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Setting up for a strong finish

Aug 17, 2011, 3:47 AM EDT

Associated Press photo
Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse scored four of the Nationals’ six runs.

The Nationals played their 120th game of the season Tuesday night, reaching the three-quarter pole of 2011 perhaps quicker than most realized. There are only 42 games left to play, but these will not be 42 games of insignificance.

With a 6-4 victory over the Reds, the Nationals improved to 58-62. There is an opportunity over the next six weeks to get over a hump that this franchise (in its current incarnation) has never managed to surpass: the .500 mark.

It may not seem like much, and truth be told there wouldn’t be that much difference between an 82-80 record to end the season and the 78-84 mark they would achieve at their current pace. But there is a sense within the clubhouse at Nationals Park that these final 42 games will go a long way toward determining how this team is perceived moving forward.

Is this a club ready to breakthrough in 2012 and challenge for a postseason berth? Or is this a club that remains another year or two away from true contention?

The Nationals believe their performance over the remainder of this season will help answer that fundamental question.

“The last couple years, we’ve done whatever our record is, but our last month and a half has always been bad,” third baseman Ryan
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  1. josh f - Aug 17, 2011 at 4:05 AM

    Mark: will there be a press conference with Rendon and any other of the recent signees this week?Great game tonight!

  2. Grandstander - Aug 17, 2011 at 4:06 AM

    There are two unbelievably true statements in that gamer."The last couple years, we've done whatever our record is, but our last month and a half has always been bad," third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "I think we need to concentrate on finishing on an upswing instead of a downswing. Not that that really matters once you get to spring training. But for our confidence and for our team chemistry, to know that we can continue to win, I think, is important for us."Losing franchises often use September as a chance to get a look at up-and-comers and gauge how they might fit in down the road. Though that will apply in the Nationals' case, these call-ups also should give them a chance to win on a nightly basis and perhaps surpass that elusive .500 mark.I think that sums it up. We need to be strong down the stretch and show the league we're a serious team. Unlike years past, we have good players on their way. We have a huge battle for starting pitching, we have a pretty much set batting order besides leadoff.

  3. flynnie - Aug 17, 2011 at 9:36 AM

    Stephen Strasburg on last night's starter, the Reds' Mike Leake: From Dave Sheinen, July 26, 2010Because of a near-miss alignment of pitching rotations last week, the world was robbed of an opportunity to see something epic: Strasburg going after one of his nemeses, Leake, his former Little League and scout team teammate, who pitched one day before Strasburg when the Nationals visited Cincinnati.In early June, just days before Strasburg would make his extraordinary big league debut, a story about Leake appeared in USA Today, in which Leake recalled playing alongside Strasburg as kids, and said, "He was overweight, pouty and used to cry." Leake further mused that it would be "a nice little competition" to face Strasburg in the majors.Back in San Diego, Erik Castro, Strasburg's catcher at SDSU and the best man at his wedding, read the story and — knowing how it would make Strasburg burn — immediately called him to see if he had seen it. Strasburg had seen it, all right. And he was steaming.Leake was officially on The List."It really fired him up," Castro said. "I was the first person to talk to him about it. He got so fired up. He wants to pitch against [Leake]. He said some other things that aren't appropriate to put in a newspaper. But he definitely wants a piece of that kid."

  4. Dale - Aug 17, 2011 at 11:08 AM

    Davey's post game comments were enlightening. He wants Morse to play left field in September, foreshadowing 2012 and giving Marrero every opportunity to play first base. Reading between the lines, Davey implies the left field platoon experiment is over. Davey also is auditioning for two starters to be the long men in the bullpen. He envies the eleven man pitching staff of the Phillies and hates that he has to carry 12 or 13 pitchers now. I think his quote was "We have too many set-up men" in this configuration. If Davey has his way in 2012 the club would have less defensive players and more power hitters as bench players.

  5. Andrew - Aug 17, 2011 at 12:03 PM

    NatsFan1a – Per your request, here is my video of the Miller High Life guy singing Take Me Out To The Ball Game! Enjoy!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itenwtiihJ8

  6. FS - Aug 17, 2011 at 12:07 PM

    Aren't we going to Cincinnati in September? By that time, Stephen should be back. Then we can hope for a matchup against Leake, with Strasburg on the mound. That should be fun to watch it.I think we have heard this talk of finishing strong before. For once, I would like to see it happen. I do like our chances though with this lineup. Defensively, they need to tighten their game again. Looking forward to see SS in the rotation.

  7. natsfan1a - Aug 17, 2011 at 12:31 PM

    Thanks much, Andrew. What a fun way to start my day! Sounds like the dude can carry a tune as well as being (imho) very funny.

  8. JaneB - Aug 17, 2011 at 12:35 PM

    FS…and for once I think we CAN FINISH STRONG! Those two days off were a great boost for us, and these guys can feel the shift. In think we do finish 82-80. Can't wait to see the baby players coming up, so we see our future in September. May these kids be as exciting as Danny and Wilson were last fall.GYFNG!

  9. DCGuy7 - Aug 17, 2011 at 12:55 PM

    was at the game last night, and i'll tell ya, the team seemed pretty sharp. yes, 2 errors were recorded but they were by no means serious – both were tough plays. Desi actually produced a base hit with RISP, instead of swinging for the fences with his eyes closed. a good team effort. perhaps Wang was lucky, early on it was clear his pitches weren't sinking, as Mark noted, but the OF defense was behind him (after the first inning anyway). and Zim's HR was majestic to watch, a no-doubter that made an awesome sound off the bat.

  10. Andrew - Aug 17, 2011 at 1:11 PM

    natsfan1a said… Thanks much, Andrew. What a fun way to start my day! Sounds like the dude can carry a tune as well as being (imho) very funny. August 17, 2011 8:31 AM You are welcomes. I didn't realize he was on a show called "Body of Proof" on ABC so it looks like he has a steady job. Most people know him from the Miller High Life commercials and some of us with young children know him from the Disney Channel. He was nice enough to do a video shoutout to my younger kids. Very nice guy. I think Miller High Life brought him in for some partnership for Military Appreciation night.

  11. Gonat - Aug 17, 2011 at 1:30 PM

    JaneB, I am hoping you are right on 82-80. Davey scares me admitting to the same questionable judgement calls. Keep in mind, the bullpen is fresh with 2 off-days. You don't want to start again over-using Clip because he can't depend on any other reliever besides Storen in the 8 man bullpen.Last night was another case of Davey saying for another game "I shoulda" in response to having to use Clippard in the 7th. He said he probably went a batter or 2 too long with Wang and felt he needed Clippard to keep the 2 run lead.Wang struggled through the 6th and finished the inning with the 6-4 lead. Just like his last start, Wang bats in the bottom of the 6th inning comes out for the Top of the 7th and quickly gets in trouble. If Ankiel didn't make that diving stop, this game is in serious jeopardy. Clip comes in and has to get 5 outs.Now Davey said something almost identical in a very similar situation in Wang's last start where he could have brought in Coffey or Burnett for a fresh 7th inning instead of bringing in Clippard with the game on the line.Does Davey realize at some point Clippard is going to yell "uncle"? I remember a couple of months ago Clip had some arm fatigue.

  12. Gonat - Aug 17, 2011 at 1:33 PM

    To Drew8, your guy Keyes in Hagerstown is hotter than hot!

  13. Richard - Aug 17, 2011 at 1:44 PM

    Last night Davey J. also said that, when he took over the team, they had Nix batting cleanup but he quickly changed that and put Morse at cleanup, where he deserved to be. Wow. I like it. Not sure if it's at least an implicit criticism of Riggleman's approach and maybe Riggs attitude toward Morse. And I like Johnson's I'm-building-a-winning-team attitude. Never heard that from Riggs, I don't think. Riggs sounded more like the players' uncle, wanting to get his boys in the game. Hope this is not too unfair to Riggs.

  14. m20832 - Aug 17, 2011 at 1:45 PM

    I would like to see 82-80 also! Wouldn't that be such an uplift to start spring training!GYFNG!!!

  15. Drew8 - Aug 17, 2011 at 1:55 PM

    A Mr. Matt Skole of Auburn, N.Y. writes:Dear Roseanne Rosannadanna,I'm playing third, hitting third and have an OPS of .817.When did the penalty for DUI become Ryan Zimmerman AND Anthony Rendon?Dear Matt:If you hit it, they will come. But I wouldn't buy a dream house in Washington.

  16. Sec 204 Row H Seat 7 - Aug 17, 2011 at 2:27 PM

    Skole has a couple of years to show he can do what he has done in Auburn on a conistent basis. If he does, a place will be found for him on the 25 man roster or traded to anothr good team for a high priced piece of the puzzle.

  17. natsfan1a - Aug 17, 2011 at 2:32 PM

    Cute, Drew. Alternate reply: Well, Matt, it just goes to show you, it's always something–if it ain't one thing, it's another.

  18. Section 222 - Aug 17, 2011 at 2:44 PM

    Gonat, I have to agree with you on DJ's decisionmaking last night. It seemed pretty clear that Wang was tiring in the 6th. And there was an opportunity to bring up a pinch hitter in the bottom of the inning and get some more insurance. Clip had had two days off, so last night was a good time to have him go more than an inning. He is truly a men among boys out there when he's fresh. I very much agree with Davey that a 13 man pitching staff is too big, and it would much preferable to have a few long relief guys in the bullpen. It will be very interesting to see what kind of staff Davey selects for next year if he stays. One reason he's in the situation he's in now is that he kept Detwiler as a long man who was only going to pitch every five days. (Detwiler is now starting instead of Gorzelany but that's not how it was at first). That doesn't work for an 11-man staff. You need a few guys who can work 2 or 3 innings on a more regular basis. Those kind of pitchers, the Miss Iowa types, are not easy to find, nor are they often better pitchers than the one inning setup types we now have. People always say that Davey is really good at managing a bullpen. Next year will be an interesting test of that (if he stays.)

  19. baseballswami - Aug 17, 2011 at 2:57 PM

    I think it was Ladsen or Boswell that recently said DJ is doing a "great" job. He didn't give any basis for that other than he likes it that he calls out his players in public and he likes who is in the lineup. The offense is marginally better, but he manages the pitching poorly – not just the bullpen, but the pitching in general. I guess I am looking for evidence on the field – not just whether or not people like him. They are making more errors and not seeming to play well for him. Subjectively , the intensity level seems lower. I think DJ is still fighting the style of team he has vs the style of team he likes to have. Another note — I think the reason a team might seem to be doing poorly toward the end of the year is that there are call-ups to look at. But – I do remember, was it last year or 09? we ended the year with a win streak. Danny was a call up last year and played well. Who knows? Hoping for the best and that they actually do a manager search and not just keep this one because he is already here.

  20. Nats Outsider - Aug 17, 2011 at 2:57 PM

    All of you are invited to check the standings this morning. After the Mets' late-night loss to San Diego, the Nats have moved back to a virtual tie for 3rd place. Along with aiming for 82 wins this year, I'd consider it a big step forward if the Nats can finish behind only the Phillies and Braves, and — more to the point — well away from the cellar.

  21. Nats Outsider - Aug 17, 2011 at 3:04 PM

    Gonat and Swami — I generally agree with your doubts about the way Davey is managing the team. (He came in with the Nats 2 games above 500, and now we are 3 or 4 games under.) But give credit where credit is due. I was shaking my head last night when Bixler was inserted into the lineup, because I thought we might need a run or two more to tine the game. As it turned out, the defensive call was exactly the right one: Bixler caught a very difficult ball to make the last out. If that had been a hit, the win might have been in great jeopardy.

  22. LoveDaNats - Aug 17, 2011 at 3:14 PM

    Davey's comments about Zim calling his own home run were unusual. Didn't it break some kind of unwritten code of "what happens in the clubhouse, stays in the clubhouse"? I think Zim was a little embarrassed when that story got out.

  23. Steve M. - Aug 17, 2011 at 3:15 PM

    If you view Tyler Clippard as a integral part of this team for the future, you have to protect his arm like you do Jordan Zimmermann. Now Clip I am sure will not be available tonight and the team is on 2 straight weeks of baseball before the next day off before the series in Atlanta so Davey has to ration him. The good news is Tyler hasn't pitched since Friday when he did 1 1/3 innings so his arm is probably fresh but I think the earlier point is that now he isn't avaiable tonight since he threw almost 2 full innings last night.In the meantime, Burnett and Coffey haven't seen action since before the Philadelphia series last weekend.So you have an 8 man bullpen and Clip is taking the load in crucial situations. This is why I believe he is the KEY to the bullpen and not Storen any longer. Davey is putting him in the true Firemen situations but what are these other guys doing besides mop-up like HRod and Matteus in Saturday night's blowup in Philly?

  24. Steve M. - Aug 17, 2011 at 3:32 PM

    Nats Outsider said… All of you are invited to check the standings this morning. After the Mets' late-night loss to San Diego, the Nats have moved back to a virtual tie for 3rd place. Along with aiming for 82 wins this year, I'd consider it a big step forward if the Nats can finish behind only the Phillies and Braves, and — more to the point — well away from the cellar. August 17, 2011 10:57 AM Bingo! That has to be the focus for the remainder of the year. A winning record (82-80)and 3rd place. It is doable and that is what a team with the recent history of 90 & 100 loss last place finishes needs to build on for 2012 and not just for the players and potential Free Agents, but for the fans too.With the great Draft and Strasburg coming back (JZim going to the bench) and hopes for a June 2012 callup of Bryce Harper, all this team needs to do is accomplish 3rd place with a winning record this year and you will see a lot of the lost season ticket holders from 2005 start to return and probably quite a few bandwagon fans too and probably a few of the disenchanted O's following.Keep in mind that the 2012 schedule has 3 guaranteed sell-outs in the Yankees coming to town in June. My guess is the Nats will get attendence back over the 2,000,000 next year and possibly to the 2,250,000 which will get them into the top 15 of all teams in which you need to average over 27,000 per game.Remember the Nats were 11th in the Majors in attendence in 2005 with 2,731,993 tickets sold and average paid of 33,728 per game.Like they say, you build IT and they will come. IT is a WINNING TEAM.

  25. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 17, 2011 at 3:36 PM

    Steve M…. T Clip has given up 3 hits in the last 55 AT BATS WITH RUNNERS IN SCORING POSITION!!! That is SICK!!!

  26. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2011 at 3:43 PM

    I understand that some view where in the standings a team finishes as important. I place more emphasis on record.I'd rather the Nats finish 82-80 and in 5th place than 75-87 and in 3rd place.

  27. Hyenaman - Aug 17, 2011 at 3:44 PM

    For morale purposes, the Nats need to brawl with the Phillies on September 20.

  28. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2011 at 3:46 PM

    Steve M. said… "Keep in mind that the 2012 schedule has 3 guaranteed sell-outs in the Yankees coming to town in June."Do you have access to a preliminary schedule? Any possibilities of sharing it with us?

  29. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2011 at 3:50 PM

    LoveDaNats said… "Davey's comments about Zim calling his own home run were unusual. Didn't it break some kind of unwritten code of "what happens in the clubhouse, stays in the clubhouse"? I think Zim was a little embarrassed when that story got out."I would bet such proclamations occur on an occasional basis in all dugouts. They just usually don't come true.

  30. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 17, 2011 at 3:58 PM

    Every three years the Nats play the AL East and two years ago we played the Yankees and the Rays in their parks. Next year, we play them in our park. Not too hard to figure.

  31. SCNatsFan - Aug 17, 2011 at 4:00 PM

    Finishing .500 is important but not so important we overuse an arm on a Storen or Clippard to get there. We need to save our bullets for when we are in an actual gunfight. If you are going to wear someone out right now do it to a Coffey or Gorzo who appear to have not much of an impact on our future.

  32. gonatsgo - Aug 17, 2011 at 4:01 PM

    Hyenaman – I am really hoping that by Sept 20 the Phils will be resting some regulars for the post season or letting them heal up their dings. No matter what – we have to beat up on them before the end of the season. I have been waiting all season for Jayson Werth to really hurt them – something he can carry into the off-season. I also hope we spoil someone – maybe the Braves? along the way. I know it's petty – but fun.

  33. baseballswami - Aug 17, 2011 at 4:07 PM

    Agreed with above posters that TClip is awesome!!! He does seem to pitch well when he is in the games regularly, though. Drew was throwing absolute nastiness last night. Also – to clarify comments about the manager – not saying he does everything wrong or is a terrible manager. Just saying there are areas in which he is really bad. Bringing in Bixler – good move. Talking about Zim's HR prediction – not a good move. Those kind of things can get a player some retaliation. DJ was a very arrogant, mouthy player in his time – "Gentleman Zim" is not. He(manager) does not think before he speaks very often. Not quite as bad as the fish manager calling the giants pitcher "volkswagon", though.

  34. Steve M. - Aug 17, 2011 at 4:23 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said… Steve M…. T Clip has given up 3 hits in the last 55 AT BATS WITH RUNNERS IN SCORING POSITION!!! That is SICK!!! August 17, 2011 11:36 AM I don't see a better reliever in baseball right now given that stat. 1.60 ERA and stopper/shutdown ability.Remember when he came into the game in Colorado with bases loaded to clean up Henry Rodriguez's mess?Last night his 1st batter to face was Joey Votto and got that cue shot to 2nd. Votto was totally fooled.One thing I will say about Davey is he knows where his bread is buttered and it is Tyler Clippard with the game on the line.His fastball low in the zone sizzles at 95 and there haven't been many that can get good wood on it. That herky jerky delivery just has a split second effect on that sizzler that makes it seem like 100mph. Then he throws the high heat or locks 'em up with the 83 changeup.

  35. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2011 at 4:25 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said… "Every three years the Nats play the AL East and two years ago we played the Yankees and the Rays in their parks. Next year, we play them in our park. Not too hard to figure."No it's not, and I was already aware of that. It's the 3 games in June part that is hard to figure.

  36. Steve M. - Aug 17, 2011 at 4:34 PM

    Anonymous said… Steve M. said… "Keep in mind that the 2012 schedule has 3 guaranteed sell-outs in the Yankees coming to town in June."Do you have access to a preliminary schedule? Any possibilities of sharing it with us? August 17, 2011 11:46 AM Because the Orioles are part of the Nats regional interleague rivalry, it has almost assured the Nats that they get every 3 years all 4 of the other teams in the AL East. Every 6 years, the Nats get the Yankees and Rays in Washington DC and 3 years after that the Red Sox and Blue Jays.Things changed this year as the Nats only had 3 interleague non-rivals and 2 were AL West in the Angels and Mariners and the White Sox in the AL Central.Not sure how that happened in scheduling and the Yankees and Rays in June should be a lock for 2012.

  37. Steve M. - Aug 17, 2011 at 4:37 PM

    Anonymous said… NatsJack in Florida said… "Every three years the Nats play the AL East and two years ago we played the Yankees and the Rays in their parks. Next year, we play them in our park. Not too hard to figure."No it's not, and I was already aware of that. It's the 3 games in June part that is hard to figure. August 17, 2011 12:25 PM It has been that you play 1 series in May against your interleague rival and June is reserved for all other inter-league games. So I am assuming that around the 3rd week of June 2012 the Yankees will be here.I also think that if Strasburg pitches in the Yankees series, it will be the largest attendence in Nats Park history.

  38. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 17, 2011 at 4:38 PM

    June is when they have inter league play (except for rivals).Again, not to hard to figure.

  39. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2011 at 4:48 PM

    "Because the Orioles are part of the Nats regional interleague rivalry, it has almost assured the Nats that they get every 3 years all 4 of the other teams in the AL East. Every 6 years, the Nats get the Yankees and Rays in Washington DC and 3 years after that the Red Sox and Blue Jays.Things changed this year as the Nats only had 3 interleague non-rivals and 2 were AL West in the Angels and Mariners and the White Sox in the AL Central.Not sure how that happened in scheduling and the Yankees and Rays in June should be a lock for 2012."Thanks, but I am fully aware of all that and that, except for one of the interleague rival series, interleague play occurs in mid to late June (since 2007 – in 2006 we played TB in late June/early July).I was wondering, since early bird schedules will come out in a little over a month (means they might be being worked now) and since your posts indicate some inside connection to the Nats (real or not – I don't know) you might have some early insight into the schedule.

  40. Slidell - Aug 17, 2011 at 4:50 PM

    I was at the game last night, and this time had a close-up seat. I agree totally with Mark's observations in the previous thread regarding Davy's decision-making re leaving Wang in. "What the heck is he thinking/doing?" I said when Wang batted in the 6th and came out to pitch in the 7th. It sounds noble to say that "we needed to see if he could go one more". But, there will be many more opportunities to see that before the season ends.Meanwhile, this recklessness could have easily cost this game, once again trying the morale of the team and the long-suffering fan base. I don't think that it's entirely a coincidence that the team has not been as sharp since that 10-9 debacle with the Cubs.

  41. fpcsteve - Aug 17, 2011 at 5:09 PM

    Nats Jack and/or Steve M., I would be interested in your take on all the time Lombardozzi has been logging at SS lately in Syracuse. When he comes up, is that where he will be playing? If so (and he does OK to well), what does that mean for the Nats' MI next year?

  42. jd - Aug 17, 2011 at 5:11 PM

    I love Clippard but he's far from the best reliever or even the reliever who is pitching the best this year: Check this out:http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=rel&lg=all&qual=y&type=8&season=2011&month=0&season1=2011&ind=0

  43. jd - Aug 17, 2011 at 5:17 PM

    Steve M. The reason we played fewer games against the AL this year is because there are more NL teams than AL teams so every year a couple of NL teams play each other in the usual interleague slot. This year was our turn (I think we played the Pirates an extra series and maybe someone else I can't think of). I personally detest inteleague play and don't really see a need for it.

  44. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2011 at 5:19 PM

    @jdPersonally, I don't see a need for the American League at all.

  45. Steve M. - Aug 17, 2011 at 5:33 PM

    fpcsteve said… Nats Jack and/or Steve M., I would be interested in your take on all the time Lombardozzi has been logging at SS lately in Syracuse. When he comes up, is that where he will be playing? If so (and he does OK to well), what does that mean for the Nats' MI next year? August 17, 2011 1:09 PM I haven't seen Lombo play SS. I have seen him play 2nd for a few games. I am sure Davey will have him play both as you never know if they see him as a future starter or bench role player like Cora. Think how his value enhances if he can play both positions well enough.The Nats are going to have to reconstruct a bench next year as we discussed and Lombo can be a part of it or a starter as almost the entire bench and current Outfield except for Bixler/Flores are Free Agents including Ankiel, Gomes, Cora, and Nix.This is going to be another interesting September to remember.

  46. Scooter - Aug 17, 2011 at 5:35 PM

    jd, that's a good list, and I suspect you have a good point. I'll leave to one side the question of who's the "best" reliever this year.Now, did you go to the "Win Probability" tab there? Sorting by WPA (win probability added) or SD (shutdowns) shows why we fans feel so strongly that Clippard is the awesome. (Sorry, I can't figure how to link directly to those sorts.)(It's also instructive to look at the number of MD — meltdowns — he had last year, but that's not my point. I came here not to harsh mellows to be embiggen them.)

  47. Steve M. - Aug 17, 2011 at 5:39 PM

    Anonymous said… @jdPersonally, I don't see a need for the American League at all. August 17, 2011 1:19 PM So true. It is called attendence = MONEY is why they do interleague. I don't like it although the interleague rival is a lot of fun.

  48. Steve M. - Aug 17, 2011 at 5:46 PM

    Scooter, here you go! Exactly, #1 Tyler Clippard and the worst (drumroll) Sean Burnett. Also look at innings pitched, leverage, ERA, inherited runners for why Clippard is tops. Venters hasn't had to put out as many fires.http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=rel&lg=all&qual=y&type=3&season=2011&month=0&season1=2011&ind=0

  49. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 17, 2011 at 5:49 PM

    I can't tell you much about Lombardozzi, either. I watched his dad play for the old Orlando Twins and he was a gamer with lots of hustle and a little talent. Seems like his son can hit minor league pitching better than he could, though.Oh… and I'm all for banning American League baseball, too.

  50. jd - Aug 17, 2011 at 6:03 PM

    Scooter, It was sorted by WAR. To me the knocks against Clip are that he gives up too many home runs (Storen too) and his BABIP is .193 and that's not sustainable. Having said that I will take Clip every day of the week and twice on Sunday. I suspect the pen will be reconstructed although I can't see us giving up on HRod and his electric arm quite yet and I really miss Kimball; I though he was a keeper.

  51. Scooter - Aug 17, 2011 at 7:09 PM

    Oh, I saw what it was, jd. And it was swell. I just poked around to the WPA cuz I thought it would be interesting. And then I thought you'd like to see the result, so I shared it.

  52. baseballswami - Aug 17, 2011 at 7:22 PM

    I just love watching Clip blow people away with that wicked rising fastball. The hitter has got to know it's coming but it must look like a fastball coming right in over the plate. Whatever it is that he does – it works. We are going to need other people to step up some, though. On the one hand – if the offense could get a little further ahead ( most of the time) then the others would have wiggle room. But – when the bullpen is well rested and it's not a tied or even a 1 run game, Burnett and Coffey probably get a shot – they have both not been bad all the time.Clip was already not going to get a clean inning. Mattheus and HRod have their moments. Last night I would have preferred to see Wang out after six and then Burnett or Coffey in the 7th. Had Wang not stayed in it would have been 6 -3 I believe? Theoretically, of course – just my feeling.So = are we saving Gorzelanny for situations where Wang or Detweiler can't finish?

  53. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2011 at 7:54 PM

    Gorzelanny has a tendency to give up the long ball, which makes him the wrong guy to bring in with two men on base in a 6-3 game. Burnett, same deal. Rodriguez is as likely to throw a couple of wild pitches that end up scoring runs as he is to strike out the side. Indeed, he could easily do both. Coffey, Detwiler, Mattheus are also inconsistent.When the game is on the line, you bring in your best reliever. Doesn't matter what inning it is. Could be the 7th, could be the 8th. Could even be the 6th. You hope it's later, but if it's not then you deal with it by bringing in your best reliever and moving on from there.Bringing in Clippard last night when Wang faltered was a no-brainer.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB MN
WASHINGTON 86 63 -- 2
ATLANTA 75 75 11.5
MIAMI 73 76 13.0
NEW YORK 72 79 15.0
PHILADELPHIA 69 81 17.5
Through Monday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
TUE: Nats at Braves, 7:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Braves, 7:10 p.m.
THU: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
FRI: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Marlins, 1:10 p.m.
MON: OFF
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.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

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