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One month down

May 2, 2011, 2:59 PM EST

US Presswire photo
Jason Marquis leads the Nats' surprising rotation with three wins and a 2.62 ERA.

Though today is May 2 and the Nationals played yesterday, for practical purposes they've just now completed the first month of the 2011 season. With 27 games in the books, the Nats are exactly one-sixth of the way through the year.

These 27 games have featured no shortage of storylines, some surprising, some expected. Let's take a look at some of the numbers through the first official month of the baseball season, and see how the Nationals stack up…

PITCHING
Team ERA: 3.52 (10th in MLB, 6th in NL)
Rotation ERA: 3.55 (7th in MLB, 5th in NL)
Bullpen ERA: 3.48 (18th in MLB, 11th in NL)
Strikeouts: 162 (2nd fewest in MLB, Fewest in NL)
Walks: 77 (2nd fewest in MLB, 2nd fewest in NL)
Home runs allowed: 15 (T-2nd fewest in MLB, T-2nd fewest in NL)

HITTING
Average: .229 (29th in MLB, 15th in NL)
On-base percentage: .308 (23rd in MLB, 13th in NL)Read more »

  1. DCSportsHomer - May 2, 2011 at 3:10 PM

    I think it's cool to have two pitchers who can hit in Hernandez and Marquis.The pitching staff should hold up pretty well.Marquis had a bad year last year, Zimmerman is now fully healthy.The bats will wake up and improve over the next few weeks.Defense has been solid.I would be thrilled at 78-84. The Nats are making progress and will start adding more free agents in the nex couple of years.Nats are slowly and carefully building a winner!

  2. joemktg - May 2, 2011 at 3:14 PM

    If they can continue to minimize the walks, keep the ball in the ballpark, and enjoy the relatively strong defense, I don't see why the SP performance can't continue (of course, assuming no injury). Wild card #1 in this is Marquis' assumed exit in June/July, and Detwiler's performance in his place. #2 is the fallout from Livan's fed investigation (both from the legal system as well as from MLB).Riggs has said that the warm weather will have a positive impact on the offense. Show me: I'm willing to buy into that one.And I'm not caught up in the wins/losses: they're competitive, and that's OK with me for now. Next year, different set of expectations.

  3. Manassas Nats Fan - May 2, 2011 at 3:14 PM

    Thanks for the great break down. None were surprising since I check most of those nightly. Is there a way to get the RISP (It is not MLB.com). Wondering how it rates against others (I know it is poor, however everyone else might be poor too.)Also what is UZR?

  4. Steve M. - May 2, 2011 at 3:16 PM

    Rotation ERA: 3.55 (7th in MLB, 5th in NL)Can you imagine if the hitting was anywhere close to 7th in the entire MLB? The pitch to contact philosophy is working which is why defense is huge in this scenario since these guys (except JZim) do not have swing & miss stuff.As bad as the hitting is, you would hope the defense behind your pitchers were even better. They actually looked great over the weekend. Cora and Hairston bounced balls to LaRoche that he scooped up like a vacuum cleaner.Even though LaRoche isn't hitting, his fielding has been a huge upgrade.The Home Run differential pointed out over the weekend going from a -2 last year to a +8 through 27 games is huge.Run scored obviously pathetic with lack of clutching hitting and low overall BA

  5. Kevin Rusch, Section 406 - May 2, 2011 at 3:21 PM

    I thought "pitching and defense" was the idea. What's with this negative UZR?

  6. PAY TO PLAY - May 2, 2011 at 3:30 PM

    DCSportsHomer said… The pitching staff should hold up pretty well. Marquis had a bad year last year, Zimmerman is now fully healthy.Zimmerman is not fully healthy as he is having surgery tomorrow and if you are referring to Zimmermann as in JZim aka Jordan Zimmermann he is healthy but still finding his control and pitch quality after his 2009 Tommy John surgery. Healthy yes, control and pitch quality is a work in progress. His fastball had his best velocity of the year yesterday and his breaking pitches will be even better when the weather warms up.JZim "owns" David Wright and even he will tell you that the pitcher who struck him out 3 times on April 26 2009 which was JZim's 2nd career start and 2 years to the day on April 26 2011, JZim struck him out once, does not have the same killer breaking pitch now. It will come.Its funny, after JZim lost that game last week people were saying he was a back of the rotation guy. Phil Wood was saying in the postgame show yesterday that he is a future Ace and #2 behind Strasburg. I hope Phil is right!

  7. Anonymous - May 2, 2011 at 3:34 PM

    Desmond for starters causes the neg UZR. Hairston who is Riggleman's starting utility guy. As bad as he was with the O's.The infield is decidedly worst than a year ago at this stage.I see a hard struggle to get 60 wins for this club. 78 is.wildlyoptimistic given pennant races in the latter part of the year. The offense wake up with warm weather? No way withRigg's OBP-less lineups at the top,Best hope for this team are canny trades of the veterans

  8. JayB - May 2, 2011 at 3:35 PM

    I will not be happy until they are .500 for the year. The Defense has been a major negative and should have been addressed in the off season with a move of Ian D to 2nd or CF in the minors.Adam L….now there is a good pick up…His glove has saved 10 errors already for the infield.Base running is a major improvement…they are ultra aggressive and yes they have run into some outs because of it but they have done as planned…no more random stuff like in past years.Hitting will heat up. Nix needs to play every day. Zim…….needs to work out in the Off Season or he will never reach his potential. He has had core issues before…..this time I hope he gets serious about it.Going forward….Team will hi

  9. NatsJack in Florida - May 2, 2011 at 3:40 PM

    Let's be clear about one thing. J Zimm (with two nn's) has the POTENTIAL to be a front end guy. Yesterday was a quality start and while he didn't pitch great in his outing against the Mets, he battled well.When he shows he can win on a consistent basis, I'll be ready to anoint him a front end guy but for now, he doesn't miss enough bats or throw quality pitches when he gets behind in the count to be elevated to #2.If his command gets better and his breaking stuff improves, everything should work out but until then he's still in the prospect category.

  10. A DC Wonk - May 2, 2011 at 3:45 PM

    Walks kill. That's why they are called "free passes." I'm thrilled at the improvement there. Running is something you can do when you're not hitting, and so I'm happy at that improvement, too.And I'm convinced the hitting will come.Would we be happy with 78 wins?Look, to follow two consecutive 100-loss seasons with two consecutive 10-game increases is great steady progress.So, Anony is predicting over 100 losses again. I'd love to take that as a bet!

  11. Steve M. - May 2, 2011 at 3:45 PM

    Kevin Rusch, Section 406 said… I thought "pitching and defense" was the idea. What's with this negative UZR? May 2, 2011 11:21 AMEven Jayson Werth has a negative UZR (-0.1) right now compared to his crazy +17.7 in 2008, and certainly the veteran platoon at 3rd is a negative. I use the vision test and this is an improved defense in the entire outfield and 1st base and 2nd base over last season at this time, and will be fine at 3rd when Zim gets back. I wouldn't get too caught up in it from a UZR perspective without Zim and Werth learning Nats Park.Ankiel may not have top UZR (-0.2)for CF but makes up for it with the best arm of any outfielder in the MLB and Werth is near the top in arm.Michael Morse is actually the most improved Nat moving from RF to LF and he is a -2.0

  12. Anonymous - May 2, 2011 at 3:46 PM

    How nice is it that the club is around 500 after not fielding or hitting well at all to date. The two things that jump to my mind in terms of what neesds to happen for the Nats to continue to have success and to improve: 1. Desmond HAS to start making every play every day NOW or they need him in 'Cuse to learn that skill. No more excuses, no more waiting for this guy's glove to arrive. This club could be a win or 2 better right now if he makes the plays he should make. This no K's starting rotation needs the glove at SS all of the time. 2. If the club does not start hitting in a big way, the roster needs help. Rizzo needs to find someone to lead off at a better level then what we have gotten and RBI production from the 5 and 6 holes is a must. I think LaRoche will improve to his historic norms and that Espinosa will hit (though not as a lead off guy). Nix has been a great add of late, but they need those guys who can drive in runs after Werth and LaRoche, and Ramos, though he's had a nice hot, start, is not a guy that the Nats should rely on for big production right now. This club can stay relevant IF the Nats brass in aggressive and does not stand pat with a roster that cannot score (and a SS who cannot catch) in a Division full of scoring machines with equal or better pitching.

  13. Neato Torpedo - May 2, 2011 at 3:49 PM

    The offense is ugly, but when starters include such noted run-producers as Rick Ankiel and Alex Cora… it happens. Some ugly slumps too suggest this could come back (Jayson? Mike? We're looking at you, here).That bullpen ERA is troubling. I assume some of the strategy with somebody like Gaudin was to see if we could find another Matt Capps to unload and we just didn't strike gold this year. Hopefully we start seeing some movement in the bullpen. I cannot imagine Rizzo et al. being foolish enough to trade Clippard or Storen, and with Burnett being hot-and-cold, Clip-and-Store is all we've got when it's a high-leverage situation.

  14. JayB - May 2, 2011 at 3:49 PM

    hit and if pitching holds….watch out

  15. Steve M. - May 2, 2011 at 3:50 PM

    JayB said… Zim…….needs to work out in the Off Season or he will never reach his potential. He has had core issues before…..this time I hope he gets serious about it.May 2, 2011 11:35 AM JayB, that is what I wrote here in March after the 1st muscle injury of the Spring. I don't think everyone was ready then to hear the truth.I was the bearer of bad news then but I will take your comment now as backing up what I said then.

  16. David - May 2, 2011 at 3:51 PM

    The low strike-outs produced by our pitchers says to me that they have been lucky on balls in play, and this will average out as the season goes on, meaning poorer results.

  17. Harper_ROY_2012 - May 2, 2011 at 3:57 PM

    Pitching is ok but the hitting a defense is pathetic and I am one who bellieves even if Zim was in the lineup it would still be pathetic. Unfortunately pitchers cannot keep up with quality performances like they are when they know the bullpen, defense and hitting will not step up behind them..it is sad, we finally have pitching but the rest still stinks, oh well Bryce and Stras will fix that next year!

  18. JD - May 2, 2011 at 3:58 PM

    NatsJack, You are absolutely right; I think we are talking semantics here though. JZim is the only pitcher on the current staff with top of the rotation potential; clearly he has not reached the stage in his career where the potential is realized on a consistent basis. Do keep in mind that pitchers coming back from TJ surgery routinely struggle with their command in their 2nd year back (keep this in mind when SS struggles).

  19. Mark Zuckerman - May 2, 2011 at 4:00 PM

    Manassas Nats Fan said…Thanks for the great break down. None were surprising since I check most of those nightly.Is there a way to get the RISP (It is not MLB.com). Wondering how it rates against others (I know it is poor, however everyone else might be poor too.)Also what is UZR?UZR stands for Ultimate Zone Rating, an advanced defensive metric that essentially reveals how many runs a team (or individual player) has prevented or allowed because of defense. It's mostly a measurement of a player's range at his position, though it does take errors into account. It does not take into account the catching of throws (ie. a first baseman's ability to scoop up throws in the dirt). The Nats' -5.2 UZR to date suggests they've allowed 5.2 runs to score this season because of defense.As for hitting with runners in scoring position, the Nats' average in that department is .219. Baseball-reference.com has that number for every team (look under Batting-Splits) but doesn't rank every club. To figure out where the Nats rank, you'd have to go to every team's batting splits page, jot down their average with RISP and make your own list. Unfortunately, I don't have time to do that at the moment.

  20. PAY TO PLAY - May 2, 2011 at 4:02 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said… If his command gets better and his breaking stuff improves, everything should work out but until then he's still in the prospect category. May 2, 2011 11:40 AM Are you still crowing about -prospect-? It just makes you another poster who can't admit when they are wrong. The use of the word isn't even right for this situation. He is a work-in-progress. I agree with the 1st part of your statement because that is true but he is a legit middle of the rotation guy with just the stuff he has now and nowhere near the definition of a prospect.Give him time to work on control and the quality on those pitches and he will be the guy we marveled about on April 26 2009 not April 26 2011.

  21. Clem - May 2, 2011 at 4:02 PM

    I was at the game yesterday. AdamL has to be seen to be fully appreciated. What an upgrade at 1B! He has indeed saved countless errors for the infield. He has saved more games with his glove already than Dunn won all of last year with his bat! Sadly, he follows the Dunn traditions too true by striking out in key situations.Clippard was untouchable in the 7th inning of relief!The only problem is Desmond's disappointment. He showed his hard hands once again yesterday, fumbling routine ground balls. He is impatient at the plate. That may be fixable, but I have given up on keeping him in the infield. I hope that Rizzo will be able to find a replacement (Espinosa?) so they can try him in the outfield. Surely a seasoned middle infielder will become available while they wait for Lombardosi. Finally next year we'll become stocked with middle-infield prospects at AAA.

  22. Sam - May 2, 2011 at 4:05 PM

    What stands out to me is that one month is a completely arbitrary time to ask what sticks out. Of all those numbers that were listed, which of them actually stabilized after a month?The ones that actually have stabilized by this point are things like walk rate, strike out rate, GB rate, and LD rate for batters.So, the fact that Jayson Werth is striking out at a lower rate than his career average is promising.I like that Espinosa is only striking out in 22.7% of his at-bats, suggesting that he isn't over matched by Major League pitching.

  23. Mark'd - May 2, 2011 at 4:10 PM

    I just Googled 'pitching prospect' and it gave a list of top Minor League pitchers. Thay isn't Jordan Zimmermann circa 2011.Also, people here are too reactionary after a good or bad game. This is a marathon, not a Sprint.Phil Wood is a big "homer" and best left to talk about Senators trivia IMHO.

  24. PAY TO PLAY - May 2, 2011 at 4:26 PM

    JD said… NatsJack,You are absolutely right; I think we are talking semantics here though. JZim is the only pitcher on the current staff with top of the rotation potential; clearly he has not reached the stage in his career where the potential is realized on a consistent basis.Do keep in mind that pitchers coming back from TJ surgery routinely struggle with their command in their 2nd year back (keep this in mind when SS struggles). May 2, 2011 11:58 AM Semantics, yes, of the term -prospect- and it is a big swing and a miss on the terminology used in baseball. Agree with everything else. Also keep in mind how JZim hasn't received run support (neither has any other Nats starter) or shut down relief and has some costly errors behind him.Twice relievers have come in to empty the bases on his ERA and on April 14th he got errors behind him for 3 unearned runs in the game he went head-to-head with Cliff Lee and had 5 full innings of no-hit ball.When you dig into the numbers, how easily could he be 4-2 instead of 2-4? Sure, you can say that about John Lannan too but in JZim's case he has pitched well in all starts except April 20 and April 26.

  25. Sec 3, My Sofa - May 2, 2011 at 4:27 PM

    Sam, I agree he doesn't look overmatched, but isn't 125+ K over a season high for a non-slugger? As opposed to a Home Run Derby guy, e.g. (as opposed to "i.e."), Dunn?

  26. Sec 3, My Sofa - May 2, 2011 at 4:35 PM

    Znn is not a prospect, he's an either an underachiever or a late bloomer, TBD, but not a prospect.As a judge once said, "Ms. Lohan, I find it difficult to consider you a wayward youth at this point."I made the Lohan part up, but I did hear that.

  27. Anonymous - May 2, 2011 at 4:36 PM

    Does anyone actually have any evidence to suggest that Ryan Zimmerman is lax in his off season routine and that that might have the first thing to do with his present injury? If not, he's the last person on this team who deserves the amateur doctor treatment.

  28. Anonymous - May 2, 2011 at 4:39 PM

    I had the Nationals winning 79 games before the season mainly because I thought they would have enough starting pitching to sustain them through out the year. I also thought they would hit better than they have and their defense would be improved. Although they are leaders in the ML in errors, having watched most of their games, I believe it's a statistical anomaly, and their defense except for a couple of exceptions which have cost them a couple of games, has been solid. I will stick with 79 wins and with a little luck they will come close to and end near .500…UNTERP

  29. HHover - May 2, 2011 at 4:39 PM

    @DaveNats pitchers actually *haven't* been that lucky on BABIP; compared to MLB as a whole, they're slightly worse than average, at 18th of 30 teams. I don't think the pitching staff can keep up their current success, but this won't be the reason.Nats batters, tho, have been really unlucky on BABIP–they're 24th of 30, at .268. That's got to come up over season, which would obviously be a good thing.

  30. Mark'd - May 2, 2011 at 4:43 PM

    On JZim, he is averaging 3 strikeouts this year compared to his almost 6 per game in 2009 pre-TJ. I think when we see JZ approaching 6 K's per game it will be when his pitches are more deceptive as his velocity is back!!!

  31. Peyton Dowdy - May 2, 2011 at 4:49 PM

    #2 starters in the league consist of guys like Matt Cain, Adam Wainright (or Carpenter), Clay Bucholz (or Josh Beckett), Yvonni Gallardo (when Greinke returns) and Gio Gonzalez. I see Jordan Zimmermann as none of those guys. JZimm looks like a very solid pitcher in the very near future but I would compare him more to guys like Jonathan Sanchez, Jorge de la Rosa, Tommy Hanson and some others. That's not a knock on Zimm I just think he profiles as a #3 starter on a playoff contender. Insert a free agent like CJ Wilson between Strasburg and Zimmermann and then you have a top of the rotation.

  32. Sec 3, My Sofa - May 2, 2011 at 4:53 PM

    And to answer the question, 78-84 would shock and awe me. The starters won't be able to sustain this level past mid-May (prediction here, revisit), i.e., once the weather heats up, if it ever does, and not just because those fly balls the get are going to start carrying. The hitting will get a little better, but they are who the are; it is unlikely several grizzled vets will have career years at the same time. Without a major acquisition to boost both morale and offense, 72-90 is about it, IMO.

  33. Will - May 2, 2011 at 4:59 PM

    While his K rates have dropped, his BB rates have dropped too. Compare with rates of around 2.9/9 innings in the previous two seasons versus the rate of 1.8/9IP this season.I'm not sure how to explain that, because if he wasn't hitting the right spots, you'd expect to see his BB rate increase as well. But his velocity certainly is back…

  34. Steve M. - May 2, 2011 at 5:01 PM

    Anonymous said… Does anyone actually have any evidence to suggest that Ryan Zimmerman is lax in his off season routine and that that might have the first thing to do with his present injury? If not, he's the last person on this team who deserves the amateur doctor treatment. May 2, 2011 12:36 PM I probably didn't get my point across well as Zim works out hard in the off-season. He has been the last 3 years in the Saddlebrook program in Tampa during January and he also subscribes to Nats Strength & Conditioning coach John Philbin's "HIT" high intensity training program.My theory was from my own education and experience that "HIT" training with lower reps and more weight builds muscle mass which works with strength but risks injury with the density of the muscle fiber in the use of force and motion in what people would say tight. Good stretching and flexibility helps with that. The "core" needs to be in balance. Zim has had numerous muscle injuries the last 3 years. Hamstrings, deltoid, groin, obiques/abdominals and now this abdominal tear.I believe this can be corrected with proper training combined with flexibility and stretching/warm-ups.

  35. Will - May 2, 2011 at 5:08 PM

    Peyton, talk about cherry picking! You picked the best #2s in the game, who would easily be the ace of 25 other team's pitching staff.#2, #3 and #4s are such an arbitrary denomination that it's pointless trying to define some level of talent based on the spot in the rotation you pitch.For example, is Paul Maholm (the Pirates' #2) better than Cole Hamels (the Phillies' #3)?I'd also like to point out, that De La Rosa is the #2 SP on a playoff contender, but I'd be more than happy if Zimmermann turned into De La Rosa.

  36. Steve M. - May 2, 2011 at 5:14 PM

    Peyton Dowdy said… That's not a knock on Zimm I just think he profiles as a #3 starter on a playoff contender. Insert a free agent like CJ Wilson between Strasburg and Zimmermann and then you have a top of the rotation. May 2, 2011 12:49 PM On a playoff team, a #3 is a fair placement for his talents right now, but many think he has the stuff to be a #1 or #2 and all that is all subjective because on the Phillies he would be a #5. Ironic he beat Matt Cain yesterday who you mention as a #2 behind the #1 Lincecum. If you combined all of JZim's starts until now they total 29, he still has NOT pitched enough games in his career to equal a full year for starter standards so let's see how he finishes this year and next year.I think his critics will be wow'd by him when all of his control and pitch repetoire are back! I read the Phil Wood reference above which is nice but I listen to the scouts and GMs that all want this guy if a trade was to be made and that says something. They aren't asking for anyone else from the Nats starters but him and Strasburg who is untouchable.

  37. The Great Unwashed - May 2, 2011 at 5:15 PM

    My prediction for this year is 75 wins, and before the season started, I thought that was generous because I felt the starting pitching was a concern. Well, so far it's been pretty good, but I don't expect it to hold up this way all year. That's also not taking into account how much regular playing time Hairston and Cora are getting. So I'm sticking with an optimistic 75 wins because I think the starting rotation's good run will catch up with them come the dog days of summer. Anything above that and I'll be happy. I also hope the Nats finish at least above the Mets in the division standings. That's a realistic goal I think.About Zimmermann, he got injured in his rookie year, missed most of last season, and it's still early in this season. The jury's still out on him in my opinion. Sometimes he looks unhittable, and other times he's very hittable. I think he'll turn out to be a solid #2, but I wouldn't annoint him that just yet.

  38. DFL - May 2, 2011 at 5:17 PM

    If you were told that Ryan Zimmerman would miss most of the first month of the season you'd probably not guess that the Nats were hovering at around .500. The hitting has been rather poor as well. But the team has played well.I hope Jason Marquis' pitching earns him another year on his contract rather than a trade.

  39. fpcsteve - May 2, 2011 at 5:19 PM

    I speak from my experience as a former basketball coach when I say that people who coach/manage fall in love with players and either cannot or will not see flaws in the players they like. I think that is likely the case with Desmond and the Nats (per reports here and in NJ). I imagine he will be the SS here through this season. I doubt that there will be a change in his status until next season at the earliest. And 78-84 would be awesome! Realistically, I think anything north of 70 will be a success.

  40. Anonymous - May 2, 2011 at 5:21 PM

    The Great Unwashed said… About Zimmermann, he got injured in his rookie year, missed most of last season, and it's still early in this season. Zimmermann is/was a victim of a decimated organization and being rushed to the Majors like many of their young players the past few years…UNTERP

  41. Mark'd - May 2, 2011 at 5:33 PM

    I am enjoying these posts much more than the weekends. The stats are great but the intangibles are huge. I look at WAR and replacements and how much more stealth would these stats be without Gaudin, Slaten and Stairs.3 big mistakes that are probably good for 5 losses combined so far. Rizzo can't sit on his hands or else he will have May 12, 2010 all over again.

  42. masnstinks - May 2, 2011 at 5:37 PM

    78 wins would be great with me , especially with Zim ( one n) out for half the season. I am not surprised at the so/walk numbers – most of our pitchers seem to go for the ground-ball outs. I am very happy with starting pitching and bullpen ( for the most part) , happy with LaRoche — a lot, even with his cold bat and wait and see with Werth, thrilled with Ramos. But — wait for it –Stairs MUST GO!

  43. Steve M. - May 2, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    Mark'd, great point. It was actually after May 13th of last year the Nats sat in 2nd place in the division and was 5 games above .500 The poor starting pitching and poor timely hitting caught up with them along with the bad defense and baserunning, Nyjer Morgan, and a really bad bench to pick from.Pudge Rodriguez was hitting .367 at that point and just was way overused and fell apart going forward and the bench depth (lack of) was exposed and Willingham started to drop off then slowly also and team defense was poor.This year, they are getting no hitting as a group however it is the starting pitching that is holding this together.

  44. PAY TO PLAY - May 2, 2011 at 5:54 PM

    Adam Kilgore made a great point yesterday, when the Nats get Ryan Zimmerman back it will be like they just traded for a star player.Still, Rizzo has to tweak his machine. Offer Stairs a coaching position and show Gaudin a permanent DFA along with Slaten.Slaten's 0.00 ERA is so deceiving. Riggleman clearly has no confidence in him now with a LH batter coming up and the game on the line.I would be happy to hear that Rizzo has swallowed his pride and make the tough decisions. He just couldn't get himself to do it last year with guys like Justin Maxwell and all you have to do is look at Matt Stairs and say, heck, at least Maxwell hit a GW HR against the Braves last year and could play defense.

  45. SonnyG10 - May 2, 2011 at 5:55 PM

    I hope the pitching holds up for the rest of the season, but I'm dubious that it will happen. I do belive the lineup will improve offensively. I would be very satisfied if the team finished at least 78 – 84.

  46. Joe Seamhead - May 2, 2011 at 5:57 PM

    One stat not mentioned that I would like to know is how many steal attempts have there been against us, and what is the success rate of opposing base runners? Between Ramos and Pudge it seems like there have been very few attempts, and a ridiculously low stolen base count.It's still early, spring hopes are still eternal for me. 81 wins! Go Nats!

  47. Wally - May 2, 2011 at 6:04 PM

    Pitching has been good, and I think that they can keep it up. Imagine how good the staff numbers would be if Rizzo took the best 12 pitchers north, instead of playing the options game. Hitting is about on par with expectations, not below, imo. I don't expect it to rise significantly without some new talent. Its defense which is the most disturbing trend. This is a team built to play defense well. I don't think it is just Desmond, either, although his lack of improvement defensively has been a disappointment to me. I was really high on him coming in to the year. I will add to the chorus of LaRoche praise. At least to my eyes, he looks exceptional out there, better than advertised. And while I haven't been a fan of Punch and Judy (Hairston and Cora), I have been impressed with Cora's D. Very steady.And I am a big fan of JZimm. I don't think it makes sense to get caught up in the labels of #1, 2, etc, since I don't believe they mean the same thing to everybody, but I see him as a quality upper tier SP. I wonder if the 'pitch-to-contact' philosophy has something to do with his reduced swinging strike rate. Porcello had the same thing happen a couple of years ago.Just imagine the 2d half of 2012: Strasburg, Sonny Gray, JZimm, Solis, Peacock. We'll go from bottom in strikeouts to Top 5.

  48. Wally - May 2, 2011 at 6:07 PM

    Oh, and Steve M – thank you for clarifying your point on R Zimm's offseason workout regime. I remember you saying something similar earlier, and you have been consistent. Some of the other blogger comments lately imply (or come right out and say) that he doesn't work hard in the offseason, which seems ludicrous to me. In today's athletic world, for a guy to win two Silver Sluggers and a gold glove by the age of 26 without working hard just doesn't seem plausible.

  49. BinM - May 2, 2011 at 6:07 PM

    @Joe Seamhead: I believe that the Pudge / Ramos combo have had the fewest SB attempts & also lead the league in CS% (42.8%).

  50. JD - May 2, 2011 at 6:14 PM

    Where is Solis?

  51. Wally - May 2, 2011 at 6:21 PM

    Extended spring training, I think. Had a groin injury coming out of ST.

  52. Anonymous - May 2, 2011 at 6:24 PM

    "Adam Kilgore made a great point yesterday, when the Nats get Ryan Zimmerman back it will be like they just traded for a star player."Both Riggleman and Rizzo were seen saying this on-air yesterday, so likely it is their point, not Kilgore's.

  53. NatsJack in Florida - May 2, 2011 at 6:33 PM

    JD…. Yes. Solis is still in Viera. I'm going over this week end and take a tally on who all is still there.I believe A.J. Cole is still there as well. I might even find Chien Ming Wang and Oliver Perez floating around.

  54. JD - May 2, 2011 at 6:42 PM

    BTW; a month in if one is looking at the Nats objectively one must give Riggleman an A for his managing; yes he had a bad game on Saturday but to come out of April 1 game under .500 without Zim and with Werth and LaRoche shooting blanks and with no contribution at all from Morse and very little from Desmond is remarkable.

  55. Richard - May 2, 2011 at 6:43 PM

    I'm takin' 78 Ws and running like a thief. When the season started I was thinking anything north of 70 Ws would look good. But a team with 78 Ws would be "competitive" all year and fun for fans — as a down payment on future playoff contention. The starting pitching has been great, a real surprise to me at least. Maybe Rizzo knew it all along. And Clipper, Burnett and Storen are excelling and some of the others in the pen have held their own. Werth, Ramos, Pudge, Nix, Desmond and Espinosa sometimes have been interesting hitters to watch. My darker angels whisper about the leadoff spot — ugh! That's been ugly. I hoping that switch hitting Danny E. grows into it. Fingers are tightly crossed.

  56. A DC Wonk - May 2, 2011 at 6:53 PM

    Wally noted: "Its defense which is the most disturbing trend."I wonder what the UZR was last year after the first month of the season? Or, if I understand UZR correctly — if we're 1/6th through the season, just multiply the current UZR by six and compare to last season.Can anyone help here?

  57. A DC Wonk - May 2, 2011 at 7:00 PM

    Pssst, pass it on: a note to Pudge-bashers.Don't look now, but his BA and SA is higher than LaRoche (and Morse). And he is second on the team (tied with LaRoche) in RBI's despite playing in approx half the games that LaRoche has.

  58. natsfan1a - May 2, 2011 at 7:01 PM

    I don't do predictions, so I'll not weigh in as far as how the team will finish or how various team components may perform. So far (knock wood) the team has done better than might have been expected without the Z-man, and without a lot of offense from anyone, really. Here's hoping that the offense steps it up, that pitching holds on, and that (some) defense stays on track and other defense *gets* on track [cough].

  59. natsfan1a - May 2, 2011 at 7:03 PM

    Also, did we mention about the missiles that he threw? Oh, never mind, he already covered that himself. ;-)"Pssst, pass it on: a note to Pudge-bashers."

  60. Nattydread - May 2, 2011 at 7:03 PM

    Rizzo's Baseball Formula: Pitching to contact + low home run rate + low walk rate + good fielding = Good Chance to Keep Team in GamePitchers are REALLY keeping walk rates and HR rates down.This is enabling some successful small ball (particularly on defense), which is augmented by superb catching (2nd lowest steals allowed in MLB).On offense, as mentioned there has been some good small ball (bunting, 1st-3rd running), aggressive moves and less outright boneheadedness. Rizzo let Dunn walk because he prefers contact over K's, and doesn't see the HR as the answer to run production. But this lineup hasn't lived up to Rizzos Game Theory (NB Dunn is also under .200 in Chicago…).I think the good pitching may continue but I wonder about the hitting and think cold bats will make over 75 wins difficult. Pass the Kool Aid.

  61. Jim Webster - May 2, 2011 at 7:09 PM

    What's with Nats not announcing probable pitchers (as of 3pm today) after tonight? Phillies have theirs up. Anything to be read into it?

  62. Anonymous - May 2, 2011 at 7:15 PM

    Jim Webster said…Gorzelanny: http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/index.jsp?c_id=wasBeen up since last night.

  63. Wally - May 2, 2011 at 7:16 PM

    One last thought about the season. I don't think that wins and losses can tell the whole story, since we are (unfortunately) still building for that future team. But if Ramos, Espinoza and Desmond prove to be quality major league starters at their positions (or at least 2 of 3), JZimm pitches 150 innings to a <4.00 FIP and Detwiler or someone else like Maya or Meyers, throws 90 innings at <4.25 FIP, this will be a great season.

  64. Anonymous - May 2, 2011 at 7:16 PM

    Anonymous said… Jim Webster said…Oh, the Phillies, my bad.

  65. Doc - May 2, 2011 at 7:17 PM

    Speaking of stats, it looks like LaRoche(.189) is winning the battle of the Mendoza Line with Dunn(.155)–just barely!

  66. Mark'd - May 2, 2011 at 7:19 PM

    DC Wonk, amazing how effective Pudge is when you dont overuse him. Someone wrote yesterday that Catcher is the only position along with starting pitching to be a bright spots.Also commend SteveM on explaining FIT training as I have done some reading on it this afternoon. I know from last year what a big Zimmerman supporter you are.

  67. Anonymous - May 2, 2011 at 7:24 PM

    Jim Webster said… What's with Nats not announcing probable pitchers (as of 3pm today) after tonight? Phillies have theirs up. Anything to be read into it?Nats lately have been late posting future SP for their next series, so don't read much into it.

  68. Tim - May 2, 2011 at 7:27 PM

    The 78-84 mark is still optimistic. We have – in general – young pitching. The rule is: youngsters = inconsistency.However, on the flip side, the hitting will improve. It HAS to (doesn't it?)This will be a tough year for Zim. I'll bet he isn't entirely healthy all year long, and his numbers will show it. The same for LaRoche, but we already know that. But LaRoche's hitting is suffering, too, from his shoulder injury. He's just not telling anyone.78-84 would be nice, but considering how frustrating it's been so far, I'm not sure I can live through it. ;-)

  69. Anonymous - May 2, 2011 at 7:34 PM

    Tim said… The same for LaRoche, but we already know that. But LaRoche's hitting is suffering, too, from his shoulder injury. He's just not telling anyone.Hindsight is always 20-20. A little clarvoyants would be prudent here. The Nationals should shut down LaRoche, get him to surgery and call up Moreno…UNTERP

  70. Anonymous - May 2, 2011 at 7:38 PM

    Interesting lineup tonight:Today’s lineupBy Washington Post editorsMichael Morse is playing first base tonight, replacing Adam LaRoche.Nationals1. Espinosa, 2B2. Ankiel, CF3. Werth, RF4. Ramos, C5. Desmond, SS6. Morse, 1B7. Hairston, LF8. Bixler, 3B9. Gorzelanny, SP.

  71. Jim in MD - May 2, 2011 at 7:39 PM

    Anything less than 80 wins would be a little disappointing for me. The defense is miles ahead of last year and the pitching has been nothing short of fantastic. However, unless the hitters awaken from their spring slumber, the pitching staff will need to hold opponents under three runs per game in order to have a chance to win. Can this staff hold up under that kind of pressure for an entire season?

  72. Knoxville Nat - May 2, 2011 at 8:20 PM

    Let me see if I have this right. JayB won't be satisfied unless we hit .500 and Jim in MD will be disappointed at less than 80 wins. Mmmnnnn, that would mean a one year improvement of 11-12 games over last year's 69 win total. 69 wins in 2010 represented a 10 game improvement over 2009 and the only team to show a larger one year improvement in 2010 was San Diego.Do you folks understand how hard it is to improve 11 or 12 games in any one season? Very unlikely if not darn near impossible! Yes this team has shown improvement in many aspects over previous Nationals clubs but guess what, for the most part so have the other teams in the NL East. And don't forget we will be competing against these improved teams without RZ for nearly 2 months and Strasberg for almost a full season. Not exactly as if we are playing with a loaded deck here.I fear that people like JayB and Jim in MD have established unrealisitic expectations for the Nationals THIS season and that in doing so they set themselves up for major disappointment. 75 -77 wins this year would seem more attainable and more realisitic in my view.

  73. Anonymous8 - May 2, 2011 at 8:21 PM

    <>Steve M. said…Can you imagine if the hitting was anywhere close to 7th in the entire MLB? The pitch to contact philosophy is working which is why defense is huge in this scenario since these guys (except JZim) do not have swing & miss stuff.I agree. Have to start improving OBP by the batters and ultimately runs scored. LaRoche is the best 1st baseman I have seen below the Mendoza line. Hopefully some rest will help him as it seems to have helped Pudge.

  74. Anonymous8 - May 2, 2011 at 8:25 PM

    Knoxville Nat, don't you realize by now that JayB is the King of Unrealism.

  75. A DC Wonk - May 2, 2011 at 9:05 PM

    Wally wrote: "I don't think that wins and losses can tell the whole story …. if Ramos, Espinoza and Desmond prove to be quality major league starters at their positions (or at least 2 of 3), JZimm pitches 150 innings to a <4.00 FIP and Detwiler or someone else like Maya or Meyers, throws 90 innings at <4.25 FIP, this will be a great season."Good point, Wally. If you're going for a pennant this year, wins are what's important. If you're rebuilding for future pennants, improvements/development in your core players are what's important.Knoxville Nat pointed out: "69 wins in 2010 represented a 10 game improvement over 2009 and the only team to show a larger one year improvement in 2010 was San Diego. Do you folks understand how hard it is to improve 11 or 12 games in any one season?"Right on KN. And this followed two 100-loss seasons, which followed MLB's leaving our farm system out to dry and die.And yet there are those who say that Rizzo and/or the Nats have made "no" improvement at all. Sheesh!

  76. greg - May 2, 2011 at 9:59 PM

    sec 3: "Znn is not a prospect, he's an either an underachiever or a late bloomer, TBD, but not a prospect."hey, let's be fair. late bloomer? underachiever? he's only 24. it's not like he's 28 and has 150+ games under his belt. he's 24 with 29 starts.

  77. Anonymous8 - May 2, 2011 at 11:06 PM

    greg, yah, no kidding. What is up with some of these people. The crazy comments just keep on coming!

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