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With Span back, what happens to Taylor?

Aug 25, 2015, 6:00 AM EDT

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Matt Williams will get a chance to do something tonight he hasn’t been able to do since July 6: Fill out a lineup card that includes Denard Span’s name. And he very well may get a chance to do something he hasn’t been able to do at all in 2015: Fill out a lineup card that includes everybody who was projected to be there on Opening Day.

It’s a long-awaited and much-welcomed development for the Nationals, who are planning to activate Span off the disabled list following a seven-week stint with a lower back injury and who hope Yunel Escobar is ready to return after missing a couple of games with a minor neck injury.

But it also leaves Williams facing a dilemma he never figured would be an issue way back when this season began nearly five months ago: What does he do with Michael Taylor?

Taylor has played admirably all season, filling in both for Span in center field and Jayson Werth in left field. The 24-year-old rookie ranks third on the club with 13 homers, second with 55 RBI and first with 15 stolen bases.

Taylor also has started 64 consecutive games, a streak that dates back to June 11. The Nationals can’t just stick him on the bench now, can they?

Well, not exactly. But don’t expect to see him remain in the lineup on a daily basis, either.

Span is this team’s starting center fielder, and he is vitally important to the club’s fortunes. It’s been noted several times before, but it bears repeating: The Nationals are 35-24 this season when Span plays, 27-37 when he doesn’t. Of course his presence alone isn’t responsible for that disparity in wins and losses — no player in history has made that kind of difference — but there’s no denying that he is tremendously important to this team.

And there’s no denying Span is a significantly better player than Taylor right now. For all that he’s done this season as a rookie thrust into a major role, Taylor remains a below-average offensive player (.242 batting average, .290 on-base percentage, OPS+ of 85). Span, meanwhile, is hitting .304 with a .367 on-base percentage, .430 slugging percentage (surprisingly, second on the club to Bryce Harper) and OPS+ of 118 (also second-best to Harper).

So, it’s obvious Span needs to be the Nationals’ starting center fielder once again. Less obvious is whether Werth needs to continue being their starting left fielder.

In the big picture, Taylor has outperformed Werth, who is batting a scant .202 with a .278 on-base percentage, paltry .303 slugging percentage and embarrassingly low OPS+ of 59 (worst of any Nationals player with at least 50 plate appearances this season).

But in the small picture, Werth has suddenly turned quite productive again just within the last week. Since moving into the leadoff spot while the club was in Colorado, the 36-year-old is hitting .320 (8-for-25) with a .393 on-base percentage, four extra-base hits and .913 OPS. He looks like the old Jayson Werth at long last.

If he can maintain anything close to that kind of production over the season’s final five weeks, Werth will be more valuable at the plate to the Nationals than Taylor. And given his track record over his entire career and over the last five seasons in D.C., Werth has earned some benefit of the doubt.

None of that, however, means Taylor should waste away on the bench. The Nationals need to keep finding ways to get him on the field on a somewhat regular basis. Both because of his potential to contribute, but also because of Span and Werth’s needs for more regular rest.

Both veterans have battled through multiple injuries this season, and both have been dealing with lingering ailments that could benefit from the occasional day off. Getting Taylor at least 2-to-3 starts per week between left and center fields would be a wise plan.

So would declaring once and for all that Werth is a defensive liability at age 36. Williams referred to a couple of misplayed balls in left field the other night as an “aberration” but this isn’t new. We started seeing the decline in the field last season and it has become much more apparent this year.

If the Nationals hold a lead in the seventh inning or later the rest of this season, Taylor needs to replace Werth in left field.

Put it all together — at least two or three starts per week between both positions, plus the late-inning defensive move — and the Nationals can still make sure Taylor plays a significant role down the stretch while at the same time making sure Span and Werth are put in the best possible positions to be successful and contribute in their own ways.

  1. unterp - Aug 25, 2015 at 6:27 AM

    it doesn’t matter; the Mets are running away with the division; however, it would be nice to see the Nationals play well the rest of the season and finish 83-79 and avoid 80 loses…

    • stoatva - Aug 25, 2015 at 6:59 AM

      Five games (plus a win in hand) is hardly a runaway. But they certainly aren’t flinching. Doesn’t mean they won’t.

      • NatsLady - Aug 25, 2015 at 7:05 AM

        They’ve faced a lot of bad pitchers, and they’re going to face another tonight (Jerome Williams). Meanwhile, we have to take care of business against James Shields, even if it means Stras throwing a shutout.

      • jd - Aug 25, 2015 at 9:08 AM

        NL,

        They have but they sure took full advantage of it something the Nats haven’t really done. Those loses to the Rockies, DBacks and Brewers may in the end haunt us.

      • therealjohnc - Aug 25, 2015 at 9:23 AM

        Of course if the Nats catch the Mets, the Mets record against the Cubs and Pirates (0-13!) may in the end haunt them. The Nats are 7-7 against the Cubs and Pirates, btw.

      • NatsLady - Aug 25, 2015 at 12:11 PM

        @jd, I’m still mad we didn’t split the Giants series.

    • alexva6 - Aug 25, 2015 at 7:15 AM

      ignore the Mets, until the Nats lose ten more games they’re in it.

    • NIWatcher - Aug 25, 2015 at 8:11 AM

      The season is still technically in our hands. Regardless of what the Mets do the rest of the way, the Nats can take the division by winning all the rest of our games. That includes the six against the Mets that will put us ahead of them. All we have to do is sweep the Mets in those six games and lose no more games than the Mets do the rest of the year (outside of their series’ with us). Piece of cake. Everything is in our hands. Of course, if we fall one more game behind, then we will need some help.

      • ricandersen - Aug 25, 2015 at 4:08 PM

        By definition, the season is technically in the hands of the Mets.

    • adcwonk - Aug 25, 2015 at 9:02 AM

      it doesn’t matter; the Mets are running away with the division

      You must be a new fan. Talk to some guys who remember the Mets being up 7 games on Sept 12 (!!) and blowing it. That was 2007.

      Then they followed it up the following year by being up 3.5 on Sept 12, and falling out of first by Sept 16, and ending up finishing 3 games out.

      • stoatva - Aug 25, 2015 at 9:20 AM

        True Mets fans will begin to panic the moment the lead gets to three games. But that don’t happen unless the Nats win, and then win some more, obviously.

      • edgs3rd1978 - Aug 25, 2015 at 1:13 PM

        New fan can talk to me. I’d tell him there’s a big difference between Glavine/Maine/Neagle & Harvey/deGrom/Thor.

      • adcwonk - Aug 25, 2015 at 3:19 PM

        I’d tell him there’s a big difference between Glavine/Maine/Neagle & Harvey/deGrom/Thor.

        Thor has gone past five innings only once this month — ERA of over 6 in his last three starts.

        deGrom couldn’t make it out of the 3rd innings last time out.

        We’ll see . . .

        Clayton Kershaw lost both of his games in the NLCS in 2013 (allowing 7 ER in 10 IP). He then lost both starts in 2014, too (11 ER in 12.2 IP).

        That’s why they play the games and all that.

    • Guapo - Aug 25, 2015 at 1:12 PM

      Agreed. Would love to have some of those April games back when Desmond was kicking baseballs down South Capital Street and everyone was shrugging their shoulders saying “its early”. All games count the same in the standings. The slow start really hurt this season.

      • jd - Aug 25, 2015 at 1:46 PM

        Yes and no. I think we had the division well in hand going into the Mets series. 3 game lead and the Mets were in shambles coming off the horrible loss to the Padres and having been ridiculed for the botched trade for Gomez.

        Ever since then we have been on opposite trajectories, the Nats losing precious games to bad teams and the Mets smoking their mostly bad opposition. In any event there is still time for one more turnaround and while mostly a long shot it’s far from impossible.

        Things change quickly.

  2. Joe Seamhead - Aug 25, 2015 at 6:51 AM

    I don’t think that Werth and Span are the only ones that could use an occasional break. No, I think Michael A Taylor himself will benefit from a couple of days off. But if the team is going to have any chance to win the division, JW has to be reliable if he is to be the (almost) everyday starter.

  3. NatsLady - Aug 25, 2015 at 6:57 AM

    With regard to Trea Turner’s presence. I believe he was not on the 40-man before his promotion. He needs to be on the 40-man before September 1 to qualify for the playoff roster. I agree with whoever posted that he’s not likely to be a player who will need all his minor league options, and Rizzo can take care of his service time clock next spring.

    • jd - Aug 25, 2015 at 9:10 AM

      I still think that Turner is next year’s story. There are several players on the roster who are more likely to contribute this year that Trae. If anyone thinks he is the savior of the 2015 season I think they will be disappointed.

      • NatsLady - Aug 25, 2015 at 11:48 AM

        Agreed. I don’t think he’s the “spark.” I think he’s up here because speed plays, and to get acclimatized to major-league life, and the major-league game which moves so fast. He’ll see major-league pitching, which is the BEST experience for him going forward, even if he strikes out.

    • Section 222 - Aug 25, 2015 at 7:57 PM

      That was me NL, and you’re absolutely right. Trea is not Det or TyMo. Anyone know how many options Harper has left? Anyone care?

      I had forgotten he needed to be on the 40 man to be called up in Sept. Of course they didn’t need to call him up in Augist to do that. But I’m definitely happy he stayed up as opposed to keeping an 8-man bullpen.

  4. alexva6 - Aug 25, 2015 at 7:04 AM

    Taylor can be the RH bat off the bench they’ve been missing all year and still spell Span a couple of games a week.

    it will be interesting to see what MW has planned now that his full lineup will be available for the first time.

  5. stoatva - Aug 25, 2015 at 7:29 AM

    Nats draw Shields, Ross and Cashen for Padres series? Well of course they do!

    • bowdenball - Aug 25, 2015 at 9:02 AM

      And of course the Mets don’t have to face Aaron Nola during their long stay in Philly. Perfect.

      • jd - Aug 25, 2015 at 9:07 AM

        I don’t really feel that the Nats have too much to complain about. Yes they drew Greinke and Kershaw twice each + everyone’s aces but they also faced a lot of meh pitching against some very bad teams and they just haven’t been able to dominate them the way the Mets are dominating the drek they are facing.

        The Nats simply have to take care of their own business and look for any opening that might come their way. What last night also proved to me was that you can’t necessarily pencil in wins for the Mets aces every time they pitch, DeGrom did all he could to give the game away in the 1st couple of innings and if the Phills would do anything resembling major league pitching they would have won going away.

      • bowdenball - Aug 25, 2015 at 9:25 AM

        I don’t think you’re really doing the Nats’ bad luck justice here, jd. For another example check out the four guys we faced when we went to Pittsburgh a month ago and compare it to what the Mets faced when they went there last weekend (they lost all three anyway, but we might well have won an extra game or two if we had faced what they faced). Or consider that we had to face Jose Fernandez who gave us our only loss during our most recent visit to MIami, while the Mets haven’t faced him all year. Sure we’ve missed some chances when we have gotten breaks in the schedule, but there’s some really bad luck built into that too.

        Of course some of it is our own doing, with the Mets arranging their rotation so their stars would face us head to head out of the all-star break and Williams deciding not to do the same.

  6. Nats Fan Zee - Aug 25, 2015 at 7:53 AM

    Platoon Taylor between RF & CF.

    I watched the Mets last night … Down 7-2 in the third, what would you expect the Nats to do? Somehow get it close and hope for a 3 run Harper HR in the 9th? Mets won 16-7 … That’s 14 UNANSWERED runs folks! They are one a roll and having fun. Note to training staff …. David Wright, with a degenerative back, had 2 hits, one a HR. Guess he did not need 100 at bats to get in shape.

    The fat lady is warming up I think … It happens every decade or so in Metsville.

    • Joe Seamhead - Aug 25, 2015 at 8:25 AM

      I think you mean to platoon Taylor in LF and CF. If Bryce is healthy, he plays.

      • Nats Fan Zee - Aug 25, 2015 at 10:15 AM

        I did … Thanks Joe

  7. Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 25, 2015 at 8:03 AM

    Well, MAT can probably use a day or two off…. but I would platoon he and JW for the remainder of the season and have him come in for defensive purposes late in games.

    • jd - Aug 25, 2015 at 9:13 AM

      I got to tell you Mrsb. that the time for resting and taking days off is over. We have zero margin left and we have to play the lineup that gives us the best chance to win every single game. I am not seeing where the Mets are gonna gift us too many games, I thought last night was gonna be one but boy was I wrong.

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 25, 2015 at 9:32 AM

        MAT has played everyday, I feel like for 3 months. I don’t see anything wrong with him having 2 days off coming up given that Span and Werth and Bryce are out there.

      • unkyd59 - Aug 25, 2015 at 10:21 AM

        Jd… Part of having the best chance lineup in every day is giving Werth and Span sufficient rest…believe it.

  8. veejh - Aug 25, 2015 at 8:43 AM

    35-24 when Spanish plays, and 27-37 when he doesn’t. I guess that makes Span a around an 8 WAR this season and MAT a -8 WAR. LOL

    • veejh - Aug 25, 2015 at 8:44 AM

      *Span

  9. Theophilus T.S. - Aug 25, 2015 at 8:46 AM

    Wright proves the “100 AB Forgiveness” theory is, as I suspected, malarkey. The guy hadn’t played since April. If Span doesn’t start hitting immediately, The Brain Trust needs to put him in the batting cage during games instead of on the field. The team can’t afford a Werth-Rendonian wipeout.

    • jd - Aug 25, 2015 at 9:02 AM

      Wright proved nothing. Everyone including the bat boy hit home runs against what can very charitably called major league pitching. Let’s calm down with the nonsense. There is a reason we have spring training and you don’t normally step in and face good major league pitching and start raking.

      Why don’t wait and see how Wright does over a bit more of a significant sample size like say a week or so?

      • veejh - Aug 25, 2015 at 9:05 AM

        Zim came back and started mashing immediately, too

      • adcwonk - Aug 25, 2015 at 9:11 AM

        Zim came back and started mashing immediately, too

        True. He was 2-for-3 on his first night, and two nights later he was 2-for-4 with a HR.

        But then in his next 17 games he batted .232

      • therealjohnc - Aug 25, 2015 at 9:31 AM

        adcwonk, Zim has been mashing since he got back. Sometimes the results have been there, sometimes not, but that’s a matter of luck. If you look at his batted ball profile, in particular his Hard Contact% and line drive%, he’s been excellent. It’s not just the .259/.374/.518/.892 splits with a .259 ISO and 143 wRC+ (all excellent). His hard contact% is 59.3, which is amazing. He’s seeing the ball well, which is why he has a walk rate of 16.2% (also excellent). His walk rate is actually up to 17.1% in August, I suspect because pitchers have noticed what casual fans who focus solely on batting average have not – that Zim is a dangerous hitter right now.

    • adcwonk - Aug 25, 2015 at 9:07 AM

      Wright proves the “100 AB Forgiveness” theory is, as I suspected, malarkey.

      “Proves”?? Are you for real? *one* guy, *one* game against weak pitching, and that’s supposed to prove something?

      You know, when Rendon came back, he went 2-for-4 in his first game, too. With a double. The next 9 games he batted .188

      • stoatva - Aug 25, 2015 at 9:13 AM

        Wright crushed it, but it wasn’t just center cut it was a filet mignon fastball. Good for him, but too soon to draw conclusions.

    • stoatva - Aug 25, 2015 at 9:15 AM

      I do agree that the Nats can’t afford to invest a couple of weeks in watching Span roll over grounders to second, though.

      • bowdenball - Aug 25, 2015 at 9:27 AM

        I dunno. I think they have to roll the dice and hope he hits like peak Span, because they have a 5.5 game deficit. If he doesn’t, then you haven’t really lost anything- their chances are already so slim and Taylor’s bat probably isn’t going to give them what they need to beat the odds.

      • veejh - Aug 25, 2015 at 9:35 AM

        Agree, BB. We have to roll the dice with Span. We’re not going to do it without him, nor in the playoffs, if we manage to squeak in.

    • Guapo - Aug 25, 2015 at 1:27 PM

      Playing Span is the right thing to do,

      He’s been a .300+ hitter for this team and sparking defended for the last few seasons.

      If for nothing else, they org owes Span the chance to showcase himself for his upcoming free agent season.

      MAT has already gotten more playing time than they ever expected. He’ll get plenty next year as the new starting CF.

  10. nats788 - Aug 25, 2015 at 9:22 AM

    Taylor should play for just his defense alone. Werth has been painful to watch out there and a couple good games with the bat can’t make up for that

    http://navyyardnotes.blogspot.com/2015/08/what-to-do-with-lineup.html

    • therealjohnc - Aug 25, 2015 at 9:39 AM

      Actually for me it’s kind of a push. Taylor is definitely a better defender, and Werth is likely to hit better over the rest of the season. Don’t take my word for it; I’m using ZiPS and Steamer rest of season projections for my base line. Interestingly, they split on overall WAR. ZiPS thinks that MAT will put up more WAR over the rest of the season, Steamer leans towards Werth.

      Which tells me that there’s a reasonable argument to be made for going with either Werth or MAT in LF going forward. Personally I’d likely lean towards MAT, but because it’s so close I’m not going to pretend that I know the answer, and I’m not going to get worked up about it if the Nats go with Werth and put MAT in the 4th outfielder role for now. Between starts against LHP to rest Span, late inning defensive substitutions and spot starts to give Werth days off he’s going to play a fair amount regardless.

      • jd - Aug 25, 2015 at 9:57 AM

        therealjohn,

        Here is how I look at it. MW now has the full lineup envisioned at the beginning of the year available to him and only 39 games in which we need to make up 5 games. The case for MAT over Werth is fair but here I think you have to go with the intangibles Werth brings, play the lineup you drew up in the off season and let the chips fall where they may.

        I am a bit surprised at people for still discussing rest days, skipping starts etc. I think that time is over, with the exception of the catchers position, you need to play your perceived ‘A’ lineup every day, making only late defensive substitutions and allowing for potential platooning when the odds absolutely demand it. I think rest should no longer play a part in it.

      • therealjohnc - Aug 25, 2015 at 10:25 AM

        jd, think of “rest days” as a short hand – if two players are pretty even and the starter is 36 years old, it’s not unreasonable to give the 36yo occasional days off to keep his legs under him – because if he starts to wear down at all, he’s not the best starting option (and therefore drops out of the “A” lineup, to use your terminology). Because when the starting player is dinged/fatigued, he’s no longer the best option.

  11. Doc - Aug 25, 2015 at 9:35 AM

    The last time this season that Span came back he was right on track in the batter’s box. He was a less ready in the field.

    I like Micky T.and his longest HR in MLB this season, but I would like Span’s OBP more.

  12. Theophilus T.S. - Aug 25, 2015 at 9:39 AM

    I agree Wright may fall back — but the point is, how do you put a guy in the lineup if you expect him to not produce for two weeks? I think the Nats’ tendency is to short-cut the rehabilitation process. Three-four games and bring-em-up. What about working in Viera before the rehab assignment? Of all of the contributors to a disappointing season, the period when Werth and Rendon came back and couldn’t hit, and Zimmerman struggled, may have been the cap on the c__p.

    The last time Span came back from rehab he hit. Proving again that the 100-AB-thing is a chimera.

    • therealjohnc - Aug 25, 2015 at 9:43 AM

      Again, Zim did not struggle when he got back – he hit the ball hard a lot The results weren’t always there, but that’s not a matter of a batter not being ready to play – that’s just bad luck. You can only hit the ball, you can’t control where it goes. Well, unless you’re Tony Gwynn, Jr.

      After raking on his return Zim had a short stretch where he whiffed a lot. But just when some fans were abandoning ship he straightened back out again.

      Rendon and Werth struggled when they got back, Span and Zimmerman hit. Huh. It’s almost like it’s random variation over short sample sizes and not representative of a flaw in the Nats’ rehab process.

    • jd - Aug 25, 2015 at 9:52 AM

      Theo,

      The point is that even if there is a period of time needed to hit full stride (I don’t know if it’s 100 at bats but it’s not 0) you still have to invest that time to get there, you won’t emulate live major league games in Viera or in the minors, in the end you have to bite the bullet and go through it. Rendon and Werth are hitting now and you aren’t winning the division with Tyler Moore, CRob etc in the every day lineup.

  13. Sam - Aug 25, 2015 at 9:53 AM

    I don’t think it’s quite so obvious that Span should play over Taylor. I think he should, definitely, but the gap between the two of them isn’t that big. Span has out-hit Taylor significantly this season (and in their careers), but Taylor’s defensive metrics far outweigh Span’s this season. It’s a small sample size and Span was dealing with an injury that I would guess hurt his mobility.

    Anyway, that’s probably just my long-winded way of saying that I’m really excited to see Taylor play CF for us next year. And I’m definitely excited to have Span back. Adding another good player is never a bad thing!

  14. stoatva - Aug 25, 2015 at 9:54 AM

    Huh. Collin Ballester picked up the win for the Reds yesterday.

    • adcwonk - Aug 25, 2015 at 10:09 AM

      Blast from the past. He’s has a tough road. Drafted by the Expos in 2004. He’s been in the minors since 2012!

      Good for him!

    • Doc - Aug 25, 2015 at 10:45 AM

      Gooooooooooo Ballystar!!!

    • therealjohnc - Aug 25, 2015 at 11:36 AM

      Didn’t he have a truly heinous mustache for a while?

      • natsfan1a - Aug 25, 2015 at 1:43 PM

        Yes, but I think Danny’s ST ‘stache beats it.

  15. jfmii - Aug 25, 2015 at 10:23 AM

    If the Nats’ starters don’t get back to their previous standards of high performance, none of this other stuff will matter. And in light of giving pitchers every chance to succeed, I do hope Taylor and Espinosa see plenty of playing time to shore up a defense that has significant weaknesses at 3rd and left field when they are on the bench and Escobar and Werth are in the field.

  16. stoatva - Aug 25, 2015 at 10:52 AM

    Somehow it escaped my notice that we will be playing a series in St. Louis while the Mets are taking on the Barves. 😦

    That doesn’t contribute to my efforts to remain optimistic. Thankfully, I guess, they’ll all get played, one at a time.

    Just win tonight. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    • therealjohnc - Aug 25, 2015 at 11:36 AM

      If it cheers you up, the Nats will be playing the Marlins while the Mets are playing the Yankees – so yeah, they all get played. As you say, just win tonight.

    • philipd763 - Aug 25, 2015 at 2:19 PM

      The Nationals almost never beat the Cardinals. I doesn’t matter whether the games are here or in St. Louis. Assuming it is a 3 game series, I’d be happy with just one win.

  17. langleyclub - Aug 25, 2015 at 11:14 AM

    IMO, the Nats are better with MAT in left and Werth on the bench (they are also better with Espinosa at 2nd; Rendon at 3rd and Escobar on the bench), but that is not going to happen.

    Werth is going to play regardless of the metrics. He is the veteran. He has the track record. He has the big contract. There is no chance that Werth sits. MAT might start when there is a day game after a night game (like this Sunday), and Span will likely need a day off in the first week. After that, MAT is not going to play (except as a defensive replacement) until the Nats are eliminated (or Werth or Span get hurt again).

    The Nats are going down following the plan that they went into the season with.

    • therealjohnc - Aug 25, 2015 at 11:33 AM

      Werth is going to play regardless of the metrics.

      Well, the metrics that WE have (or at least that I’ve located) are kind of split on Werth vs. MAT. And by metrics I mean “calculated by third party sites” – think ZiPS and Steamer, both of which are posted on Fangraphs. The team has their own, internal metrics and analysts who develop them, but obviously we don’t see those. But the split of the metrics is why I am quite willing to believe that if the team goes with Werth, that metrics absolutely play a roll in that decision. The other factors come into play to the extent that the metrics are neutral, and therefore the other factors can be used to break the tie. In the latter regard, I’ll note that both ZiPS and Steamer think that Werth will significantly outhit Taylor (measured by OPS) the rest of the season.* Because Taylor is better defensively, the two split on which player will be worth more WAR over the rest of the season; ZiPS leans to Taylor, Steamer to Werth.

      By my own, internal evaluation I might lean slightly to MAT. Maybe. But it’s a close enough question that I’m not going to stand here screaming that any thought process behind starting Werth is clearly unreasonable, immoral and likely fattening as well.

      *And yes, the metrics include consideration of age and current season performance as well as career numbers.

      • jfmii - Aug 25, 2015 at 12:02 PM

        One side of me says, I want defense. The other says, oh but won’t it be nice to have the first six hitters be these 6 who will feed off each other (and inspire Desmond and Ramos) by working counts and being the consummate professional hitters that they all are.

        And we can only hope the Mets will cool off. 8 home runs and 6 doubles last night? After their bombs-away series in Denver? Sheesh

  18. abqnatsfan - Aug 25, 2015 at 12:07 PM

    I like Marks idea of MT playing 2-3 times a week to rest Span and Worth and be a defensive replacement late in games ahead. If the infield gets in order, I like Espinosa playing 2-3 times a week to rest Rendon and Escobar, who have also both been banged up a lot this year. It lets those who have been injured get some time resting and hopefully not re-injuring themselves and gets playing time for those who have shown they can contribute while hopefully keeping them from getting rusty.

  19. langleyclub - Aug 25, 2015 at 12:42 PM

    Realize that the Wert h 7 year deal was a building block upon which later player acquisitions were based, but scary that Werth has two more years left on his deal. Even if he could play first, RZ is locked in there. Very concerned about what his game both offensively and defensively may look like in 2015 and 2016. Feel like he is a team guy, but wonder how he would/will handle becoming a part time player in the next year or two (assuming he does not miss 100 games with injuries each year).

  20. fpa4356 - Aug 25, 2015 at 1:00 PM

    It’s time for Bryce to transcend his excellent season so far and write the legend, by going on another run like his May-June, putting the team on his back and inspiring his teammates to perform the way everyone knows they can. If he can do that, the Nats will make the playoffs and get to the Championship games. Now is the time for Bryce and his team to make history. And we’re going to be real-time witnesses !

    • Serious Jammage - Aug 25, 2015 at 1:58 PM

      Absolutely. In the series vs. the Padres earlier in the year (at a pitcher’s park) Bryce went 8 for 17 with two homers and six RBI over four games (we won three). Putting Span back in the lineup only gives him more chances for those RBI.

      Let’s. Do. This.

  21. Guapo - Aug 25, 2015 at 1:05 PM

    Can Span pitch? If not, doesn’t matter.

    Average staff = average record.

    This team scores enough to win.

    • jd - Aug 25, 2015 at 1:50 PM

      Again I disagree. The Mets 3 of the last 4 games they won: 14 – 9, 14 – 9 and 16 – 7. So clearly they didn’t pitch all that well but were able to slug their way to 3 wins. The Nats didn’t explode like that in 2 series against the Rockies where the pitching was good enough to beat a really bad pitching staff but we didn’t.

      My point is that it’s not one side or the other is all of it: pitching, Defense and hitting and in totality you are correct the Nats have been an average team.

      • Guapo - Aug 25, 2015 at 1:58 PM

        That’s a small sample size.

        Here is what the stats say. The top 5 NL teams by ERA are all in the playoffs at this point.

        Only 1 of the top 5 teams in runs scored are in the playoffs. The Nats score more than the Cubs, Dodgers, Mets and StL.

        Teams with above average pitching are in the playoffs, despite below average offensive output.

      • jfmii - Aug 25, 2015 at 3:14 PM

        Pitching trumps all. That is the biggest reason why Nationals were favored to win it all back in March.

    • ricandersen - Aug 25, 2015 at 4:20 PM

      “This team scores enough to win.”

      I think it is slightly more complicated. The Nats score a lot of runs, but they do it in waves. They will score 6-8 runs/game for a week, then score one run total for a series.

      • Guapo - Aug 26, 2015 at 8:14 AM

        Maybe you are right. But the simple truth is that the five teams with the lowest team ERAs int he NL are your five current (and likely) playoff teams. Pitching and defense is king in baseball over the long haul.

  22. Sec 3, My Sofa - Aug 25, 2015 at 1:54 PM

    “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

    Considering that metaphor, if 162 games is a marathon, then one mile is a little over six games. With 39 games left (and one in hand on the Mets), they’re coming up on six miles left, and are more than three-quarters of a mile behind NY. If the Mets don’t fall down (and that happens in marathons, as the Mets fans well know), it’s awfully hard to make up that much distance that fast.

  23. philipd763 - Aug 25, 2015 at 2:10 PM

    Maybe (a big maybe) Werth will provide superior offense to Taylor over the rest of the season but Taylor is far superior defensively in left field to Werth. Werth can’t cover much ground anymore and he is misjudging fly balls in LF. He is also slow on the base paths. I wish Werth was the departing free agent and not Span.

    • jd - Aug 25, 2015 at 2:19 PM

      philipd763

      I think these are legitimate concerns for next year. I don’t think there is any way you take Werth out of the lineup this year as long as we are in it.

  24. philipd763 - Aug 25, 2015 at 2:21 PM

    With Nats killer David Wright back in the regular lineup, the Mets offense and defense just took another big leap forward.

    • therealjohnc - Aug 25, 2015 at 2:44 PM

      I don’t really put Wright in the “Nats Killer” group of baseball players. The one that gets me is Daniel Murphy. He’s an OK bat (lousy glove) limited player most days – but against the Nats, he’s a freakin’ All Star.

    • bowdenball - Aug 25, 2015 at 3:02 PM

      David Wright’s OPS last season was .698, lower than Ian Desmond’s that season, lower than Anthony Rendon’s incredibly disappointing 2015 season, and perhaps most importantly lower than Juan Uribe is hitting in 2015.

      As for the Nats killer part, his career .867 OPS is a shade lower than his overall career number.

      Finally, his defense is adequate, but not as good as Uribe’s, the man he replaces.

      Other than giving them depth by moving Uribe to the bench, Wright doesn’t really do that much for the Mets. The 5.5 game deficit is a much much much bigger problem than Wright’s return.

  25. IsawTeddywin - Aug 25, 2015 at 2:34 PM

    Well, I take scant solace in the Nats record last 39 games last 4 years.
    2011. 26-13
    2012. 28-11
    2013. 26-13
    2014. 26-13
    Surprisingly consistent.
    Don’t know if it will be enough this year, unless it includes a sweep of the Mets.
    still, if they can do it again, it will at least be fun to watch.

    • langleyclub - Aug 25, 2015 at 2:48 PM

      Great stat. That translates to an incredible 106-50 record over 156 games. Unfortunately, not sure if a 26-13 finish is enough this year. Think they may need to equal the 28-11 mark of 2012.

  26. NatsLady - Aug 25, 2015 at 3:46 PM

    One game at a time. We have our leadoff hitter back, so Werth can go lower in the order, where he likes to use a heavier bat and go for more power. Hopefully his wrist is ready.

    • IsawTeddywin - Aug 25, 2015 at 5:11 PM

      Will be very excited to see Span back, for sure.

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