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An extraordinary return

Sep 7, 2011, 5:26 AM EDT

US Presswire photo
Stephen Strasburg was brilliant in his 2011 debut.

Pitchers making their first start since undergoing Tommy John surgery aren’t supposed to toss five scoreless innings. They aren’t supposed to hit 99 mph on the radar gun. They aren’t supposed to display the kind of efficiency and consistency normally reserved for guys who have never had any elbow issues.

So the Nationals were careful not to place any expectations on Stephen Strasburg’s 2011 debut Tuesday night. Given the fact he hadn’t been on a big-league mound in 381 days, and given the uncertainty that surrounded this start against the Dodgers because of a forecast that called for a 100 percent chance of rain, the Nationals were pleased simply to hand him the ball again.

And then Strasburg unleashed his first big-league pitch in 12 1/2 months — a 96-mph fastball to Dee Gordon — and everyone suddenly remembered what makes this right-hander different from everyone else.

“That is the norm for Tommy John,” pitching coach Steve McCatty said of the struggles other hurlers usually experience in their return outings. “But ask yourself: Is this guy normal?”

No, he really isn’t, a fact Strasburg confirmed over and over again during his five innings of brilliance Tuesday night.
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112 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. D'Gourds - Sep 7, 2011 at 5:51 AM

    HUGE! He pitched a very composed and effective game. It was just what the Nats wanted to see from him at this point.Peacock, on the other hand, seemed a bit out of sorts. I think he was really nervous and just didn't command his pitches. But that said, I think he obviously has good stuff–95 to 96 2 and 4 seam fastball, good change. I think it being his debut and coming out of the bullpen instead of starting just knocked him a bit off his game. He'll be interesting to watch the rest of September. I'd like to see him get a start.Desmond had a tough game defensively. I know he didn't officially get charged with an error, but he really should have at least knocked down two balls that got by him and lead to three runs. I'd like to see Lombardosi get some play at 2nd and Espinosa at SS. But I know they won't do that because Desmond is a bit fragile.Overall, though, I'm actually quite optimisitic about our Nats future. They remind me a lot of the '84 Mets with Gooden (Strassburg) and Strawberry (Harper) on the rise with an excellent young supporting cast surrounding them. I predict contention in 2012 and a World Series win in 2013! Really. You heard it here first. Just need a really good free agent signing/trade this off season like the Mets did in acquiring Keith Hernandez and Ray Knight.

  2. sparkd - Sep 7, 2011 at 10:36 AM

    Strasburg delivered, big time. D'Gourds – "Peacock, on the other hand, seemed a bit out of sorts." What? Getting put into a game with men already on base to face the to-date NL MVP didn't settle him down? When his manager had told everyone, including presumably Peacock, that he would come in after Strasburg's to start a clean inning?Maybe he was wondering why his manager told him one thing and did another.

  3. Big Cat - Sep 7, 2011 at 11:29 AM

    I am glad to see Steven getting away from trying to strike out everyone. Strikeouts mean more pitches. He was throwing the 2 seamer a lot more than last year. He looked very good, almost too good for a 21 year old. Boy….him and Jordon are gonna give us some back to back shutouts next year. Peacock had good stuff. Was put into a tough spot. Thought he got away from his curve after hanging the one to King. In fact, I don't think he threw another one. Hopefully the Nats will let him start next time

  4. Big Cat - Sep 7, 2011 at 11:31 AM

    Kemp I mean….not King

  5. Anonymous - Sep 7, 2011 at 11:37 AM

    Why is Maya back? I almost fell over when I saw him warming up. Was he a Rizzo signing? We blew it on him.

  6. Gonat - Sep 7, 2011 at 11:40 AM

    Once Stephen got around that leadoff bloop double, he was stealth. A really great appearance and glad I was there.Like his sort of TJ mentor JZim, he suffered a familiar fate seeing a win go down the drain at the hands of a reliever named Slaten and an offense that didn't provide add-on runs.Also, with all the naysayers on the weather, it was suprisingly decent although we left at the rain delay.

  7. LoveDaNats - Sep 7, 2011 at 11:58 AM

    I was surprised that almost no one (except Gonat) mentioned Slaten coming into the game as a cause for concern. He has allowed hits every time he comes in. His deceptively low era from the inherited runners he allows to score (often!)put the game in jeopardy the moment he took the mound. To have Peacock come in to clean up the mess as a rookie was a poor move. Way to have a promising new pitcher get in his own head and undermine his confidence.

  8. NatsJack in Florida - Sep 7, 2011 at 12:01 PM

    I'd like to take a potshot at Mitch Williams and Al Leiter of MLB Network and their constant harping about Strasburgs "inverted W" form and how that will lead to further arm problems….. Just once, I'd like them to compare his form to Roy Halladay….They won't because it's EXACTLY the same!

  9. Anonymous8 - Sep 7, 2011 at 12:27 PM

    NatsJack, if they are still harping on the "W", then it starts to get ridiculous. Did they show their video again highlighting the "W"?

  10. Anonymous8 - Sep 7, 2011 at 12:32 PM

    Davey did his best to explain his Peacock move. What, he can't pitch to leftys to start a clean inning with a 3-0 lead? We all know Slaten's history pitching to more than 1 lefty and like that, Slaten back to form. I know a lot of people want to blame Desmond. It was a tough play.Also, Mattingly with ridiculous post-game statements not wanting to give any respect to Strasburg. Why say anything at all Donnie?

  11. NatsJack in Florida - Sep 7, 2011 at 12:34 PM

    Yes… they spent a good 15 minutes yakking about it. It's not hard to tell that Williams and Dribble come from the same mold.

  12. Anonymous8 - Sep 7, 2011 at 12:38 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said… Yes… they spent a good 15 minutes yakking about it. It's not hard to tell that Williams and Dribble come from the same mold. September 7, 2011 8:34 AMDisappointing. They have a very cool studio set up and these guys go to great lengths to show their baseball IQ. When you repeat it over and over and over again, it becomes Dibbleous like you said.

  13. Knoxville Nat - Sep 7, 2011 at 12:40 PM

    Anon8….yes they showed the video again. And if Strasburg's career mirrors that of Halladay (sans leaving DC)I'll be one happy Nats fan.

  14. NatsJack in Florida - Sep 7, 2011 at 12:48 PM

    Actually, except for Mitch Williams who I find to be a blithering idiot, I enjoy and watch almost every minute of Intentional Talk and Inside Pitch.

  15. A DC Wonk - Sep 7, 2011 at 12:59 PM

    D'Gourds — yes, they do remind me somewhat of the '84 Mets, too. A boatload of young talent. Consider — all the following guys are young and good (or huge potential upside): I mean, look at the ages of these guys!Pitching: Stras, JZ (25), Storen (23), Clippard (26), HRod (24), Lannan (26)Catching: Ramos (23) seems the real thing, Flores (26) might be, tooInfield: RZim (26), Iam (25), Espi (24), (Marrero, only 22, is quietly getting it done, batting .289 in his first 9 games).Outfield?Additional pitches in the future? some of the following might pan out: Milone (24), Peacock (23), Kimball (25), Detwiler (25), And, of course, waiting in the wings: Rendon, Meyer, Goodwin, Purke . . . Baseball America: "Nationals could have the best infield in baseball in a few years with Zimmerman, Rendon, Desmond and Espinosa, with Bryce Harper roaming the outfield."Of course, the Nats will need a manager that has experience with all the young talent, like, e.g., the manager of the '84 Mets . . . ;-)

  16. A DC Wonk - Sep 7, 2011 at 1:00 PM

    Whoops — I left out Morse for the outfield (although, obviously, he's not so young — started the season at age 29) . . .

  17. A DC Wonk - Sep 7, 2011 at 1:02 PM

    Anon8 wrote: "Also, Mattingly with ridiculous post-game statements not wanting to give any respect to Strasburg. Why say anything at all Donnie? "Can you elaborate? What did he say?(It was obvious that the Dodgers, assuming that Stras's first day back would throw a lot of first pitch fastballs were, indeed, swinging a lot on the first or second pitch. But, if you think about it — that's specifically because they *did* respect Stras so much — they were afraid of falling behind on the count against him).

  18. NatsJack in Florida - Sep 7, 2011 at 1:26 PM

    In response to spcsteve from last nights game thread…. I agree that Espinosa really needs to sit a couple of games… the one game didn't do much…. his bat is slow from both sides of the plate and he seems physically as well as mentally drained….Knowing Davey like I do, he will probably make Danny cry "Uncle!" though, just to prove a point.But I would like to see Lombardozzi at second and short over the next 3 weeks.

  19. NatsJack in Florida - Sep 7, 2011 at 1:26 PM

    Sorry… meant fpcsteve….

  20. Strasmus_Who_Cares_YAWN! - Sep 7, 2011 at 1:33 PM

    He is still throwing with the inverted W motion, I think we are facing ARM-ageddon in the future with Slothburg ala Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, so sad, he is so good but so stubborn and will not change what led to his injury…a sad day for Nats fans in on the horizon! :(

  21. Abbott (or was it Costello?) - Sep 7, 2011 at 1:34 PM

    Baseball America: "Nationals could have the best infield in baseball in a few years with Zimmerman, Rendon, Desmond and Espinosa"Who's on first?

  22. WakeMeUpWhenWeAreInAPennantRace - Sep 7, 2011 at 1:37 PM

    Mattingly's comments on Strasburg were warrented, respect is earned over the years not over 8 quality starts and you never talk well of your opponent when you are playing them. spot on Donnie Baseball, he knows all you have to do is sit dead red on SS and you will knock him around.

  23. Troll Police - Sep 7, 2011 at 1:38 PM

    Code red alert.

  24. Anonymous - Sep 7, 2011 at 1:40 PM

    spot on Donnie Baseball, he knows all you have to do is sit dead red on SS and you will knock him around.Then why didn't he tell his boys to do that last night?

  25. The Dude Abides - Sep 7, 2011 at 1:44 PM

    They must have run out of "superlative comments" over on the BOriole sites.

  26. The Dude Abides - Sep 7, 2011 at 1:48 PM

    Because we all know how great the Orioles are….and that goes for the entire organization…their current record speaks volumes…

  27. JamesFan - Sep 7, 2011 at 1:50 PM

    So far, the prospect of the year is Marrero. He's 22, hitting ML pitching very well and playing solid 1st base at the ML level. I hope they give him the rest of the season in the lineup. We will see what we have and he doesn't seem to strike out much. Quietly effective as a 22 year old.

  28. sjm308 - Sep 7, 2011 at 1:52 PM

    Realizing that one start does not make a season, I am feeling like an idiot declaring JZimm the opening day starter. If SS continues this type of dominance, and I had forgotten just how special he was even though I was there last year, he has to be our ACE. Not upset about Peacock, he is a rookie, he will have plenty of opportunities to settle in. I am concerned with Davey using Slaten and Maya. Just doesn't make sense. HRod had 3 great games in a row so he is continuing to evolve and at 24 I expect great things from him. I would love to see us win 10 of the last 22 but just like years past, it does not look good.Amazing how as we start to fade the anons reemerge in greater numbers then before. Hoping Natsfan A1A & JaneB will beat them back with kindness, and Natslady will turn them around with her great stats.Go Nats

  29. Anonymous - Sep 7, 2011 at 1:53 PM

    Strasburg awesome.. but let's face it. this lineup and roster is atrocious. 17 stikeouts!!! Seventeen! We make any pitcher in the league whether a junkballer or a flamethrower into a K machine. Marrero is so slow I can't believe my eyes watching him but I like him because he doesn't strike out, and actually looks like a professional hitter up there. I am so tire of it all. We must swing and miss more than any team in baseball history. Despite his 2 hr's on Monday, Morse is in a mini slump and Zimm too. If these guys aren't carrying us, wow it's ugly… Espi is not going to make it folks. I've seen enough. He doesn't put the ball in play enough for a 2nd baseman, and his short lived power streaks aren't worth it. Give Lombardozzi a year or two like you gave Espi and Desmond and see what he can do.

  30. Joe Seamhead - Sep 7, 2011 at 1:53 PM

    Between Ryan, Michael, and Espy they had 10 K's last night. Not good, plus Espinosa had 7 K's in a row going back to Monday. I'm also in the camp that is a little frustrated by Desi's defense last night. He has too good of range not to have knocked down a couple of balls that got by him last night.I think that Davey put Brad Peacock in position to live out his worst nightmare by going in to that situation. After that, anything he faces next time should seem like a piece of pie, with no jitters. He'll be fine.

  31. Anonymous - Sep 7, 2011 at 1:59 PM

    A team can't have a pitcher as a key member of the bullpen who implodes at least half the time he pitches. Henry Rodriguez has to go. Then, using minor league starters to do relief pitching in the majors is just plain dumb but nothing Davey Johnson does surprises me. He is still living off a reputation he established years ago but plainly doesn't have it anymore. He should stop embarrasing himself and the franchise.

  32. Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 7, 2011 at 1:59 PM

    @ wonk… from Mark's gamer:"Obviously, the kid has a good arm, but you see good arms all the time," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "We've seen 95, 96. He's above that sometimes, but it's not way different."

  33. Steve M. - Sep 7, 2011 at 2:00 PM

    Abbott (or was it Costello?) said… Baseball America: "Nationals could have the best infield in baseball in a few years with Zimmerman, Rendon, Desmond and Espinosa"Who's on first? September 7, 2011 9:34 AM Great line! You would think they would give a clue so should we assume Zimmerman or Rendon?

  34. Mr Doneky - Sep 7, 2011 at 2:04 PM

    I am still surprised by how few people were at the game last night. Not sure anyone is to blame, but I think the team and media made it sound really unlikely that Stras would pitch. Was that really the case? Seems not. Too bad. So happy I was there! It was like two games. Stras. Rain delay. Disaster.

  35. Mr Donkey - Sep 7, 2011 at 2:05 PM

    Then again, they only sold 29,000 tickets to the game and 4,000 of those went unsold on stubhub. Seems like demand for the game was low.

  36. Canada's #1 Nats Fan - Sep 7, 2011 at 2:06 PM

    As promising as things look for 2012, we don't stand a chance if Davey Johnson remains the manager. He has no clue how to handle a pitching staff. Unfortunately, I think it's almost guaranteed he will be back.

  37. WhOrioles Not Wanted Here - Sep 7, 2011 at 2:06 PM

    By the way, the Orioles were officially the 1st team this year mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. McFail, McMA$N, and McAngelo$ are just a joke. Unless Angelos is fleecing millions in his cl-ass action lawsuits, he has more free time to stick his nose into that baseball team. The whole Flanny thing and the way the Orioles seem to have used that for marketing purposes is disgusting.

  38. Anonymous - Sep 7, 2011 at 2:07 PM

    If I am not mistaken, Rizzo traded a servicable major league outfielder, Josh Willingham, for two major duds. The first was Henry Rodriguez and the second is Corey Brown. Brown hit .230 and was a strikeout machine at Syracuse.

  39. Natty Bo - Sep 7, 2011 at 2:16 PM

    Wow, people are fast to give up on young players.

  40. bgib - Sep 7, 2011 at 2:32 PM

    Aside from the bad weather, I think the attendance was down because people are becoming more interested in seeing a team that plays well, and less interested in seeing prospects that may or may not contribute to wins in the future. That being said, from what I saw last night, I think the Nats will be fine next year if Strasburg can throw no-hitters, play shortstop and hit homeruns.

  41. MicheleS - Sep 7, 2011 at 2:35 PM

    As far as attendance goes.. I think the Doom and Gloom we got all afternoon regarding the rain was a big driver for the low attendance. Also, don't forget.. Day after labor day, people coming back from vacation and for a lot of kids it was the first day of school….

  42. Feel Wood - Sep 7, 2011 at 2:41 PM

    I am concerned with Davey using Slaten and Maya. Just doesn't make sense.Perhaps he's giving them the chance to dig their own graves. With 36 on the active roster now, that means at least nine of these guys will not make the team next year. Why is it not a good idea to gather as much data as possible in meaningless games now so he can better decide who makes the cut next spring?

  43. N. Cognito - Sep 7, 2011 at 2:42 PM

    Just a note on yesterday's Nats e-mail which came out at about 12:45 and was pushing tickets sales for last night's rainout (anybody knowwhen last night's game will be made up?). I asked and that e-mail was probably prepared early last week and approved for release last Friday.Natty Bo said… "Wow, people are fast to give up on young players."And when a .200 hitter hits .300 over a couple weeks, he becomes a god.

  44. Steve M. - Sep 7, 2011 at 2:42 PM

    Canada's #1 Nats Fan said… As promising as things look for 2012, we don't stand a chance if Davey Johnson remains the manager. He has no clue how to handle a pitching staff. Unfortunately, I think it's almost guaranteed he will be back. September 7, 2011 10:06 AM You know the commercial: EXPECT IT. I scratch my head with some of Davey's decisions and I did the same with Jim Riggleman and especially the guy before Jim and with Frank Robinson, not as much. With everyone blaming Davey, part of the blame has to be on Rizzo for the personnel.Easy for us to call Davey out as armchair quarterbacks. What if Davey brought in Peacock to start the 5th and Peacock blew up? Then there would be those that would say he should have gone with a lefty to start the inning. Who knows, no time machine in baseball.All these problems are magnified when you have an offense that doesn't score a lot of runs. If the Nats scored just 1 more run prior to the 7th inning then Davey goes to Clippard and Storen and the Nats hopefully win 4-3 instead of 3-7. Think about that. The Nats scored all their runs in 1 inning and did nothing but 0 the rest of the game and they had their chances.The starting pitching will be improved next year. The bullpen stinks and can be rebuilt. The offense needs to get more men on base (OBP) and then learn to pile on runs.Last night it was Michael Morse who couldn't get the job done. 7 men left on base and 0-5. Jayson Werth 4 men left on base. Danny Espinosa 4 men left on base with 3 K's. An interesting figure is the Nats scored about .10 runs per game more under Riggleman than Davey. Now Riggleman was hampered with a slumping Werth, virtually no Zim and a 43 game offensive slump in Adam LaRoche. So yes, I expected Davey's offense to be better given a sample size of 62 games. Now I have theorized that Riggleman played smartball/smallball to get an extra run here and there and they added up. Davey plays for big innings. Different philosophies and Davey has to see he doesn't have many clutch performers so it hasn't worked quite as well. Funny last night that 1 unearned was scored on the pitching error on the bunt BTW.Amazingly, there are now 4 teams worse in ave runs per game in the NL (Pitt, Hou, SD, SFG)So either you go in the direction of the SF Giants and go for shutdown pitching and a lousy offense or you go for balance.

  45. A DC Wonk - Sep 7, 2011 at 2:43 PM

    =========Anonymous said… spot on Donnie Baseball, he knows all you have to do is sit dead red on SS and you will knock him around. Then why didn't he tell his boys to do that last night?==========(snicker). The secret's out. Sitting dead red is how that minor league team knocked Strasburg around a few games ago.So, Donnie Baseball _did_ tell he boys to do that. But, guess what — Strassy's too smart for them (he learned from that disaster of a minor league game).You could tell the Dodgers were doing that because of how often they swung at the first or second pitch.They were waiting on the fastball. They knew he would throw it often, and early in the count. They were indeed swinging at the correct pitches.The Dodger's problem was, quite simply, Strassy was just too good for them last night. His fastball was either very well placed, or had some good movement (I was in the nosebleed seats — hey, at least we had a roof over our head — and couldn't tell which).That, to me, was what most impressive about last night's performance. It's true — almost any major leaguer can hit a 97 mph fastball. The Dodgers knew SS was going to throw it, and SS knew that the Dodgers knew it. And SS threw it anyway, and shut 'em down completely. And it just made his change and curve that much more effective. A truly awesome performance — only two baserunners in five innings.===========PS: about the crowd. Although the crowd was awfully thin, it seemed like it was an "elite" crowd of sorts. That is to say: the crowd seemed very knowledgeable about what was going on. In other words, only the hard core fans ignored weather.com's prediction (they said: "100% chance of rain by 7:30!"). The fans cheered very hard for Peacock, too — they understood the significance.

  46. Big Cat - Sep 7, 2011 at 2:47 PM

    Yep…..HRod is a major dud. Probably if they released him, not one team would claim him. Yeah right.

  47. Mr. Donkey - Sep 7, 2011 at 2:49 PM

    agree dc wonk. small crowd that hung on every pitch. a special night. I was there for his debut and for last night. Good baseball memories.

  48. A DC Wonk - Sep 7, 2011 at 2:50 PM

    sjm308 said…HRod had 3 great games in a row so he is continuing to evolve and at 24 I expect great things from him.Note: HRod had 6 great games in a row — in which he pitched a total of 7 innings and allowed no hits, no runs, no inherited runs.I agree with you — I expect great things from him. Davey knows what he is doing with HRod, and I'm glad that he keeps throwing him out there.A Troll said: using minor league starters to do relief pitching in the majors is just plain dumbHey Mr Troll — do you have any idea how many major league starters got their feet wet first by pitching relief in the prior September? That's pretty standard operating procedure.As for Davey not knowing how to manage a young pitching staff — that's got to be the most off base comment I've heard. Managing young pitchers hasn't changed. You've got to give them confidence when they need it, you've got to test them, stretch them, and etc. He managed that young stable of Gooden, Darling, and Fernandez pretty well — and, yeah, while it was 25 years ago — the basics of how to deal with pitchers as players is pretty much the same.

  49. Steve M. - Sep 7, 2011 at 2:51 PM

    Feel Wood said… … Why is it not a good idea to gather as much data as possible in meaningless games now so he can better decide who makes the cut next spring? September 7, 2011 10:41 AM Meaningless games? Are you for real? Ask Ryan Zimmerman if these games are meaningless,then ask Davey Johnson. Both of them will give you a look like you lost your mind.There are still ways to evaluate players and play to win the game.

  50. sjm308 - Sep 7, 2011 at 2:55 PM

    feelwood – that helps me a little – I guess these last 22 games will help Davey and Rizzo with evaluations so thanks for that – it opens up all the negative posters though so we will have to deal with thatDC Wonk – you are absolutely right, it really was an impressive performance and I love that Donnie Baseball lowballed it so to speak – it seems our boy has matured greatly in his year of surgery and rehab and I loved what I saw last night.Does this group think we will actually keep 36 in the dugout for the remaining games? When is Cora going to get in a game? Have we seen enough of Ballestar now to keep running him out there? Same with Coffey (although I actually like him in a role of just one inning). I guess we still need to see where Maya is since we spent a little more on him but there are certainly way too many players to juggle at this point. Riggs would have a migrane trying to keep the vets/callups fresh off the bench.

  51. Anonymous - Sep 7, 2011 at 3:00 PM

    We give up on young players fast here because unlike in football and basketball, Baseball actually has an intricately structured developmental system with the minor leagues. After years in the minors, these guys are supposed to be able to play when they get here. Didn't someone post that on some service Espi was supposed to project as a .205 MLB hitter based on his minor league stats? I think that service must be pretty good. Some one please re-post that info. There's only room for a few free swinging sluggers in a lineup and we have them in Zimm and Morse. Make room for Harper later and we're maxed out there. Everyone else should be hitting over .260 at least. That eliminates Espinosa, Desmond, Gomes, Ankiel, Cora, Bernadina, Brown, Laroche, etc… I'm okay with a defensive minded catcher and were stuck with Werth so the only room for improvement is SS, 2b, 2 outfield spots and/or 1b depending where Morse plays. And please don't play Laroche and make excuses for his poor first half if he starts out cold again next year. If that's the plan bench him until the 2nd half. Of course we need three fourths of a bullpen too but that's a whole other rant…

  52. sjm308 - Sep 7, 2011 at 3:04 PM

    I also wonder on a site such as this with posters who really do study the game and the nationals why there are so many anons who just spit out bile. Do the anons like being proved wrong?Like Big Cat mentioned, just throw some of the players you want out onto waivers and see how quick they get picked up – HRod, Desmond, Espinosa etc. All keepers! Give up on Corey Brown and just see what happens in two or three years. And I promise this is the last time I write this but would you really rather have Willingham in the last year of his contract in LF instead of Morse because with Riggs at the helm, Morse would have had no shot with Willingham here, no matter how great his spring training was. Because we got rid of Willingham, Morse has developed into a player that can help us in our run to the playoffs in the next few years. Willingham has no future except perhaps as a dh. If HRod develops like I think he will its an even bigger win.Promise this is the last time for my rant.

  53. sjm308 - Sep 7, 2011 at 3:06 PM

    anon 11:00am – very nice analysis with no bile – I guess all anon's are not just ranters.don't agree 100% but your points are well structured

  54. jd - Sep 7, 2011 at 3:07 PM

    Steve M. I,m sorry but in the overall scheme of things these are meaningless games; you try to win all games but there are higher priorities on the task list at this stage of the season. I don't see the need to run Clip and Storen out there as much as before. HRod has been much improved over the past little while and think of the upside if you can get to be effective more consistently. You have to throw Slaten out there to see if his ineffectiveness was injury related or if he just stinks; there is nothing wrong with putting Peacock in a tough spot; he'll be better for it. If you don't think Davey knows what he's doing just look at the difference in Desmond's hitting approach in the past few weeks. You also pointed out that Morse left 7 men on base; but he has also been one of the best offensive players in the entire league all year. How is it that Davey or Rizzo caused Morse to have a bad game? You know; some times the other team just wins.

  55. Steve M. - Sep 7, 2011 at 3:08 PM

    A DC Wonk said… sjm308 said…HRod had 3 great games in a row so he is continuing to evolve and at 24 I expect great things from him.Note: HRod had 6 great games in a row — in which he pitched a total of 7 innings and allowed no hits, no runs, no inherited runs.Are you a Henry spin meister? No inherited runners, sure, he came in each instance with NO RUNNERS ON BASE to start a clean inning.6 great games in a row? I would say 4 of the 6 were good games and 1 was a great game. No hits, true, and 5 of the 6 appearance were all lower stress when the team was BEHIND. In the one tie game it was in extra innings and in 2 innings he walked FOUR BATTERS and 1 wild pitch. In his best appearance against the Mets he faced Bay, Evans and Paulino, not exactly Murderer's Row.

  56. Feel Wood - Sep 7, 2011 at 3:09 PM

    Meaningless games? Are you for real? Ask Ryan Zimmerman if these games are meaningless,then ask Davey Johnson. Both of them will give you a look like you lost your mind.Have you not heard how many times Davey Johnson has said "If I was in a pennant race, I'd be doing X. But I'm not in a pennant race, so I'm doing Y."? These games are meaningless from the perspective of this year's pennant race. Certainly Davey wants to win them, but he wants to find out if the new guys or the guys on the bubble can win a game for him, because he already knows about those other guys named Zimmerman, Storen, Clippard, etc. The only way he can find out if the new guys and the bubble guys can win for him is to use them now, in games that both teams are presumably trying to win. He can't find that out by waiting until spring training when no one is playing to win.

  57. jd - Sep 7, 2011 at 3:10 PM

    I would like to see much more of Lombardozzi in the next 20 games or so. I think that between Desmond and Espinosa Danny is the one who could sit out a few games.

  58. natsfan1a - Sep 7, 2011 at 3:12 PM

    Random thought: Can't recall where I saw this, but someone was commenting about the Dodgers relievers not heading to the 'pen until after the top of the first as a sign of respect for SS. Actually, I seem to recall them doing the same thing at Sunday's game. I thought maybe they didn't want to interrupt a rousing clubhouse session of Guitar Hero or some such…

  59. jd - Sep 7, 2011 at 3:12 PM

    Feel Wood, Exactly right. I'm not sure if it makes a difference if we win 75 games or 76 games this year.

  60. Steve M. - Sep 7, 2011 at 3:18 PM

    jd said… Steve M.I,m sorry but in the overall scheme of things these are meaningless games; you try to win all games but there are higher priorities on the task list at this stage of the season. September 7, 2011 11:07 AM It is the choice of words. Nothing during the regular season is "meaningless". You still play to win the game. It may not have the same intensity as a playoff team but you still have to make strategic decisions to win. I had no problems with Davey's decisions so it has nothing to do with that. As I said, you score more runs, and it is a different ballgame going into the 8th. Many of the players still are judged by their stats so it means something to each of them.

  61. Anonymous - Sep 7, 2011 at 3:19 PM

    This is not bile. How can you defend Espinosa and the rest of the .220 hitters? How many more years do you want these guys to ruin the lineup before you give another deserving player a shot? Lombardozzi and others have put in their time too and deserve every inch of rope that Desmond and Espinosa have gotten to prove themselves as not being MLB starters. I welcome any team to claim them. They can have Espi's incredible amount of K's where he misses the ball by 2 feet, swinging for the fences no matter the count or situation. Slick fielding, no hit middle infielders like Espi are a dime a dozen. Don't you realize Espi's slumps are off the charts bad? Who could do worse? Any player can get hot for a few weeks and fool you into thinking he's a star like Espi has done. Fortunately there are long term stats that prove otherwise. Desmond may be getting just hot enough late here to save himself and ruin that spot for us next year too where he'll bat .230 and strike out a ton, and boot easy ones…

  62. Steve M. - Sep 7, 2011 at 3:23 PM

    jd said… Feel Wood,Exactly right. I'm not sure if it makes a difference if we win 75 games or 76 games this year. September 7, 2011 11:12 AM At this point 76 or 75 has no real bearing on anything other than year over year improvement but winning 73 games or more is huge so you don't have another 90 or more losses in a season.Remember, the team won 73 in 2007 which was still a dismal season and you would have hoped this team wouldn't roll over.

  63. A DC Wonk - Sep 7, 2011 at 3:34 PM

    Hey, all — it's not "either or".In other words, just because "evaluating talent for 2012" is the highest priority doesn't make the games meaningless. It just means that winning games is secondary. (Otherwise, we'd be throwing Clip and Store out there for every game until their arms drop off, because, after all, winning games now is more important than 2012, right?)Steve M. pointed out:Steve M. said… Are you a Henry spin meister? No inherited runners, sure, he came in each instance with NO RUNNERS ON BASE to start a clean inning.OK, that makes sense! I didn't look at all the columns — I just noted the seven hitless and runless innings over six consecutive games. (And I failed to look at walks).Nevertheless, he's been pretty good over the last 10 days or so, until last night.I think that's going to be the pattern for HRod. Periods of greatness interspersed with cringe-inducing performances.However — I think that over time, the periods of greatness will get longer, and the cringe-performances will get fewer. But it'll be a slow process. (See: Ryan, Nolan).Anony wrote:We give up on young players fast here because unlike in football and basketball, Baseball actually has an intricately structured developmental system with the minor leagues. After years in the minors, these guys are supposed to be able to play when they get here. Yeah — but, even so, we see time and time again guys who just are mediocre during their rookie year. The pitchers adjust, and it's all whether the batter can re-adjust to the pitcher. This is even more so when the player is in his early 20's. How many guys looked like flops, sometimes for more than one year, then get traded, and then become stars? Not only Nolan Ryan ;-)And please don't play Laroche and make excuses for his poor first half if he starts out cold again next year.A torn labrum is a pretty good excuse, don't you think? Besides that, that's just the way LaRoche is. Over his entire career, he's batted .229 for Mar-Apr-May, and .297 for Jul-Aug-Sept-Oct. It's maddening, but that's who he is.

  64. N. Cognito - Sep 7, 2011 at 3:34 PM

    "Meaningless" is an opinion. Every baseball team in the same situation as the Nats – no realistic shot at the postseason and lots of young players to get a look at – view this situation as "menaingless," in regards to final record.

  65. A DC Wonk - Sep 7, 2011 at 3:37 PM

    (I guess make that: a torn labrum _and_ a partially torn rotator cuff.)

  66. jd - Sep 7, 2011 at 3:43 PM

    Espinosa has been struggling like crazy lately and Desmond has picked up his offense but overall this year Espinosa has been 3 times more valuable than Desmond (3.0 WAR vs. 0.9). I've also been a bit less impressed by Marrero than some of the other posters. He's not really looked over matched but yesterday's double was his 1st extra base hit since he's been up and he looks awfully awkward at 1st base to me. If Marrero makes it as a regular major leaguer he will need to flash some of the power he is supposed to posses.

  67. NatStat - Sep 7, 2011 at 3:46 PM

    Mitch Williams likes SS, and I'm a Nats' fan that likes SS.Notwithstanding, how much we like the guy, Williams has some points on how to safely deliver a ball. After watching SS pitch last night (not having the advantage of SloMo), it looks like SS may have made some minor mechanical changes for the better. It'd be great to get some feedback from SS himself. As the season ends, and we watch through the next season, I'm sure we'll get a lot of analysis of SS's motion and delivery.

  68. Anonymous - Sep 7, 2011 at 4:01 PM

    A torn labrum is a pretty good excuse, don't you think? Besides that, that's just the way LaRoche is. Over his entire career, he's batted .229 for Mar-Apr-May, and .297 for Jul-Aug-Sept-Oct. It's maddening, but that's who he is..———————————Exactly… Let him rehab in extended Spring training until June or July. We can't absorb his .229 for a third of the season unless we have 5 other guys hitting over .280 And that might include Zimm, Morse and who else? Please get here fast Rendon! Our best early hope is Lombardozzi does it at this level plus a great hitting free agent or two.

  69. A DC Wonk - Sep 7, 2011 at 4:03 PM

    jd said… I've also been a bit less impressed by Marrero than some of the other posters. He's not really looked over matched but yesterday's double was his 1st extra base hit since he's been up and he looks awfully awkward at 1st base to me.I was unimpressed at first, but I think he's doing his job quietly, under the radar, and is gaining confidence.In the 10 games he's played, he's hit safely in 8 of them, compiling a .306 average. He hasn't walked much, and as you noted, hasn't really shown any power — but a quiet .306 is better than most of the regulars are doing.At first base, he's been a bit awkward, but improving.I kinda of like this — Davey's been batting him 7th most of the time. No pressure. He's just quietly doing his job, while others (Strasburg, Peacock, Lombo) get the press * excitement, and he's gaining confidence and experience. Remember — he's about the youngest guy up there (just turned 23 in July).I think he's a pleasant surprise. I hope he plays all of Sept, and we can get a clearer picture.

  70. Steve M. - Sep 7, 2011 at 4:04 PM

    jd said… I've also been a bit less impressed by Marrero than some of the other posters. He's not really looked over matched but yesterday's double was his 1st extra base hit since he's been up and he looks awfully awkward at 1st base to me.If Marrero makes it as a regular major leaguer he will need to flash some of the power he is supposed to posses. September 7, 2011 11:43 AM Agreed on Marrero. Still a very small sample size and need to see a lot more of him. Not enough line drives so was glad to see that double. His UZR will be hurt by his 1st game but since then has been solid. He saved Zim at least 1 throwing error and maybe 2.If he plays out the rest of September improving, he will be a good insurance policy for the Nats as the future is still uncertain for the Nats at 1st base. One double from him is a start but need to see more XBH.

  71. PAY TO PLAY - Sep 7, 2011 at 4:35 PM

    Baseball Think Factory debates WAR as a standard and their conclusion is:"It frequently measure context as much as performance. Especially when used to evaluate single seasons, it doesn't sufficiently account for the inevitable variations in opportunity and environment".The word context as well as situation is so true not only with WAR, with all situations. A pitcher will look better based on home ballpark and their defense and the effectiveness of the bullpen behind them.That was the rub on Werth in Philadelphia in a hitters park, in a hitters lineup.So when you talk about Danny Espinosa's WAR, the eyes tell you his 2nd 1/2 has been beyond bad. It is getting difficult to watch all the swing and misses. For the people that were worried about Desmond, it may be Espinosa who finds himself back in Syracuse next year. With a Rookie you expect to see struggles and adjustments like he had in the 1st half. In the 2nd half he has been lacking contact. If Davey knows players, he should have sat him in early August a game or 2. I am hoping it is just fatigue.

  72. Mick - Sep 7, 2011 at 4:52 PM

    Listen gang, if Strassburg is healthy and it appears he is, we have in DC our Michael Jordan, move over Alex O. This kid is supernatural, I have never seen a pitcher throw a 91 mph changeup. I was listening to MLB channel this morning and one of the dudes thinks Strassburg should only pitch a few more games this season. I am wondering if he could be correct. I do not wnat to see another David Clyde situation. I think Davey should have pulled him after 4 innings. since genius Davey is clearly NOT playing to win, it would seem logical not to push Strassburg.

  73. Bowdenball - Sep 7, 2011 at 5:16 PM

    Mick-By the time they finish Strasburg's next start the Nationals will only have 17 games left. So they really have no choice but to limit him to only a few more games. 5 total games would be the absolute limit, but I'm guessing they move him to six days rest after Sunday so he can pitch two more times at home on 9/17 and 9/23 and then call it a season for him. Four starts, just to get his feet wet and his confidence up for next April and to reward him for all his hard work over the last 10 months.

  74. Anonymous - Sep 7, 2011 at 5:19 PM

    I really liked the Davey move when Riggs walked away but it has gotten to a point where I cant wait for Davey's last game. I dont know if the game has passed him by or what but it seems that every decision he makes is the wrong decision. I know its easy being an armchair manager so to speak but everything he touches turns black. The decision to bring in Peacock with two runners on in the middle of an inning last night was just flat out stupid. Espinosa has totally digressed under Johnson. Espinosa doesnt look like he has a clue as to what he is doing anymore at the plate and yet Johnson wont sit him down. The constant mis managing of the bullpen and the starters. I just dont know what he is doing anymore. Sorry for the rant, its been building up for weeks now.

  75. Tcostant - Sep 7, 2011 at 5:34 PM

    I found the quote below, in this gem of an atricle on the expected decline of the Phillies. Must read Nationals fans.http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/6910166/father-time-philadelphia-phillies“Meanwhile, the rest of the division isn't standing still. Thanks to a spectacularly timed pair of 100-loss seasons, the Washington Nationals signed two of the most hyped prospects of all time in Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper. This year, they drafted Anthony Rendon, the best college hitter in America. Add those three to a core of Ryan Zimmerman, Danny Espinosa, Wilson Ramos, Jordan Zimmermann, Drew Storen, and Tyler Clippard — all 26 or younger — and something interesting is brewing in the nation's capital.”

  76. jd - Sep 7, 2011 at 5:41 PM

    Mick, He wasn't pushed. He was on a 60 pitch limit (he already threw 75 on a rehab assignment) and at the end of 5 innings he was at 58 pitches. We are all entitled to our opinions but some of the criticism here borders on the ridiculous. I question some of the manager's moves too but I never pretend to match or even approach his baseball knowledge.

  77. Feel Wood - Sep 7, 2011 at 5:41 PM

    I was listening to MLB channel this morning and one of the dudes thinks Strassburg should only pitch a few more games this season. I am wondering if he could be correct.There are only 22 games left in the season. Pitching every fifth day, Strasburg will pitch no more than four of them, surely with a pitch count in every one. Unless he experiences some sort of minor physical setback along the way, pitching four more times won't hurt him one bit.

  78. jd - Sep 7, 2011 at 5:45 PM

    Anon at 1:19 said:"it seems that every decision he makes is the wrong decision" – in your opinion."The decision to bring in Peacock with two runners on in the middle of an inning last night was just flat out stupid" – – again in your opinion.

  79. jd - Sep 7, 2011 at 6:00 PM

    Bowdenball, I'd heard that this is exactly the plan.

  80. Steve M. - Sep 7, 2011 at 6:03 PM

    Nats game cancelled due to inclement weather. Do you all have rain?

  81. Richard - Sep 7, 2011 at 6:10 PM

    I'm hoping Johnson gives Lombardozzi a chance — and the Nats brought Lombardozzi up to give him a fair chance. I'd love to see him playing almost every day for the last 20 games. He has that great record in AA and AAA. Does anyone think Desmond and Espinoza have established themselves as the SS and 2B man of 2012 and beyond? It would be an act of faith. They've had a full chance and yet their hitting is not satisfactory — yet. Maybe someday … Or are the Nats sold on them? If so, what future does Lombardozzi have with the Nats? The kid looks really good. I'd love to see him get a chance, too. Some say Desmond will be traded this winter for Upton of the Rays. Hmmmm.

  82. Anonymous - Sep 7, 2011 at 6:11 PM

    Davey Johnson 25-37 .407Jim Riggleman 38-37 .507Riggleman also posted this considerably better record without his best player for the majority of his time. Please someone tell me that Davey Johnson is not even being considered for next year.

  83. Feel Wood - Sep 7, 2011 at 6:11 PM

    I work about a mile from the stadium. It's been absolutely pouring here all day.Also, you're asking the wrong question. The right question is how will this affect Strasburg's start on Sunday?

  84. Anonymous - Sep 7, 2011 at 6:19 PM

    Please someone tell me that Davey Johnson is not even being considered for next year.You are SOL, dude. The job is Davey's if he wants it. They will conduct interviews, but only to meet the MLB minority hiring guidelines. If for some reason Davey does not want the job himself (and there are absolutely no indications he doesn't) he will most likely have the major say in the naming of his replacement. Go back and look at the comments Rizzo made when he gave Davey that manager/consultant contract. Davey Johnson is Rizzo's man for the long haul. Whatever Davey wants, Davey gets.

  85. Anonymous - Sep 7, 2011 at 6:19 PM

    Pay to Play said…So when you talk about Danny Espinosa's WAR, the eyes tell you his 2nd 1/2 has been beyond bad. It is getting difficult to watch all the swing and misses. For the people that were worried about Desmond, it may be Espinosa who finds himself back in Syracuse next year. With a Rookie you expect to see struggles and adjustments like he had in the 1st half. In the 2nd half he has been lacking contact. If Davey knows players, he should have sat him in early August a game or 2. I am hoping it is just fatigue.—————————-Danny had a couple hot weeks last season then regressed to hitting .200This year he had a hot month but has batted probably under or near .200 outside of that month. He's seen enough pitches and pitchers to get acclimated. I've never seen a hitter so overmatched on a consistent basis. Dude just doesn't have it. That's just calling it like it is, no matter how much we like his attitude and hustle. Coaching has nothing to do with it. On to the next guy. That's what the minor leagues are for…

  86. NatsLady - Sep 7, 2011 at 6:32 PM

    The game is cancelled? I got drenched this morning but from the radar it should pass. I don't see anything on the MLB website, it just shows a preview of Wang tonight.On Davey: I'm clueless. I do think he should be given a full year (2012) to see what he does starting from advice to Rizzo on winter trades to Spring Training and the season.To me the talent says we should be contending next year, and over .500–but even a WC slot is far from a lock. Next year could be a heartbreaker if there are injuries or some of the young guys don't measure up. I'd give Davey 2012 to execute his ideas with a team more of his makeup, and if the team falls way below those expectations, let him retire.

  87. NatsLady - Sep 7, 2011 at 6:35 PM

    I'd like to see if Bo Porter can be "groomed" to be the next guy after Davey, whenever that is.

  88. Anonymous - Sep 7, 2011 at 6:41 PM

    I agree with anon 2:19 to the point that danny looks very overmatched and for the most part he has been a below average hitter the majority of the year. Having said that though, I think he should be given another year to try and get his contact rate up. And lets face it, if danny can get his contact rate up he can be a borderline all-star. He is great in the field, has some speed and has some pop, he just strikes out far too much right now to ever hit for a decent average. He has upside and I certainly wouldnt want to give up on that this early.

  89. jd - Sep 7, 2011 at 6:45 PM

    NatsLady, I essentially agree with you. I think that next year we will be over .500 and in the hunt but I still think that the Braves have too much pitching up and down to be overtaken by us with a major trans-formative deal. In 2013 Harper should be fully ready and pitchers like Meyer and Cole should be right around the corner; now you are talking serious contention. BTW when I says tran-formative deal I mean something like :Rendon,Ray and one of Espinosa,Desmond or Lombardozzi for Matt Kemp.

  90. jd - Sep 7, 2011 at 6:48 PM

    Anon @ 2:19, That and the fact that he's 3.0 WAR which ranks him 4th in the NL behind Phillips, Weeks and Utley. It's amazing how quickly fans turn on a young player.

  91. natsfan1a - Sep 7, 2011 at 6:52 PM

    Snippet from the Nats blog at the Times:The Nationals-Dodgers game scheduled for Wednesday night has been postponed, The Washington Times' Amanda Comak has confirmed.The teams will play a traditional doubleheader Thursday beginning at 1 p.m., with one ticket good for both games.Chien-Ming Wang is expected to start the first game for the Nats, with Ross Detwiler taking the second game.The Dodgers announced the rainout on their official Twitter account shortly after 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, but the Nationals had yet to make any announcement about the game nearly an hour later.

  92. N. Cognito - Sep 7, 2011 at 6:53 PM

    NatsLady said… "I'd like to see if Bo Porter can be "groomed" to be the next guy after Davey"Just curious – why?

  93. NatsLady - Sep 7, 2011 at 6:56 PM

    N. Cog, not really anything I can quantify. He just seems to have good rapport with the young players, energy and some smarts. Just a feeling that I'd like to see more from him.

  94. Section 222 - Sep 7, 2011 at 6:56 PM

    I seem to remember a report that Strasburg might only start at home — Sunday the 11, Friday the 16, and then a longer rest until the next Friday or Saturday. Anyone seen more recent news on this? Since tonight's game is being made up as a DH, that shouldn't effect the rotation. I'm going of surprised they are doing a DH tomorrow. I thought that was verboten on getaway days. The Dodgers are going to be mighty tired on Friday night in Arizona.There's plenty to complain about Davey's decisions, but using Peacock in relief isn't one of them. Lots of young pitchers get their first big league experience in relief. David Price, for one, was a reliever in '08 in the last few months for the playoff bound Rays. Chapman is a reliever for the Reds, but will be a starter someday. There's no need to baby Peacock. Why does everyone assume the guy who has made his way to big leagues after being a 41st rounder or whatever he was with incredible grit and hard work is going to be scarred for life because his first MLB pitch was thrown to Matt Kemp. Puh-lease.@sjm308 – Keep ranting. Opening an every day playing spot for Mickey Morse was the best off season move the Nats made. Willingham was a serviceable outfielder, but that's all. He's never going to be a star. Ok, HRod and Corey Brown haven't panned out yet, but they both offer some promise. Willingham wasn't going to take us to a World Series. Morse just might.

  95. gonatsgo - Sep 7, 2011 at 6:58 PM

    The proof , so they say, is in the pudding. You can like Johnson all you want, you can acknowledge that he has a great baseball history and lots of knowledge, you can call him a "players manager" — use your own eyes – what do you see? Do you see a motivated team playing good baseball? Do you see improvement in any player except Ian Desmond ( and that is questionable)? Sometimes the brightest and most talented people just cannot communicate that to others or teach and motivate them. Can you really point to anything that you can actually see that shows a positive effect that he has had on this team? Sure – he doesn't do absolutely everything wrong – even I could get a few things right by accident, I guess — but when I watch the Nats play, and I do every day, I see a negative result on the field, day after day. I see a team that has regressed – that has nothing to do with the young guys we are looking at for next year, either. We are watching pretty mediocre baseball from the team that has been here this year.

  96. A DC Wonk - Sep 7, 2011 at 7:03 PM

    I think Davey should have pulled him after 4 innings.Why? He was cruising, throwing easy, and he had only thrown 48 pitches at that point.SS is on a strict innings-limit this season. No way that anyone will let him be over-pitched this season.

  97. Anonymous - Sep 7, 2011 at 7:04 PM

    I'd like to see if Bo Porter can be "groomed" to be the next guy after Davey, whenever that is.Geez. Next you'll be wanting Wang to be "manscaped".

  98. Anonymous - Sep 7, 2011 at 7:07 PM

    I have no problem with using Peacock in relief, I dont like the fact that he went to Slaten first and then brought in Peacock with two on and an MVP candidate at the plate. Davey himself even said before the game that he didnt want to bring Peacock in under those circumstances. He wanted to let him start an inning fresh.

  99. Anonymous - Sep 7, 2011 at 7:11 PM

    JD…The war calculator obviously doesn't have eyes, because if it had been watching Danny's AB's it would not rank him anywhere near the top. This team is a loser because we keep making excuses for and giving excess time to the non-performers. This team not only cannot hit, but it cannot hit in the ugliest way evidenced by another eyepopping 17 K's last night. Our phenom pitched over half the game and only got 4 k's. Our 100mph reliever didn't get any K's. Their journeymen pitchers had 17 K's! So your best idea is to bring all these same hitters back next year? And to try to fix all their hitting issues in real major league games? Four position players are locked in for next year. Zimm, Morse, Werth (Ugh), Ramos. You better change the other 4 spots to get some batters who are tough outs or else Stras and Zimm are going to lose the majority of their well pitched games again next year. In my opinion, Espi has Zero potential to ever hit .300. I'd like someone there who either has done it or a young guy with potential to do it.

  100. MicheleS - Sep 7, 2011 at 7:18 PM

    NatsLady.. Agree with you on Bo…would like to see what he has. He has been mentioned quite a bit in some of the possible opening after this season – including the Marlins (although that may go to Ozzie if he leaves the White Sox)

  101. Anonymous - Sep 7, 2011 at 7:31 PM

    In my opinion, Espi has Zero potential to ever hit .300.If hitting .300 or even having the potential to hit .300 is one of the requirements for your team, then your team is going to lose a lot of games due to balls hit by the other team to the vast areas of open space where there is no fielder because no such .300 hitter exists who can play that position.

  102. jd - Sep 7, 2011 at 7:33 PM

    Anon @ 3:11, The problem with looking at performance subjectively (or with your eyes as you like to point out) is that it has a short memory and neglects to remember facts like Espinosa had 17 home runs and 54 RBI's by the all star break. Looking at objective data like WAR gives you a better perspective on overall performance and it keeps emotion out of the equation something we tend not to do. The Nats lineup had plenty of problems this year like: Nix and Ankiel and Werth and Desmond. Overall; Espinosa, Ramos and especially Morse have been positives.

  103. Anonymous - Sep 7, 2011 at 7:47 PM

    JD..War is not measuring the low and inside hole or the high outside hole in Danny's swing apparently (LH). Even when people were trumping him as an All Star he was batting .220 which is sad and hilarious. I've seen every game and i've seen enough of him. Sometimes you need to put the ball in play. Sometimes a tough out is called for and he is incapable of that. 17 HR is exactly his problem. He has a Dave Kingman swing and batting average at 2b. That is not a luxury we can afford with Ankiel, NIx, and all the other poor average streak hitters on this team. His minor league projection was .205 and that looks like what he is. If you want to watch that everyday, we see it differently and I'm just not a WAR kind of guy I guess. If you can't replace a .220 hitting who nears the league lead in K's than WAR is measuring something very esoteric. And it's not measuring the guys who come up after him with the bases empty, no stretch pitching, and no fielders opening holes by holding runners on base.

  104. jd - Sep 7, 2011 at 7:56 PM

    Anon @ 3:47, Who gives a c*** what the batting average is when you get on base at a .320 clip and produce runs which is exactly what Espinosa has done for the Nats this year.

  105. Anonymous - Sep 7, 2011 at 8:09 PM

    not agreeing with JD but Keith Law has pointed out a few times that Espinosa's OBP is unusually high due to an abnormally high amount of HBP's. I know Keith Law likes Espinosa at short because that really shows his strength (defensively), but he isn't nearly as high on Espinosa at the plate as many are in DC. Time will tell I guess. I've wondered many times if he should consider ditching the switch hitting and hit from the right side full time.

  106. Anonymous - Sep 7, 2011 at 8:10 PM

    JD…All Espi's good stats are bunched into a tight pack of very few games. In a sport you play every day I'd rather have consistency. Since the All Star break ( alot of games!) , Espi is batting .206, with .285 OBP and .311 slugging!! it does not get much worse than that in baseball. I can't believe they still trot him out there every day. His OPS of an atrocious .596 in that time is lower than every regular and lower than pitchers Hernandez, Gorzelanny, JZimmerman, Open your eyes.

  107. Anonymous - Sep 7, 2011 at 8:23 PM

    Last year in 103 AB Espi hit .214 with a .277 OBP. A few defensive highlight plays and homers get you guys excited for life on a guy I guess.BTW.. what is Morse's WAR? I'm curious. If it's not double Espinosa's this year than I think the stat is worthless.

  108. jeffwx - Sep 7, 2011 at 8:29 PM

    back to small ball….brings energy to a club several times a game rather than everyone swinging for the fences and missing. We do not have a 3 run homer kind of team (few NL teams do). The focus on defense, pitching, advancing the runner and a hit of any kind is the way to go with the current team makeup. These guys need more plate discipline, not less and emphasizing hr/doubles ball hurts their progress to becoming MLB hitters.

  109. A DC Wonk - Sep 7, 2011 at 8:57 PM

    In my opinion, Espi has Zero potential to ever hit .300.Awesome. In the league leaders, there are exactly zero 2d basemen in the NL hitting .300.OTOH, Espi is 4th in RBI's and 5th in runs scored (for 2d basemen)

  110. A DC Wonk - Sep 7, 2011 at 8:59 PM

    Anonymous said… BTW.. what is Morse's WAR? I'm curious. If it's not double Espinosa's this year than I think the stat is worthless.Whoever looks that up — I think you should just look at "offensive WAR" — because Morse's WAR is hurt by his 1b fielding, I think.

  111. Anonymous - Sep 7, 2011 at 9:46 PM

    How many 2nd basemen are hitting under .229 and under .205 since the break? This kind stat manipulation to make a guy look good is why we always lose. Any of our minor league 2nd basemen would have a hard time hitting under .205 blindfolded. Also on small ball, I don't think we're not trying for it. I bet Davey would be happy with a few lousy singles or RBI groudouts from this group. They're hard to get though when you strike out 17 times a game and have a roster composed swing and missers. You guys are right. This team doesn't need any upgrades. It's perfect. And don't ever consider replacing a .220 career hitter.

  112. Drew8 - Sep 7, 2011 at 11:58 PM

    JD 3:56 said of Danny Espinosa:"Who gives a c*** what the batting average is when you get on base at a .320 clip and produce runs, which is exactly what Espinosa has done for the Nats this year." I agree. This is the point I've been trying to make about Derek Norris. Look beyond the anemic batting average. He gets on base and has extra base power.Danny's OPS has suffered during his slump, but at .723, it's still higher than those of guys with much better batting averages, such as James Loney, Vlad Guerrero, Bobby Abreu, Hideki Matsui and Raul Ibanez.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB MN
WASHINGTON 85 63 -- 4
ATLANTA 75 74 10.5
MIAMI 72 76 13.0
NEW YORK 72 78 14.0
PHILADELPHIA 69 80 16.5
Through Sunday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
MON: Nats at Braves, 7:10 p.m.
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.
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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