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Game 22: Nats at Cubs

Apr 28, 2010, 5:26 PM EST

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The sun is out and the temperature is up for today's game at Wrigley Field.

CHICAGO — Good afternoon one last time from the Friendly Confines, where today the Nationals look to earn a series victory over the Cubs and improve to two games over .500 for the first time this year.

It'll take a pretty big effort from the Nats to pull that off. Rookie Luis Atilano is back on the mound for his second career start, hoping to duplicate his fabulous debut last week against the Rockies. Roger Bernadina is also here and in the lineup after his promotion from Class AAA Syracuse. With probably 10 straight right-handed starting pitchers coming up in the next week and a half — Ryan Dempster goes today for the Cubs, and the Marlins and Braves have nothing but right-handers in their rotations — Bernadina figures to get some significant playing time, especially with Willie Harris still banged up with a bruised knee.

Ryan Zimmerman, of course, is out of the lineup once again. I would think he'll work his way back in there Friday night in Florida, though. Seems like the Nats are just waiting for warmer weather.

Check back for updates throughout the game…

Where: Wrigley Field
Gametime: 2:20 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Mostly sunny, 60 degrees, Wind 6 mph RF to LF

CF Nyjer Morgan
3B Adam Kennedy
2B Cristian Guzman
1B Adam Dunn

Read more »

  1. Kevin - Apr 28, 2010 at 5:49 PM

    Mark-I know you don't have the budget to be in both Chicago and Harrisburg yesterday, but wanted to see if you have gotten any reaction from Rizzo, etc. on the performance yesterday. You had predicted 5 starts in Harrisburg, which would make this sunday his final one. Is that holding true or do you see him possibly getting the AAA call before sunday? Also, can someone set me straight on the Super 2 thing…specifically, why does it matter since he has a 4 year contract that already covers the early arbitration years?

  2. WebberDC - Apr 28, 2010 at 5:52 PM

    @Kevin – I just looked up Starasburg's 4 year contract and realized it started in '09. His Super Two season would be '13, so he would in the arbitration process after the '12 season.

  3. Wigi - Apr 28, 2010 at 5:54 PM

    That's a good point, Kevin… Couldn't the Nats have avoided all of this hand wringing with a six year deal? I suppose that Boras would have been against it… but the issue has only to do with how things play out in arbitration… they could have avoided it with a six year contract.Right?

  4. Mark Zuckerman - Apr 28, 2010 at 6:05 PM

    Kevin: Strasburg will definitely start Sunday for Harrisburg. Rizzo and Co. were certainly pleased to get the reports on last night's start, but it doesn't change the plan they've got for him. I do believe Sunday's start could be his last at Class AA, though. Would seem to be an appropriate time to make the jump up to Syracuse after that.

  5. K.D. - Apr 28, 2010 at 6:07 PM

    I like that Zimmerman & Pudge are getting two days rest with the off-day. My only change defensively is put Kennedy at second and Gonzalez at third, but know that Riggleman wants Guzman's bat in there. Assume both Zim & Pudge are available for pinch-hitting.

  6. natsone_va - Apr 28, 2010 at 6:08 PM

    How cool is it to have 3 pitchers with era's under 1 win you a ballgame in the bigs and two others (the top pitching prospects) with also era's under 1 win one in the minors? And this is 20 games into the season.

  7. Tcostant - Apr 28, 2010 at 6:10 PM

    Kevin I asked that same question about Super 2 status on these boards a week or so ago. I will paraphrase Mark response. It's a 4 year contract, but it is based on baseball seasons, not when it was signed. So year 1 was 2009 and year 4 concludes at the end of the baseball season in 2012. So in the off-season between 2012 and 2013 he will need to be signed. If he was up right now in the majors, he would be eligible for arbitration in that off-season between 2012 and 2013. If the team waits until around June 1st (it a floating date based on the number of other rookies up before that date) he would not be eligible for arbitration and the Nats could pay him anything it wants as long as it within 80% of 2012 salary (of $3 million). So if he pitching great, lets say he goes 16-5 with 200 strikeouts in 2011, in arbitration that could command over $10 million dollars, but they could renew him at any dollar amount (lets say $4.5 million, I don’t see a pay cut based on that scenario). The thing is more than just the 2012 salary. His 2013 arbitration salary would be based on his 2012 salary, so it can have a cumulative effect. More likely, they would try to use that leverage to get him to sign a multi-year deal.By the way – he has already served enough time in the minors that his free agent clock has been pushed out one more year.Hope this helps!

  8. Mark Zuckerman - Apr 28, 2010 at 6:13 PM

    Tcostant: Thanks for passing that along, I couldn't have explained it better myself! Also, to answer Wigi's question about why the Nats didn't just give Strasburg a six-year contract last summer … that's a lot of guaranteed money to give a guy who had yet to throw a pitch as a professional. What if Strasburg's arm blows out after two years? At the moment, they'll still be on the hook for two more. But if they gave him a six-year contract, they'd be on the hook until 2015!

  9. Anonymous - Apr 28, 2010 at 6:16 PM

    That's good for Harrisburg, but a little hard for me to understand, given the success he's had there. I'd like to see how he'd fare against better talent. –Tom

  10. Tcostant - Apr 28, 2010 at 6:20 PM

    No problem Mark. Thanks for the tip about Strustburg pitching on Sunday in Harrisburg; I got my tickets and plan to bring the family up to see him pitch. I hope they let him pitch at 6 innings then.I recommend to anyone of these board to take the trip to Harrisburg, it's about a 2 to 2 1/2 hour drive from Northern VA. Worth the trip and Kids Eat free this Sunday!

  11. Matt - Apr 28, 2010 at 6:22 PM

    Mark – SI's Jon Heyman noted that Strasburg has a clause in his contract that permits 100 innings at the major league level this year. Any truth to this? Is this the real reasoning behind "the plan" for Strasburg?

  12. Mark Zuckerman - Apr 28, 2010 at 6:28 PM

    Matt: I don't know of a specific clause like that, but I can tell you that Strasburg is targeted to throw about 140-150 total innings this season between the minors and majors.

  13. Kevin - Apr 28, 2010 at 6:40 PM

    Thanks everyone for the answers…that all makes sense!@Matt – no idea to actual truth, but not surprising. Boras is 110% behind the Nats in their plan to bring Strasburg along slowly based on some recent quotes I've read. Assuming 25 innings in AA, bumping up to 6 innings per appearance in AAA and 5 starts, that would seem to put him at 55 innings before he gets called up…another 100 innings puts him at about 155 innings, which I think is a good target, give or take a few innings.

  14. Diz - Apr 28, 2010 at 8:01 PM

    If the Nats somehow pull this game out with Pudge and Zim out of the lineup and Dempster being (infinity – 0) against the Nats, we will definitely have stolen one.

  15. Mark - Apr 28, 2010 at 8:33 PM

    Now Clippard walks the tight rope. Whew.

  16. NatinBeantown - Apr 28, 2010 at 8:44 PM

    Aside: Tavaras-Plush-Bernardina has gotta be one of the fastest OF combinations in baseball.C'mon, Capps…

  17. Sec314 - Apr 28, 2010 at 8:50 PM

    Send Clip to Anaheim. Along with Livo and Capps!

  18. Anonymous - Apr 28, 2010 at 8:51 PM

    GO NATS!!! Clip and Save strike again! Let's go fry some fish!!! Hello Miami! Tip the hat to Rizzo and Riggleman..the new and improved Nats are awesome!

  19. Les in NC - Apr 28, 2010 at 8:57 PM

    Clippard/Capps = DOMINANT back of the bullpen relief! With a .6 ERA and a .7 ERA respectively NL clubs are going to have to be more aggressive in trying to knock out the starters early in games against us. This team is really working hard and having fun and deserve to be! I can't wait for Zimm and Pudge and Wang and Stras and Storen and…. well, tbh, we wont need Stras and Storen if we can keep this momentum up. My prediction of +15 games over last seasons record is looking good, dare I push it to +20?

  20. bumsfan4 - Apr 28, 2010 at 9:00 PM

    Nice game from the starter, 2 holds and Matt slamming the door. Doesn't get much better than winning on the road when we only get 4 hits. Everyone seems to be bearing down with good focus. Credit to Riggleman and staff and enjoying the moment.

  21. David - Apr 28, 2010 at 9:23 PM

    Mark – you mentioned it is their best record after 22 games since pre-DC, but isn't it also the first time since 2005 that they have been 2 games over .500 at any time during a season? And all without Zim for half the time. Opening Day seems like a distant memory now (thank goodness).And speaking of memories, let's not forget what a difference Capps, Clippard, etc., are when compared to last year's bullpen after 22 games – led by closer Joel Hanrahan (era 7.20), setup men Saul Rivera (era 9.28), Logan Kensing (era 8.68), and workhorse Julian Tavarez (0-2, 4.50).

  22. natsfan1a - Apr 28, 2010 at 9:29 PM

    That was fun, if a little nervous-making. Loved Atilano as Elvis.

  23. Mark Zuckerman - Apr 28, 2010 at 9:30 PM

    David: Actually, they were 3-0 to open up 2008. Remember, Zim's walkoff on Opening Night, followed by back-to-back wins in Philly. Then they lost nine straight and never came close to sniffing .500 again.

  24. Sunderland - Apr 28, 2010 at 10:17 PM

    This is why baseball is such a great game to follow. Imagine it's mid-March and someone says."By late April the Nats will be 2 games over .500. Livan Hernandez and Luis Atilano will have half of the Nats wins. The talk about Ian Desmond's glove is about how good it is. Our right fielder platoon has knocked in 13 runs. Oh, and Zimmerman has missed about half of our games, but he apparently left his gold glove out there 'cause whoever mans the hot corner looks like Brooksie"





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