart manager doesn’t need to be basing his decisions on the weather forecast, he at least needs to be independently verifying them (since that can even be done with an iPhone these days) and not just blindly accepting what he’s “told” about the forecast by the opposing team.

      • ehay2k - Jul 1, 2015 at 3:26 PM

        Agreed. Besides, MW can’t force them to delay or postpone the game. The only thing he could have done would have been to get another pitcher ready to start in place of Gio, but I’m not sure, with short notice, who that would have been. There was no easy fix here for the Nats. Face it, their organization is a total mess, and the Philthies screwed up again.

      • therealjohnc - Jul 1, 2015 at 3:45 PM

        We’re all familiar with examples of a team deciding to postpone a game due to rain, only to have the rain mysteriously never materialize. There’s generally a lot of hooting and hollering at the team when that happens.

        I imagine there are also rules about changing your starting pitcher just before game time; you have to provide notice to the other team.

        Putting all that aside, just imagine that MW tries to game the weather, starts Felipe Rivero or someone else who gets smacked around – and an eddy in the weather front holds the rain off just long enough – for 75 minutes or so – for the Nats to bat in the top of the 5th. Congratulations, MW, you’ve just punted a game! And boy oh boy, the same commenters that are pissed off about Gio getting burned in a rainout would be irate that MW had tossed away a game by not starting Gio. Oh, and forced Scherzer out of the Atlanta series, thus “losing an opportunity to bury the Braves” or some such [stuff].

        MW does stuff sometimes that makes me wonder – but starting Gio Saturday wasn’t one of them.

  4. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 1, 2015 at 11:43 AM

    Stock Down: DEFENSIVE POSITIONING and Mark Wiedemaier. Get with the times. This should be an embarrassment to this team and the analytics era. Look at the BABIP the Nats had in the 2014 playoffs and see what scouting and execution does to good hitting.

    The Nats had the better pitching, the Giants had the better defensive positioning.

    “@msimonespn: MLB Teams ranked 1-30 in Defensive Runs Saved with special bonus … runs saved due to use of defensive shifts http://t.co/8VGnqQy3zL

    • virginiascopist - Jul 1, 2015 at 11:49 AM

      To be fair, I believe Wiedemaier has been pulling double-duty lately, filling in for Randy Knorr as bench coach.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 1, 2015 at 12:02 PM

        This isn’t a new problem Virginiascopist.

        Much of it is empowerment which the Cardinals and Giants use. An outfielder can move back or over in positioning themselves if they sense their pitcher is struggling but also based on what pitch they think their pitcher is going to throw.

        Not getting burned on balls hit over your head is the biggest issue outfielders have.

        There is a reason the Giants are ranked 2nd in the rankings.

      • virginiascopist - Jul 1, 2015 at 12:10 PM

        I know it’s not a new problem, but I’m trying to give him a pass for the week (stock watch). Definitely agree we need some work in this area — I’m pretty sick of seeing those balls hit over the outfielders’ heads as well.

    • nats128 - Jul 1, 2015 at 11:56 AM

      The Defensive Runs Saved stat is more a indictment on the Nats defense for not making tougher plays and we see they make the plays they are supposed to make usually altho last night Span broke back on a ball that he had to sprint in on and didnt make the play.

      http://espn.go.com/blog/statsinfo/post/_/id/61679/mlb-stat-definition-defensive-runs-saved

      Defensive shifts arent working for the Nats according to that chart. I thought last night a few times the Nats were positioned perfectly in shifts like Taylor playing the LF line and the ball was hit directly to him.

    • natsnatsnatswoo - Jul 1, 2015 at 11:59 AM

      To be fair, defensive pseudo stats in general are a complete load of horse hockey. Even more than all the other pseudo stats.

      • jd - Jul 1, 2015 at 12:02 PM

        Why? because you don’t understand them?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 1, 2015 at 12:05 PM

        Some are but BABIP is also a credit to the defense.

        I don’t buy in totally on the UZR but the eye test is conclusive on how bad Jayson Werth, Clint Robinson have been in LF. The struggles of MAT in CF early season, Esco at 3rd early season.

        It all adds up.

      • natsnatsnatswoo - Jul 1, 2015 at 12:32 PM

        I understand that they are nothing but arbitrary formulas made up by some “expert.” People treat them like they’re science, but they’re nothing but pseudo science. These so called experts? There’s not an Einstein or a Stephen Hawking among them. The one brilliant scientist who was a baseball fan, Stephen Jay Gould, never made up a pseudo stat in his life.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 1, 2015 at 12:45 PM

        Declaring them pseudo-science doesn’t make it so.

        The basic idea behind DRS is the same as behind a scorer’s decision about errors–compare a player’s performance on a given play to some norm. Except that DRS does it more systematically and rigorously.

        Does that make it perfect? Of course not. But it does make it less imperfect.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jul 1, 2015 at 12:55 PM

        What would be genuine stats, then, woo?

      • natsnatsnatswoo - Jul 1, 2015 at 1:32 PM

        All the counting stats are genuine, although the definitions behind many of the things being counted are sometimes arbitrary, e.g. hit vs error, ball vs strike, pitcher win, etc. Averages like BA, OBP, ERA, WHIP, etc are genuine, unless you think basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division are anarchist. Anything that can be measured, e.g. pitch speed, HR distance, running speed, etc, is of course genuine – assuming your measuring instruments are calibrated, of course. But when you start venturing into arbitrarily constructed formulas that massage data much of which itself is already arbitrary, you’re into the real world of fantasy baseball. Saying that Trout should be MVP because he has a higher WAR than Miggy is like saying 4 out of 5 dentists agree that Crest makes your teeth whiter.

      • natsnatsnatswoo - Jul 1, 2015 at 1:34 PM

        Hiram Hover, an arbitrary decision made more systematically and rigorously still doesn’t make it right.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 1, 2015 at 1:40 PM

        Sorry, you’re trying to change the subject–nobody was talking about Trout and WAR and MVP voting.

        Ghost and 128 mentioned DRS. How exactly is DRS a pseudo-stat?

        The successful answer will explicitly address DRS and how it is calculated, and will not bloviate about Crest, hockey (horse or otherwise), and the Stephens (Hawkings and Jay Gould).

        For full credit, explain how DRS can be a pseudo-stat if errors are not.

      • natsnatsnatswoo - Jul 1, 2015 at 1:49 PM

        Has the arbitrarily-devised formula for DRS ever been back-checked for accuracy against real data in a scientific process, say by Monte Carlo simulation? That’s right, it hasn’t. People just blindly accept that it’s right because someone they think is smarter than they are made it up.

        As for saying that errors are not a pseudo stat, I never said that. See above where I say that the definition of an error is arbitrary.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jul 1, 2015 at 2:40 PM

        Has the arbitrarily-devised formula for DRS ever been back-checked for accuracy against real data in a scientific process,

        I was under the impression that had in fact been done for most advanced stats models, from reading articles and comments on FanGraphs.

        I don’t really have a dog in that race, it seems like fantasy baseball to me, either way, since I don’t actually run any teams. But the folks who are into it seem very competitive about it (in a good way, mostly), and a lot of them do seem to know how to work with data.

      • natsnatsnatswoo - Jul 1, 2015 at 2:45 PM

        Two relevant concepts here. (1) There are lies, damn lies and statistics. (2) Garbage in, garbage out.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 1, 2015 at 5:23 PM

        Ok, so both DRS and errors are arbitrary pseudo-stats. But you’re inclined to rail repeatedly–but always unspecifically–about the one, and to say no more than a passing word of criticism about the other.

        I think I see where you’re coming from.

  5. Theophilus T.S. - Jul 1, 2015 at 12:10 PM

    The author of this article needs to learn the difference between “less” and “fewer.” Back to J-School.

    • ehay2k - Jul 1, 2015 at 12:25 PM

      Or are MAT’s swings just not quite as poor as they used to be? Discuss amongst yourselves. 🙂

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jul 1, 2015 at 12:37 PM

      I was going to ask whether Taylor’s swings are less poor, or he’s taking fewer poor swings.

      And you’re assuming he went to journalism school in the first place. Daniel Shiferaw went to Md., so I am guessing he did. Mark, as we know, is out of Northwestern. Both have well-regarded J schools. Chase apparently didn’t. Just saying.

    • nats128 - Jul 1, 2015 at 12:56 PM

      Funny the part about people making excuses for him seemed like a jab at FP Santangelo who was doing that in the 3rd inning.

      I dont agree with the booing angle. They boo Bryce because he is a target and he doesnt play for there team.

      “He hit it deep to left, Kelly Johnson caught it,” Simpson said. “It wasn’t near the line, it wasn’t a foul ball, and he didn’t even run. He didn’t even get out of the dirt circle. And if you want to know why people boo him when he goes to other cities, that’s because he only plays hard when he wants to play hard, he only runs when he has a chance, like he did a minute ago, to stretch a single into a double. So, any excuses people make for him about, ‘Oh, he has a bad hamstring’ or ‘Oh, he has a bad knee,’ I didn’t see any signs of it when he went first to second on the double. And man, when he dogs it like that and doesn’t run out fly balls, that’s a horrible example. … That’s just brutal. I don’t know how he gets away with it.”

      I do agree with this next paragraph and said so earlier that all Bryce needed to do was jog the 88 feet he had to go to 1st base and if Johnson catches it before he reaches 1st he probably only had to go 60 feet. Its not asking much and you limit the ridiculous controversy he gets.

      “Look, I’m not saying he needed to sprint to first on a fly ball, but he needed to run,” he said. “What if Kelly drops it? What if he lost it somehow? It happens more and more and more with this guy, the more we see him. He’s one of the acclaimed players in the game. He’s one of the figureheads for Major League Baseball in terms of one of its best players, and for a guy not to play hard at all times, ought to be a bit embarrassing for him and his organization.”

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jul 1, 2015 at 1:04 PM

        Well, it’s a recognized phenomenon in many areas of modern life, ain’t it? Talented athletes nowadays don’t hustle, and announcers for bad teams go for the click-bait soundbites instead of actual insight.

        And these kids today play their music too loud, and need a haircut. And a shave. And get them off my lawn.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jul 1, 2015 at 1:08 PM

        But I have to wonder. He seems to think Kelly Johnson stands a reasonable chance of dropping a routine fly ball, but if Johnson does, it’s the hitter who’s embarrassed?

      • bowdenball - Jul 1, 2015 at 1:34 PM

        “What if Kelly drops it? What if he lost it somehow?:”

        If Kelly had dropped that ball or lost it absolutely nothing would have been different. Escobar would have broken for second only when he was 100% sure the ball was on the ground, and Harper would have been right on his heels before he got to second base. In fact Harper likely would have had to stop at first no matter what.

        This is a total non-story.

        Amazing that they didn’t feel the need to comment on Johnson catching that ball on his heels and then lobbing the throw in to allow both runners to advance so easily. I guess veterans get a pass on actual poor efforts that have real consequences.

      • nats128 - Jul 1, 2015 at 1:41 PM

        Thats true. Bryce still could take 1st but he has to know the press will do this to him any time they perceive him to take a play off.They are looking for any thing.

      • Tyler Babip - Jul 1, 2015 at 3:03 PM

        Yeah, Bryce, get off your butt! Your style play is unacceptable and I don’t want to see it anymore!

        Look at this, a disgraceful start to 2015, clear signs of lack of hustle and immaturity:

        AVG .340
        OBP .464
        SLG .713
        WOBA .488
        WRC+ 217
        WAR 5.0

    • Hiram Hover - Jul 1, 2015 at 1:07 PM

      What was it Bryce posted to twitter after the HBP in the Cincy series–

      Something like “lions don’t lose sleep over the complaints of sheep?”

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jul 1, 2015 at 1:09 PM

        “The opinions of sheep,” but yes.

      • nats128 - Jul 1, 2015 at 1:19 PM

        This is certainly making its rounds. Its the only way the *$&#s at 106.7 will talk about the Nats it seems.

  6. ehay2k - Jul 1, 2015 at 3:07 PM

    Of course, had Bryce actually sprinted to first, the likely criticisms would have been:

    “He doesn’t know when to turn it off, which is why he is always hurt.”

    “Why was he running? Was he showing up Kelly? Was he indicating he thought Kelly couldn’t make the catch? Jerk!”

    “He plays too hard – no sense of the game.”

    “He must have assumed he hit it out, what an ego!”

    Every team, bar NONE, would take Harper on their roster in a heartbeat. Every criticism is just sour grapes.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Jul 1, 2015 at 3:14 PM

      Exactly.

    • therealjohnc - Jul 1, 2015 at 3:48 PM

      Among Nats fans, there would of course have been a strong minority opinion of “Harper is taking needless risks – it’s Matt Williams’s fault!”

  7. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 1, 2015 at 3:25 PM

    MLB is listing Scherzer as the starter for Thursday and has Jake Peavy for the Giants starter for Friday.

  8. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 1, 2015 at 3:42 PM

    Same lineup and order as yesterday. Desmond is in.

    • stoatva - Jul 1, 2015 at 3:54 PM

      *sigh*

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 1, 2015 at 4:00 PM

        Desi reverse lock.

      • stoatva - Jul 1, 2015 at 4:01 PM

        HR and reached on error vs Wisler last week. I think that’s our explanation.

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