April 7th: WSH-7, PHI-6

Bryce harper mvp poster at stadium

Max Scherzer got the win today, striking out 7 in 6 and 2/3 innings and allowing 4 hits, 2 runs and 2 walks (98 total pitches, 60 strikes) for a game score of 69 (Phillies SP Vince Velasquez 34).  Scherzer commented after the game that he will be looking to make more first-pitch strikes, but was satisfied with this first outing.  Relief was provided by Sammy Solis (2 runs) and Koda Glover (ERA 0.00), and Treinen got his 3rd save but gave up 2 runs on 2 hits and 1 walk (20 pitches, 12 strikes, 6 batters – ERA 8.10).  The Nats got offense with Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy both going 2-for-4 (both with home runs), and Jayson Werth had his own 3-run homer (a common occurrence at his old ball park).  Adam Eaton went 1-for-3, and scored 2 runs.  Matt Wieters had a double and a walk.  Anthony Rendon went 1-for-3, Trea Turner 0-for-5, and Ryan Zimmerman 0-for-5.  Zimmerman and Eaton both left runners on in scoring position with 2 outs.

April 6th: WSH-3, MIA-4

Natinoals, Schu Werth Jones

Game #3 brings the Nats first loss of 2017.  Solo home run night:  Adam Eaton in the 1st inning, Jayson Werth in the 7th, and Ryan Zimmerman in the 8th.  Two long rain delays.  Gio Gonzalez pitched 6 inning, striking out 7 and giving up 7 hits (1 walk) but no runs, and had a 2-run lead when he left.  Kota Glover followed with 1 scoreless inning, and then Shawn Kelley gave up 2 earned runs, Sammy Solis 1, and then Joe Blanton got tagged with with 4th earned run.  Werth singled in the 9th, but there was no pay off and on the extra innings.  The Marlines pulled ahead in the tope of the 10th.  Bottom of the 10th, Bryce Harper walked and Daniel Murphy singled, but Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon could not bring it home.

April 5th: WSH – 6, MIA – 4

Washington Nationals Henley

The NATS put up a win in game #2 (now 2-0) with 6 innings from starter Tanner Roark (97 pitches, 57 for strikes).  He had six strikeouts and gave up 3 hits, 2 walks and 2 earned runs.   Roark had a game score of 66; Marlins’ Straily had 23.  Enny Romero, Joe Blanton, and Oliver Perez pitched in relief and Blake Treinen got the save (20 pitches/14 strikes).  In terms of offense, Ryan Zimmerman had a solo home run in the 2nd, and Matt Wieters went 3-for-3 (plus a walk) with a pair of RBI.   Bryce Harper made a great catch in the top of the 9th (Statcast:  41% catch probability).  Miami Marlins Manager Don Mattingly was ejected in the top of the 7th by HP umpire Ron Kulpa after Derek Dietrich was hit by an Enny Romero pitch.

Nats Stolen Bases & MLB Changes

Turner Nationals 2017

NATS & STOLEN BASES (SB)

2017 is off to a good start with 2 SB in game #1 on Opening Day, 1 each by Turner and newcomer CF Adam Eaton. The NATS #1 team season for SB was 2006 with 123; Alfonso Soriano (remember him?) had 41 SB that year.  2016 was the NATS #2 season for SB, and that can probably be attributed to CF Trea Turner with his 33 SB that year.  In third place, the team had 110 SB in 2012 with the help of CF Nyger Morgan (34).  The NATS lowest number for SB was in 2005 with 45 total; LF Brad Wilkerson led the team with 8.

Heads Up on MLB Changes for 2017

The intentional walk is now a “call,” the pitcher does not have to throw the traditional 4 outside pitches.  The All-Star Game win no longer grants home field (NL or AL) advantage in the World Series; that goes to the team with the most wins.  Other changes under consideration for the future:  limit the number of relief pitchers in a game?  The record for most pitchers in one game may be held by the Rockies with 13 pitchers in a 16-inning game on Sept 15,  2015 (they won).  The most pitchers used in a 9-inning postseason game was 9 by the Rays Manager Joe Maddon in a 2013 against the Red Sox.  As we all know, bringing in relief pitchers can take up a lot of time.  Other ideas are being considered to “speed up the game.”  Also, MLB has tasked Rawlings with coming up with a new baseball which would not need the Lena Blackburne Magic Mud rub.

Opening Day 2017

A sellout crowd of 42,744 went home happy Opening Day with a fun and exciting win:  Bryce Harper homered (again) on opening day, as did newcomer Adam Lind on his first AB (PH 2-run).  Stephen Strasburg pitched 7 solid innings (27 batters, 3 SO, 85 pitches).  Sammy Solis held things in the 8th, and Blake Treinen was perfect in the 9th with 2 SO on 3 batters.  Strasburg had a game score of 67, Marlins SP Edison Volquez 66.  Turner and Adam Eaton each had a stolen base, plus Eaton walked twice.  RBI came from Lind (2), Harper (1) and Murphy (1).

Washington Nationals Logo 2017

Opening Day – William Howard Taft

William Howard Taft President Nationals

Opening Day is special for #27:  William Howard Taft (Nats President “Bill”), the 27th President, is well known as the first to throw out a first pitch on Opening Day at Griffith Stadium in DC in 1910.  If you google, it there is a video on-line at MLB showing the event of Taft throwing from his sideline seat to HOF Senator Walter Johnson, who threw a one-hit shutout against the Philadelphia Athletics.  Legend has it that Taft also started the 7th-inning Stretch by standing up in the 7th to stretch his legs.  The Ironman President of Opening Days was John F. Kennedy who not only threw out the first pitch, but sat through all 27 innings, including a rain delay in 1962.  The most recent Opening Day Pitch took place in 2010 by Barack Obama at Nats Park.

Statcast Leaderboard Update

There is a new Statcast category this year call “Catch Probability” which evaluates outfield defense (MLB.com; look for more coming on that. What Nats have appeared on the Statcast Leaderboard?

In 2016, the only NATS were: Ryan Zimmerman, 14th on the list for Average Exit Velocity with 94.1 mph (284 events) and Anthony Rendon at 47th with 92.6 mph (388 events). And, on the Longest HR list: Ian Desmond, 34th with a distance of 462 feet off Deolis Guerra (Angels) on July 19, 2016 2016, and Bryce Harper, 39th with 461 feet off Christian Bergman (Rockies) on Aug 17, 2016.

In 2015, HR distance leaders included Ian Desmond 13th with 477 feet off Jake Peavy (Giants) on Aug 15, 2015, and Bryce Harper 46th with 461 feet off Aaron Harang (Phillies) on Apr 18, 2015. Batting Exit Velocity lists Stephen Strasburg as 2nd with 121.3 mph in a single off of Eddie Butler on Aug 8, 2015, and Bryce Harper at 30th with 116.0 in a single off of Rubby De La Rosa (Diamondbacks) for a double on May 7, 2015. Ryan Zimmerman was on the Average Exit Velocity at 38th with 92.1 mph in 264 events. Blake Treinen appears on the Average Pitch Velocity twice: 33rd with a 97 mph two-seam FB (90 events) and 40th with a 96.8 sinker (587 events).

Spring Training 2017 Round Up

Spring Training is “what it is,” but it is always interesting to look at how players did:

Spring Training Top Hitters (50+AB):

BA .466 Jesus Aquilar (Brewers)
HR 8 Bryce HARPER (Nats)
RBI 20 Pablo Sandoval (Red Sox), Ian Happ (Cubs) – tied
OPS 1.582 Greg Bird (Yankees)
H 28 Mitch Haniger (White Sox)
SO 26 Jabari Blash (Padres), Chris Carter (Yankees) – tied
SB 12 Delino DeSheilds (Rangers)
XBH 15 Greg Bird (Yankees)
BB 15 Joey Rickard (Orioles)
E 6 Johan Camargo (Braves), Mike Freeman (Mariners)

Spring Training Top Pitchers (19+IP):

ERA 0.38 Masahiro Tanaka (Yankees)
SO 37 Danny Salazar (Indians)
W 5 Eddie Butler (Cubs)
R 23 Matt Cain (Giants), Drew Hutchison (Pirates) – tied
WHIP 0.59 Masahiro Tanaka (Yankees)
BB 14 Rich Hill (Dodgers), Danny Salazar (Indians) – tied
IP 33 Kyle Kendrick (Red Sox)
TBF 132 Kyle Kendrick (Red Sox)
NP 321 Nathan Karns (Royals)
K/9 12.81 Danny Salazar (Indians)

Spring Training – a brief look at best and worst teams:

Most wins 24 Yankees
Most losses 22 Braves
Best ERA 3.28 Cardinals
Worst ERA 6.13 Reds
Best WHIP 1.15 Yankees
Worst WHIP 1.62 Reds
Most SO 306 Red Sox
Least SO 214 Marlins
Best BA .302 Indians
Worst BA .238 Orioles
Best HR 54 Cubs
Worst HR 18 Braves
Best RBI 201 Indians
Worst RBI 119 NATIONALS
Best OPS .886 Brewers
Worst OPS .661 Braves

March 30th: WSH-1, BOS-8

The final game for the Inaugural Season at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches concluded with an 8-1 Nats loss to the Red Sox.  Joe Ross pitched five, facing 26 batters, striking out 7 and giving up 4 earned runs.  Lots of hits but only 1 run to show for it (Bryce Harper RBI bringing in Trea Turner in the first).  The Team LOB was 12.  Turner and Adam Lind both had 2 hits.   The Nats closed out 13-17 (.433 percent) in Spring Training, 10th in the Grapefruit League.  The top NL team was the Cardinals (20-8); the top AL team was the Yankees (24-8).  The top of the Cactus League was the AL Angels (19-3); top NL there was the Dodgers (17-16).

March 28th: WSH-2, MIA-4

Mar 28:  Jayson Werth produced a 2-run home run in the second inning, bringing in Ryan Zimmerman who had a 2-hit day.  Hersey had a double, Lobaton struck out 3 times and had a throwing error.  Nat Starter Jacob Turner gave up three runs in the first inning, pitched 4 innings with 3 strikeouts.  Off the field, the Nats placed Clint Robinson (32 years old) on waivers; he will have 72 hours to clear waivers after which he can either accept an assignment to Triple-A Syracuse, become a free agent.  In 2 years with the Nats, Robinson played in 230 games:  BA .257, OBP .337, OPS .726,15 home runs, 19 doubles, and 60 RBI.