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Game 137: Nats at Pirates

Sep 5, 2010, 3:05 PM EDT


Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Jason Marquis looks to continue his upswing today at PNC Park.

PITTSBURGH โ€” Rarely will you find a pitching matchup like we're getting today at PNC Park. In this corner, with a 1-7 record and 8.13 ERA: Jason Marquis! And in this corner, with a 1-10 record and 10.03 ERA: Charlie Morton!

How bad have these two right-handers been? Well, consider that Marquis has been golden compared to Morton, who according to STATS, Inc. is only the third major-league starter ever to carry a 10.00-plus ERA into September. The others: the Pirates' Steve Blass (10.40 ERA in 1973) and … the Blue Jays' Roy Halladay (10.63 ERA in 2000). Blass' career ended soon after that disastrous season. Halladay's career, of course, took off.

Wilson Ramos gets his second start behind the plate for the Nationals today. Danny Espinosa, however, takes a seat after a couple of impressive performances the last two nights. Adam Dunn returns to the lineup after sitting out last night's game with a sore hamstring.

Check back for updates throughout the afternoon…

NATIONALS at PIRATES
Where: PNC Park
Gametime: 1:35 p.m.
TV: Ch. 50, MASN2
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Sunny, 68 degrees, Wind 10 mph out to LF

STARTING LINEUPS
NATIONALS (58-78)
CF Nyjer Morgan
SS Ian Desmond
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn

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  1. Anonymous - Sep 5, 2010 at 3:11 PM

    How did Morton get his one win?

  2. Doc - Sep 5, 2010 at 3:28 PM

    Only in baseball would a player clicking on all cylinders like Espinosa have to take a seat on the bench. I'll bet Riggleman would have sat the Babe in 1927, to help him get over his frequent strikeouts.

  3. JayB - Sep 5, 2010 at 3:35 PM

    Mark,Why….WHY….WHY!!!!!! does Kennedy need to play to this team….in September of yet another lost season? Can you ask Riggleman to explain how this helps the franchise please?

  4. Josh - Sep 5, 2010 at 3:36 PM

    JayB: Farewell tour.

  5. BQ - Sep 5, 2010 at 3:38 PM

    His lone win came against Cubs 6IP 5H 2ER. He has some other 'good' games but all losses. I just hope Nationals don't make him look like Cy Young. I also wish they would put Espinosa in the game after 5 or 6 innings.

  6. JayB - Sep 5, 2010 at 4:02 PM

    @josh….oh yea that's right….Kennedy has been such a key part of this franchise and all the good things that we have built this season…..Riggs is an old losing dead weight around this team and the sooner we dump him the sooner we can turn the corner and become a winning organization.

  7. Anonymous - Sep 5, 2010 at 4:14 PM

    There is no reason why Morgan should be leading off.

  8. JayB - Sep 5, 2010 at 4:21 PM

    In the real world that is true of course but in this Fantasy Island Natstown of Riggs and Rizzo…they think they are going to get his trade value up above a bag of balls…..just get over it and cut him….Milledge can not even start for Pirates…..they both were losers and Bucks are a better organization because they have admitted their error….Rizzo is still too stubborn to admit Morgan is a lost cause.

  9. souldrummer - Sep 5, 2010 at 4:25 PM

    @AnonymousThat's my only issue with this lineup. Morgan's not doing enough to warrant a leadoff spot if we're trying to win. If you want to give him some last desperate chance to have a big game going into the offseason, it's worth it I guess. Can't say I have a problem with Espinosa sitting down. It is a team, and I do think that they will pick up Kennedy's option for next year. He has handled variable playing time with maturity, and he does offer quality at bats. If we can't get Espinosa, I'm glad to see Ramos.

  10. Josh - Sep 5, 2010 at 4:26 PM

    I think people have a tendency to put too much blame on the manager for a team's failure (and give him too much credit when it succeeds). Do managers have an impact on a team's wins and losses? Most definitely. Do I personally think it's dumb to trot out Adam Kennedy, Nyjer Morgan, or even Pudge night after night when we have to find out how some of our best prospects may be able to do in the major leagues in a season during which we have no chance of winning? Hell yes. Do I think Riggleman's obsession with lefty/righty matchups and double switches is annoying? Absolutely. But ultimately, while those things may be bothersome, I doubt that these things have affected our record by more than two or three games (if that) either way. We can be pretty certain of this, because one of the things stat tracking has told us is that virtually every team finishes around .500 in one-run games (the ones where managing style might make an impact): the way you tell the good teams from the bad is how often they're on the receiving end of blowouts. The manager is a convenient culprit for the truth, which is that the Nats stink. Their starting pitching (outside Stras (injured) and Zim'n [who came back right when Stras left]) ranges from mediocre to godawful. Their lineup, outside of a few impact players (Zim, Hammer, Dunn) doesn't get on base; there are too many guaranteed outs and baserunning errors for it to be truly effective. Their defense is among the worst in the league, despite a gold-glove caliber third baseman at catcher. Their bench "depth" is pretty much nonexistent, and includes several sub-0 WAR players. The only bright spot for this team is the bullpen, and by the time the ball gets to them it's usually too late for the Nats to come back. The best way to create a winning attitude (and a winning record) is not to get a "winning manager" but to put a good team on the field that actually wins. Riggleman putting Kennedy on the field in a meaningless game in September doesn't change that, and whether Espinosa played in this game or not would have pretty much no effect on his upcoming ST evaluation.

  11. Bill - Sep 5, 2010 at 4:28 PM

    Re Kennedy: he's at the end of a respectable career, and he's played hard for us this season. So, I think it's reasonable that Riggs give him a couple of starts a week in September. Espinosa should get the bulk of the playing time, however.Re Morgan: he has not proven to be a satisfactory lead-off hitter, and we don't have a potent enough lineup to tolerate him in the 8 hole for his questionable defense (some awesome catches and some real bone-headed plays too). I'd give Maxwell a shot at seeing what he can do.

  12. mjr - Sep 5, 2010 at 5:13 PM

    Maybe they're giving Morgan enough rope to see if he hangs himself…

  13. Jake - Sep 5, 2010 at 6:00 PM

    I believe you play the hot hand and Espinosa should be out there. Obviously there is no scouting report against Morton so why sit him.

  14. JaneB - Sep 5, 2010 at 8:05 PM

    SO glad that Marquis is becoming the Marquis we hired! Phew. I feel for Morton, though. And let me clear: I love that we are winning and that its a big margin.

  15. BQ - Sep 5, 2010 at 8:05 PM

    I would've left Marquis for another inning or so. His pitch count is only 91 so why was he taken out. Our bullpen has been used a lot. I would prefer to give them rest any chance we get. We do have a commanding lead. I hope we don't blow it.

  16. BQ - Sep 5, 2010 at 8:30 PM

    For me, NL ROY is Buster Posey. The guy is playing the most demanding position in the game and has excelled at it. It is not just his hitting but catching skills as well that are worthy of recognition. If not him, I would vote for Garcia. Heyward has fallen off my list because he hurt his own chances by playing injured and all. Sanchez has done well too but Posey is the clear winner. To be honest, I can't find any room for Desmond in a top 5 rookies list.

  17. Doc - Sep 5, 2010 at 9:10 PM

    Great job by Marquis! A real competitor. A little concernded about Storen. All his pitches were up, and his velocity was not quite what it has been. Is he hurt?

  18. Josh - Sep 5, 2010 at 9:19 PM

    Heyward should be ROY far and away. He has over 4 WAR, his OBP is sixth in the NL and defensive metrics say he's the best defensive RF in the league. And he's been doing it all year, Posey came up midway through. Desmond doesn't belong anywhere near a top five rookies list. Hell, I would put Strasburg's abbreviated season before his full one.As for Marquis, this was a better outing than last time (though he still had some control issues and gave up some very hard-hit balls) but I am not buying him as anything other than a league-average innings eater next year.

  19. Sec3MySofa - Sep 5, 2010 at 10:18 PM

    "they think they are going to get his trade value up above a bag of balls."—–Jaybeee, not sure whether you're talking about Morgan or Kennedy, but what possible trade could you have in mind, here? Morgan is finishing a 1-year contract and has got to be about as untradable as you can get, and Kennedy has a 2011 team option for $2MM, $0.5MM buyout–which I wouldn't expect them to exercise just on the off chance they could trade him.SO I'm confused.

  20. Sec3MySofa - Sep 5, 2010 at 10:24 PM

    "one of the things stat tracking has told us is that virtually every team finishes around .500 in one-run games (the ones where managing style might make an impact)"—————@Josh, OK, this has me a little baffled, too. If every team is near .500 in one-run games, and those are the ones the manager's skill is most likely to impactt, then there are no good managers, by that logic. And that is manifestly untrue. I think managers must make a difference in other games, as well, like the games where a manager's moves might keep a game close, rather than letting them getting blown out.

  21. Anonymous - Sep 5, 2010 at 11:50 PM

    Stats geek. Somebody is determined to have the last word on Marquis. Continuing improvement? Nah!! Helping the team? Nah!!

  22. Josh - Sep 6, 2010 at 12:39 AM

    It's not that there are no good managers, it's that (IMO anyway) they don't have THAT much of an impact on a team's win total. Maybe two or three wins at most, which is around the maximum amount that most teams deviate from .500 in one-run games by the end of the season. That makes sense: if a better manager could really swing a team by ten or fifteen wins (i.e. turn a .500 team into a playoffs shoe-in) don't you think the best ones would be much better paid than they currently are? There is an argument in there that the manager has to affect more than just one-run games, but no matter what the manager does (other than intentionally walk someone) the likely outcome of any pitcher-batter battle is an out… and no manager fiddles enough with the basics (i.e. deliberately playing the worst possible lineup, which neither Riggleman nor any other manager who wants to keep his job has done for awhile) to make those odds seriously different. If you want further proof… look at Torre with the Dodgers. He was a great winner with the Yankees, how come the Dodgers are doing so badly? Lou Piniella? Look at what historically losing Dusty Baker's Reds are doing right now… the GM has a lot more to do with a team's success than the manager. Bobby Cox's Braves have won not because of Bobby Cox, but because they have an amazing farm system and had one of the best starting rotations of all time. Good teams win, bad teams don't. Managers, like every other member of the team, play only a small role in determining what happens.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 72 53 --
ATLANTA 66 61 7.0
MIAMI 63 63 9.5
NEW YORK 60 68 13.5
PHILADELPHIA 56 71 17.0
Through Wednesday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
THU: Diamondbacks at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
FRI: Giants at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Giants at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Giants at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

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