Tag Archives: Jayson Werth

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I remembered to submit my DC-IBWA 2014 Nats predictions

Every year, the DC Internet Baseball Writers Association sends out questionaires for the Natmosphere about the state of the Washington Nationals. Some years I get to them, some years I don’t. This year, I got to it. Fire away:

1) Who will lead the Nats in home runs in 2014? – Bryce Harper
2) Who will lead the Nats in RBI? – Bryce Harper
3) Who will lead the Nats in stolen bases? – Denard Span
4) Who will lead the staff in wins? – Stephen Strasburg
5) How many games will Ryan Zimmerman play first base? – 11
6) Who starts more games: Ross Detwiler, Taylor Jordan, Tanner Roark, Ross Ohlendorf? – Taylor Roark
7) Who will get more at bats for the Nats this season: Danny Espinosa or Jamey Carroll? – Danny Espinosa
8) Which minor leaguer are you most interested in keeping tabs on this season? – Lucas Giolito
9) Who will reach majors first: Sammy Solis, A.J. Cole, Lucas Giolito or Matt Purke? – Matt Purke
10) How many all-stars will the Nats have? Who? – 3 – Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, Wilson Ramos
11) Total wins and what place in the division? 92, 1st

Essay: What should be the single most important development for the Nats this season?

The Nationals single biggest development should be playing smarter. The talent is there, as we saw in 2012, but last season they had a tendency towards defensive lapses that extended innings and wore down pitchers. Another part of playing smarter is not playing with serious injuries. Harper played hurt for the bulk of the season and Espinosa played his way out of the majors. In the outfield at least, an improved bench should make it easier for manager Matt Williams to give Jayson Werth, Span and Harper some days off with Nate McLouth as the fourth outfielder, so nagging injuries may bee mitigated somewhat. In the infield, Espinosa is a big question mark as the utility man coming off of injuries to both arms.

Strasburg also faces a big year at the top of the rotation after an “off” year in 2013. A recent Post article suggests he had an epiphany about his approach. Strasburg has always come off as intelligent, but very sensitive at the same time. If he has overcome his perfectionist tendencies and self-flagellation, he could dominate with more regularity. Simply put, a focused Strasburg, more comfortable with being an ace and all that entails could be devastating to NL hitters.

Lastly, I believe that Williams approach to defense and hiring of a “defensive coordinator” could help address defensive lapses. Not necessarily because shifts in and of themselves can anticipate where batted balls are going, but also keeping the fielders a little more focused. The question will be whether this will help overcome the learning curve that Williams will face as a rookie manager. Thus far, the tone he is setting for the team is refreshing after Davey Johnson’s casual approach in 2013.

I’ll be surprised if the Nats win 98 games like they did in 2012 — I think that was the peak year in the regular season at least, but I don’t see the Braves winning 96 again either. I believe the Braves will challenge to for the NL East title and probably make the play-in game. After that, it’s all about matchups in the playoffs, so, who knows?

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Gio Gonzalez pitches one-hitter against Mets; Nats hit five homers in 9-0 win

Wait, a one-hitter but no embedable MLB.com video? Your embedding policy is arbitrary and capricious, MLB.

In the most highly anticipated D.C. sports event of the night, Gio Gonzalez led the Washington Nationals to a 9-0 win over the New York Mets. All the hype that Washingtonians have been experiencing for last night – totally on point and worth it.

Gonzalez had one of the best starts ever by a D.C. pitcher.

                       IP H R ER BB SO HR
Gonzalez (W, 10-6)	9 1 0 0 2  8  0

ESPN’s boxscore gives Gonazlez a 91 game score. Jordan Zimmermann’s April 26 win over the Cincinnati Reds, perhaps the finest start by a D.C. pitcher since 1931 had a game score of 88. Here is an explanation of Bill James’ game score stat:

Start with 50 points. Add 1 point for each out recorded, (or 3 points per inning). Add 2 points for each inning completed after the 4th. Add 1 point for each strikeout. Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed. Subtract 4 points for each earned run allowed. Subtract 2 points for each unearned run allowed. Subtract 1 point for each walk.

So, is that better than Zimmermann’s April gem? Looking back, Zimmermann only had 4 strikeouts, but allowed one fewer baserunner. He also did it against the Reds, a team the Nats have been seemingly 7 games back of for the last month and a half. The Mets on the other hand, are nine under. Zimmermann also pitched that game with only one run of support, while Gonzalez had nine runs of support last night.

I’ll give the nod to Zimmermann for the best pitched game in modern Nats history.

Those nine runs I just mentioned came off of five home runs. Denard Span and Ryan Zimmerman hit solo shots back-to-back in the 1st. Zimmerman has been on fire this last week, hitting homers in each of his last three games (4 overall) and 6 since September 2. Span and Zimmermann scored on Jayson Werth’s third inning home run. Werth is first in the NL in SLG and OPS. Tyler Moore hit a solo homer and Wilson Ramos hit a 3-run homer.

The Nats continued their winning ways, winning their 20th in 29 tries. The playoffs are long out of reach, but the team is playing up to it’s capabilities at last. That and an easier schedule.

Gio Gonzalez throws one-hitter as Nationals clobber 5 home runs in 9-0 win over MetsThe Post

So, what were you watching last night? Oh, that.

Get well, Bryce Harper.

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Nats still a lock to miss even play-in game

That .700 streak was fun, but season died in July

The Washington Nationals, losers of 3 out of 4, are not making the playoffs or even the play-in game (officially the Wild Card, but let’s be realistic here, it’s a play-in game and should occur in Dayton, Ohio, just like college basketball) despite that recent 14-5 run. They stand 7 ½ back of the Cincinnati Reds for the second spot. There just isn’t time. Nor, it seems, is there enough hitting or health.

Bryce Harper’s playing on a bad hip. Davey Johnson doesn’t know what’s going on (Federal Baseball). Adam LaRoche is terrible. Dan Haren is Dan Haren again. Thomas Boswell is moving on.

Last week, implausible scenarios were abound in the Natmosphere and the MSM. The “easy” schedule ahead isn’t that easy with so little hitting.

The season was over a month ago. There is no way to climb out.

Like I said a few weeks ago, enjoy what you can out of this lost season. Jayson Werth is playing better than ever in D.C. (The Post). It isn’t in vain, but it isn’t in pursuit of something bigger and that’s unfortunate.

Ten home games remain — four on weekends, two on Fridays. Go out and take one in. You’ll miss them when they are gone for the winter.

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Nats show that lost seasons still have great memories

Not every baseball season is great, but greatness appears in every baseball season.

Following a sweep by the NL East division leading Atlanta Braves, the Washington Nationals could no longer deny that the 2013 season had gotten away from them. Nonetheless, this weekend’s series with the Philadelphia Phillies showed that even in underachieving seasons, there are joyful times. For the first time in a long-time, the Nats were exciting and seemed to be having a good time.

SUNDAY

WASHINGTON 6 Philadelphia 0

Stephen Strasburg has been having an “off year” going into Sunday’s game with a 3.01 ERA and a 5-9 record more indicative of his run support than his performance. That being said, it was not as dominant as his first seasons. Sunday evening, he had one of his finest performances and his first complete game and shutout.

Strasburg threw 99 pitches for 10 strikeouts was his first “Maddux” – a complete game shutout with less than 100 pitches. He pitched with a groin bothering him:

Head trainer Lee Kuntz and pitching coach Steve McCatty emerged from the dugout and walked to the mound with Johnson close behind. Strasburg told Johnson his groin didn’t affect him when he flew open during his delivery. He remained in the game. And after walking Brown, he pitched as if nothing at all had bothered him.

The groin tweak “just helped me kind of take a step back and just go nice and easy and stay on line as long as I can,” Strasburg said

Nationals vs. Phillies: Stephen Strasburg throws first complete game as Washington completes sweepThe Post.

Did he just learn something yesterday?

SATURDAY

WASHINGTON 8 Philadelphia 5

Tanner Roark, acquired for Cristian Guzman in 2010 won his first game with a 2 inning, 12 pitch performance in relief.

Jayson Werth was the bigger story though, with a 3-hit performance — hits 998, 999 and 1,000th a home run to take a lead the Nats would not relinquish.

FRIDAY

WASHINGTON 9 Philadelphia 2

Friday night’s game was a laugher with Dan Haren continuing his second half resurgence, going 7 innings and only giving up 2 runs for the third consecutive start.

Hard Times Cafe is on the hook for free wings (with an additional purchase) for each game of the series since the Nats scored 6 or more runs. In theory, they’ve stockpiled them and are pretty happy to clean out some inventory.

I don’t know what the rest of the week, season and such holds for the 2013 Nats, but I know how much I enjoyed this weekend’s series. I also know that I get to enjoy for an extra day — no Monday game.

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Phillies Cliff Lee pounds the zone – Nats pound Cliff Lee, win 5-1

Every pitching coach says it: pound the zone! Throw strikes!

Last night, LHP Philadelphia Phillies Cliff Lee threw strikes. From Nationals pound Cliff Lee for four HRs to back Gio Gonzalez in 5-1 winThe Post

After Lee’s first 58 pitches Wednesday night, the Nationals had taken eight balls and swatted four solo home runs. By the end of the night, Lee had thrown 64 strikes in 76 pitches, the second-highest percentage of any starter since 2000.

I can remember what every coach in little league told us when we were batting – make him throw strikes. The Washington Nationals did and knew what to do about it.

Manager Davey Johnson, though, trusted a different omen: He liked the way the Nationals took batting practice. Lee pummels the inside of the strike zone, and Johnson wanted to counter Lee’s aggression with more aggression. In the late afternoon, they attacked pitches.

“There’s a big difference,” Johnson said. “Sometimes, we come into batting practice and we look like we try to hit everything to right field. Today, we were hitting it on the rooftops. We knew who was out there.”

The result:

In the fifth inning, Anthony Rendon to left field. Wilson Ramos to goes oppo boppo to right. In the sixth, Ryan Zimmerman to right center, Jayson Werth to left. Two back-to-back sequences in two innings.

Lee’s strategy was wasn’t terrible – the Nats don’t hit lefties well. Solo home runs are not the worst thing in the world — if the pitcher is resilient, they can still get out of the inning without a lot of pitches, throwing from the stretch or having to hold runners. The Nats just executed better and took advantage of the launching pad that is Citizens Bank Park.

Gio Gonzalez was strong for DC — pitching seven innings and yielding only a run, also on a solo home run. He got into trouble infrequently, but got out of it when he did. He has won his last four starts. The Nats tacked on a run off the Phillies bullpen. They also picked up a game on the Atlanta Braves, who lost yesterday afternoon. Series finale is tonight with Jordan Zimmermann opposing Kyle Kendrick.

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Nats: Is Jordan Zimmermann’s 1 hitter the best pitched game in D.C. since 1931?

Jordan Zimmermann just pitched a one-hitter for the Washington Nationals, perhaps the best start by a D.C. pitcher since the August 8, 1931 no-hitter by Bobby Burke of the Washington Senators. Zimmermann allowed one hit, one walk and an error. Burke walked five Boston Red Sox that day, so Zimmermann’s may have actually been a better game.

Zimmermann’s line:

    		        IP   H   R  ER	BB  SO	HR  ERA
Zimmermann(W, 4-1)	9.0  1	 0  0	1   4	0   2.00

Boxscore

This is the second night in a row the Nats held the visiting Cincinnati Reds to a single hit for the second night in a row. The last time that happened ALMOST 113 YEARS AGO!

That was the Superbas who last did this to the Reds. The Superbas!

If I recall correctly, there was one previous one-hitter complete game since baseball returned to the District in 2005, but I’m still looking for it.

The one run of the game was scored by Bryce Harper who tripled in the 4th and was knocked in by a Jayson Werth single. Homer Bailey pitched very well in the loss.

MORE DETAILS COURTESY OF FEDERAL BASEBALL

THE FRIDAY CURSE IS OVER!

GAMERS

Jordan Zimmermann and Nationals one-hit Reds for second night in a rowThe Post

Zimmermann the Nats’ latest 1-hit wonderCSN Washington

Jordan Zimmermann dominates Reds with one-hit shutoutThe Wash. Times

The Nats are now 12-11.

TOMORROW

Dan Haren on the mound for D.C., game on FOX.

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The Nats may be on a 90-win pace, but it doesn’t feel like

The Washington Nationals concluded a six-game intradivisional road trip 3-3. That’s not horrible at all, but because of the way this team, a season removed from 98 wins and steady domination, it seems like a lost opportunity . At 10-8, the are proceeding at a 90 win pace which is probably good enough for a Wild Card berth. That’s not what is expected out them though and the fact that the New York Mets are playing better than expected doesn’t make it feel any better. Nor does the fact that the Atlanta Braves, the division leaders are off to an unsustainable pace. The problem is the Nats keep losing because they seem to make mental mistakes and are easily discouraged by those mistakes. Perhaps the weight of expectations, internal and external, is taking it’s toll, but overall the team seems very unfocused three weeks into the 2013 season.

Sunday’s game was game another example. While another multiple error game did not cost them any runs, it chased starter Jordan Zimmerman early. He put in a mere 5 innings because had to pitch around errors. He didn’t give up any unearned runs and the bullpen was strong. The bats were not though, a day after a 7-run explosion. The pivotal moment of the game proved to be in the 7th when the Nats accepted two walks from Mets reliever ____. Up 3-0 in the count, Jayson Werth, renowned for his plate discipline, inexplicably swung, grounding into a double-play. The Nats would not score in that inning. Werth manned up to it (Nats Enquirer) which is good, but if the most experienced veteran is pressing like that, what does that say about the team?

Saturday’s game was a 7-6 win that shouldn’t have been that hard. Gio Gonzalez lost the strike zone and the Mets kept coming back. Bryce Harper was the difference with two homers.

Friday night’s game against Flushing wunderkind Matt Harvey was another difficult one to watch. Stephen Strasburg never found a rhythm after giving up to early un-earned runs. Just as the defense needs to stop making errors, the pitching staff needs to get tougher about pitching through them.

These are the learning experiences we expected, but a year later. Last year’s shocking division title skipped a step. It is safe to say that fans, the front office and the players themselves did not expect to regress, nor accept it, as defending NL East champs. April can be the cruelest month, but with a 10-9 record and five more months to go, it could be the most forgiving. If the Nats playing their worst baseball equals a 90-95 win pace, things are a lot better than they seem in Natstown. They don’t have forever to get their head in the game.

The St. Louis Cardinals return to D.C. tonight for the first time since the 2012 NLDS. The Nats don’t have Ryan Zimmerman (DL) either, prompting the promotion of Anthony Rendon. It is going to be an interesting homestand with Pete Kozma the Cardinals(The Post) followed by the Cincinnati Reds.

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Nats sweep Marlins, begin MLB schedule tonight against Reds

The Washington Nationals completed their sweep of the Miami Marlins by doing something they had not done all season — give up a run. Jordan Zimmermann scattered 8 hits over 6 innings, giving up a solo homer to Justin Ruggiano in the second. By then, Ryan Zimmerman had already knocked two runs in for the Nats (VIDEO). Bryce Harper got an elbow to the face (The Wash. Times) scoring the second run, but no there was no retaliation against catcher Rob Brantley. Yet.

The bullpen — Henry Rodriguez, Tyler Clippard and Craig Stammen all recorded holds, giving up no runs.

The game’s highlight though was Jayson Werth‘s 434 foot home run – I guess his wrist is feeling better (Nationals Journal, The Post).

The Nats did what they had to do — the swept the woeful Marlins. While the Marlins aren’t any good, those games count in the standings and the Nats have always had trouble with them. They real schedule starts tonight in Cincinnati. Like the Nats, the Reds won their division, but lost the NLDS last season. It is a big early test after a freebie.

A part of me is still expecting Jesus Colome to blow a lead tonight and ruin the whole season.

The curly W flag flies again

THE TWITTER MACHINE

IN SCORES OF OTHER GAMES

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Nats: Jayson Werth and the role of a “franchise player contract”

Sunday’s Post has a fairly long article (Jayson Werth has made his presence felt throughout Washington Nationals) about Jayson Werth, now entering his third season of a massive contract signed in late 2010. The $126 million deal is specifically for him to play for the Washington Nationals, but the expectations with such a large contract suggest that he needed to do more than just play right field and get on base a high percentage of the time. He needed to lead and bring his championship experience from the Philadelphia Phillies (4 division titles, 2 pennants, 1 World Series title) too.

In the 2011 season, Werth seemed overburdened at times and struggled at the plate and even in right field — he had trouble with the wall. On the bases though, he was always taking an extra when he actually got a decent hit and that seemed contagious. Speculation from spring training suggested that he had no interest in the eccentric Nyjer Morgan and let it be known to management. Even more speculation centered on his perception of manager Jim Riggleman. By June, both of those individuals were out of the organization — Morgan via trade to Milwaukee Brewers and Riggleman by strange post-game resignation. Werth’s input was felt even in the team’s promotions as he openly questioned the President’s Race tradition of the Teddy Roosevelt mascot always losing. Late in the season, Werth even sabotaged a President’s Race. At the time I said “guys hitting .230 should not get to decide the in-game entertainment. Worry about your hitting Werth, not the sideshow.”

Now, we learn more about some of Werth’s quieter contributions:

He tells teammates when they need to run their last sprint. He tells security guards when they need an extra body in the bleachers. He tells the general manager when the training room needs new equipment. He can bounce between roles — clubhouse enforcer, protector of teammates, emissary to management.

In a way, this is the kind of stuff you want from your highest paid player. He is committed to winning and not keeping his opinion on how to do so to himself. Whether lobbying for a better gym, keeping on his teammates or pointing out malcontents and leadership problems, the results make it seem benevolent so far. The improving record and perhaps most importantly, playoff heroics, weigh heavily on this too. If the Nats were merely around .500, it might not seem like such a contribution. The line between being a helpful and exceeding the role of the megacontract player is a very fine one that is surely constantly shifting. There may be a day when he stops straddling it and goes too far, but if there is a pennant or three flying above centerfield, it won’t matter.

Opening Day is in 7 days

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Werth: Healthy 2012 Nats could have won 120 games

Responding to claims by Jimmy Rollins that the Washington Nationals would have finished second to a healthy Philadelphia Phillies team last year (The Inky), Jayson Werth suggested that a healthy Nats team could have won 120 games.

That’s just crazy, but Werth is correct that the Nats were not entirely healthy. He missed most of the season with a broken wrist. Others like Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond were ailing and missed time, as did the now-departed Michael Morse. That Nats got through it because of extraordinary starting rotation health. Counting on that for this season is a bit dubious.

Werth also points out not to sleep on the Phillies which is the appropriate approach. The Phillies showed their age last year and lost Ryan Howard and Chase Utley for much of the season. They still pulled it together late to surge to a 81-81 record.

I think the Nats are the team to beat in the NL East, but I would be surprised if they reach 98 wins again. They don’t really have to either, the only regular season “win” that matters is the division or the play-in game.

By the way, my recollection is that the only team to win 120 games was the 1998 New York Yankees, who won 114 games in the regular season and 11 post-season games on their way to another World Series title. Werth’s 120 claim is ridiculous, but he’s correct that the Phillies are still a threat.

39 days until Opening Day…

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