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Harper sets stage, Desmond takes curtain call

May 3, 2012, 4:51 AM EDT

US Presswire photo
Ian Desmond leaps into the arms of his jubilant teammates.

He's only 26, but he's logged more time in a Nationals uniform than almost anybody else in the current clubhouse. So when Ian Desmond gathered Bryce Harper and Steve Lombardozzi together before Wednesday night's game to offer up some advice he got years ago from Frank Robinson, the two rookies stopped to listen.

Robinson's advice to Desmond, which Desmond passed along to Harper and Lombardozzi: Always watch an opposing reliever warm up at the start of an inning and see what you can pick up.

So when Diamondbacks closer J.J. Putz took the mound for the bottom of the ninth, Desmond watched intently from the Nationals dugout and later from the on-deck circle.

"He was throwing his splits up in the zone," the shortstop said. "His fastballs were elevated to both guys ahead of me. I knew if I looked for the heater, I would be able to see the split up, and I would be able to react. I was really just locked in, and everything clicked for me rightRead more »

  1. Scott from Burke - May 3, 2012 at 4:57 AM

    Way to go Nats..and New York RANGERS!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Poog - May 3, 2012 at 5:18 AM

    .500 average makes you a good hitter, Scott. Not such a good percentage for a goaltender.

  3. peric - May 3, 2012 at 5:32 AM

    Desmond's batting avg at the bottom of the lineup is poor, he needs protection. Harper hits with such power that batting him lead off misses RBI potential.The more at bats a hitter gets in a game the better chance a hitter has to be in an RBI/RISP situation or a run scoring position. Right now short of LaRoche no one else is hitting consistently. Johnson double-switched Nady out for Moore and then brought in Ankiel for the late innings. Nady and Ankiel have pretty much been completely ineffective up to this point. Moore has had too few opportunities to say one way or the other.

  4. DL in VA - May 3, 2012 at 6:43 AM

    Anyone else notice on the replays Bryce Harper's inverted-W mechanics?

  5. Positively Half St. - May 3, 2012 at 8:50 AM

    DL in VA-Ugh. Just remember that he might throw 1 or 2 of them a night, not 100 every five days.+1/2St.

  6. bobfromalexandria - May 3, 2012 at 10:12 AM

    You can't deny the emotional lift of this win. It's why they play the game and why we watch. Desi got the walk-off, Harper set up, but it was a team victory and just damn exciting.

  7. NatsLady - May 3, 2012 at 10:23 AM

    DL, yes, saw that, noticed instantly. Not sure it's the same for an outfielder.

  8. alexva - May 3, 2012 at 11:23 AM

    Desmond is no leadoff hitter but he does have talent and he brings a good (N)attitude to the clubhouse. Good for him tonight and good for Harper. Wow on that kid, just wow.

  9. MicheleS - May 3, 2012 at 11:36 AM

    222 and others on the Harper/Hairston comment:the MLB guys (Rip/Sean Casey), basically broke down the Harper slide. Of course it was with the benefit of slow motion and frame by frame analysis. (they did this after the Hairston call as well).The Difference – according to them – was that Harper has bringing his hands up to protect the face and bracing himself for impact. It didn't appear that he moved his arms forward to knock the ball out. Again with Hairston when they did the frame by frame analysis (after Saturday's game) the position of his arms and how he was moving gave the appearance of swatting the ball. Again, this was their opionions.

  10. jcj5y - May 3, 2012 at 11:37 AM

    A lineup that goes Desmond-Lombardozzi (also a very good game last night)-LaRoche-Werth-Harper-Espinosa-Ankiel-Ramos could make a lot of sense tonight, but Davey might be reluctant to move LaRoche given his success in the 4 spot, and fifth might be a bit aggressive with Harper. If so, I'd look for a 4-5-6 of LaRoche, Werth and Harper. It's all temporary at this point anyway until Zim is back.

  11. NatsJack in Florida - May 3, 2012 at 11:38 AM

    The thing about Desmond is that he is an all or nothing type hitter. He does not seem to have the ability to fight off pitches. It's either in play or swing and miss. Of course, plate discipline or rather "lack of" plate discipline plays the biggest part of this.As for Espinosa, I have never felt that he looks natural swinging from the left side. And NOBODY swings and misses more than he does.

  12. terpman33 - May 3, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    Wow, what a win last night. When Ian came to bat, I knew he would come through. He has really come on this year. Bryce is simply AMAZING! What more could we have asked for! Yes, it's time to move him up in the lineup. I would like to see Werth hitting third, Bryce 4th, and LaRoche 5th. Espinoza had some good hits and hustle; I think he may be going through a sophmore slump. It's also time to jettison Nady, like yesterday. Just start Moore in left field.

  13. MicheleS - May 3, 2012 at 11:46 AM

    The best thing is the emotional lift for the team. They picked up the starting pitcher who was not having his best night. Walk off drama, Rookie contributing, and even better, the slug fest in Atlanta weakens the Phillies bullpen. Let's hope Atl/PHL have another game like that tonight and philly comes in beaten and tired.

  14. Gonat - May 3, 2012 at 11:46 AM

    MicheleS, you are exactly right. The Baseball Tonight guys on ESPN said the same thing (surprisingly). He didn't pound at the glove like Hairston. Luckily he was called safe. How bad would that have been to be on the wrong end of that call?Most people are talking about Bryce, but with 2 outs and the "L" about to be recorded, Desi turned on the pitch and turned that "L" into a "W" and just changed the momentum.

  15. D'Gourds - May 3, 2012 at 11:51 AM

    You have to once again give props to Craig Stammen in this victory. He has been nothing short of sensational this year. I would even say he has been our best reliever this. I really think he should become our closer–he's been so composed and effective out there. He also has swing and miss stuff with his new slider. He's not getting the attention he deserves.

  16. Tim - May 3, 2012 at 12:00 PM

    For me, the win showed me the character of this team. There was just NO WAY we were going to win that game. The punchless way we lost five in a row and the way we went down in the 7th and 8th innings… well, that was the way we were going to die in the 9th, too.Not this team. This team is still in first place, still in every game, despite the plague of injuries.Time to wrestle another series win tonight! GYFNG!

  17. Gonat - May 3, 2012 at 12:00 PM

    Watch the Desi HR framed as the WalkOff Herohttp://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?c_id=mlb&content_id=21107119&topic_id=28898650

  18. NatsJack in Florida - May 3, 2012 at 12:04 PM

    I've always thought of Stammen as having a "bulldog" mentality on the mound, never giving in and always maximizing his abilities.He's one of my favorite guys on the team.

  19. 320R2S15 - May 3, 2012 at 12:04 PM

    Man, that was fun. I kinda tend to be critical of the organization, but that is because I am so into it. I also acknowledge the fact that I could be wrong sometimes too, but hey, everybody has an opinion right? Bottom line is, we now have a team that competes every day and provides me with countless hours of enjoyment, as does this site, thanks Mr. Zukerman.

  20. Gonat - May 3, 2012 at 12:05 PM

    Tim said… The punchless way we lost five in a row May 03, 2012 8:00 AM ___________________________I disagree, with the 5 in a row, more like 4 of the 5. On Saturday the team was a fighter and took the lead only to have the blown save and loss.

  21. natsfan1a - May 3, 2012 at 12:12 PM

    As whattsanattu said in an earlier thread, Hairston swiped at the ball a second time, after it was out of the glove and on the ground. You can see him doing so in the video embedded in this blog.whatsanattau said…Well Hairston did try to do something wrong it was very clear. He swiped at the ball a second time and if he had hit a live ball in play it would have been interference.May 03, 2012 12:03 AM

  22. Gonat - May 3, 2012 at 12:12 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said… I've always thought of Stammen as having a "bulldog" mentality on the mound, never giving in and always maximizing his abilities.He's one of my favorite guys on the team. May 03, 2012 8:04 AM _______________________________You are coming off of a Walk-off high NatsJack. I'm not going to disagree with you as a bulldog except this year is a different Stammen. He decided he was going to be all baseball and changed his routine this off-season. Remember, "best shape of his life". You could see the difference. Fastball with movement, biting slider, and the confidence to go with it.

  23. natsfan1a - May 3, 2012 at 12:14 PM

    I sooo love walk-off highs. Give me lots more of them, please! ;-)

  24. NatsJack in Florida - May 3, 2012 at 12:20 PM

    Gonat…. I agree but his transformation actually started to take hold last year in Syracuse and then D.C.

  25. baseballswami - May 3, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    I love it that when our usual heroes go down, some new ones step up. Bryce we expected, but LaRoche, Desi, Stammen, Lombardozzi? So nice. Reminds me of how Morse stepped up last year. I also loved Desi breaking out the FRobbie knowledge!

  26. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 3, 2012 at 12:27 PM

    NatsJack, The Stammen transformation is significant because he has been the star of this years bullpen and he almost was the odd man out until Det got moved to the starting rotation and Storen got injured.He is here to stay. I said before I could see him subbing as the closer if needed.

  27. Section 222 - May 3, 2012 at 12:28 PM

    This is the text of MLB Network's promo this morning: "On MLB Network's Friday Night Baseball, Pence, Rollins and the Phillies hit DC for an NL East showdown against Bryce Harper and the Nats, with Strasburg on the bump."After just four games, Harper's already the marquee player on our team. Strasburg is now a supporting player. Everyone else is just chopped liver.

  28. Scott from Burke - May 3, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    Natsfan1a..he may have been clawing at the dirt triying to get up so he could touch the plate..it was VERY CLEAR?…perhaps he realized he was about to touch the ball and moved his hand away from it..he is a professioanl athlete who hits 95mph fastballs…wouldn't he have the hand eye coordination to touch a ball moving as fast as a toy train? do you think he tried to touch it but missed>? give it up

  29. MicheleS - May 3, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    Just a nice link about a Nats Fan this morning. (set aside the politics, etc and appreciate his love of the Nats)Jon Will

  30. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 3, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    On Bryce, what ever he did to make the adjustments from Tuesday to Wednesday is remarkable. He worked the count like a crafty veteran to get his pitch.He was in a 0-2 and looked like dead meat then dental the top of the scoreboard with that double.He is on every highlight reel across the apostate news spectrum.In a game like this, the under-achievers really stood out. As we expected, Nady did nothing plus his error. A real shame. 2nd chances need to be taken advantage of in a positive way.

  31. Theophilus T. S. - May 3, 2012 at 12:38 PM

    Imagine my surprise after I turned off the TV while Jackson was in mid-meltdown in the 4th (or was it 5th) inning. After the best overall pitching performance by a Nats pitcher this year against the Mets (?) (it was so long ago I've forgotten) he has become painful to watch. The next three weeks are a match-up between Jackson and Detwiler to see who goes to the bullpen.Harper: How you gonna keep 'em down on the farm after they've seen D.C.? He'll be here the rest of the summer even if his BA falls to the Dave Kingman range. Desparately need his power in the lineup.H. Rod's rebound: Good for him, but his inconsistency shows he's the 8th inning guy, not the closer, and Storen needs to return as soon as possible and in close to top form. I'm not sure Stammen turned himself around as much as the Nats turned around on how they see/use him. He's truly a reliever, not a starter — wants to work every day (the bulldog part).

  32. Gonat - May 3, 2012 at 12:39 PM

    Of significance is what else happened in the NL East last night, the Braves and Phillies pitchers and bullpens imploded.Halladay gave up 8 earned runs in 5.1 innings and ran his ERA up to 3.40. The Braves "great" bullpen got crushed and Kimbrell took a blown save.

  33. Brother Juniper - May 3, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    Yup, a great night and thanks for the assist, Frank Robinson.

  34. A DC Wonk - May 3, 2012 at 1:06 PM

    Some comments above re: Stammen:He has been nothing short of sensational this year. I would even say he has been our best reliever this.andnever giving in and always maximizing his abilities. He's one of my favorite guys on the team.andhe has been the star of this years bullpenJust to put things into perspective:Stammen has had nine outings, seven of them have been effective (three have been hitless). His WHIP is 1.105HRod has had 11 outings, nine have been effective (eight have been hitless). His WHIP is 1.100I think both are doing great (and it was fitting that last night they combined for this win) — and don't think that HRod deserves anywhere near the amount of scorn he gets here.

  35. natsfan1a - May 3, 2012 at 1:09 PM

    And seeing as how Scott in Burke reposted his callout, I will repost my reply.natsfan1a said… I didn't bring it up, someone else did, but clearly we are not in agreement, and that's fine with me. May 03, 2012 9:08 AM

  36. D'Gourds - May 3, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    You know, if we hold on to 1st place until Morse, Zim, Storen and Wang come back, this could be a special year. The experience and exposure the replacements are getting could make this team so deep down the line. Harper, Stammen, Lombardosi, Detweiller all wouldn't have gotten the playing time if the injuries hadn't occured. This team reminds me so much of the '85 Mets with Davey at the helm. Stras is Gooden, Harper is Strawberry, lots of home grown talent. A pheonix rising out of the ashes that was the last 7 years. It's going to be so much fun to be a part of this. Get psyched Nats fans!

  37. NatsJack in Florida - May 3, 2012 at 1:16 PM

    A DC Wonk…. Don't worry… there are plenty of us who see the tremendous upside to Henry and what a great move it was by Rizzo to get him.

  38. Scott from Burke - May 3, 2012 at 1:16 PM

    that 85 mets team could mash

  39. Tcostant - May 3, 2012 at 1:18 PM

    Just a great wijn, changes the whole outlook for this home stand. Now you have a chance to win the series and then start with with our ace vs. the Phils. I want no less than a 4-2 homestand now, which will right the ship until Zimm is back on Tuesday.

  40. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 3, 2012 at 1:19 PM

    DC Wonk, good stuff as stats don't lie, its how they are interpreted. What are the comparative ERAs and inherited runners stats plus high leverage appearances.

  41. NCNatsie - May 3, 2012 at 1:20 PM

    MicheleS, thanks for the link on the Jon Will article. It's an inspiring story and I enjoyed every word of it.

  42. Steady Eddie - May 3, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    The thing for me that was unexpected about Harper — at least, I didn't anticipate it when he first came up — is how charismatic he is on the field in everything he does, and how much it seems to rub off on his teammates. Real baseball fans — and even some bandwagon fans — know how there's that extra glow of anticipation when a great slugger comes up, of waiting for something amazing to happen, and the intimidation factor for the pitcher that builds as he approaches the Big Guy's place in the lineup. The fascinating thing about Harper is that that extra glow of anticipation surrounds everything he does on the field — how he runs the bases (yeah, a little overenthused after his single, but it was the same spirit that let him score from second on an infield single), how he catches the ball, of course how he throws, and overall his overflowing energy and joy in the game.Of course, even assuming he stays up with the team, he'll have his slumps as every player does. But the really remarkable things about him are that charismatic glow that surrounds everything he does on the field — which I can't see going away even for a short time in a slump — and the way that glow is contagious for the rest of the team.This kid is the real Natural, and it's an amazing thing to watch. Once in a lifetime for a hometown fan.

  43. Veronica - May 3, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    Gonat said…Tim said… The punchless way we lost five in a row May 03, 2012 8:00 AM ___________________________I disagree, with the 5 in a row, more like 4 of the 5. On Saturday the team was a fighter and took the lead only to have the blown save and loss. Another thing to note, if it wasn't for Detwiler giving up the two runs in the first inning of last Friday night's game—when he possibly was suffering from the jitters of facing that lineup—the Nats could've potentially won that game 2-1. The teams were very closely matched for the remainder of the game. So, yes, it was not an offensive breakout, but it was a good game of baseball regardless. It seems like Sundays and Tuesdays games were suffering as a result of the mental aspect losing those two hard-luck games.

  44. Scott from Burke - May 3, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    Actually THIS is a must readhttp://www.olearyweb.com/classes/english10012/readings/twohearted.html

  45. hiramhover - May 3, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    On HRod and StammenThat's really an apples and oranges comparison–they play different roles. Stammen is more of an innings eater/bridge guy, HRod is a set-up man/closer. That means HRod is generally going to face much higher leverage situations, and his lack of control (both BBs and WPs) is a big problem in those situations.

  46. UnkyD - May 3, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    Wonky:"Stammen has had nine outings, seven of them have been effective (three have been hitless). His WHIP is 1.105HRod has had 11 outings, nine have been effective (eight have been hitless). His WHIP is 1.100I think both are doing great (and it was fitting that last night they combined for this win) — and don't think that HRod deserves anywhere near the amount of scorn he gets here."—————–Testify!!!

  47. A DC Wonk - May 3, 2012 at 1:49 PM

    More (deserved) Harper-love:The biggest "tell" for a youngster is "quality at bats". And also most all of his at bats have been Q-at bats. I'm blown away by his presence. From his first game (taking a close 3-2 pitch for a walk with two out in the ninth when a HR would have tied it), to last night (working an 0-2 count to 3-2, then just missing a HR). He seems preternaturally calm (until after he hits the ball ;-) ).And Steady Eddie is right: there's this anticipation and charisma surrounding him, because you never know what amazing thing he's going to do. Consider, in just four games he's:1. Gotten three hits off an outfield wall2. Made 3, 4, 5?, amazing throws, including a couple of 300-foot strikes to the catcher on the fly3. Showed great baserunning by scoring on a single where his speed and, umm, collision helped him score4. Slammed into a wall making a catch5. Mis-judged a fly, and recovered by making a bare-handed catchJust in four games.A rookie needs to earn his stripes. Even with a great player that takes at least a month if he does well from the start. Bryce is almost there already.It seems he can do it all: hit, hit for power, throw, field, run . . . and do it extraordinarily, *and* do it while playing within himself.I never thought he'd be truly ready until next year. I'm amazed that he's exceeding my already high expectations.

  48. Scott from Burke - May 3, 2012 at 1:55 PM

    Bryce Harper, so far, has managed to live up to a ridiculous amount of hype..he is simply marvelous

  49. NatsLady - May 3, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    You have to have guys like Stammen in the bullpen, otherwise teams will play to wear out the starter and score in the late innings (as we have done I don't know how many times). Can we have extra innings in Atlanta again this afternoon?

  50. A DC Wonk - May 3, 2012 at 1:58 PM

    HRod is a set-up man/closer. That means HRod is generally going to face much higher leverage situations, and his lack of control (both BBs and WPs) is a big problem in those situations.Nevertheless — to repeat — he's pitched 11 times, and in only 3 of those times he's allowed a hit. (And that counts last night, where the single was of no consequence). He's has nine great outings of eleven. (Or, to put in other terms: he's pitched 10 innings, 8 of them were hitless).That's a pretty darn good record, no?

  51. A DC Wonk - May 3, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    Scott has it right: "Bryce Harper, so far, has managed to live up to a ridiculous amount of hype…"Reminds us of somebody else, eh? Mr Strasburg?You know — Harper is a one-in-a-generation hitter; Strasburg is a one-in-a-generation pitcher. How amazingly lucky is it that they come into the draft in consecutive years, and that those two years just happen to be when the Nats were the worst team in baseball?We had our pain. Now we're beginning to see the payoff . . .

  52. A DC Wonk - May 3, 2012 at 2:07 PM

    What are the comparative ERAs and inherited runners stats plus high leverage appearances. Between the two of them, there have been 20 appearances, and 19 of them were where the pitcher started the inning. ERA comparison is 0.71 (Stammen) and 1.80 (HRod), but with only about 10 innings pitched for each, ERA doesn't tell a whole lot — as a single hit can double the ERA (which is why I was comparing WHIP).

  53. NatsLady - May 3, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    I wouldn't worry about playing Moore vs. Nady because IMO Nady is gone when RZ comes back. TyMo is up here getting acclimatized to ML life and pitching in case Morse's return is delayed again. Morse said he would be back in June to DH. If he's not, Moore's your DH. Espi will be fine, eventually, just like Desmond, it's just going to take a while, it could take quite a while. Part of the problem is he had that big first half last year and then pitchers figured him out, and he hasn't made the re-adjustment. (Note: A. Pujols is hitting .208.) In the meantime, he is saving runs with his D, pulled off a nice double-play, and was on the back end of Lombo's great play. Is it me, or is Lombo's glove huge, like a first-baseman's glove. I guess if you have the hand-strength and flexibility to close and open it, why not? Loved the game yesterday, but in particular loved Kubel staying on third base. FEAR, people, FEAR. (Ankiel kept it from being 6-1 yesterday, which meant little, but not nothing).

  54. SCNatsFan - May 3, 2012 at 2:15 PM

    I'm stoked about the win but still concerned about Espinosa and the fact he is making zero progress at the plate since the all star break last year. Plain and simple right now Danny isn't helping us win games and its leaving a huge hole in the lineup for us. I know its a difficult decision, you don't want to mess with a guys head, but Lannan got sent down and had been here much longer and he rebounded well. If you are confident in Lombo then I think you have to at least consider letting Danny work out whatever his problem is in the minors rather then continuing to look completely overmatched at the plate. 85 AB, 30K, 1 HR… that's pitiful. While Nady needs to just go away we need to get Danny back on track, it seems like pitchers have figured him out and has a huge hole in his swing.

  55. hiramhover - May 3, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    NatsLady Yes, you absolutely need someone to perform that role. My point was that Stammen's getting praised while HRod is getting criticized because they play different roles, even if (some of) their numbers are the same.Wonk – Yes, HRod's hit numbers are good. The walk #s are not (his K/BB ratio is just over 2, Stammen's is over 3). The WPs are a big problem too–HRod leads MLB relievers with 4. His WPA (win probability added) is -0.21, vs Stammen's 0.43.That said, I do think HRod has a strong upside. I don't have "scorn" for him–I have hope, but it's tempered by what I think are legitimate concerns.

  56. Bueno Bryce - May 3, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    I was really sad Bryce didn't have the stirrups on last night.

  57. Steady Eddie - May 3, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    NatsLady — do you still have those couple of extra tickets to the Saturday game to sell, or are those long gone?

  58. NatsLady - May 3, 2012 at 2:23 PM

    Steady Eddie, I still have them. If you want them, let me know, otherwise I will sell them Friday night when I'm at the game. Sec 303.

  59. Theophilus T. S. - May 3, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    NatsLady — if you're selling tickets @ Fri. nite's game, ask for a DC, MD or VA driver's license. (Take Back the Park made front page of this morning's Wall Street Journal.)

  60. Snivius - May 3, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    Desmond drives me nuts. Just after I've seen so many completely crap at-bats from him to make it a no-brainer to demote him to bench/fill-in guy, he'll come up with a big hit.Espinosa has been a big zero with a bat once the league figured him out. I hope I'm wrong, but he strikes me as a AAAA glove-man.Agree on the "vibe" with Harper. I used to follow the Stros back in my Houston days. Harper has all the exuberance and hustle of Hunter Pence when he came up to the Show. He also gives me a sense of "what might happen?" when his turn in the line-up comes- a feeling I haven't gotten from a batter since Bagwell was in his prime. Every at bat seems to be quality. He fouls off pitcher's pitches like a cagey veteran.

  61. Steady Eddie - May 3, 2012 at 2:34 PM

    NatsLady–Thanks for the quick reply, think I'll pass… as long as you're not selling them to anyone in a Phils cap… ;o)Actually, were we sitting next to each other in a game against the Marlins in late Sept last year, Stras pitching, sec. 213 or 214 (Red Carpet seats, not our usual section)? I was there with my wife and younger daughter.

  62. A DC Wonk - May 3, 2012 at 2:45 PM

    Yes, HRod's hit numbers are good. The walk #s are notRight — which is why I used WHIP, where a walk sort of counts as a single. Those are almost identical.The bottom line is results: HRod has helped the team — by shutting down the opposition — 9 times of 11. He's had two bad outings (which resulted in a loss and a blown save) — he's had 9 good outings (which resulted in a win and five saves). (And Stammen: helped the team 7 of 9 times).I think, actually, the results are uncannily similar. And that's the reason I'm pointing out the seeming disconnect by folks claiming Stammen might be the best reliever, and dumping on HRod, when the stats show they've been equally effective for the team.And, look, if we step back a second, we all know why: when a guy blows it in the 6th inning, we don't remember nearly as much as when a guy blows it in the 9th inning. So, HRod gets the scorn, and the guys that blow up in the middle of them game don't get nearly as much.(BTW: I don't think WPA is a fair measure for a closer vs a middle reliever, because you *always* get big negative numbers if you lose the game in the ninth inning, not nearly so much if you lose the game in the 6th inning).

  63. Exposremains - May 3, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    For Espinosa, he might not think so but it could be a good thing for him to go to AAA and calm down and work on his batting. I know he's a great defender but if they keep in MLB he might never be able to fix the issues.

  64. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 3, 2012 at 2:47 PM

    DC Wonk said…I never thought he'd be truly ready until next year. I'm amazed that he's exceeding my already high expectations.I'm cautiously optimistic. It's just a small sample size. Keep it up Bryce.

  65. Steady Eddie - May 3, 2012 at 2:56 PM

    Scott — small sample size as far as the numbers go, sure, and as I wrote, he'll hit slumps like everyone else. But what I find remarkable was only partially the "what" he does on the field and much more the "how", his incredible positive energy and focus combined with that talent. That's not something where you worry about the representativeness of a small sample, because it's core to who he is and it's not going away.

  66. Doc - May 3, 2012 at 2:57 PM

    Davey has said that he won't carry 13 pitchers, and Stammen is likely to be sent down. He gave the Nats another 2 good innings last night.Since pitching, not hitting, is carrying this team, it seems that a guy like Stammen is more valuable than a Nady and/or a few other would be OFs that come off the bench and hit squat.It's good to have offense, as long as they are not being 'offensive'!

  67. mick - May 3, 2012 at 3:03 PM

    I would send Mattheus down in a heart beat before Stammoen, this is not even close

  68. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 3, 2012 at 3:05 PM

    Section 3, My PFB Hitterish Sofa said… OK, I'll have to go back to my "Soul Possession" handle. They are 0-5 without it. May 01, 2012 11:14 PM Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa said… If this doesn't work, I'll go to the Rally Possum. May 01, 2012 11:19 PMYou're welcome. Elwood the Rally Possum will remain a secret weapon.

  69. mick - May 3, 2012 at 3:06 PM

    If Rendon was not injured, Espinoza would be long gone via trade. The problem is that we are stuck with him and his value will keep going down

  70. whatsanattau - May 3, 2012 at 3:06 PM

    I'm not too worried about Stammen getting sent down since we are still three weeks away from Wang being activated. If everyone stays healthy and no one gets traded, the choice seems to be Perry.

  71. mick - May 3, 2012 at 3:07 PM

    i forgot about wang

  72. bowdenball - May 3, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    Doc said…Davey has said that he won't carry 13 pitchers, and Stammen is likely to be sent down. Doc, is the second half of that sentence also from Davey, or is that your editorializing? It's not clear.I'd be very surprised if they sent down a guy who is one of their three best relievers at the moment.

  73. hiramhover - May 3, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    WonkSo it doesn't sound like we disagree that much. I take your pt about WPA and high leverage situations, but remember, I began my first comment by saying the comparison of Stammen to HRod is apples to oranges given their different roles. I also think it's important to acknowledge Henry's WPs, which speak to his (lack of) control and can be deadly but don't show up in WHIP. He led MLB relievers last year, and does this year too (#2 this year-Colin Balester).

  74. Section 222 - May 3, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    Wonk/NJ — I'm totally with you on HRod. He inspires high blood pressure every time out, but I'm glad he's our guy. We've been spoiled with lights out closers and set up guys for the last few years. With Storen and Lidge out, we're very fortunate to have a functional bullpen at all, much less a pretty darn good one.Tcostant — Thanks for the Verducci link. His memory is a little short since Strasburg's debut was much more highly anticipated. Still, it was a very enjoyable read and makes me feel great to be a Nats fan. Now for a shameless advertisement — I'll be out of town this weekend and my ticket group is otherwise occupied. So I have 3 tickets for Friday and 2 for Saturday available. They're in Section 314, right behind the plate in the Infield Gallery. I'll part with them for $22 each, though the box office price for these premium games is $28. Contact me at Section314not222@gmail if you'd like one or more.

  75. A DC Wonk - May 3, 2012 at 3:22 PM

    I also think it's important to acknowledge Henry's WPs,True — but three of his four were in one inning/one outing. That's why I was looking more generally at the stat of: 9 of his 11 appearances were very successful.

  76. Section 222 - May 3, 2012 at 3:23 PM

    I think Stammen has probably earned a permanent spot in the BP with his performance,in addition to the fact that he's able to pitch more than one inning. Davey makes good use of his long men. Lidge may be given awhile more to heal. And I would send down Mattheus before Stammen. Wouldn't you?

  77. bowdenball - May 3, 2012 at 3:29 PM

    Section 222-I would send everyone but Clippard and HRod before Stammen. He's been that good. I have a feeling Davey would agree.

  78. NatsLady - May 3, 2012 at 3:30 PM

    Theo, will do–although if they want to "fool" me by wearing Nats gear, that's OK!! :) :) :)I miscalculated because I bought so far in advance. My girlfriend took in a foster kid so I needed an extra ticket Friday, and had surplus on Saturday…

  79. Steady Eddie - May 3, 2012 at 3:30 PM

    Section 222 — I've emailed you at that address. You might want to delete your address from that post before too long, once you get your tickets disposed of, so you don't get deluged with spam and worse.

  80. jcj5y - May 3, 2012 at 3:40 PM

    Let's not get carried away about Stammen. He has unquestionably been effective. But he's a long-relief/spot starter guy. He has an option left. If everything else stays the same and Wang rejoins the starting rotation in 2 weeks, either Stammen is getting sent down or Gorzelanny is getting DFA'd.It is possible that Stammen has done enough for the Nats to risk losing Gorzy, or that Davey wants a left-right combo in his long relievers. But the easiest move is to send Stammen down. And I don't think it would be a significant blow to the bullpen, given that Detwiler would be the replacement.

  81. sjm308 - May 3, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    I think that Perry will be the first sent down, and that probably won't happen until Wang is up. I also remember Davey talking about one fewer pitcher and mentioning Stammen by name but that was quite some time ago and I think he has the right to change his mind based on performance. Not much mention, but we are facing one of the very best pitchers in baseball tonight and this will be every bit as tough as Kershaw, Cain, etc.If we can pull this game out, that is 7 out of 8 series won and would be huge with the Phillies coming in.Go Nats!!

  82. SBrent - May 3, 2012 at 3:47 PM

    Love that story about Desmond passing on Frank's wisdom! Great reporting, Mark! We so often see quotes like "I was just waiting for one up in the zone" but combined with the info that Ian had been watching the reliever's warm-up pitches, it reveals so much more. Thanks!

  83. NatsLady - May 3, 2012 at 3:49 PM

    We have four pitchers on the DL, Wang, Lidge, Storen and Kimball. I think that's the order of their projected return (if Kimball comes back at all this year). So Perry goes back first (that's why Rizzo got him, because he has the option). That's what, 2-3 weeks from now? I wouldn't go beyond that because you don't know who else will get injured/tired/ineffective in either the rotation or the bullpen and it's pure speculation.

  84. whatsanattau - May 3, 2012 at 3:53 PM

    Agreed on facing Kennedy tonight. Tough pitcher. Tough Righthander. So secret note to Davey: Might be a good night to let Tracy start at 3B and play Lombo at second. You can bring Espi in for defense if we get ahead.

  85. TheManBearPig - May 3, 2012 at 3:57 PM

    "If Rendon was not injured, Espinoza would be long gone via trade. The problem is that we are stuck with him and his value will keep going down."Unlikely that Espinosa is going anywhere. He's continuing to have problems as a left handed hitter, but he's part of the middle infield that the Nats want. Both he and Desmond are athletic, with great range, sure hands and strong arms. Espinosa's numbers from the right side of the plate are more than good enough, so it seems far more likely that they'll end the switch-hitting experiment than trade him.

  86. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 3, 2012 at 4:01 PM

    Not sure if this was discussed, disappointed in the 1st inning with Desi's leadoff double that Lombo wasn't bunting.Thoughts?

  87. NatsLady - May 3, 2012 at 4:05 PM

    Ghost, even with our offense I don't think you play for one run in the first inning. I believe I posted before but even with men on 1st and 2nd and no out, a bunt that advances them to 2nd and 3rd with one out only increases your scoring probability by about 1%. Not sure that is enough edge to take the bat out of the hands of a good hitter. Now, if it were Nady…

  88. Scott from Burke - May 3, 2012 at 4:10 PM

    bunt in 1st inning? if the manager does that he's telling his players I DON'T THINK WE CAN SCORE..the manager wants to instill confidence in his players..not suck it out

  89. Theophilus T. S. - May 3, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    Agree w/ NatsLady re not bunting in 1st. At that point there's about a 75 percent chance a base hit will score the runner anyway. At third with one out, I don't think the odds improve.I think Storen and Lidge are both out for another month. So the only immediate departure is Perry. Then Mattheus, as (A) Stammen has been better and more valuable, (B) the BP is full of "short" guys (Clippard, Burnett, HRod, and whichever among Lidge, Storen comes back first). If Detwiler ends up back in the BP — I don't see Wang ending up there — then Gorzellany may be the guy heading out — too many LHs. If Jackson gets sent to the pen — which wouldn't bother me at all — then Stammen is at risk of going down. There are a multitude of considerations. Come August-September, Gorzellany would be valuable to have if Detwiler were moved back into the rotation to replace Strasburg. There is no one comparable in the minor leagues (don't bother me w/ talk about Severino, who's never going to be a major league pitcher as far as I can tell).

  90. Ann Ominous - May 3, 2012 at 4:39 PM

    "Not sure if this was discussed, disappointed in the 1st inning with Desi's leadoff double that Lombo wasn't bunting.Thoughts?"Davey's on record as not being a small ball guy. Bunting with a non-pitcher to start off the first inning is the ultimate small ball move. Riggleman would have loved it, but he's playing checkers elsewhere while Davey plays chess here.

  91. NatsJack in Florida - May 3, 2012 at 4:46 PM

    I would not have had any problem had Lombo attemped get on base with a bunt in the 1st but no way am I giving up an out for the first out of the game.

  92. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 3, 2012 at 4:51 PM

    Maybe if he's bunting for the hit. One run was not going to beat AZ.

  93. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 3, 2012 at 4:55 PM

    Thanks for the feedback. I keep thinking 1-0 could win this game as I'm watching the game unfold. Notice I phrased it as Lombo wasn't bunting since he may have received the bunt signal and missed it and hit away. Again, the Diamondbacks played him for the bunt.I am such a small ball thinking with this team. As we know Stras, Gio and JZim will win 1-0 games. Sure is nice to put up 5 runs in a game!

  94. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 3, 2012 at 5:00 PM

    Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa said… Maybe if he's bunting for the hit. One run was not going to beat AZ. May 03, 2012 12:51 PM That's the next thought on DBacks scoring runs. EJax with another #5 looking start.EJax so far is the weakest of the 5 starters. The tough decision for Rizzo is approaching as Wang is readying.

  95. jeffwx - May 3, 2012 at 5:22 PM

    HRODStammenClippardBurnettWang returns —> Perry to minorsStoren returns —> Matheus to minorsLidge returns —> Gorz & Lannan tradedKimball to minors

  96. whatsanattau - May 3, 2012 at 5:55 PM

    I have a different perception of EJax than the majority of the expressed oppinions here. I think he is performing as a middle of the rotation guy (3-4). We have a strong rotation and he is our fifth best, but he would be a number 2 in some Major league rotations. Remember, Lannan was our number 1 and now he's our number 6. EJax has endeared himself in a number of ways – including a workman like start last night. And btw did anyone notice that after Harper got picked off EJax nailed the very next Dback runner. I do not think that was coincidence. That was an 'I got your back' move by EJax.

  97. natsfan1a - May 3, 2012 at 6:55 PM

    Thanks to Theophilus for the heads up on the WSJ article.EJax has endeared himself to me as well, whatsa.

  98. kgwhit - May 3, 2012 at 8:24 PM

    Last night was the first game in the majors I saw Harper in person. There seems to be a aura about him that transcends all the hype. He looks like he swings harder, runs harder and throws harder than the rest of the team.Also saw him in Viera in his last game before they sent him down and he struck out four times, but he just looked like he was playing harder than everyone else.Nothing is guaranteed but just like Strassie, he looks like he is a cut above everyone else.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 75 57 --
ATLANTA 69 64 6.5
MIAMI 65 67 10.0
NEW YORK 62 71 13.5
PHILADELPHIA 61 72 14.5
Through Wednesday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
THU: OFF
FRI: Nats at Mariners, 10:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Mariners, 9:10 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Mariners, 4:10 p.m.
MON: Nats at Dodgers, 8:10 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Dodgers, 4:10 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.
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