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The stopper does it again

Jun 21, 2012, 4:00 AM EST

US Presswire photo
Stephen Strasburg improved to 9-1 with a 2.46 ERA after seven strong innings.

He's all of 23 years old, with only 31 big-league starts to his name. The Nationals don't care. They've anointed Stephen Strasburg their ace, and there's no one they'd rather have on the mound when they really need to win a ballgame.

"He's a true No. 1," manager Davey Johnson said. "And he's still learning. I think the best is yet to come with him."

A scary thought, indeed, because even at this relatively novice stage of his career, Strasburg is already establishing himself as one of the true stoppers in the sport.

Take Wednesday night's 3-2 victory over the Rays. The Nationals entered this one on a four-game losing streak, perhaps starting to question their ability to beat the elite competition they're currentlyRead more »

  1. Gonat - Jun 21, 2012 at 4:08 AM

    "The Stopper Does It Again"…and I say "Yes He Does"

  2. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Jun 21, 2012 at 4:09 AM

    With Jesus on the mound every fifth day, a losing streak of more than four is nearly impossible. I loved Harper's word for him: "Specimen."Perfect.GYFNG!!

  3. sjm308 - Jun 21, 2012 at 4:18 AM

    Very impressed he went back out for the 7th inning. I thought Davey might hold him back but it was a super effort and those last 2 K's had us all screaming.Also love how confident I feel with both Burnett and Clip right now. This Tampa lineup doesn't seem that imposing but they have playoff experience so they must do something right. This was a game where no batter in the lineup had an average over .300 and Tampa had three players that started today with averages under .200. Not sure that means anything but I like where we are with Gio tomorrow.Go Nats!!!

  4. sjm308 - Jun 21, 2012 at 4:19 AM

    When I say no batter, I should have said, Except for Strasburg!!!

  5. Grandstander - Jun 21, 2012 at 4:20 AM

    He's also in his first full season back from TJ surgery. I think to JZimm last season compared to this season, and I can't wait to see what Stras can do next year.

  6. peric - Jun 21, 2012 at 4:21 AM

    The problem? He does get shut down … in spite of what all the crazy pundits believe you bet your bottom dollar Rizzo will shut the boy down. And in so doing blow away Maddon's assertion that players will be leery about signing with the Nats. That one move will send the right kind of message throughout baseball to every single player and agent.When he gets shutdown, at this point, I firmly believe his replacement should be Edwin Jackson. I wouldn't be surprised to that Rizzo thought that might happen all along. If Detwiler can continue to improve they will have a choice at #5 of Gorzelanny, Stammen, and perhaps Danny Rosenbaum. I don't think it will be either Lannan or Maya.I told you folks CMW would bomb. Told you about Lannan and believe me, he is not going to be a #5 starter over Gorzelanny or Stammen, Nor Yunesky Maya. Nor Daniel Rosenbaum. Lannan is a lame duck AAAA starter.

  7. SonnyG10 - Jun 21, 2012 at 4:39 AM

    Just got back from the game a few minutes ago. Haven't read the game blog yet, so dont know what all has been said. I was really disappointed Ryan Zimmerman did not break out tonight. I love Ryan, but I think maybe Davey should trade places in the lineup between Desi and Zim. Let Desi bat 3rd and move Ryan to 6th.

  8. Section 222 - Jun 21, 2012 at 4:46 AM

    Tommy Milone pitches his first complete game. Good for him. Glad we traded him to the AL. peric, what do you mean that E-Jax replaces Strasburg? He's already in the rotation. I'm with you on Lannan. But Maya isn't coming back either. We'll see whether CMW hangs around as Dets alter-ego and gets some more start down the road. If Det sticks in the rotation, I doubt Gorzo gets the call as the replacement. Davey really likes having a LH and RH long guy, and I have to say it's working.

  9. peric - Jun 21, 2012 at 4:49 AM

    peric, what do you mean that E-Jax replaces Strasburg? He's already in the rotation.EJax and not Gio becomes the "ace" or "stopper". I think EJax deserves that mantle given the way he has pitched … even though his won-loss record doesn't reflect it. He has pitched like an All Star veteran should. And he should be under consideration for a return to the All Star game.

  10. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Jun 21, 2012 at 4:50 AM

    Off-topic Alumni news:OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Tommy Milone pitched a three-hitter for his first career complete game, Yoenis Cespedes had two hits and an RBI in his return to the Oakland lineup and the Athletics beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-1 on Wednesday night for their seventh win in eight games.Cespedes scored Oakland's first run after a double and added an RBI single in the fifth to back another strong start at home by Milone (7-5) as the A's took their second straight from the first-place Dodgers.Milone walked one, struck out two and retired 22 of the final 24 hitters he faced, with Jerry Hairston Jr. hitting an infield single in the seventh and Dee Gordon reaching on an error by second baseman Jemile Weeks in the eighth. Milone threw 112 pitches in Oakland's first complete game of the season.I'm still glad we got Gio.

  11. peric - Jun 21, 2012 at 4:51 AM

    Davey really likes having a LH and RH long guy, and I have to say it's working.When the rotation is close to evenly divided between right handers and left handers. As we've seen he likes the long man to have the opposite arm if the starters are most all righties or lefties. I don't see CMW replacing Strasburg in the rotation. I think he gets removed when Storen returns.

  12. peric - Jun 21, 2012 at 5:06 AM

    Milone wins 20 for the A's … then I get to mercilessly needle KLaw on twitter … :)

  13. Section 222 - Jun 21, 2012 at 5:10 AM

    Very true on the long man having the opposite arm. That's one reason the bullpen seemed to line up really well when we had two lefties and three righties in the rotation, rather than 1 and 4 with Wang. On the other hand, with four righty starters, both Gorzo and Det have done lefty long relief, so it's worked out ok. But Stammen hasn't been getting quite as much work (12 appearances in May, only 6 so far in june.)E-Jax has already shown great value, not exactly as a stopper, but as an innings eater when the bullpen needs a rest. He's been fantastic. Every time our bullpen has been spent, he's delivered 7 innings or more. Doesn't make much difference who is called the "stopper." What matters is who can be the stopper when we have a losing streak. You aren't given that mantle, you earn it. If the Nats keep winning games that Gio starts, E-Jax will never get a chance to be a stopper because we'll very rarely have a losing streak when he pitches. Note that Strasburg's "stopper" games have often ended 3 game losing streaks, not 4-game losing streaks. That's because the Nats have only lost three out of the 13 games that Gio started.

  14. Schumatrix - Jun 21, 2012 at 6:35 AM

    Regardless of the greatness of our rotation and the possibility of who will replace Stras in the order (can you believe we actually have options!?), the boys need to start hitting. Three hits off of a guy who is making his ML debut is really not acceptable. I really don't think we can continue winning like this. However, until they do falter, I'm with 'em in the long run. Go Nats!

  15. phil dunton - Jun 21, 2012 at 10:34 AM

    Tom Milone pitched a nine inning, 3 hit, one run victory over the Dodgers last night for his 7th win.

  16. MicheleS - Jun 21, 2012 at 10:55 AM

    From the king of Panera:Back to 2005 Pine Tar Look, I love Tommy Milone, He had me at hello when he hit that homerun (i was at that game). But we got GIO and I will keep Gio. I wish Tommy nothing but the best with the A's, but I am glad we have Gio.

  17. Natslifer - Jun 21, 2012 at 11:34 AM

    Was at the game last night and my seats are over the Nats dugout with a good view of things:- I totally love Strasburg and this team but he was no Verlander last night. He labored too much and got lots of 0-2 and 1-2 counts that turned into 3-2. The last piece of the puzzle is not over throwing when he's ahead in the count – keep it close and make 'em flail.- LOVED Lombo's catch. He's just learning the outfield and it was textbook – always break back first, then come forward. A more experienced guy would've had a better read but he didn't. Ball had just enough topspin to start dieing (sp?) in front of him – what a super catch that he just wasn't going to miss.- There's hope for 3 and 4. Zimmy's bat is just plain slow but he got good reads on the balls he hit hard or came close to. He was really on that last curve he hit. Morse is seeing the ball well too and hitting it hard – they'll fall more often soon enough.- Their pitcher last night did a great job of mixing up fastball speeds. He must have struck out 6 of our guys by throwing one at 91 and the last one at 94-96 – you'd think they might have been ready for it by the last inning.

  18. Doc - Jun 21, 2012 at 11:43 AM

    MicheleS thanks for the link to the 2005 Pine Tar incident–fun read!The kicker was that Peralta was the last pitcher in for Scioscia that night–funny!!!

  19. alexva - Jun 21, 2012 at 11:49 AM

    Quick takes: 27k+ shows the town is catching on to what we have here; switch Strasburg and JZimm above the shoulders and their records would be reversed; predicting what will happen to the rotation post-Strasburg is a waste of time as so much can change over the next two months; Archer is a legit MLB starter to be.

  20. baseballswami - Jun 21, 2012 at 11:52 AM

    So happy for tmilone but I think this is one instance where both parties in the trade are happy. He would be in Syracuse here I think. Right place, right time, right division. I was at the game last night, too. Our hitters make entirely too many outs on one pitch. You blink , you miss the bottom of the inning. Easy on their pitcher. I think we might have had one inning where we got out on three pitches. No more than . Aggressive hitting. I hate it. Give me a good work the count anyway.

  21. MicheleS - Jun 21, 2012 at 11:59 AM

    Swami.. working the count – which is why I miss Werth.I will step aside since that comment alone will set this place on fire.

  22. Steady Eddie - Jun 21, 2012 at 12:25 PM

    Michele — Here's a second for missing Werth and the patience example he set. The point is that more often than not, early pitch hurting means putting the ball in play in the pitcher's pitch. Thus Morse andZim's many ground ours. But toWork the count you need many foul-offs until you see YOUR pitch, which is a skill not regularly in evidence.But example playing next to you is much stronger than words in the dugout. When Harp and ALR were being selective it seemed to rub off on others, esp. Espi and even Ankiel for a couple if games.

  23. baseballswami - Jun 21, 2012 at 1:01 PM

    Ankiel . The very model of the aggressive hitter. He might as well close his eyes and swing three times and the results will probably be the same. I am hoping that our rookies don't catch the illness. I don't think I realized how much of an influence Werth has when he is on the field. He has a presence and a stature when he is with the team. He is missed in a lot of ways. I think he is especially good for Bryce.

  24. MicheleS - Jun 21, 2012 at 1:08 PM

    I have no idea how many of you have Svrluga's book about 2005, but P. 169 Chapter 9 goes into full detail about Frank/Guillen. It's just GREAT!

  25. natsfan1a - Jun 21, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    Add me on the Werth-missing.Re. Milone, I'm happy for him but glad we got Gio. As I noted on an earlier thread, when I was in the Bay Area recently there was a news item after one of his road starts. They noted the marked difference between his home and his road started. Executive summary: .99 ERA at home, 7.42 on the road. Full splits are here.(sec3, as previously noted, loving the album cover.)

  26. NatsFirin'BBs - Jun 21, 2012 at 1:12 PM

    Seems to me that when you're behind in the count 0-2 or 1-2 is when you're swinging at the pitcher's pitch. A lot of the aggression early in the count comes from looking to jump on a get-me-over pitch. Now, it won't take long for the opposition to see that and start the boys off with slop, but I don't dislike the aggression.

  27. natsfan1a - Jun 21, 2012 at 1:12 PM

    MicheleS, I have it, and I've thought about writing an index to it (that's my day job). Haven't gotten around to it yet, though. :-)

  28. natsfan1a - Jun 21, 2012 at 1:15 PM

    Also on a Sinatra note, did Davey (Hi, Skip!) really just use sec3's prior musical selection? :-)"I think the best is yet to come with him."

  29. Steady Eddie - Jun 21, 2012 at 1:15 PM

    BBs — what you said makes sense in general but it ignores the fact that the rest of the league has noticed the Nats' determination to swing-from-the-heels at first pitches. So they don't get "get-me-over" first pitches, they get the kind of first pitch breaking balls at the bottom of the zone that Archer gave them last night, especially after the first inning.

  30. mick - Jun 21, 2012 at 1:23 PM

    Clip is the BEAST and Burnett is simply a tough mofo. Add Storen in a month and maybe all we need is 3 runs a game. I would rather the Nats not live like that. It would really be nice to win tonight and then take 2 of 3 verse the BaltiMORONS, heading into division play.

  31. mick - Jun 21, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    I really don't like Maddon, if there is justice we win the series tonight

  32. A DC Wonk - Jun 21, 2012 at 1:25 PM

    baseballswami said…Our hitters make entirely too many outs on one pitch. You blink , you miss the bottom of the inning. Easy on their pitcher. I think we might have had one inning where we got out on three pitches. No more than . Aggressive hitting. I hate it. Give me a good work the count anyway.The question is:_Do_ our hitters miss more on the first pitch than other teams?For example: Ian Desmond is hitting .403 on the first pitch. Espinosa is hitting .371 (!!)(On the other hand, I realize this stat is a bit deceiving, because if you swing and miss at the first pitch, it doesn't factor in to the "batting average with a 0-0 count).But, still . . . that tells me that, at least for these guys (and I didn't check others) that if the first pitch looks good, they should swing.Or am I missing something here?

  33. Steady Eddie - Jun 21, 2012 at 1:25 PM

    mick — You mean, if there is GIO we win the series tonight!

  34. Steady Eddie - Jun 21, 2012 at 1:28 PM

    Wonk — what you're missing is mostly what you already recognized. First pitch swing and miss (Espi) and swing and foul (Desi) aren't counted. The key data is as to how many first pitch swings we put into play, relative to the BAPIP you cited.

  35. mick - Jun 21, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    I know, I know, justice, my friend Vito just put in my place about Maddon he said to me … "I understand. You found paradise in America. You had a good trade, you made a good living. The police protected you and there were courts of law. So you didn't need a friend like me. Now you come and say "Don Corleone, give me justice." But you don't ask with respect. You don't offer friendship. You don't even think to call me "Godfather." You come into my house on the day my daughter is to be married and you ask me to do murder – for money."lol

  36. Steady Eddie - Jun 21, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    Data ARE, I know, I know….

  37. natsfan1a - Jun 21, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    er, I meant to type starts. Needed that second cup of coffee to get my motor started, evidently.and his road started

  38. baseballswami - Jun 21, 2012 at 1:31 PM

    I can see how that might be true of desi. Espinoza I am guessing all from the right side. I have become a great admirer of fouling off pitches until you get the right one. Plus it helps to wear down the pitcher and put pressure on him so that he might make a mistake. I see the opposing team do it a lot. Seems like I have seen some of our guys do it. Maybe lombo. Nice for the lead off guy so that you see all the pitches.

  39. natsfan1a - Jun 21, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    For Mick"And I said to myself, This is the business we've chosen. I didn't ask who gave the order. Because it had nothing to do with business."

  40. mick - Jun 21, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    natsfan1A, lolololo

  41. NatsLady - Jun 21, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    Swami, I know this is a negative thought, but I have suspected that Ankiel doesn't really like hitting. I know he works at it, and it's great when he has one of those 3 for 4 days…but I have this feeling that on the average day he's just as glad to get it over with and head back to the outfield.OTOH, I think Zim is taking the slump hard. Looking back to how hot he was in ST, and also to the slumps Albert and Joey Bats had, I don't think he's forgotten how to hit, the hits are just not coming for him.

  42. A DC Wonk - Jun 21, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    Bryce Harper stat update:1. As of right now (if I am figuring this correctly) he's only about seven plate appearances from qualifying for the leaders. (Note, however, this is based on 3.1 PA per game, and so, e.g., if he bats four times today, he will be six plate appearances away.)2. Leads the team in: BA/OBP/SLG/OPS, and triples. Third in runs scored, total bases, walks, HR's. Fourth in hits, doubles, RBI's, SB's. (5th in K's, 1st in caught stealing). Zero GIDP!

  43. A DC Wonk - Jun 21, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    Steady Eddie said… Wonk — what you're missing is mostly what you already recognized. First pitch swing and miss (Espi) and swing and foul (Desi) aren't counted. The key data is as to how many first pitch swings we put into play, relative to the BAPIP you cited.Yep — I hear ya'. So, are there stats for _that_ anywhere?

  44. greg - Jun 21, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    btw, you can temper some of the milone love with this set of stats: (era/whip/baa)Away 7.42/1.67/.317Home 0.99/0.77/.169i wish the guy well, but while this is a limited pool of stats, that's a pretty scary (almost coors field like) set of splits. oakland is an extreme pitchers park and the difference is striking.

  45. hiramhover - Jun 21, 2012 at 1:42 PM

    As a team, Nats swing at 32% of the first pitches they see. MLB average in 27%. Desi is at 47%, Espi and Harper are barely behind at 46%.You can be sure other teams know those #s, and plan accordingly.

  46. NatsLady - Jun 21, 2012 at 1:42 PM

    When you look at Harper, you see a guy who likes hitting. He'll stay at the plate as long as he can, taking a walk is just fine–he's still won the battle with the pitcher. For Ankiel, the action is in the outfield, and he doesn't mind that there are long stretches of inactivity. Harper tolerates the outfield, makes good plays, etc., but you can see he's itching to get back to offense, to the dugout where, even when he's not at bat, he can study the opposing pitcher.

  47. A DC Wonk - Jun 21, 2012 at 1:45 PM

    … and attendance stats update:Nats averaging 7,125 more per game than last year — third highest increase in MLB. IF they can get over 27,155 tonight, they pass the one million mark.I'm doing my share for tonight — I'm bringing my family (four) and our next door neighbor's family (eight) for a total of 12!

  48. greg - Jun 21, 2012 at 1:45 PM

    yup. not much reason to throw a first pitch strike to either of them. especially if you can keep it somewhere around the plate.

  49. natsfan1a - Jun 21, 2012 at 1:53 PM

    Greg, yeah, I think I read that somewhere. :-)btw, you can temper some of the milone love with this set of stats:

  50. A DC Wonk - Jun 21, 2012 at 2:03 PM

    hiramhover said… As a team, Nats swing at 32% of the first pitches they see. MLB average in 27%. Desi is at 47%, Espi and Harper are barely behind at 46%.For Desi and Harper, though, it's working, don't you think? Harper is the best hitter on the team. Desi might be the third best at this point.Look — I hear what you're saying. As a fan I like to see guys work the count, increase the pitches of the opponents, keep fouling off until you get a good pitch, and so forth.But, there may be a certain logic to swinging at the first pitch when it's a good pitcher and you don't want to get behind in the count — or a pitcher that you think is just going to lay one over the plate to get ahead in the count.As to which works better? I suspect it depends both on the pitcher and on the hitter.

  51. NatsLady - Jun 21, 2012 at 2:08 PM

    “Seven beers and a sleeping pill” is Ozzie’s tonic for recovering from 15-5 Marlins lossLOL, the Fish and their manager. Boy did we have bad luck getting them in May.BTW, speaking of slumps,Giancarlo Standon in June,.172/.254/.281 (and 2 GIDP).by Joe CapozziHard to say whether manager Ozzie Guillen was joking with his response when he was asked to sum up the Marlins’ 15-5 loss tonight.“Easy,” he replied with a chuckle. “Seven Presidentes (beer) and a sleeping pill and be ready for the job tomorrow.”

  52. natsfan1a - Jun 21, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    Good on you, Wonk, and don't forget to hydrate.On a similar note, y'all may recall my having mentioned a (Yankee fan) colleague of my husband's. Over the years, when the Nats were mentioned, his comments ranged from "Don't they really [stink]?" Or, "Aren't all of their players thugs?" Well, he may have had a point in the past, but this is a new era. This season, he and his wife allowed as how they wanted to attend a Nats game, and we threw out a few dates for them. I omitted the Yankees series, because most of those tickets were gone well before his inquiry (although hubby and I already had two for last Sunday – heh). Anyhoo, evidently they tried to get tix for this weekend, but struck out (told ya). Anyfurtherhoo, we arrived at a mutually agreeable date, and we'll be going to a game with them (along with two other newbies) in a few weeks. Further, when we came home from Sunday's game, the neighbor across the street came over and said that they wanted to take their kids to a game, so I fixed them up with info on ticket specials and what-not. The bandwagon is now boarding, folks. Step right up and get your tickets. :-)

  53. hiramhover - Jun 21, 2012 at 2:29 PM

    DC WonkRight–some first pitches, you should swing at. That's why I gave the league average as a point of comparison–if you're wildly off the league averages, it suggests a free swinging propensity that the pitcher can use. Yesterday's game is a case in pt. In the first inn, both Harper and Desi took the first pitches they saw for balls. Good. Now fast forward to the later innings. In the 6th, Harper swings at the first pitch he sees–a change up high and away. He pops it up for an out. In the 7th, Desi swings at the first pitch he sees, a slider up and in. He fouls it off and goes on to strike out on 3 pitches. Both first pitches were borderline–on pitchf/x, they look more like balls but could have been called strikes. But they were definitely pitchers' pitches–ones that the batter was unlikely to do much with. Harper and Desi chose to swing anyway.As to whether their approaches are working. For now, yes–but can they sustain it, and would they be even better with a more patient approach? Harper is 19yo–he's good and will only get better. As to Desi–a lot of his success this year is linked to a dramatic power boost–can he keep it up? Will pitchers make the obvious adjustment to his free-swinging approach? I'm impressed, but the jury is still out.

  54. hiramhover - Jun 21, 2012 at 2:34 PM

    WonkAnd I second NatsLady–enjoy the game, and bring lots of water!

  55. Steady Eddie - Jun 21, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    hiramhover –Good analysis. Except as to Desi, he's been more than free-swinging this year. You don't get his remarkable number of RBI hits (mostly singles and doubles) with two outs and RISP by Ankiel-type swings. But I think especially now that he's been moved down in the order into more of a Werth hitter-type slot — and that's what Desi is at least in the course of becoming, which is a compliment — he does need to be a little more strategic in some of his ABs. Like DCWonk said, the wisdom of first-pitch swinging depends somewhat on the pitcher and the game situation. As hh noted, Desi did just that in the first inning last night.

  56. JD - Jun 21, 2012 at 2:38 PM

    hiramhover, I too am concerned about Desmond. His .292 OBP which is consistent with his career numbers may yet foretell difficult times. He has countered these stats by hitting for more power than in the past as well as fairly consistent 'clutch' hitting and some superb defense. If all these remain constant then he will continue to be valuable (1.9 WAR at this time of the year extrapolates to about 5 which is really good) but if you accept the notion that 'clutch' is a function of luck at least to some extent and if you also expect that the power numbers will regress to career norms then there may be some difficulty in the horizon. On the other hand there should be some major production boosts coming from Zim and Morse.

  57. Steady Eddie - Jun 21, 2012 at 2:41 PM

    By the way, Nats Lady, interesting comment on Ankiel. I suspect it's not that he doesn't like hitting, it's that he has no appetite to work at it. Which is a shame, because in the couple of games (late last month?) where he did show some plate discipline, he actually got a couple of walks. In other words, with just a little more effort, he could use his swing from the heels rep to his advantage. And I expect he wouldn't give the pitchers a good basis to catch onto that strategy, because no way at his age would he stick to that kind of strategic approach for long. But he at least should try it when he PHs (which thankfully looks to be the bulk of his ABs in the near future thanks to Lombo and TMo).

  58. TimDz - Jun 21, 2012 at 2:43 PM

    NatsLady,Remember that we have only played five games against the fish, with each team holding serve in their own house.Besides, the fish are ripe for an implosion. The Mets can't pitch Dickey every night (although Santana has looked good recently) and the filthies are just old and will not be playing meaningful games beyond August (if not sooner)That leaves the Nats and Braves to fight it out for the Division Title…Should be a great Summer…

  59. NatsLady - Jun 21, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    As to which works better? I suspect it depends both on the pitcher and on the hitter.Been sayin' this and sayin' this. There is no one approach–if there were, everyone would be doing it. Against Nova the taking pitches wear him out wasn't going to work, against Price it might have. Werth drove me crazy with routinely (and predictably) taking first pitch strikes–giving away 1/3 of the at-bat. But he's done that his whole career and he is a great two-strike hitter. Not everyone is. In particular, letting the first pitch go by wasn't working for RZ. Pitchers are rated–yes, they are–by how often they get first pitch strikes. They want the count in their favor so they can maybe "waste" one and set up the next pitch (Clip loves to do that, he doesn't throw pitches, he throws sequences of pitches). If you disturb the pitcher's plan by going after that first strike, he might change his plan for the next batter, and that next batter gets ahead in the count. The key is what Davey said–"selective aggression." Easy to say, not so easy to do…

  60. NatsLady - Jun 21, 2012 at 2:47 PM

    suspect it's not that he doesn't like hitting, it's that he has no appetite to work at it. Which is a shame, because in the couple of games (late last month?) where he did show some plate discipline, he actually got a couple of walks.Yes, that is a better way of putting it. I know he works on his hitting in practice, but during games he doesn't very often show patience. I think that little streak of walks was after he struck out a bunch of times (including in game-winning situations) and Davey made it clear he wasn't going to play at all unless he put in more effort at the plate.

  61. JD - Jun 21, 2012 at 2:51 PM

    NastLady, Absolutely right. I don't advocate automatic taking of the 1st pitch any more than automatically swinging at the 1st pitch. I don't like it when our aggressive hitters swing at the 1st pitch when it's a pitchers pitch which they do regularly. Espi has had some good at bats up until it gets to 3-2 at which point every pitcher throws an off speed pitch below the knees and Espi strikes out on it every time (from the left side); if he ever lays off these pitches even if he takes called 3rd strike occasionally he may start getting better pitches to drive.

  62. hiramhover - Jun 21, 2012 at 3:01 PM

    Oops, a slight correction to my comment before about yesterday's game–I gave Desmond more credit for patience than he deserved.In the first inn, as well, Desi swung and missed at the first pitch, a borderline slider on the outside corner. But he went on to take 3 balls and then hit a run scoring single.

  63. sjm308 - Jun 21, 2012 at 3:06 PM

    NatsLady – I paid a great deal of attention to Clip last night as we stood and clapped for all 3 outs. He started the first batter off with an 82mph change for a strike! Who does that? He was ahead of all 3 batters and of course struck out #1 & #3. He really does attack with a plan and I just don't know how you hit his change up since it looks just like his fastball as it leaves his hand. Great crowd but it still took 2 outs in the 9th to get everyone on their feet. I guess its baby steps but there was no wave last night either.Go Nats!!

  64. sjm308 - Jun 21, 2012 at 3:08 PM

    Oh, add me to MichelleS's list of people missing Werth. Outfield of Werth/Harper/Morse will be super with Lombo playing left when Davey moves Morse to first against Lefties, and 2nd & 3rd when Davey rests Espi & Zimm as we get into the dog days.

  65. NatsLady - Jun 21, 2012 at 3:09 PM

    I hope when Detwiler was in the bullpen he was paying attention to how Clip operates. Clip gets not one but TWO bad calls in the Elliot Johnson at-bat (fair ball called foul, and a strike called a ball). And he just keeps working. They didn't show it last night, but Clip shakes off a lot of calls from his catchers. I've seen him shake his head two and three times beforea pitch. It made me think. Clip doesn't watch much video of opposing hitters (he said so). He watches a lot of video, but of himself, checking everything, improving his motion, making sure hitters can't tell from his release point what he's throwing. BUT: He sits in the bullpen watching the batters all game (he does, that's been reported on before), and he comes in with a plan. The catcher doesn't always know the plan, and Clip has no hesitation shaking him off. Mark of a veteran.

  66. NatsLady - Jun 21, 2012 at 3:14 PM

    sjm–Davey won't keep Lombo in LF and he won't move Morse to 1B. Lombo will go back to the "super-utility role," as planned (Rizzo said that on the radio, but it was obvious anyway). Lombo will spell RZ/Espi/Desi for days off and Moore will get 1B if ALR gets a day off (or if Davey wants more righties in the lineup). Nady's days are numbered.

  67. Steady Eddie - Jun 21, 2012 at 3:21 PM

    Nats Lady — I hope when Detwiler was in the bullpen he was paying attention to how Clip operates. Clip gets not one but TWO bad calls in the Elliot Johnson at-bat (fair ball called foul, and a strike called a ball). And he just keeps working.I'm with you on the hope, and that was a great example to point to. Gio gives other good examples too. But the challenge is not only to recognize an important lesson in your head, but to be able to internalize it viscerally in how you act. This goes way beyond baseball, and can be one of the hardest things to learn. Some people can do it instantly, for others (I have to admit being in this camp) it can take the better part of a lifetime.That's where coaches come in. One thing Davey seems to have is a tremendous amount of emotional intelligence (as well as intellectual), to find ways for young players to make that translation from what they know in their heads to what they can act on in their guts.

  68. NCNatsie - Jun 21, 2012 at 3:26 PM

    NatsLady, your point on Clippard's preparation makes sense to me, but is it really possible for him to "sit in the bullpen watching the batters?" I've never watched a game from an outfield bullpen, but it strikes me as a lousy seat from which to figure out how the batters are behaving."

  69. JD - Jun 21, 2012 at 3:36 PM

    Does any one know why Eury Perez is playing in the rookie GCL? he was at AA Harrisburg all year and wasn't terrible.

  70. NatsLady - Jun 21, 2012 at 3:39 PM

    NCN–I can only go by what's been reported and what I've observed. I have terrible eyesight, and I've sat at field-level exactly once (after a 4-hour rain-delay…)But I would suspect that, yes, Clip can see what pitch Molina hit the HR off Stras, etc. I bet these guys have better than 20/20. By the eighth inning, he's got a pretty good idea which hitters he'll face. I think he visualizes them pitch-by-pitch in his head (like a card-counter in a gambling casino, not actually that hard) and matches them to his own repertoire.He takes very short warm-ups, in fact, he's trying to take even shorter ones to lower his practice pitches and have more pitches available on the mound. Not a lot of time to get a "feel" for which pitches are working. That means his preparation during the game is 95% mental.

  71. NatsLady - Jun 21, 2012 at 3:41 PM

    JD–isn't he coming off an injury? Also, I believe it's all-star break for AA. So maybe they wanted him to come right back in.

  72. Steady Eddie - Jun 21, 2012 at 3:43 PM

    JD — Yeah, Natslady is correct re Perez — GCL play is rehab after his time on the DL.

  73. pRAA - Jun 21, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    NatsLady, your point on Clippard's preparation makes sense to me, but is it really possible for him to "sit in the bullpen watching the batters?" I've never watched a game from an outfield bullpen, but it strikes me as a lousy seat from which to figure out how the batters are behaving."Clippard was clearly paying close attention to the batters when he led the charge to change the lottery numbers in Philadelphia, wasn't he? He probably does pay close attention to the batters when this NatsLady is around, though. Gotta occupy yourself with something when you have a weird wuss lady looking over your shoulder obsessing on your every move. Talk about creepy…

  74. NatsLady - Jun 21, 2012 at 3:46 PM

    Oh, that pR— is back. No chance for intelligent conversation now. Later, folks.

  75. Ron In Reston - Jun 21, 2012 at 3:54 PM

    And exactly what was the point of that childish outburst, pRAA? Just plain disrespectful and rude. Did Peralta put pine tar in your cornflakes this morning?

  76. NatsLady - Jun 21, 2012 at 3:57 PM

    R in R–he/she does that all the time. Luckily in this case I had finished my thoughts on Clip, but I was enjoying the back and forth. Oh, well, needed get to laundry anyway…

  77. MicheleS - Jun 21, 2012 at 4:00 PM

    Well pRAA obsesses over Peric….Just Sayin..

  78. Ron In Reston - Jun 21, 2012 at 4:04 PM

    I've been wondering if they've ever been seen in the same room together….

  79. Steady Eddie - Jun 21, 2012 at 4:05 PM

    Michele –and peric over pRAA.Lotta self-involvement goin' on.

  80. JD - Jun 21, 2012 at 4:11 PM

    I simply skip reading anytime either of these self proclaimed geniuses posts (not sure if they are the same person or not). This saves me the trouble of reading unnecessary venom as well as a couple of minutes of valuable time where I can do something more constructive such as picking my nose.

  81. JD - Jun 21, 2012 at 4:12 PM

    Coincidentally, Does any one know what happened to MarkD and Incognito? I always thought they contributed to the discussions in a positive manner.

  82. fast eddie - Jun 21, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    My wife dragged me off to eastern Europe as the Nats were heading to Boston. Thanks to NI postings, I see we've been 7-4 since then, a more than respectable .636 clip.I've worn my red curly "W" cap every day but received only one comment: "Go Badgers"! Oh, well, not to worry. To paraphrase Yogi: "Every journey starts with a single step; then, ya gotta take a bunch more to get where you're going."The only sports coverage on TV is Euro Cup 2012. Ironically, BBC World News reported on the infamous pine tar incident–the only Nats "news" I could get.

  83. NatsLady - Jun 21, 2012 at 4:21 PM

    JD–"I have a little list, you never will be missed." (Gilbert&Sullivan).Yes, on the other hand, some posters are definitely missed.

  84. MicheleS - Jun 21, 2012 at 4:32 PM

    And i miss DFH21

  85. sjm308 - Jun 21, 2012 at 4:42 PM

    Natslady – thanks for the opinions and your are probably correct on Lombardozzi – I do with Davey would start to rest all 4 of the infielders just a bit more. We have pieces now that make that possible. I would guess none would be happy with a day off but I think it will pay dividends down the road.JD, skipping posts has been brought up before and I guess I am just an old sucker for trying to read everything, but you certainly are correct. They honestly don't add to the blog unless you consider rudeness and mean spirited commentary an addition. Hope your nose is well.Go Nats!!

  86. sjm308 - Jun 21, 2012 at 4:44 PM

    Man, spell correct was awful. "you" are and I do "wish"

  87. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jun 21, 2012 at 4:51 PM

    Saw the Tom Milone postgame interview on MLB Network. He has a home ERA of 0.99 now which is tops in the Majors.Very happy for him. I am a consistent proponent for "stuff" over Velo without control and movement. That comment is targeted directly at the Lannan haters and HenRod apologists.

  88. NatsLady - Jun 21, 2012 at 4:55 PM

    sjm–I think Davey will do that as we enter the long stretch after the All-Star break. Also, he mentioned that he would be letting starters go longer (I assume he means Gio and JZ).





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