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Strasburg excels again, Werth delivers winning hit

Aug 20, 2015, 6:00 AM EDT

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For 10 days, they had either lost ground to the Mets or at best kept pace with the NL East leaders, unable to gain positive momentum of any kind. But late Wednesday night, the Nationals finally closed the gap a bit, taking advantage of the Orioles’ walk-off win over New York by rallying themselves to beat the Rockies, 4-1 at Coors Field.

And so, on the 11th day, the Nats at long last got a game back. They now trail in the division by 3 1/2 games, with a chance to bring that number down to 3 games should Max Scherzer beat Johan Flande in Thursday’s series finale, with the Mets getting a day off.

Baby steps, folks. This isn’t going to happen overnight.

If the Nationals keep playing like they did Thursday, getting a dominant pitching performance and some timely hits, they’ll give themselves a reasonable chance at catching the Mets and salvaging this wayward season. There was a lot to like in this victory, including…

Stephen Strasburg continues to dominate since returning from the DL
It wasn’t all that long ago when Strasburg was the biggest question mark on the Nats roster. Nowadays, he’s the closest thing they have to a sure thing in their rotation.

It’s been a dramatic turnaround for the right-hander, and not only since he returned from his oblique strain. The turnaround actually began way back in June when Strasburg returned from his first DL stint, this one for a stiff neck.

He has made six starts since then, and though the oblique injury derailed things for five weeks, Strasburg has picked up right where he left off and turned back into the dominant pitcher we had seen him be in the past. In those six starts, he has gone 4-1 with a 1.26 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, six walks and 43 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings.

Not bad, huh?

The biggest difference between Strasburg now and Strasburg back in April and May, when nothing went right? Fastball command. In his three most recent starts, he has thrown his fastball for strikes 73 percent of the time. That makes all the difference.

For the first time in awhile, Strasburg is pitching with confidence, holding tough Rockies and Giants lineups to three total earned runs over these three starts. If the Nationals are going to mount a major August/September surge, this would be great piece of the puzzle.

Jayson Werth has rediscovered his form in the leadoff spot
I wrote yesterday about the logic behind the lethargic Werth moving up to the No. 1 spot in the Nationals’ lineup, hoping to take advantage of his ability to work the count while taking pressure off him to drive in runs. Well, he reached base three times during Tuesday night’s win, looking perfectly comfortable in the role. Then on Wednesday he looked comfortable again, this time actually driving in the game’s key runs.

At the plate with two on and two out in the eighth inning of a 1-1 game, Werth lashed a ball down the right-field line, legging out a 2-run triple that put the Nationals ahead for good.

Which means the 36-year-old outfielder has now reached base five times in 11 plate appearances the last two nights, going 4-for-10 with two doubles, a triple and a walk.

That is major progress for Werth, at a time when the Nationals needed it most from him.

  1. natsfan1a - Aug 20, 2015 at 6:15 AM

    Sweet. Another happy game results email. Did record the game and intend to watch it at some point today.

  2. pburm9qp - Aug 20, 2015 at 6:28 AM

    If the Nats can get hot and string together a good winning streak, all of a sudden the pressure will be on the Mets. Nobody wants a $160 million team breathing down their necks in September.

  3. JayB - Aug 20, 2015 at 6:32 AM

    They sure are not looking like a $160 M roster but at last they are winning games against really bad pitching. They will have a chance if they can start winning ugly like this until and when they can start playing clean games with a whole string of quality ABs. Still swing and miss like no other team I can recall watching and they make lots of mistakes in the field…they just do not look like the team they should but hey I am only concerned with putting together a good long winning streak at this point.

    • bowdenball - Aug 20, 2015 at 8:57 AM

      There are currently seven teams that have lower contact rates than the Nats.

      23rd of 30 teams in contact rate is not great, so you do have a point. But I think maybe you went a little overboard with the “swing and miss like no other team you can recall watching” comment. You must have missed the 2012 Nationals games- that team had a lower contact rate than this one (77.9% to 77.1%).

      And the percent differences between the teams are so small that I’m not sure the rankings really mean that much. All but the bottom two teams are between 77% and 82%. In fact three of the seven teams with lower contact rates than the Nats would make the playoffs if they started today (Cubs, Pirates, Astros) while another, the Orioles, is in the race. And the two teams who make contact the most are the Athletics and the Red Sox, both well under .500.

      • jd - Aug 20, 2015 at 9:26 AM

        BB,

        there you go again. Letting facts debunk another popular theory.

      • jfmii - Aug 20, 2015 at 9:42 AM

        Your comments are a breath of fresh air

  4. alexva6 - Aug 20, 2015 at 8:04 AM

    so is it Span-Werth or Werth-Span when Denard gets back?

    • Guapo - Aug 20, 2015 at 10:20 AM

      Sadly, Span may have played his last game in a Nats uniform.

      • someguyinva - Aug 20, 2015 at 10:28 AM

        Why do you say that? He’s on a rehab assignment with Hagerstown, and played two nights in a row (Tuesday and Wednesday) with no issues that I’ve heard.

        Is there late breaking news that he woke up today with a recurrence of symptoms?

      • Guapo - Aug 20, 2015 at 11:54 AM

        Haven’t heard anything new as of yet. But two things linger when I think about Span and the Nats in 2015.

        He’s had a lot of trouble, all season with the back and that’s a tough one to solve in season. It could go again at any moment.

        The other is the timing. I love Span and think he’s been wildly impactful for this team. That said, I’m not sure the Nats want Span trying to come up to speed while they are fighting for their lives for a playoff spot. Might be better served letting MAT finish out the season in center.

        Just a tough situation.

      • someguyinva - Aug 20, 2015 at 12:28 PM

        I’m a bit more optimistic on Span. I think if he comes through another few rehab games okay, they’ll put him out there in CF and use Taylor to spell both Werth and Span when needed, until Span possibly breaks down again. Gotta fire all your bullets…

      • Guapo - Aug 20, 2015 at 1:42 PM

        I hope you are right. Would love a healthy Span in the lineup. I guess this season’s injuries are wearing on my optimism a bit.

      • Guapo - Aug 28, 2015 at 8:37 AM

        Backs are brutal for old guys. He’s official done now. Although I was incorrect, we got one last look at #2. Was at the game Wednesday and he played very well. Best of luck to Span, he’s been terrific during his time with the Nats and seems like a great guy to boot.

      • someguyinva - Aug 28, 2015 at 9:18 AM

        Yeah, he’ll be remembered fondly among fans, and it’s sad to see him go out like this, but it’s pretty much par for the course this season.

  5. chapjim - Aug 20, 2015 at 8:17 AM

    Maybe the pressure to drive in runs is relieved by batting lead-off but the pressure is back on with two on and one out in the eighth inning of a tie game. It doesn’t matter any more where you are on the lineup card.

    The thing is there’s not much difference between a triple into the RF corner and a line drive or one-hopper to the first baseman. So, maybe pressure has little to do with anything. Maybe it’s just coincidental — Werth is getting his stroke at the same time he went to the one-hole in the lineup and he is regressing to the mean. Maybe he hasn’t gotten his stroke back and his success in the last two games is just luck and randomness, which is a lot of what baseball is about.

    • veejh - Aug 20, 2015 at 9:05 AM

      BABIP, baby!

      • adcwonk - Aug 20, 2015 at 11:36 AM

        BABIP, baby

        Exactly!

    • ehay2k - Aug 20, 2015 at 10:08 AM

      Except perhaps that by leading off, at least once per game (and likely more since this is the NL), Werth has both incentive and the option of taking a few pitches. That has to help him, given the few AB’s he’s had since coming back. Plus, he’s a good baserunner.

    • rabbit433 - Aug 20, 2015 at 1:07 PM

      Totally agree about luck and randomness. You don’t swing differently depending where you’re hitting. First the batter has to hit the ball. That has been the problem all year. Square it up and once it’s hit, hope for the best!

      • NatsLady - Aug 20, 2015 at 2:19 PM

        Well, yes and no. The last time Werth hit leadoff, in 2012, he said he chose a lighter bat and different approach for leading off. When his wrist was better and he was dropped in the order, he said he was happy to return to a heavier bat for more power.

  6. npb99 - Aug 20, 2015 at 8:24 AM

    Good last two games. Keep it up now, boys!

  7. scnatsfan - Aug 20, 2015 at 8:24 AM

    Two wins in a row? Who sacrificed the chicken?

    • knoxvillenat - Aug 20, 2015 at 9:15 AM

      Did not sacrifice a chicken but I’ll take credit. After the Giant series I switched my coffee cup. Normally I drink out of a blue mug with a red curly W on it when the Nats are on the road and a red mug with a blue curly W when we are at home. Switched up after being swept and now we have a two game streak of own. 🙂

      • adcwonk - Aug 20, 2015 at 11:38 AM

        I want partial credit, too.

        I shlepped my family all the way to OBX for a vacation — knowing full well that last year when we went, the Nats had that incredible streak.

        I changed my entire lifestyle this week, taking one for the team.

        So, I need to get back to work (i.e., heading out to the beach 😉 )

    • ehay2k - Aug 20, 2015 at 10:09 AM

      Oh, I sacrificed a chicken on my Big Green Egg. In honor of the firefighters out west battling wildfires, I smoked it. 🙂

  8. nats106 - Aug 20, 2015 at 8:30 AM

    The thing I noticed most about Strasburg was his shaking off the WP and bad throw by Ramos that allowed the first run. My impression is that he almost always imploded with any level adversity. That could bode well for the rest of the season. (he said hopefully)

    • Section 222 - Aug 20, 2015 at 8:41 AM

      “Almost always.” I think that’s an exaggeration. But yes, Stras did a great job last night, keeping it close after that unfortunate play.

      Stras’s reemergence as an ace really bodes well for the Nats’ chances for a comeback.

    • therealjohnc - Aug 20, 2015 at 10:34 AM

      He’s actually shaken off adversity several times in his starts this season, and indeed did it multiple times last year, too. It’s just that, with the “always implodes with any level of adversity” meme thoroughly planted, a lot of fans just don’t notice when Strasburg does – or notice it in the moment and then immediately forget it the next time adversity arises.

      A couple of seasons ago Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann had an almost identical ratio of errors leading to unearned runs. But Stras gave up twice as many unearned runs. But that was because the Nationals’ error rate was twice as high when Strasburg was pitching. Despite this, the result was the meme that Jordan “Deadeyez” Zimmermann is calm, cool, collected and unruffable where Strasburg is a hothouse flower/head case.

      Me? I’m just happy that both are on the team.

      • adcwonk - Aug 20, 2015 at 11:39 AM

        you and bb, bringing facts instead of perceptions this morning?

  9. chaz11963 - Aug 20, 2015 at 8:33 AM

    43 games left… tick, tock…

    • adcwonk - Aug 20, 2015 at 11:41 AM

      I once read a Boz column that said that gaining something like 1 game per week was perfectly reasonable.

      I decent amount of time left — particularly since there are 6 games head-to-head

  10. Section 222 - Aug 20, 2015 at 8:45 AM

    Saw this morning that the Pirates are 16-3 against the NL West so far. The Nats? 15-14.

    • nats106 - Aug 20, 2015 at 8:54 AM

      That Pirates record is really impressive because it’s not like they have a really tough remaining schedule against the NL West. 2 series remaining with the Rox and a Dodgers series and the Giants this weekend.

    • natsnatsnatswoo - Aug 20, 2015 at 9:24 AM

      That’s interesting. But the Pirates will likely have to first get through the Cubs and the Cardinals in the playoffs before they get the chance to show off their dominance of the NL West. The Nats OTOH should they be lucky enough to actually make the playoffs will hit the NL West winner head on in the first round.

      • Section 222 - Aug 20, 2015 at 9:27 AM

        That’s probably right. This year, the “seeding” will be pretty straightforward, and the Nats get a break, if they get in. Of course, that break means facing Kershaw and Greinke in games 1 and 2, so….

      • bowdenball - Aug 20, 2015 at 9:35 AM

        And before anyone reads too much into any of that, they should probably keep in mind that the 2014 Nats went 25-9 against the NL West including 5-2 against the Giants in the regular season. In other words, that stuff doesn’t mean squat.

      • Section 222 - Aug 20, 2015 at 10:13 AM

        Well bb, of course it doesn’t mean anything when it comes to the postseason. Nothing in my original comment suggested otherwise. We all know the postseason is a crap shoot, blah, blah, blah.

        It certainly means something when it comes to assessing the two teams and their relative strength. The Pirates are beating up on the very teams that the Nats are struggling against. It’s just one more indicator of the mediocre season we’re having.

        But of course, if we manage to sneak into the playoffs anything can happen.

      • bowdenball - Aug 20, 2015 at 10:31 AM

        I don’t know if I’d say the Nats are “struggling” against the West, 222. They’ve had the misfortune of facing Greinke and Kershaw four times and lost all four. Take those games away and we’re a respectable 15-10 against the West. The Pirates have played a combined one game against those two LAD starters, and it was in April when Kershaw was still struggling. They also haven’t faced Bumgarner, who we’ve faced twice and beaten once.

        The Pirates are better than the Nats because they have a better record and run differential, but breaking it out by record vs a particular division just confuses the issue because it shrinks the sample size. This is a perfect example of the pitfalls of shrinking sample sizes- one team has faced the aces of the NL West six times, the other just once.

  11. stoatva - Aug 20, 2015 at 9:27 AM

    I told you that 4.1 earthquake in CA Monday was the Nats hitting bottom.

    • ArVAFan - Aug 20, 2015 at 9:32 AM

      LOL (and hoping you’re right).

  12. ArVAFan - Aug 20, 2015 at 9:34 AM

    Oh, yes, and that was Stras’ 50th win. Good time for it, and best wishes for many more–as long as he’s wearing a Nats uni!

    • Theophilus T.S. - Aug 20, 2015 at 9:53 AM

      Not to be a Grinch but who thought in 2010 it would take Strasburg six seasons to win 50? If I were him that’s a milestone I’d ignore; he was intended for better things.

      • ehay2k - Aug 20, 2015 at 10:29 AM

        Well, on the other hand, after he tore his UCL, maybe he’s happy just to be pitching?

      • Section 222 - Aug 20, 2015 at 10:36 AM

        I’d ignore the milestone too, since wins are a meaningless stat. 🙂

      • therealjohnc - Aug 20, 2015 at 10:37 AM

        Meh. Strasburg’s W/L record does not reflect that he’s been mostly excellent for the last four seasons.

  13. abqnatsfan - Aug 20, 2015 at 10:10 AM

    Mark, thanks for the thoughts to start the day. You and Chase bring us a lot of good thoughts to give us perspective to chew on. Strasburg has looked good for a while, I hope this time it is going to stick with him. I am still worried about Werth’s health – particularly his wrist. But maybe he really is healing up and that would be a good thing for the stretch.

    • veejh - Aug 20, 2015 at 10:21 AM

      A new study in Israel, which I believe is the only country in the world doing cannabis research legally, has determined that the cannabinoid, CBD, helps heal bones and actually makes them stronger than before they were broken. Pretty cool stuff. Maybe Werth needs to get on CBD ASAP.

      CBD is the same cannabinoid that makes the kids who have uncontrollable seizures not have seizures, fyi.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/marijuana-broken-bones_55ad1e24e4b0d2ded39f7bef

      • ehay2k - Aug 20, 2015 at 10:31 AM

        Barkeep, a round of CBD for all my friend, and make that a double for Werth and Rendon!

      • Section 222 - Aug 20, 2015 at 10:37 AM

        Nats won’t be back to Colorado till next year, so it’s now or never!

  14. rlndtln - Aug 20, 2015 at 10:36 AM

    Stras is completely focused and does not let anything bother him.

  15. ehay2k - Aug 20, 2015 at 10:43 AM

    Too many tabs open, initially posted in wrong thread:

    I’m done here. I’ll read the writers posts but no more reading or writing comments. It’s just unbearable to see constant whining, bashing, and ad-hominem attacks on posters and players. See some of you over at the new blog. If this site gets proper moderation and comment controls (like Block/Ignore functions), then I’ll come back, mainly because I’d rather be able to read and comment on the same site. But scrolling past 20 tolls comments to get to something good is not worth the effort or time.

    Cheers all, it’s been a fun few years!

    – ehay2k

    • natsfan1a - Aug 20, 2015 at 12:32 PM

      Sorry to see you go, ehay, and potentially to see this blog die, what with all the people leaving.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Aug 20, 2015 at 4:46 PM

        It’s not dying, it’s just swapping out one set of posters for another. Again.

    • natsfan1a - Aug 20, 2015 at 6:18 PM

      Ah, I see. Nature abhors a vacuum and all that.

      “It’s not dying, it’s just swapping out one set of posters for another. Again.”

  16. Section 222 - Aug 20, 2015 at 10:56 AM

    A friend of mine saw Span in the game at Hagerstown last night. Said he looked great — really ripping the ball.

    Reports of his demise were greatly exaggerated too, it seems. As well as Werth has played the last two nights, it will be great to have @thisisdspan back.

    • abqnatsfan - Aug 20, 2015 at 11:47 AM

      A healthy Span could make a very big difference in the team – starting lineup and ability to make moves during a game. I never thought I would say it, but I hope he gets a QO and I hope he accepts it. MAT shows promise and has done better than any reasonable expectations, but I think he needs more time before he can really fulfill his potential.

    • DaveB - Aug 20, 2015 at 2:50 PM

      Thanks for the 1st hand report 222 (actually 2nd hand I guess)! … I always worry about extrapolating a Low A box score to anything meaningful, so this gives me hope. If we can get Span and Rendon back and firing on all cylinders for September, it could be a really fun finish to a tough season.

  17. langleyclub - Aug 20, 2015 at 11:03 AM

    Got to think that Span will be back during the upcoming home stand.

    Will be interesting to see who goes down. Think that they may have to DFA Tyler Moore as he really has no role with this team right now. Then again, they are carrying 13 pitchers, but the pitcher that is most expendable right now is Fister, and they can’t send him down. Treinen and Rivero have pitched well; so, hard to see them getting shipped out. Will be interesting.

    • virginiascopist - Aug 20, 2015 at 11:24 AM

      I think it’s possible (maybe not likely) that MAT goes back to Syracuse until September 1st.

      • langleyclub - Aug 20, 2015 at 11:36 AM

        No chance that MAT goes down because Span can’t play everyday, and the remaining group of corner OFs are so weak defensively that MW would have no options if Span needs to come out of game. Also, I think the team will want MAT in LF and Span in CF when the Nats have late leads (MAT entering as a defensive replacement for Werth).

      • bowdenball - Aug 20, 2015 at 11:39 AM

        + 1, langleyclub. That’s exactly what I think will happen. MAT as the fourth OF and frequent defensive replacement for Werth. Hard to imagine they do anything differently.

      • Section 222 - Aug 20, 2015 at 11:41 AM

        Agreed bb and langley. Nats have suffered not having a 4th outfielder who is actualy an outfielder. MAT will be invaluable as a pinch runner when we need a steal (hoping he avoids TOOTBLANs) and a late inning defensive replacement replacement for Werth, or garbage time replacement for Span or Harper. And to rest Span or Werth without having to endure C-Rob in the outfield.

    • Section 222 - Aug 20, 2015 at 11:28 AM

      I think a really interesting question is: What is Fister doing still on the roster? It’s nice to have him for garbage time I guess, but it’s not like they really need him for that. And come September there will be plenty of guys they can hand the ball to in those situations. Are they just stockpiling him for when Ross has to be shut down? If that’s the case, do they think they can rely on him to pitch well down the stretch?

      • bowdenball - Aug 20, 2015 at 11:43 AM

        I don’t understand what they’d do with him, 222. They can’t send him down without his consent, and if they release him they lose a comp pick when he signs elsewhere as a FA in the offseason. And as you said they’ll need him when Ross hits his innings limit, either to pick up the slack as the long man because Roark is back in the rotation or to go back in the rotation himself.

        For what it’s worth he was solid last time out, pitching 2 scoreless innings against the Giants and keeping the Nats in the game after Scherzer’s last blowup. His effort allowed the Nats to close the gap to one run on Harper’s three-run blast. Of course it didn’t end well for the good guys, but still you can’t fault his outing.

      • jd - Aug 20, 2015 at 11:43 AM

        Deuces,

        I expect Fister to still play a significant role this year. Keep in mind that Joe Ross has about 30 innings left in the tank and also that he has been a bit shaky in his last 2 starts. I don’t think you can send Fister down.

        I also fail to see where the short bench has hurt very much or at all. When Span returns, Taylor goes to the bench which allows us to make defensive switches etc. I think Tyler Moore draws the short straw, I hope they find a way to keep him so he can come back in September but I am not sure if it’s doable.

      • adcwonk - Aug 20, 2015 at 11:45 AM

        Might as well keep Fister on, and, assuming he gets and rejects a QO, get a draft pick, no?

      • Section 222 - Aug 20, 2015 at 11:56 AM

        bb and wonk, do you really think they are going to make Fister a Q.O.? After the crappy year he’s had, I imagine he’d jump at $14 million for next year. He’s pitched of twice since his last start on Aug. 3. Do you really think they’ll just send him out there to start a game once Ross is shut down? I kind of doubt it, and would expect Roark to return to the rotation. Don’t really need Fister as a long guy come September, right?

        As for TyMo, they’ve managed to keep him on the team all year long. He’s not going to be DFA’d a week before the roster expands.

        I’m not saying Fister is the guy to go when Span comes back. Rizzo will get creative. I could even see him sending Roark down for a week since he still has options, but again, since Fister is going to be F.A. after the season and I doubt they will make him a Q.O., I’m not sure what the difference is between a DFA now and letting him walk after the season ends.

      • abqnatsfan - Aug 20, 2015 at 12:21 PM

        After this season, a QO for Fister seems far from likely. And if they do give him one I would expect him to take it at this point. I kind of doubt they would DFA him now, he is an insurance policy they may still hope turns around.

        Maybe a short DL for someone to get them to Sept 1 when Span is ready.

      • bowdenball - Aug 20, 2015 at 12:26 PM

        I absolutely think they’ll make him a QO and I absolutely think he’ll refuse it. If nothing else a rebuilding team that doesn’t have to sacrifice its first round pick for him would take him on for 2 or 3 years at maybe $10 million per to eat innings and mentor the young people on their staff.

      • Section 222 - Aug 20, 2015 at 2:15 PM

        bb, I don’t understand. If he refuses a Q.O., the acquiring team has to sacrifice a pick, right? That was why Kyle Lohse had such a hard time finding a team when he became a F.A. Yes, the bottom 11 teams have to give up a second round pick rather than a first rounder, but there’s still a cost. Fister will much more easily get a deal if he isn’t given a Q.O.

        I agree with you that Desi is likely to reject a Q.O. I’m just not so sure that Fister will. Look at who was given a Q.O. last year. Who had a season as bad as Fister has had?

        http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2014/11/twelve-free-agents-receive-qualifying-offers.html

        By the way, the Q.O. last year was $15.3 million so it will be more this year. That’s a lot of money to pay for a very questionable 5th starter. And yes, no F.A. has ever rejected a Q.O. But not all F.A.’s get them. There were only 12 in all of baseball last year. The Nats didn’t make one to Adam LaRoche last year. You don’t think he would have taken $15.3 to stay with the Nats?

  18. langleyclub - Aug 20, 2015 at 11:52 AM

    At this point, I am doubting that the Nats give Fister a QO unless he has a turnaround in September. Desi and JZ will get QOs, but I think that there might be too great a risk that QO for Fister will be above market value, and he may take it.

    • Section 222 - Aug 20, 2015 at 12:19 PM

      Agreed. Given the middle infielder glut we now have, I think there’s some chance they don’t do a Q.O. for Desi either, unless they are prepared to have him on the team for another year as well.

      • bowdenball - Aug 20, 2015 at 12:28 PM

        Come on, folks. Not give Desmond a QO? Really? He’s looking at close to a nine figure deal.

        Every year we go through this, and every year lots of guys get QOs, not one of them accepts it, and everyone signs for tens of millions more than a bunch of people on the internet think they’re worth. Every single year, exactly the same.

    • therealjohnc - Aug 20, 2015 at 12:44 PM

      The QO amount (likely ~$16M) will be above “market value” for Fister, Desmond and Span (though probably not for JZim). But remember that what is important to the players is more likely to be the total amount of money guaranteed. And even on a shorter deal (3-4 years) the guaranteed total is going to be much higher with the multi-year contract even though it falls well short of the $16M average annual value figure.

      • bowdenball - Aug 20, 2015 at 12:47 PM

        Exactly right.

        The only one where there’s even a question IMO is Fister, because he’ll be 32 before opening day next year. I think it’s a worthwhile gamble for the Nats that he’ll reject it and they’ll get the pick, because one year deals are low-risk anyway, and you know Fister (or anyone else for that matter) won’t want to be the first person to accept a deal and break ranks with his fellow players.

        The other three are easy calls.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Aug 20, 2015 at 1:35 PM

        +1

      • Section 222 - Aug 20, 2015 at 2:26 PM

        bb, ‘m glad to see you say that Fister might be a close call. That’s a little different than “I absolutely think they’ll make him a Q.O.” So maybe I’ve made some headway with you. 🙂

        But I’m unclear about what your position is on Span. You’re right what’s important to the players is the total guarantee. That’s why Cuddyer rejected the $15.3 Q.O. and then signed with the Mets for 2 yrs/$21 million. But Cuddyer is 36 years old. Fister is only 31. I can easily see him taking $16 million next year, which is still a big raise from this year, and trying to rebuild his value for a longer term deal starting in 2017.

        I definitely don’t think this is something that would be considered “breaking with your fellow players.” Unlike Desi’s decision whether to accept what he saw as a below market deal, whether someone accepts a Q.O. has no impact on players coming later.

        It’s a purely economic decision, and the impact of the draft pick has to be considered. Not everyone want to play for a bottom 11 team. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Look at what happened to Nelson Cruz. He turned down a Q.O. for 2014 of $14 million and ended up having to sign with the O’s for $8 million. Then he played great and hit the jackpot the next year. His fellow players sure didn’t chip in and reimburse him $6 million out of gratitude that he “kept the faith.”

      • Section 222 - Aug 20, 2015 at 2:29 PM

        bb, sorry I didn’t finish my thought. Do you think they’ll make a Q.O. to Span. I don’t. JZ and Desi will get them, Fister and Span won’t. That’s my prediction, stated with all humility.

      • Section 222 - Aug 20, 2015 at 2:30 PM

        That doesn’t mean I don’t think Rizzo will try to re-sign Span. If he seems recovered from his back problems, I could see an offer for a 2 year deal. But one year at $16 million seems unlikely.

      • bowdenball - Aug 20, 2015 at 2:52 PM

        222-

        I both firmly think that Fister will get a QO and I think it will be a close call. It’s possible that they won’t make him an offer if they sincerely think there’s no room in their rotation- basically if they sign someone else or if they’re ready to break camp with Giolito- but as of now it seems like a close but easy call to me.

        As for Span and obviously the rest- I think they are easy calls because accepting a QO results in a one year deal, and one year deals are never ever bad. 2016 payroll is not going to be an issue for the Nats, They’ll shed a ton of $ this offseason and probably won’t add too much since they don’t have any obvious holes with Turner, Ross, Giolito and Taylor ready to plug those holes. At most maybe they’ll add a corner OF with power to platoon with or spell Werth.

        Anyway, since 2016 payroll won’t be an issue there’s really no such thing as a bad one year signing for that season. If Span, or for that matter Desmond, wants to come back for a season, the Nats are better off for it and they won’t be hamstrung financially. I doubt they would, but there’s no real risk to the club anyway.

  19. cumberlanddan - Aug 20, 2015 at 2:01 PM

    I don’t understand all the lack of respect for Doug Fister. Here’s an all-star caliber pitcher who has been consistently underrated throughout his career; who is having a tough year; and who may indeed have reached a crossroads. But he’s hardly dependent on a 95-mile fastball for success and I can think of far worse developments than that he might accept a qualifying offer. Indeed, I would be glad with that development. I would neither count him out nor assume that Joe Ross (not to mention Gio , Stras or Roark) will out-perform him next season.

    • DaveB - Aug 20, 2015 at 3:04 PM

      cumb … I have all the respect in the world for Fister, and believe he earned that with his fantastic season last year. However, he really hasn’t had anywhere near the effectiveness this year, and it hasn’t just been bad luck / regression, as there has been a distinct falloff in velocity, and an apparent falloff in ability to locate his pitches. I just think $16M is too much to risk given that situation, and both Rizzo and MW seem to “move on” from pitchers they lose confidence in, so I would be pretty surprised if he gets a QO.

  20. letswin3 - Aug 20, 2015 at 5:28 PM

    On the question of QO’s this coming offseason, put me in the school that says Fister and Span will be wished well, and JZ will get one. The big question mark for me is Desi … if he continues to make progress in rediscovering the offense that was smoke until only the last couple of weeks, he will likely receive a QO. On the other hand, the Nats went out and got Escobar to play SS in ’16 (things have changed this season that may render that strategy flexible), so my guess is that they will only issue the Desmond QO if they are nearly positive that Desi will reject it. And where will Mr Turner fit into the master plan? I’m thinking that Turner will be the opening day second baseman, with Rendon returning to 3rd and Escobar returning to his favored SS. … Danny again becomes the odd-man out. One more quick comment … the poster about a week ago who called Escobar a “useful player” in 2016 plans surely hasn’t considered his offensive numbers (still 10th in the NL in hitting) or his solid defense in a position that was foreign to him until forced to accept it this season. The guy has been great, and I’m sure glad we get him for at least one more season.

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ON THE RADIO

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.
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