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Robinson’s bat, Strasburg’s injury and weekend predictions

Jul 6, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT

What an eventful weekend it turned out to be for the Nationals. (Then again, it feels like every week this season has been eventful for this team, for both positive and negative reasons.)

The good news this weekend: The Nats swept the Giants, got more dominant pitching performances from Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann, got more contributions from reserves pressed into more playing time (Clint Robinson, Tyler Moore, Tanner Roark) and wrapped it all up with a season-high, 4 1/2-game lead in the NL East.

The bad news this weekend: Stephen Strasburg landed on the disabled list again, this time with a left oblique strain that occurred just as the right-hander was beginning to look like his old, dominant self again.

So, we had plenty to discuss on The Baseball Show last night on CSN. Below are several clips from the show, beginning with a segment on the contributions the Nationals have been getting from guys not named Bryce Harper, with an emphasis on Robinson’s recent production. After that is a discussion of Strasburg and how the club might proceed while he’s out. And then we wrap up with our weekly Over/Under contest, this one looking ahead to next weekend’s Battle of the Beltways at Camden Yards. Joe Orsulak, Sebastian Salazar and I make our predictions for the series.



  1. micksback1 - Jul 6, 2015 at 11:07 AM

    had a blast last night at the park!!!

    Amazing considering where the Nats were about 3 weeks ago. As of today they sit in a great place, 10 over 500, over 4 games up on a Mets team that appears to be struggling. BTW: i am not impressed with the Dodgers, Nats are now the 2nd best in NL behind Cards

    The key is the starting pitching has been lights out and Storen, Carpenter and Thornton have been in good spots.
    Clint Robinson is simply a feel good story. Rizzo looks like genius with what the bench has done and the Escobar trade. Michael A Taylor does not get enough credit and I think this young man could be All Star within 2 seasons!
    Desi could learn from him.

    The team really needs one more BP arm, maybe even another closer to take pressure off Drew, but One middle relief at best.

    Even if R Zim produces nothing when he comes back, the team can win without him, but, Rendon has to come back and Werth as well. More so Rendon than Werth

    The only really bad spot is Desi and his swinging at a ball over his head yesterday says it all. He is a liability to this team and I am, so disspointed in how he has dealt with this. How anyone can defend him is a mystery to me.

    • natsguy - Jul 6, 2015 at 11:17 AM

      I’m not so sure about Werth either anymore. Rendon is definitely needed.

      • micksback1 - Jul 6, 2015 at 11:19 AM

        you are correct on Werth and Michael Taylor’s play makes Werth replaceable in the long term. Although I hope we resign Span another season or two.

        I am hoping that Werth when he comes back will be fresh so that he could redeem himself in the post season. I am afraid R Zim may be on the decline for good.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 6, 2015 at 11:50 AM

        I don’t get this indifference to what happens with Werth.

        The team is better with a healthy Werth than without him. Whether he comes back healthy and reasonably productive, nobody knows, but it’s what we should all wish for. If he doesn’t, then MAT is not the long-term answer in LF.

        This isn’t to take anything away from MAT. He’s having a very good rookie campaign at a time when the team really needs him. But his future is in CF. That’s where his defense will be best put to use. His offense, even with improvement, isn’t likely to be good enough to hold down what should be a power position as a corner OF.

      • jd - Jul 6, 2015 at 1:40 PM


        Not sure I agree completely. I think Taylor’s bat may well play in left field long term. I think Span brings a different set of skills to the table as a leadoff hitter and unless he is looking for an Elsbury type contract I would bring him back (for 2 years).

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jul 6, 2015 at 1:44 PM

        Of course, it’s not only what he’s looking for, but what somebody else offers him, too. Even assuming he’s willing to stay (and I have no reason to think he isn’t), they’re still in a bidding process.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 6, 2015 at 2:14 PM


        Looks like we agree on much about Werth.

        As for MAT–maybe he could stick in LF if he considerably improves the bat, which right now doesn’t give you what you want at a power corner OF slot (he is about 100 pts lower on OPS and 30 pts lower on wRC+ than the median for qualifying NL LFers). Even if he could, I think his defense is too good to waste on LF.

        As for Denard–I love him, but I am wary about his future. He will be 32 before next season. This season, he’s been sidelined with a series of minor things that have already taken a toll on his defense and will only grow with time. I would be surprised if Rizzo were willing to go more than 1-2 years, which I doubt will be enough.

        If MAT takes over in CF, he will bring more power than Denard but clearly a lower OBP, and so I agree would not be an ideal lead off man.

      • jd - Jul 6, 2015 at 2:24 PM


        Ultimately I think Turner will lead off and with Rendon hitting 2nd I think you can slide Taylor down in the lineup, it may yet end up that way. But as I said I would still love to keep Span for 2 years if possible.

      • therealjohnc - Jul 6, 2015 at 2:44 PM

        He’s not looking for an Ellsbury type of contract, but it’s going to take more than two years to land him. I’d bet he gets a four year deal someplace, for somewhere between $45-50M guaranteed.

      • texnat1 - Jul 6, 2015 at 2:10 PM

        Agree completely. If Werth is healthy and playing like last season, he is a big upgrade to Taylor. No disrespect to MAT, but we are talking about a guy who hasn’t been able to get his OBP above 300.

        Now we don’t know yet if Werth can regain that form, but its way to early to write him off.

      • texnat1 - Jul 6, 2015 at 2:11 PM

        This was supposed to be in response to HH’s post of 11:50am

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 6, 2015 at 2:16 PM

        Yeah, a comment must have gotten reported and the thread went totally screwy.

      • micksback1 - Jul 6, 2015 at 2:53 PM

        HH, totally agree with you on Michael, yes CF is where he will play long term. my point was that over the next 1-2 season’s Nats should resign Span and play Michael in LF if Werth is consistently out

      • langleyclub - Jul 6, 2015 at 12:24 PM

        Werth’s problems were not just with the bat, but he was lost in LF earlier this season. MAT caught at least 2 balls last night that there was no chance Werth would’ve gotten to (and it’s been like that since MAT started playing in LF everyday). MAT covers a LOT of ground; Werth no longer does. If Werth is an offensive force, then the trade off of losing some defense is acceptable, but if Werth is going to hit .250 with no power (really hard to have power when returning from a wrist injury), then I understand why some would prefer MAT in LF over Werth.

        BTW, the Werth PT issue is not going away as the Nats are committed to $21 million for Werth in 2016 and 2017. Even if Span leaves and MAT goes to center, there are going to be alternatives that are better options in the corner OF spots than 37 and 38 year old JW.

      • jd - Jul 6, 2015 at 1:37 PM


        Jayson Werth was a 5.0 WAR player in 2014 and that includes crappy defense. Could he have regressed to the point where he is no longer an elite player? maybe but he hasn’t been healthy long enough to judge. MAT has been learning on the job and getting better quickly but even with excellent defense and assuming continued improvement he is likely to wing up with somewhere between 2 and 3 WAR. So for this year, if at all possible I want last year’s version of Jayson Werth (even with crappy defense) for sure.

        Unless JW regressed a lot from last year the money owed him may yet be well spent.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jul 6, 2015 at 1:56 PM

        Plus, JW has better walkup music. I think MAT uses Dream Junkies’ Oceans.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jul 6, 2015 at 1:57 PM


        Old guy.

      • adcwonk - Jul 6, 2015 at 4:28 PM


      • zmunchkin - Jul 6, 2015 at 1:38 PM

        We’ve heard this before. In 2013 and 2014. And Werth ending up around .300 both years.

        How about we wait and see what happens after he’s had a couple weeks of ABs?

      • therealjohnc - Jul 6, 2015 at 2:42 PM

        Wait and see? Get out of here, you and your rational thinking!

      • therealjohnc - Jul 6, 2015 at 2:46 PM

        Sigh. Replay fail. This was meant to respond to zmunchkin’s 1:38pm comment about Werth.

      • adcwonk - Jul 6, 2015 at 4:28 PM

        wait and see?

        now _that’s_ of the box thinking!!

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 6, 2015 at 11:24 AM

      Good writings and thoughts. I love how different players are stepping up this week. CRob and Ramos with huge GW HRs.

      I’m not liking what I’ve seen from Janssen. He lacks a put-away pitch and is relying on weak contact. That’s fine with a large lead but not in a close game.

      Mick, I’m not writing off the Dodgers. They will win the West and will upgrade at the trade deadline. The Dodgers fanbase wants Mattingly fired. It seems there’s many fanbases that don’t like their manager.

      The Cardinals are the best in the Majors but can be beat.

      • micksback1 - Jul 6, 2015 at 11:30 AM

        Ghost, I agree, I am not writing off Dodgers, I’m just saying as of today, Nats, injuries and all are better than LA. LA fan based is still mad at Mattingly after losing NLCS last season. I think they will win the West, I just hope Giants some how do not get in because they always roll when they do.

        Giants have a huge series with Mets. omehow, i see, Cubs, pirates and Mets battling for 2 WC spots. I would love to see Cubs v Mets in 1 game playoff, Cubs win and then what a rivarly series between Cubs and Cards.

        Nats beat LA in 4 and NLCS, Cubs vs Nats.

        I am dreaming, LOL

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 6, 2015 at 11:33 AM

        Agree, thinking Pirates and Cubs in the Wild Card. Mets should be close.

      • micksback1 - Jul 6, 2015 at 11:30 AM

        Ghost, I agree, I am not writing off Dodgers, I’m just saying as of today, Nats, injuries and all are better than LA. LA fan based is still mad at Mattingly after losing NLCS last season. I think they will win the West, I just hope Giants some how do not get in because they always roll when they do.

        Giants have a huge series with Mets. omehow, i see, Cubs, pirates and Mets battling for 2 WC spots. I would love to see Cubs v Mets in 1 game playoff, Cubs win and then what a rivarly series between Cubs and Cards.

        Nats beat LA in 4 and NLCS, Cubs vs Nats.

        I am dreaming, LOL

      • jd - Jul 6, 2015 at 11:48 AM


        The Dodgers need at least one more starting pitcher and I expect them to be in on Hammels and Cueto big time. At one time they were scouting JZim closely and if I were Rizzo I would stay away from that unless I am overwhelmed.

        I heard the Dodgers are also in on Niese but I question how much of an upgrade he is over what they have.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 6, 2015 at 11:51 AM

        Absolutely my point on let’s judge after the trade deadline.

    • mauimo22 - Jul 6, 2015 at 11:26 AM

      Yes when Rendon comes back put him at 2B, Danny at SS and let Ian get some ABs only when games are out of reach. No need to be so patient with a player so undisciplined at the plate. Danny deserves a lot of credit working through his issues last year. He looks great this year. Now it’s Desi’s turn to go to AAA and re-gain his confidence and discipline. Gotta use the best lineup and he is certainly, like you say, a liability.

      I like Tanner from the BP, no need to keep switching him between roles. He’s our Stammen of 2015. Call up Joe Cool and we’re in business until Stras comes back.

  2. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 6, 2015 at 11:12 AM

    Mark, welcome back. We missed you. Can you please edit Rich’s postgamer to reflect the correct Nats record of 46-36. Thanks.

    • adcwonk - Jul 6, 2015 at 12:19 PM

      and also please correct the statement that Storen saved all three games over the weekend?

      (Not only was it not a save situation, but he didn’t even play in the Sat game)

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 6, 2015 at 12:23 PM

        Good point.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 6, 2015 at 1:10 PM

        The record has now been edited correctly to 46-36. The Storen paragraph hasn’t been edited yet.

  3. scnatsfan - Jul 6, 2015 at 11:38 AM

    When I clicked on the page all 3 links started playing at once it was like Mark was yelling at me lol

    • Hiram Hover - Jul 6, 2015 at 11:39 AM


    • ArVAFan - Jul 6, 2015 at 12:48 PM

      Yeah, I’m really glad I had the mute on my (work) computer when I clicked over. That would have required some explaining!

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jul 6, 2015 at 2:00 PM

      Every time I refresh the page I have Mark yelling at me.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Jul 6, 2015 at 2:31 PM

        Don’t feel badly — they’re yelling at me too.

  4. adcwonk - Jul 6, 2015 at 12:17 PM

    Re: Rendon coming back

    Unless it’s Ian that’s going to be sitting down, we don’t gain all that much with Rendon coming back, imho. Esobar, hitting over .300 is not going to sit, and Espinosa fields well, and is still 2d on the team in HR’s, and has a solid .766 OPS (note: I’m not saying Espinosa is better than Rendon, but if Espi is hitting around .270, and Rendon can hit .290, that’s nowhere near the improvement that can be had compared to if Rendon can be replacining a guy hitting .212)

    Re: Dodgers

    As mick (or somebody) noted — with two aces (Grienke, Kershaw), and a very hot closer (Jansen, WHIP of 0.589) the Dodgers are very dangerous in a short series (i.e., playoffs), with or without extra hitters. They are 5th in runs/game (Nats are 3rd) and 3rd in team ERA (Nats are 6th)

    • micksback1 - Jul 6, 2015 at 2:55 PM


      in theory, Nats should be most dangerous in a short series, i agree Dodgers certainly will be

  5. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 6, 2015 at 12:18 PM

    From ESPN Baseball Tonight! Wow. I agree but maybe they missed last weekend’s Nats sweep of the Pirates.

    “@BBTN: Our MLB power rankings:
    1. @Cardinals
    2. @astros
    3. @Pirates
    4. @Nationals
    5. @Royals

    • zmunchkin - Jul 6, 2015 at 1:33 PM

      Smoltz had the same top 5 – but had the Nats as #1.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 6, 2015 at 1:36 PM

        Smoltz? Really? Nice of him but I wouldn’t go #1 today. I’d have Nats #3.

    • micksback1 - Jul 6, 2015 at 3:05 PM


      Hamels going to any NL contender does worry me. So, as crazy as it sounds, could/would phillies and Nats do business?

  6. Dave - Jul 6, 2015 at 12:19 PM

    Dear brother and sister Insiders: I have a scorebook question about SATURSDAY’S game (not last night’s).

    I keep score in my scorebook at every game I see, including on Saturday. I am only now checking my numbers against the box score, and there is something I cannot reconcile. I need to fix this before I get my scorebook ready for the game tonight.

    The box score (and game recap) for Saturday says Bumgarner gave up six runs. However, i have him down for five, and I can’t figure out how the scorer gets six.

    Of course he gave up the first three runs in the first five pitches of the game, famously. Then Espi scored in the fourth on TyMo’s double.

    In the sixth, Robinson got a double off Mad Bum, then Espi singled, after which Bumgarner came out of the game, replaced by Petit. Facing Petit, Desi hit into a fielder’s choice, taking Danny of the basepaths. Then Moore hit a two-run double that scored both Robinson and Desmond.

    Robinson was Bumgarner’s run and Desmond was Petit’s, right?

    The only way to charge six runs to Bumgarner Saturday is to say that Desmond was Bum’s responsibility.

    What am I missing here?

    • adcwonk - Jul 6, 2015 at 12:25 PM

      Robinson was Bumgarner’s run and Desmond was Petit’s, right?

      That’s your error. Because Desmond hit into a “fielders choice”, it’s as though he switched places with Espi (who was MadBum’s responsibility). After all, on a fielders choice, the throw could have just as easily gone to fist, getting Desmond out, and then Espi would still be on base as MadBum’s responsibility. Another way to look at it: if nobody had been on base, it would have been just a ground out. Therefore, Desmond should not have been Petit’s responsibility.

      I’m not sure I explained it well but does that make sense?

      • Dave - Jul 6, 2015 at 12:30 PM

        Yes, thank you. It makes perfect sense. As soon as I read your words “fielder’s choice” I went “whoops, that’s it.”

    • Hiram Hover - Jul 6, 2015 at 12:30 PM

      Because Espi was out and Desi safe on the FC, the run is charged to the prior pitcher.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 6, 2015 at 12:31 PM

        I didn’t explain it sooner than wonk, and probably not better–but I did use fewer words!

      • Dave - Jul 6, 2015 at 12:34 PM

        You both explained it crystal-clearly and very quickly. Thanks.

      • adcwonk - Jul 6, 2015 at 4:22 PM

        yeah, but you still owe me a beer!

  7. richardp6 - Jul 6, 2015 at 12:21 PM

    The comments about Ian Desmond sound exactly like those from last year about Danny Espinosa and look what has happened. Why Desmond won’t take an example from the results that Danny has gotten by changing his approach is beyond me. I know he said he needs to just stick with what made him successful that logic is flawed because the league has adjusted to him and now he needs to adjust back. I think he will but it may be after he has gone to another team and we can’t wait him out with this year being the big push to win the World Series.

    • letswin3 - Jul 6, 2015 at 1:14 PM

      Richard, I don’t see where the league has adjusted to Ian at all. If anything, he seems to be getting MORE pitches that are hittable (is that a word?) this season, as he looks to be unable to hit a meatball right down the middle. In 2 particular at bats over the last 2 games, he got 4 unbending, upper 80’s to low 90’s pitches (fastballs, or hung changeups) right down the pike that he weakly fouled-off or whiffed on … and this has been going on all season. If I didn’t think the Nat’s organization is on top of all things possible, I would conclude that Ian is experiencing eye problems. Couple all that with his absolute insistence that he will never change his approach (I think his leading approach strategy is to try to literally knock the stuffings out of the ball) and you have a recipe for failure. Can he moderate his swing to induce contact? Yes. Will he do that? I’m convinced that he will only respond to reason by force … force being either benched, or sent down. He’s always impressed me with being intelligent, but he isn’t providing much reinforcement for that impression lately.

      • richardp6 - Jul 6, 2015 at 3:11 PM

        I was thinking that they had because they keep throwing him that down and away pitch that he flails away at 🙂 more than last year. I do agree that he’s missed some very hittable pitches, including last night. (btw-he did get robbed a couple of times last night but that’s incidental). Good that the nats can win with 7 batters and a pitcher anyway. Kruk observed last night that Desmond “doesn’t get cheated” on his swings so the whole league knows it too.

  8. laddieblahblah - Jul 6, 2015 at 12:34 PM

    “if Werth is going to hit .250 with no power…”

    Werth actually was hitting around .212 before he injured his wrist and went on the DL. .250 was nowhere in sight. You can look it up.

  9. letswin3 - Jul 6, 2015 at 1:35 PM

    I’m delighted that there is debate regarding Michael Taylors future position … it’s no longer about “whether” he belongs in “the bigs” right now, but “where” he should be positioned as a starter. I always wanted him to succeed, but understood that he needed to improve his plate discipline, and, through a series of happenings, he has benefitted by everyday play and lots of major league hitting. My biggest criticism is his meekness in the field … again yesterday there was a situation (a texas-leaguer dropping fast near the Burmuda-triangle) where he could have made the catch, but instead just watched as Desmond and Escobar ran to the ball, instead of screaming that he had it (he, of course, had the obligation to call off all infielders, if he could make the catch, in that situation). The result was a leadoff (I think) runner on first base who could have become a precious run in a tightly contested game. I would like to see someone pull Michael aside and read him the riot act about “taking charge” on that type of play. As someone said here earlier today, he made 2 catches yesterday that Werth would never have come close to, so, regardless of where he ends up playing, he needs to start demanding preference on balls that he can reach.

    • stoatva - Jul 6, 2015 at 3:40 PM

      It looked to me, up in 223, like another of those cases where he misread the big swing and froze for an instant before breaking in on the ball, and that was enough to cost him the chance.

      Happens to all outfielders sometimes, of course. But more than it should (or will in the future) to MAT.

      • letswin3 - Jul 6, 2015 at 3:54 PM

        My complaint is that he didn’t call for it. When the ball hit the ground, he was maybe 6 feet from it. I think it was a matter of him thinking he was going to get into a collision with the other 2 guys … instead of making the call, clearing the other 2 out and making the catch.

  10. jfmii - Jul 6, 2015 at 2:06 PM

    I think Werth’s approach and attention to detail raises the quality of the rest of the team. I assume he will be highly productive again. If he does not get it back, the Nationals will be missing more than his fine offensive numbers..

  11. jd - Jul 6, 2015 at 2:27 PM

    Turner is 3 for 3 in AAA today raising his avg to .214. I think we have no reason to worry about this kid. He can flat out play.

  12. jd - Jul 6, 2015 at 2:32 PM

    They took Joe Ross out after 5 scoreless inning having only thrown 69 pitches. I hope it’s just controlled pitch count as opposed to an injury.

  13. stoatva - Jul 6, 2015 at 2:34 PM

    Five shutout innings for Joe Ross today. He walked two, so I guess there’s that to fret about.

  14. micksback1 - Jul 6, 2015 at 3:08 PM

    I was at game last night, I do not think umpires should be tossing players out in the manner that they have. I was upset with the ump tossing Bryce amonth ago and I think Bouchy should be upset about last night as well. Too many egotistical umpires in MLB today. Commissioner needs to let them know “It is not about them”

    • stoatva - Jul 6, 2015 at 3:22 PM

      Cuzzi clearly has a bad case of Napoleon Syndrome. But the whole crew was as bad as I remember seeing.

    • adcwonk - Jul 6, 2015 at 4:26 PM

      Vogelsong clearly deserved getting tossed. He was waving his arms up and down, shouting, and came off the mound towards the ump.

      I have never seen *anybody* do that without getting tossed. An ump can’t ignore that, or else he’s lost control of the entire game.

      • stoatva - Jul 6, 2015 at 4:37 PM

        Oh, I agree completely. Pagan deserved to be tossed, too AFAIAC.

  15. whatsanattau - Jul 6, 2015 at 3:24 PM

    Ryan is not in decline, he’s injured. He can’t move comfortably and effectively on two feet. He’s going to recover and play effectively for 4-8 more years. Werth probably has 2-3 years of 110-135 games per year left in him once the shoulder and wrist recover. Someone’s going to pay Span more (for more years) than the Nats should. I think all 4 FAs finish the year with the Nats unless Desmond gets hot And stays hot now.

  16. rlndtln - Jul 6, 2015 at 3:33 PM

    Must sign Denard and Taylor can be the 4th outfielder for 2 years.Span will want 3 years.MAT is perfect for the rest and injuries Werth and Span will have and then will be ready in 2 years to take over an outfield spot.

  17. Section 222 - Jul 6, 2015 at 4:33 PM

    Yesterday there was a discussion, and I believe the participants were serious, about Zim being “Wally Pipped” by C-Rob. I almost laughed out loud when I read it. So C-Rob, playing his first year in the majors, with about 30 starts under his belt and hittting a robust .267 is being put in the role of Lou Gehrig, one of the greatest players to ever play the game. That’s rich. I’m as pleased as anyone that he’s been hitting decently but his OPS+ is 112, not all star material, and certainly not all time great material. (It is better than Wally Pipp’s 107 before Gehrig took his job. So I’ll give him that.)

    Once Zim is healthy, he will play. There’s no doubt about it. How soon he will be healthy, of course, is anyone’s guess.

    • Hiram Hover - Jul 6, 2015 at 5:00 PM


      I think people really, really like using “Wally Pipp” as a verb.

      Also, they have no sense of history and wild over-reactions to short-term developments.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jul 6, 2015 at 5:29 PM

      (It is better than Wally Pipp’s 107 before Gehrig took his job. So I’ll give him that.)

      And a heck of a lot better than Babe Dahlgren’s.





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.

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