Archives for posts with tag: Phillies

Well…that was one interesting month of baseball.  Make that one ridiculous week.  Or perhaps just one scintillating Sunday?  What is going on?  One can write off the Colorado air for the 15 and 16-run explosions…but 23?  And all in the same week? One month into the season the Nats boast the best bats in the bigs…and are threatening to run away with the NL East.  Which is great, because we all know how Washington teams fare when they coast their way down the stretch.

Plan B in CF- the loss of Adam Eaton to a torn ACL for the season means Michael A. Taylor takes over in centerfield and Jayson Werth likely returns to the #2 spot in the batting order.  The Nats offense really took off in 2016 when Turner and Werth settled into the one and two spots…and there’s no reason to think it won’t be a solid engine again.  But what a shame for the Nationals to lose their sparkplug in Eaton.  The 28-year old ranked second on the team in walks, runs scored and steals while boasting the third-best on-base-percentage.  His clubhouse energy was contagious…and now the Nats will have to play the final 137 games of the 2017 regular season without last winter’s major acquisition.

Early Returns from the East- after one month the Nats lead the NL East by five games…and the other four teams are all under .500.  Philadelphia’s the only other team with a winning record against the East…and they’ve just lost three in a row.  The Phillies may have Cesar Hernandez (.323 with 20 runs scored) and Jeremy Hellickson (4-0 with an ERA of 1.80), but their lineup walks the 7th fewest times and the team’s ERA ranks 21st in the majors.  Add in four games with the defending World Series Champion Chicago Cubs, they might not be in the best shape to face the Nats this weekend.

Last Week’s Heroes- Ryan Zimmerman hit .500, scoring 11 runs while notching 5 homers and 13 RBI.  Zim finished April with 11 home runs and 29 RBI…after a nightmare 2016 where he was held to 15 blasts and 46 runs batted in.  Trea Turner and Matt Wieters both hit over .400;  getting production from less-offensive positions like shortstop (Turner scored 13 runs while driving in 11) and catcher (Wieters belted 3 homers) are the little things that lift an offense.  Reliever Matt Albers went 1-0 while pitching 5.1 scoreless innings over 4 games…allowing 1 just one hit.

Last Week’s Humbled- in a week where EVERYBODY HIT, Jose Lobaton batted just .091 with 3 strikeouts. Joe Blanton’s April wraps up with three appearances and 6 earned runs over 2 innings.  Joe Ross posted an ERA of 10:38 over 2 starts.

Game to Watch- Wednesday Gio Gonzalez tries to top what’s been a stellar April (3-0, 1.62 ERA) by facing a team that he hasn’t beaten since 2011. In 2016, Gio had an April ERA of 1.42 before posting a May ERA of 5.23.  Arizona counters with former Nats draft pick Robbie Ray.

Game to Miss- Saturday the Kentucky Derby takes front and center.  Sadly, the Nats play Philadelphia at 7:05…with Joe Ross pitching against Aaron Nola (who may be scratched as he’s dealing with back issues and has missed two turns in the rotation).  Even if the Capitals get swept by Pittsburgh (they’d host a Game Five that would be played Saturday), if you’re going to skip a game against the Phillies…

 

Advertisements

I know the Nationals are currently on a west coast road trip.  But I can’t get their showdown with the Chicago Cubs out of my head.  Three games that had a distinct October feel.  Three hard-fought outings.  And one incredible finish Wednesday with Jayson Werth’s walkoff hit.  So why do we wake up this Monday with a series split in San Diego?  Momentum often doesn’t travel cross-country…and can vanish in an 8th inning barrage.  A west coast swing is where division leads go to die…and the Nats have six more games where they can ill afford to not be on point.

Digesting the Division- break up the Marlins!  Miami’s recent surge of 7 wins in 10 games has them moving into second place ahead of the Mets…and unlike early in the season all of their wins aren’t seemingly against Atlanta.  Miami trails the Nats by five and a half games…while the slumping New York Mets (losers of three straight and six of ten) slide six games off the pace.  David Wright also has neck surgery…bad news for an offense that ranks 28th in the Majors in runs scores (29th in games played this month).  Philadelphia?  It’s tough to imagine the Phillies were once in contention after six more losses in a row and defeats in nine of their last ten games.  They may just be chasing Atlanta for the division cellar–and the Braves are on a 14-18 surge since firing manager Fredi Gonzalez.  Surges are often subjective…

Division Discussion: Cleveland Rocks- congratulations to the Cavaliers for bringing home an NBA title…the first for the city since 1964 (yes, the Lake Erie Monsters won the AHL’s Calder Cup- but we’re talking major sports leagues here).  Could this spark a resurgence like the one we saw in Boston/New England from 2001-10 (7 titles with each team getting at least 1?)  Or even the Philadelphia Straight Flush of 1980-81 (Flyers, Sixers, Phils & Eagles each playing for titles)?  The Indians currently lead the AL Central by one half game over defending World Series champ Kansas City…thanks to a pitching staff that ranks 7th in the Majors in ERA.  The Royals are the only other team in the division with a winning record (although ex-Nat Jordan Zimmermann remains a bright spot for Detroit at 9-3 with an ERA of 3.24)…and it looks as though the shores of Lake Erie could be settling in for a fun summer.  Just don’t set the river on fire.

Last Week’s Heroes- Jayson Werth’s walkoff hit was only part of his contributions last week- he’s been a fantastic fit in the #2 spot in the batting order (hitting .301 while everyone else in that spot has combined to hit .263), last week scoring four runs while driving in two more.  His ability to get walks (four more) has provided additional traffic for the likes of Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy.  Shawn Kelley notched two saves after being pressed into the closer role for the injured Jonathan Papelbon.  Max Scherzer posted a 1.38 ERA over two starts–striking out 21 while not allowing a walk.  Max factor, indeed…

Last Week’s Humbled- Ryan Zimmerman hit .167 with 11 strikeouts.  The Cubs after walking Bryce Harper last month to get to Zim walked Murphy this month to get to Zim.  Gio Gonzalez posted a 6.17 ERA over two starts and hasn’t won since May 18.  Felipe Rivero allowed 5 runs in the 8th inning Saturday night…wasting a gem tossed by Max Scherzer and setting up the stage for a series split in San Diego.

Game to Watch- Monday night Stephen Strasburg takes his 10-0 record to Dodger Stadium…and Los Angeles counters with 10-1 Clayton Kershaw (1.58 ERA by the way).  Despite Kershaw’s brilliance, LA trails San Francisco by six and a half games.  Needless to say, I won’t be watching TURN.

Game to Miss- Saturday the Nats meet Milwaukee in a battle between Gio Gonzalez (3-6, 4.25 ERA) and Chase Anderson (4-7, 5.13).  It’s another one of those 4:40pm starts where you hate to leave the pool because you know you can knock out at least one more chapter of that Eleanor of Aquitaine biography you’ve been struggling to finish.  Or the crossword.  Or the pool…

Memorial Day weekend is another guidepost of the season.  One that hopefully eliminates the phrase “well…it’s still early” from fans who refuse to recognize the mounting evidence piling up before their eyes.  Twenty games can be construed a snapshot– and while 51 games may not be the exact picture but it at least qualifies as the outline to eventually be colored in.

The Nationals are off to a 30-21 start…and their NL East lead withstood the nine game division gauntlet (they went 5-4 against the Mets and Miami in that stretch).  They’re still waiting for the bats to come alive:  the Nats rank 19th in the Majors in hitting, and 14th in scoring.  And the rotation has hit a couple of pot holes as of late.  But as opposed to last year’s team that was waiting for everyone to get healthy, this year’s crew feels as though it’s operating from a perspective of warranted confidence as opposed to misguided hope.

Dissecting the Division- the Nats lead the Mets by one game.  That’s with Matt Harvey hemorrhaging (3-7, 6.08 ERA).  Philadelphia dropped 7 of 10 to slip three and a half games back…handcuffed by an offense that has scored the second-fewest runs in the big leagues.  Miami is also 26-24 to start the season…with a rotation that features Jose Fernandez (7-2, 2.82 ERA) and four straight days of closing your eyes.  Yes, the Nats are far from perfect at this stage of the season-but the company they are competing with is far from unblemished.

Division to Watch- the more things change on the west coast, the more the NL West stays the same.  Yes, Arizona and Colorado have made World Series appearances this century and San Diego is a great place to visit–but those three teams are just the Emeralds and Hawks in the world of the Jets & Sharks.  This being an even calendar year, San Francisco has opened a four and a half game lead on LA in Vin Scully’s final season on the mic.  When you’re a Giant, you’re a Giant all the way…

Last Week’s Heroes-  Ryan Zimmerman hits .333 while slugging .704…leading the team in homers while tying for the lead in runs scored as well as runs driven in.  Batting fifth seems to agree with him.  Stephen Strasburg goes 2-0 with a 2.13 ERA while striking out 15 over 12.2 innings…but hats off to the Zeppo and Gummo of the rotation:  Tanner Roark and Joe Ross both pitched well in their respective starts.

Last Week’s Humbled- Gio Gonzalez after a strong start to the season struggled last week…going 0-2 with an ERA of 12.10.  Batters hit .372 off the lefty.  After a surge the week before, Ben Revere hit .182.  Lost in the shuffle of the league-leading 48 walks, Bryce Harper’s hitting an early-season hiccup:  just .167 last week with no walks.

Game to Watch- Saturday in Cincinnati, Stephen Strasburg puts his 9-0 record on the line.  The Reds counter with Dan Straily, who’s off to a decent start (2-2, 2.98 ERA).  The 4:10 start time is perfect-as you can even get in time at the pool while still having time to do something in the evening.

Game to Miss- Sunday Tanner Roark pitches against John Moscot.  He’s 0-2 with an ERA of 4.02 and will be making his second start off the disabled list.  So there’s a chance he might get scratched before then.  The 1:10 gametime not only conflicts with paper and pool time but doesn’t jive with those who like to brunch.  We recommend Fiola Mare on the Georgetown waterfront (get the Uova in Camica).  Just make sure you wear your white pants.

The Nationals eight-game winning streak ended Sunday evening thanks to an 8-5 loss in the second half of a doubleheader.  It was a true doubleheader–two games for one ticket–even though the Nats lineup has had a split-squad feel to it as of late.  Friday’s lineup card included Tyler Moore, Matt den Dekker, Clint Robinson and the quick substitution of Dan Uggla for an injured Yunel Escobar (nothing like replacing the replacement).  Anthony Rendon’s return to the disabled list smacks of 2014 when Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman combined to play 161 games.  Just last week Harper missed 3 games while Denard Span (who began the year on the DL) missed a pair as well.  This when added to the month-plus remaining on Jayson Werth’s stay on the Disabled List, it’s amazing they were able to put together 25 runs over their 6 games last week.  A total that ties the team with Cincinnati for 20th in the Majors.  Thank goodness the Nats’ highly touted rotation threw zeroes on the board for almost a week.

Dissecting the Division– the Nats lead the NL East by two and a half games over the New York Mets–who have gotten hot again (4 straight wins) after giving up the division lead last weekend.  Atlanta ended its five game losing streak with a win Sunday–and stands six games back.  Miami and Philadelphia now that both teams have new managers are officially looking forward to 2016.  And you thought the Presidential election cycle was drawn out…

Last Week’s Hero— Stephen Strasburg came off the Disabled List with a bang– striking out 6 over 5 innings against Atlanta Tuesday before notching a season-high 9 K’s over 7 frames Sunday at Philadelphia (his longest outing since April 19th against the Phillies).  He looks a lot more like the pitcher that lead the NL in strikeouts last year than the guy who had trouble reaching the 5th inning earlier this season.  The key to the new Strasburg might not be his throwing mechanics or his approach to hitters but the fact he shaved his goatee.  Do not underestimate the power of facial hair (or lack thereof).

Last Week’s Humbled– HISTORY IS MADE on the Nats Notebook!  The first non-National wins the award, and with just cause:  Philadelphia‘s a massive mess of a franchise.  Not only do they own the worst record in the majors, their manager jumped ship (will they replace Ryne Sandberg with Ivan DeJesus for nostalgia’s sake?  Would they have to send Sandberg to Chicago with Larry Bowa to complete the circle?) before the weekend (he must have a sweet cookout planned).  The team despite rain in the forecast for Saturday tried to play the 3:05 game (last week’s “Game to Miss”)–and burned Nats starter Gio Gonzalez’s turn in the rotation.  The lefthander pitched one inning before the game was called–creating Sunday’s doubleheader and rotation scramble.  After all, the Phillies were mad that the Nats played “soft rock” during their batting practice in DC this year…if “Holding Back the Years” puts you in a mindset to miscalculate rainouts, you’re missing the point of the power of Simply Red.  I’ll keep…holding on…

Game to Watch– Saturday at 11:05 am Stephen Strasburg pitches against San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner.  Fourth of July.  A morning gametime so you don’t have to skip the pool/bbq/cookout festivities.  Will Strasburg continue his post-DL resurgence?  Bumgarner comes to DC after striking out 8 over 7 and 2 thirds innings in a win over Colorado–and he’s also a beast with his bat:  since the start of 2014 he’s hitting .250 with 6 HR and 18 RBI over 50 games (19 and 58 projected over a 162 game season).  This should be a fun duel in the midday sun.

Game to Miss– so many intriguing matchups.  Every Max Scherzer start is must-see.  One can’t deny the excitement of Fister-Wisler II (“This time it’s Personal”) and the opportunity to enjoy seltzer and salsa at the same time.  I’m curious how Gio Gonzalez bounces back from essentially missing a start–even though Jake Peavy is a shell of what was once a shell of his former self (0-2 with a 9.39 ERA).  That leaves the reliable Jordan Zimmermann– and I’m not missing his duel with Shelby Miller and his 1.94 ERA Tuesday night.  That leaves Sunday’s matchup with San Francisco’s Ryan Vogelsong.  Looks like I’m hiking Teddy Roosevelt Island that day.