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Nats vs. Tigers – 3/20/11

Mar 20, 2011, 2:15 PM EDT

File photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Tigers make a trip to Space Coast Stadium this afternoon.

Plenty worth watching today as the Nationals attempt to snap their six-game losing streak in a game against the Tigers that will be broadcast on MASN. Tom Gorzelanny takes the mound for his third start of the spring, hoping to erase any question about his standing as the club's No. 5 starter. Todd Coffey, Craig Stammen, Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard are all scheduled to pitch as well.

With Ryan Zimmerman still sidelined by a sore groin (he was due to take BP this morning) and both Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa getting the day off, the Nationals will get a chance to look at Jerry Hairston, Alex Cora and Alberto Gonzalez in the infield. We know Hairston is making the club, but there's a good chance Cora and Gonzalez are battling each other for one spot on the bench (with Brian Bixler possibly in the mix as well). At this point of the spring, each at-bat and chance in the field starts to take on more meaning for these guys trying to earn the final spots on the rosters.

I'm flying back down to Florida later this afternoon, fully refreshed and ready to roll again after this mid-camp break. Full coverage returns tomorrow morning from Jupiter, where the Nats will face the Cardinals…

TIGERS at NATIONALS
Where: Space Coast Stadium, Viera
Gametime: 1:05 p.m.
TV: MASN, MLB Network (tape delay, 11 p.m.)
Radio: WHFS (1580 AM), WFED (1500 AM)
Weather: Partly cloudy, 78 degrees, Wind 17 mph LF to RF

STARTING LINEUPS
NATIONALS
DH Nyjer Morgan
CF Rick Ankiel
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche

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  1. Anonymous - Mar 20, 2011 at 2:34 PM

    "Full coverage returns tomorrow morning from Jupiter"Sweet. Finally.

  2. natsfan1a - Mar 20, 2011 at 2:47 PM

  3. Jim in MD - Mar 20, 2011 at 3:08 PM

    natsfan1a: Hilarious! Thanks.

  4. sjm 308 - Mar 20, 2011 at 3:16 PM

    Thanks to Mark and Feelwood for my question on Espinosa. I realize it's not a huge deal this early in the year but I still think he will become a special player for us and with Harper and SS on the way its nice to dream.Hoping we can turn it around today – not as concerned about the actual win but I would like to see 5 solid innings from our starter and also see Storen, Clippard and Coffey all have smooth sailing. go Nats!!

  5. phil dunn - Mar 20, 2011 at 4:18 PM

    With Coffee, Storen. Clippard and Stammen pitching today, it should be batting practice for the Tigers.

  6. Golfersal - Mar 20, 2011 at 4:34 PM

    I will be interested in watching Todd Coffey pitch today, have a feeling that this could be his last stand. He was do dominating until his last two games were he has been ripped apart. Feel that if he gets ripped apart that we may never see him again.Probably the outcome of good scouting that can spot what weaknesses that Coffey has.Oh, one last thing have marveled at how good this blog has gotten while the Washington Post has turned into a terrible click-feast, can't find anything anymore. If the Post is not careful they may lose a good portion of their viewership that is frustrated in finding blogs spread throughout comment files. The genius who thought this up should be hung

  7. Theophilus - Mar 20, 2011 at 5:28 PM

    Coffey's weakness is he can't pitch.

  8. Anonymous8 - Mar 20, 2011 at 7:34 PM

    Gorzelanny had a good game. On defense LaRoche does have a nifty glove at 1st base. The relievers faltered again and weren't helped by the defense (again).

  9. JaneB - Mar 20, 2011 at 7:35 PM

    Ramos let him down today (Coffey). Hairston had an awesome catch and another good one. But at bottom of the 8th, the exciting plays ain't ours. We beef Mark Z to start walking the stadium asap.

  10. natsfan1a - Mar 20, 2011 at 8:29 PM

    Agreed re. the NJ, golfersal (and glad you liked it, Jim). I was liking Hairston's defense, too. After he'd left the game and (Bixler, was it?) couldn't field one, I said "Hairston would have had it" just before Carpenter did. ;-)

  11. natsfan1a - Mar 20, 2011 at 8:30 PM

    (Which Carpenter speculated that someone in the dugout had just said, to clarify).

  12. Doc - Mar 20, 2011 at 8:39 PM

    BallyStar and Kimball may only be in Syracuse for a short period of time. HRM, Prince Oppo Boppo, the exiled Prince of Power, might also live up to his prediction/threat of reclaiming his rightful royal spot in the Nats' outfield.

  13. Golfersal - Mar 20, 2011 at 8:43 PM

    A couple of things, Gorzelanny looked OK, just one bad pitch cost him two runs. Now for some others, I think you can stick a fork in Todd Coffey, he seems like he is OK but he gets outsmarted by hitters. Seems like he won't be reliable in getting the job done, think that his last three starts have told the tale that he may not make the team come March 31st. Another that I think may not make it is Drew Storen, boy haven't seen any positives at all on him all spring, seems like he spent too much time studying at Stanford than getting ready for the season. He seems two steps behind. Lastly and I don't know if it's time to pass judgement but F.P. Santangelo is not looking very good. He just is too vanilla and seems to be too afraid to give honest opinions. A perfect example is how Carpenter set him up perfectly on the Drew Storen going to the minors and F.P. made excuse after excuse on how Storen shouldn't be judged by spring training that he was great last year and that would carry him over. I agree on that for players like Jason Wyrth and Ryan Zimmerman but I didn't think Storen was overly impressive last year and feel that Spring Training counts a lot. Storen has been awful and may need to start in Syracuse As for F.P. I am bet that Carpenter is really going to miss Dibble this year, we are all going to miss Dibble.

  14. Anonymous - Mar 20, 2011 at 9:09 PM

    There is one consistent pattern that transcend's both Acta's and his bench coach Riggleman's tenures: LONG LOSING STREAKS without the commensurate winning streaks to offset them.Here we are in Spring Training and just as with last year these 2011 Nats are in the midst of another way too long losing streak. With this team and its mentality/mantra YES spring training does matter. The pattern of losing is something that just must be broken.Clearly Jim Riggleman is not the manager who can do that. Its time for a change.

  15. Another_Sam - Mar 20, 2011 at 9:10 PM

    Natsjack, JaneB, Gatorland – so very nice chatting with you before today's game. Mark – your community continues to greatly enhance my enjoyment of the game. Thank you..Nats – today was deja vu all over again.

  16. JaneB - Mar 20, 2011 at 10:31 PM

    Another Sam… So nice to see you and raymitten today! The community that Mark is building here for the Nats feels strong and vibrant. And better than what the Nats themselves are building, After hearing NatsJack talk about the OppoBoppo King, I am hoping Doc is right on his prediction. I do love these guys but this losing streak, even though it doesn't COUNT, seems too much like seasons past for me to get excited, I am I awe at the stick-to -it -tiveness that is required for these coaches and players and sportswriters, day after day. But these last four games, a least, we just don't look like the Other Guys. I hope its just these four games. I hope its just Spring Training and the switch gets flipped and we become For Real somehow, there was a huge stretch today where not even a AA team performs like that. Yikes.Watching Verlander today, its clear we don't have anyone like that yet. Wish we did.

  17. phil dunn - Mar 20, 2011 at 11:00 PM

    If there is any consistency to nice guy Riggleman's management style, it's that he loves to make excuses for his players lousy performances. Too bad that Leo Durocher isn't still around to remind him that "nice guys finish last".

  18. Anonymous - Mar 20, 2011 at 11:07 PM

    Watching Verlander today, its clear we don't have anyone like that yet. Wish we did.Exactly. Its a sore point. The Nats do indeed have guys who may potentially be capable of pitching close to that level in Zimmermann, Gorzelanny, Detwiler and perhaps Maya. Its getting as close to that pinnacle as soon as possible, hopefully close to simultaneously that eludes them. You cannot start a season and expect to win if your top three starters are Livan Hernandez, Jason Marquis, and John Lannan. That has the makings of a 100 loss season and so spells disaster.It behooves those pitchers to keep after it. Meanwhile, it may be possible for the Nats to draft someone to compliment a recovered Strasburg in June.

  19. JayB - Mar 20, 2011 at 11:07 PM

    They are going to be fine as long as Riggs has nothing to do with who makes the team and Rizzo tells him who to play. Pitching is much better this spring than last. Yes they miss SS a ton and needed to get 2 starters this winter and did not. Still no Louis, no Martis, no Martin….they will be better.

  20. sjm 308 - Mar 21, 2011 at 12:57 AM

    They will be better but not that much better. I see potential improvement at 1. Second Base2. Catcher3. Right Field4. Left FieldHopefully Zimmerman will be at least as good (which is very good)Questions about1. Shortstop2. Centerfield3. Pitchingand as long as our pitching is shaky our record will be shakyGo Nats!

  21. raymitten - Mar 21, 2011 at 1:17 AM

    Exactly what is the basis to say the pitching is much better this year than last? Everyone is doing exactly what they did last year: provide inconsistent performances. Clippard has looked like the guy that gave up a 6 run lead in Baltimore. Zimmerman, Livo, Lannan and Marquis have been good one start, bad the next. Storen has been atrocious. Rodriguez can't throw a strike, even in his 'better' outing in Disney World he went 2-0 on every batter. Coffey gives up a ton of runs and looks like he could care less. And there's no Strasburg coming up in June this year. Nice to see JaneB and NatsJack today — great to chat with knowledgable fans. And, oh yes, I agree totally with NatsJack about Broderick. Broderick and Burnett have been the best two pitchers on the staff this spring.

  22. Anonymous - Mar 21, 2011 at 2:06 AM

    Exactly what is the basis to say the pitching is much better this year than last?At this point that's easy and inarguable to answer. Last year the Nats led the majors in innings and salary lost to injuries to their pitching. At this point everyone, with the one exception of Cla Meredith since released, is healthy. If the injuries can be kept down this year as opposed to last then yes they should be markedly better. Is it enough to get them past teams in the NL East? Perhaps not. However, Ben Goessling's minor league guest blogger Ryan Tatusko appears to have maintained the very high end velocity he developed last year in Harrisburg this spring and is turning heads. Its too soon to hope but he just might provide another good possible answer. One or two out of six, seven or more pitchers should come through eventually … and that JayB is likely Rizzo's hope. Because it can't be in Livo, Marquis, and Lannan.

  23. HHover - Mar 21, 2011 at 3:11 AM

    This year’s rotation will look better than last year’s did on OD–I frankly don’t see how you can argue otherwise. Three pitchers (Lannan, Marquis, and Hernandez) are the same this year as last year; the other two top candidates for this year’s rotation, JZimm and Gorzelanny, are clearly an upgrade over Mock and Stammen.Of the three hold-overs: remember that Marquis had a terrible ST last year and was clearly ailing. Does he look like a great pitcher this year? No. But better than this time last year? Yes. As for Livan and Lannan–I don’t have great hopes for them this year, but I didn’t have great hopes last year either. Livan ended up over-delivering, but the question here isn’t what he ended up doing, but what you expected in April 2010. And this time last year, he was a scrap heap pick-up.Another plus this year is that if–ok, when–one of the starters does falter, the Nats can look at calling up Detwiler or Maya rather than Atilano or J.D. Martin. The only thing better last year was that the Nats knew Strasburg was coming at some point–but they didn’t know when, and they also knew he was going to be on an innings limit, so there was only so much of an overall contribution you could expect from him.This is still a pretty poor rotation by MLB standards, but yes, it is better than last year’s.

  24. Sunderland - Mar 21, 2011 at 4:02 AM

    Rotation could be better than last year, sure. But bullpen could be worse. Capps and Batista played important roles, making everyone else more comfortable and more successful.

  25. nats24 - Mar 21, 2011 at 4:27 AM

    I expect Clippard to get himself straightened out. He's got a much longer track record than Storen, who maybe will have to go to AAA. If the Nats keep Guadin, it'll be him Burnett, Slaten, Clippard and maybe Broderick, Balester or Rodreguiz, if Storen is sent down. That's a workable pen for the start, although it lacks a real closer. But it doesn't seem dramatically worse than last year.I agree with HHoover's analysis

  26. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 21, 2011 at 12:08 PM

    Just want to say Hi! to JayneB, Just Another_Sam and his brother, and raymitten…. it was great to be able to meet you and chat this week end. I look forward to seeing you on my week end opening day trip.It is now time to step up with 10 days till opening day. Time to observe closley, to check the pulse of the starting staff, to play smart error free baseball. This is the time to judge whether or not Rizzo's moves over the winter will make a difference.I do not see Morgan on the roster, Storen going to Sryacuse, Gonzalez over Cora (but he better change his attitude about his role)and Burnett as our closer. The jury is still out on Coffey but I would rather have one of the kids (Kimball or Balester). And Detwiler, Maya, Milhone, and Tatusko will all end up starting for us sometime this season.

  27. Another_Sam - Mar 21, 2011 at 12:43 PM

    I've.come around on Morgan. Yesterday he stood out – below the crowd – in a sea of mediocre hitting. Disappointing. And the staff is Livan and a bunch of guys named Joe. (Ryan) Zimmerman is missing in action. But still I say: Play Ball!

  28. fpcsteve - Mar 21, 2011 at 1:22 PM

    I am glad that those of you who have seen Detwiler up close like him and have confidence that he will help this season. That is reasuring. From a distance he looks like the same old guy delivering the same old results. But it it is spring and hope springs eternal. Go Nats!

  29. Steve M. - Mar 21, 2011 at 2:10 PM

    Since I have pointed out for a few weeks the flaws I see as:1) CF/Leadoff – Bad defense & low OBP2) Relief Pitching especially Storen3) Ryan Zimmerman minor injuries/conditioning4) Michael Morse Streaks/Slumps5) Desmond's over/under on errorsHere are my observations on what is good with the 2011 team1) Adam LaRoche – Big defensive upgrade2) Bench – Big all around upgrade3) Starting pitching will be improved4) Detwiler to help as a starter or reliever5) Jayson Werth brings a winning attitude6) Espi brings GG type defense to 2nd base7) Michael Morse will have more streaks than slumps8) AAA will provide legit depth if any of the pitchers falter

  30. Steve M. - Mar 21, 2011 at 2:13 PM

    Forgot #9 Catcher's depth

  31. Steve M. - Mar 21, 2011 at 2:43 PM

    Here is my caution to Mr. Rizzo on the bullpen and contrasting that with the bench.In 2009, the bullpen that went North to start the season cost the team dearly. In 2010, the bullpen was one of the best in the Majors.In 2010, the bench was horrible and you can see that the bench will be a strength in 2011.Rizzo can't make the same mistakes in 2011 with the bullpen. You can hide 1 or 2 guys but you can't put 3 to 4 BP pitchers in the bullpen. I listened to Bob Carpenter yesterday question Drew Storen and FP thought Storen was a virtual lock to make the 25 man. I think it is a mistake since he has options. Storen has 4 months of MLB experience and wasn't the dominating guy we all thought he would be but the 'pen was strong in 2010 and he had guys to bail him out.Rizzo cut the weak link last year with Bruney as he had a strong bullpen and I think Broderick makes the team with a short leash. I think Gaudin makes it too. Clippard essentially has to make it and you can't let him dig a hole on the mound. Henry Rodriguez is a toss-up as he really needs to show that he is a pitcher and not just a thrower. Burnett is my pick as closer to start the season. So here is a thought with Detwiler in comparison to a 24 year old Adam Wainwright. Wainwright made the Cardinals team in 2006 as a relief pitcher and moved quickly to be their stopper and closed a few games. He was a huge part of their 2006 WS win as a Rookie. In 2007, they converted him to a starter and so it went for him. So, do the Nats bite the bullet and make Detwiler into a stopper in the bullpen NOW and turn him loose as a starter in 2012 or do they send him to AAA and see if he truly is a starter?

  32. fpcsteve - Mar 21, 2011 at 3:35 PM

    Detwiler has publicly said he can't be effective without his starter's routine of long-toss, etc. Maybe he could do what you suggest. But my question is this: how coachable is Detwiler? On the basis of past interviews and comments he seems to be fixed in his approach to pitching. Just a question and observation…

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 90 64 --
ATLANTA 76 78 14.0
NEW YORK 75 80 15.5
MIAMI 74 80 16.0
PHILADELPHIA 71 84 19.5
x-Clinched NL East title
Through Saturday's games

NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS

W L GB WCGB
x-WASHINGTON (5) 90 64 --
y-LOS ANGELES 88 67 2.5
ST. LOUIS 87 68 3.5
-------------------------
SAN FRANCISCO 84 70 6.0 +1.0
PITTSBURGH 83 71 7.0 --
MILWAUKEE 80 75 10.5 3.5
x-Clinched division title
y-Clinched playoff berth
Through Saturday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
SUN: Nats at Marlins, 1:10 p.m.
MON: OFF
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Marlins at Nats (DH), 1:05 p.m., 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Marlins at Nats, 4:05 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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