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Still focused on the ultimate prize

Aug 11, 2012, 6:53 AM EDT

US Presswire photo
Stephen Strasburg allowed one hit over six innings to earn his 13th win.

PHOENIX — The 70-win plateau shouldn’t mean anything for a ballclub, but in the mostly unremarkable, 78-year history of Washington baseball, that figure has been reached only 37 times.

And only twice before had a D.C. baseball team gotten to the 70-win mark in 113 games or fewer: 1925 and 1933. The common thread between those two Senators clubs? They’re the last two Washington teams to reach the World Series.

So the fact the Nationals joined that rare group Friday night with a 9-1 dismantling of the Diamondbacks speaks volumes about the quality of baseball being played by this team in 2012. Even if those inside the clubhouse insist they’re still not getting caught up in the hysteria.

“That number’s not important to me,” manager Davey Johnson said. “What’s important to me is how we play every day, and we’re playing like I know we’re capable of playing. We’re not doing anything more, anything special. We’re just playing within ourselves.”
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  1. karlkolchak - Aug 11, 2012 at 7:44 AM

    Another W-L factoid to consider: the Expos-Nationals franchise has won 95 games or more exactly ONCE in its entire 44-year history, going 95-65 way back in 1979.

  2. bluejeener - Aug 11, 2012 at 9:34 AM

    Impossible to be analytical about this team; it is too much fun watching them do special things and have fun themselves. In 2005 I thought the team had an advantage because they were all new in the city at the same time, almost forcing them to bond. This team just seems to like each other, what they do, us, and even the Natitude and the President's race. So, of course, we LOVE them. Go Nats, I mean GYFNG!

  3. natsfan1a - Aug 11, 2012 at 10:10 AM

    Yay, a happy game results email! Looks like they busted out the bats, too. Gotta watch the replay later.In your morning Shark Report, Bernie bested the, uh, Royals infield (What's up with that?). Next up, a Hairston (Scott, to be precise). The new poll isn't posted yet, but you know the drill. Vote early and often.

  4. Faraz Shaikh - Aug 11, 2012 at 10:47 AM

    thanks for the update, 1a.Saw Hairston's catch, nothing special. Harper made the same play in first inning of last Sunday's game against Miami.Saw some of the highlights. Good game to win. Feel sorry for the HP umpire that got taken out. They need to dress up like Knights to avoid injuries. Saw some posts complaining about SS's deep counts. I don't mind it if he is one-hitting the opponent.Also I hope everyone stops talking about SS being shut down. Went to ESPN to see Web Gems, they were talking about how SS can be stretched to 180 and still be able to pitch the last game of the season. Went back to MLB and Joe Saunders was talking about it.

  5. Joe Seamhead - Aug 11, 2012 at 10:48 AM

    Mark, maybe I particularly like the subject matter, but I think that this one of your best columns ever. HERE! HERE! May that the Nats continue to inspire such brilliance !

  6. sjb - Aug 11, 2012 at 10:50 AM

    Actually, Mark was a little off; there were THREE Washington teams that got to the Series. The 1925 team won 96 games as opposed to 92 in 1924, and got to 70 wins in 109 games. Of course, while the 1924 team won the Series (from the Giants), the 1925 team lost (to the Pirates).

  7. sjb - Aug 11, 2012 at 10:54 AM

    Please disregard the previous comment.

  8. Faraz Shaikh - Aug 11, 2012 at 11:02 AM

    Since I love to fantasize about Nationals, I was thinking what opponent would generate most headlines if Nats were in WS right now:a) Yankees: Return the favor for sweeping us back in June.b) White Sox: Dunn against former teammates.c) Athletics: Milone and Norris against Gio and Kurt in game 7.

  9. Faraz Shaikh - Aug 11, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    Did anyone have a chance to go through 'Best OF Arms' list? How come Cuddyer is on that list? Wasn't he mainly a IF most of his time in MN?Edwin in Chase tonight? Should we expect similar outcome to Edwin in Coors? He does not have that bad numbers in Chase but his ERA is above 5. But let's hope he is not the same pitcher he was in 2010.

  10. Faraz Shaikh - Aug 11, 2012 at 11:21 AM

    If I am not mistaken, this is the first .500+ club we are facing since that Atlanta series at home. We played Mets, Brewers, Phillies, Marlins, and Astros since then. In that same period, Braves have played Marlins, Phillies, Marlins, Astros, and then Phillies again.

  11. Faraz Shaikh - Aug 11, 2012 at 11:22 AM

    oh and Cuddyer was an OF for most of his MN stay since 2006 until he left.Anyways I still don't think that list is perfect.

  12. Joe Seamhead - Aug 11, 2012 at 11:31 AM

    Also, like a couple of others , we took the plunge to insure seating throughout the playoffs. Ouch! Every single day I am just giddy over this team. Even though I predicted last fall that they would have a great year, and that the last Phillies series would be meaningless because they would be out of it, the reality of it actually happening is surreal. After a lifetime of not having a serious contending baseball team this is just almost impossible to grok. When MLB dumped this bag of damaged goods in our laps those few years ago, I was just euphoric that DC got a team, warts and all. Not only was the team akin to an old Rambler with two hundred thousand miles on it, the farm that came with it was suffering from blight. I went to the very first game in Philly, suffered through the years when they were so bad, and through what was the low point on opening day a couple of years ago when our house got named CBP South. Then along came 2012. From the frustrations of Bad Henry to the joys of Morse's 460 foot home run, this TEAM has just brought one rush of adrenalin after another. I just can't adequately put it into words. I only give thanks that this lifelong baseball fan is feeling a part of whatever it is that you call this.GYFNG!

  13. baseballswami - Aug 11, 2012 at 12:04 PM

    Faraz – yes, that is factually true about the clubs we faced – that they are under.500. But – we have often struggled with the Brewers at Miller Field and we have usually struggled with the Marlins. Plus, the Phils and Mets, being in our division, play us tough. So, even though it looks like a walk in the park on paper, we all know there is no such thing.There have been a number of weeks/series that we said were the tough part of the schedule or the make or break. Turns out the nats hit a little wall against the stros. Let down after a big home series? Huge park – no fans in the seats, on the road, time change – who knows? They battled through it as usual. The mental toughness and resilience are just remarkable.

  14. sjm308 - Aug 11, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    You and me Seamhead, you and me!!Very similar in just about every point of your post but your analogy to the Rambler and old farm were great!When this team arrived, I took joy in going to Major League Baseball in Washington DC. I reveled in RFK and its smell (though to their credit, they did/do have a Guinness stand). I posted on here about enjoying the game being played because that was how I was going to stay positive and not gripe or complain about our lads even when we really were not good. Its just a wonderful time for this old fan and I will continue to relish every minute. No worries about SS's command, back, innings count. No worries about Harper or Lombo being so young. No worries about Zimm and his shoulder. Just baseball and winning baseball. We are finally talking about a stat I understand without a lot of letters in front of it. WINS. We score one more run then the other team and its "curly W" time. Pretty simple.Go Nats!!

  15. karlkolchak - Aug 11, 2012 at 12:51 PM

    So, 133 IP for Stras after last night, or 47 left until 180. If he goes an average of 6 IP each time out, that would give him 8 more starts or 40 more games, meaning he would miss at most 1 or 2 starts at the end of the season when the Nats will hopefully already have at least a playoff spot wrapped up. Looks like his shut down will be not be a terribly significant factor after all, at least for the regular season.

  16. andrew lang - Aug 11, 2012 at 1:08 PM

    Very relieved to see the bats going especially Zim and Morse.For the person who was worried about Lombo, his BABIP was working for him.

  17. Theophilus T. S. - Aug 11, 2012 at 1:08 PM

    A couple of thoughts that struck me this morning:1. How good Burnett has been. AZ was in striking distance and he just throttled them. Carp or FP said he's the most consistent RP in the NL and that is an understatement. It seems to me his motion is so smooth he can easily replicate it night after night. Also that there is very little stress on his arm and he is likely to have a long career. (Orosco?) Hope the Nats keep him as long as his cost doesn't become prohibitive. Given the way Johnson works his BP, the third reliever is as important as the 8th and 9th inning guys.2. Remember this Spring when folks couldn't figure out how Johnson would find 300 ABs for Lombardozzi? Now he looks to be on pace for 400+. This has accelerated Lombardozzi's development as a hitter and he should be better — at least w/ more power — next year. I'm still not certain I'd want him as an every-day starter at any of the positions he has played but he really reminds me of Aaron Miles, who had a really nice career — including one season in which he played seven positions.

  18. Joe Seamhead - Aug 11, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    Fredi Gonzalez needs to worry about the Braves and keep his trap shut. He said that like the Braves last year, the Nats bullpen is over used and will blow up at the end. Maybe if Fredi hadn't depended almost exclusively on Kimbrel and Venters his pen may not have blown up in the last 2 weeks of last season. The Nats will win because they have the better team ,led by the better manager.GYFNG!!!

  19. Cwj - Aug 11, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    Yeah, I think the reason most (national, not local) pundits are so obsessed with Strasburg's eventual shutdown is because they finally realize the Nats are going to the playoffs. Obviously not having him in the post season will hurt, but I'm in complete agreement with the 180 IP limit to save his arm for years to come.Go Nats!!!

  20. hiramhover - Aug 11, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    KarlI know you're committed to the 180 #, but just remember, that's your #, not Rizzo's. He's been careful to say things like not more than 180. (Last time I checked, 170 and 160 were still #s below 180.)I point this out now only so that if/when they shut him down at 165 or so., you don't wail and gnash your teeth about Rizzo changing the plan.

  21. Gonat - Aug 11, 2012 at 1:23 PM

    MLB Network on Strasburg now.

  22. Gonat - Aug 11, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    Funny, they have a StrasMeter with his innings limit.

  23. Cwj - Aug 11, 2012 at 1:26 PM

    Gonat- Yeah I just saw that :-)

  24. Gonat - Aug 11, 2012 at 1:27 PM

    Chad Tracy may not have batted in the game, but his bat did. I saw that Bryce Harper was using Chad's Louisville Slugger in the game.Also, FP and Carp were saying Jayson Werth is using a lighter bat.

  25. karlkolchak - Aug 11, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    @hiramhover – No way Stras is being shut down at 165 unless he is feeling arm pain or something. Rizzo saying "no more than 180" is his way of signaling that it won't happen at least until the team at least has a playoff berth secured. That said, I'm sure he would love it if the Nats could shake off Atlanta and open September with about a 10 game division lead and take the pressure off the decision. That's the only scenario I see where it would happen short of 180.We talk about the financial aspect of the shut down and the need to protect their investment in Strasburg, but there is also a lot of money at stake in at least making the playoffs, both in home game revenue AND in the boost to attendance next year,

  26. Joe Seamhead - Aug 11, 2012 at 1:41 PM

    Interesting reading, in that I looked back to Mark's April 4, 2012 column, "MLB Predictions," and April, 5 2012 column, "Media Prediction's."Mark, the Nats are only 14 wins away from you prediction for the year. Oh, yeah, I also found this one from April 4 of mine:Joe Seamhead said… My prediction all along has been that Davey Johnson will be the NL Manager of the Year.That's not going to happen with a 3rd, or 4th place finish.I'm telling you NI er's, the last series against the Phils will be be meaningless because the Phils will be collecting ML Medicare by then, and be out of the race. The dogfight will be with with the Nats and the Braves. April 04, 2012 7:09 PM ____________I stand by my predictions. Virtually nobody outside of this board thought that the Nats were for real this year.

  27. Gonat - Aug 11, 2012 at 1:44 PM

    Joe, there were a couple guys on the MLB Network who had the Nats from the start.

  28. Gonat - Aug 11, 2012 at 1:46 PM

    Looks like Bryce will sit tonight against Rookie lefty Wade Miley.Sounds like Tyler Moore, Jayson Werth, Michael Morse in the outfield tonight!

  29. BigCat - Aug 11, 2012 at 1:57 PM

    SJM….I hear ya. From old RFK to this. You gotta love it.And Manassas Nats Fan….I too will join your club of not recognizing Torre's bogus decision on Morse's streak. As far as I am concerned…..his streak is at 19 games.They say Hamel whined to Torre. What a wimp

  30. Joe Seamhead - Aug 11, 2012 at 1:58 PM

    Gonat, agreed there were a couple of guys, but most of the so called experts were laughing at them.It was fun going back and looking at all of our predictions as to who would go to the All Star game for the Nats. Not too many picked Ian Desmond!

  31. Cwj - Aug 11, 2012 at 1:58 PM

    I think I had the Nats finishing 87-75. That would now be a huge disappointment!

  32. sjm308 - Aug 11, 2012 at 2:00 PM

    I'll tell what else pleases me. Until this year, if we had one article or comment a week on the espn mlb site it was a normal week. This morning, there were 3 articles, the web gem video and two other videos on our lads. When you enter the site, Strasburg's picture greets you! We are now the talk of the nation and that is just a wonderful thing.Sutcliff is another "old guy" pitcher but his plan for SS was at least interesting, with a couple of extra days off, a couple of LannEn starts, he has SS going until almost the end of the season and still under 180. What I liked was that he was not spouting the company line about how this was suicide for our team to sit him down.I think they might be understanding that it will be done.Go Nats!

  33. hiramhover - Aug 11, 2012 at 2:00 PM

    KarlSome good points there–certainly, I agree that they want to make the playoffs and get the financial and other benefits. My point is simply that we need to be cautious readers of these reports, esp. on something like this, where there's a real media circus–everyone's paying attention, national reporters (as opposed to the beats) are swooping in and trying to break news, and any tweet immediately gets echoed everywhere as fact.We don't know what the conversation/interview with Rizzo was like. Maybe, as you say, he threw the 180 # out there himself to send a signal. Or maybe Passan was pestering Rizzo for a number, and Rizzo did his usual deal: there is no set #. But Passan kept trying: "Well, we've heard the number 180. Will it be 180?" and Rizzo responded, "Look, Jeff, it's certainly not going to be more than 180. That good enough for you?" What we do know is that Passan had a long article for yahoo yesterday, and he threw that 180 # out in a tweet as chum. And it certainly worked–everyone picked up the "Stras will pitch 180" line, even tho Passan, based on his conversation with Rizzo and others, said in a subsequent tweet that his prediction is Stras makes 1 start after hitting 160.One final thought: Stras is extremely competitive. Whenever they shut him down, there's a good chance that he's going to say that his arm is fine and he wants to pitch.They're not going to throw the weight of the decision on him and just base it on his say-so. If he has a couple of rough starts as he gets to 160 (in terms of control and pitch count), I wouldn't be at all surprised if they shut him down, no matter what he says about how he feels.

  34. MicheleS - Aug 11, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    CWJ.. I had the Nats at 86 wins and I thought that was going to be a stretch..Gonat/JoeS, Rick Sutcliffe picked the Nats to go to the WS. Bizarro world, now that he is managing Stras innings for us ;-)

  35. Joe Seamhead - Aug 11, 2012 at 2:07 PM

    sjm 308, this has been a blast, and the competitive level that the Nats have reached has happened a lot quicker that could have been expected.I had the same Skins tix at RFK for 15 years and really loved being there for the first NFC Championship run and the Super Bowl with Riggo and Company, but this is somehow much different, and even more special. Maybe it's because baseball was always my first love in sports, but it's more then that. This is somehow more personal, I don't know, I can't explain it.

  36. Swift Eagle - Aug 11, 2012 at 2:10 PM

    From Mark's article:Strasburg (13-5) not only didn't give up another run after that point, he didn't put another man on base. He retired seven in a row to complete a strong evening of work, battling through a stiff back that acted up when he tried to cover first base on a grounder to the right side.Guess you were right about his back Michele, I actually didn't notice…

  37. Cwj - Aug 11, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    Yeah kudos Michele for pointing that out last night. Like Swift Eagle I didn't notice it.

  38. Cwj - Aug 11, 2012 at 2:15 PM

    Ugh, I drank my coffee way too fast. My stomach isn't too happy… :0

  39. realdealnats - Aug 11, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    Seamhead–In much less dramatic fashion than your prediction, I've thought they were for real from the get-go. Hence: RealDealNats! Following this team is like a fun full time job.

  40. Faraz Shaikh - Aug 11, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    when did rizzo say 'no more than 180'? i really hope that SS does not pitch more than 162-65.

  41. Gonat - Aug 11, 2012 at 2:28 PM

    Joe Seamhead said… Gonat, agreed there were a couple of guys, but most of the so called experts were laughing at them.It was fun going back and looking at all of our predictions as to who would go to the All Star game for the Nats. Not too many picked Ian Desmond! August 11, 2012 9:58 AM ______________________________Billy Ripken reluctantly was the last of the MLB Network crew to jump on the Nats and that happened last week.Mitch Williams has been on the Nats from the start with Bowa and others.http://mlb.mlb.com/network/personalities/?id=3728770

  42. fast eddie - Aug 11, 2012 at 2:32 PM

    The latest "Beast blast" last night reminded me of Hondo's shots back at RFK. They used to paint the seats in the upper deck.Maybe we could start that tradition at Nats' park for Morse??

  43. UnkyD - Aug 11, 2012 at 2:34 PM

    I'd line to make 2 points:1) I'm loving this more than I would have thought possible… But other than us, there's only 2 teams that have won more games than the Barves. It would seem that those clowns aren't going anywhere. Keep the pedal to the metal, boyz… It still would only take a 5 game skid, potentially, to drop us out of the division lead… On the bright side, having a good club nipping at our heels should keep us from becoming too complacent….2) Seamy… I barely remember it, but we had a Rambler wagon, when I was little. No WAY that sucker could have made 200,000…. Just saying… ;-)GYFNGOGOGOGO!!!!!!!!!!!

  44. The Fox - Aug 11, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    Joe Seamhead excellent prognostication on your part. I've been very high on this team and I thought Davey would keep them competitive but I was looking at a wild card spot because I was worried about depth, especially starting pitching depth. I'd ask you to let us know how it all turns out but I don't want you to spoil the ending for me.I'll take a stab at why it might be more personal, well at least for me, a baseball team was taken from me when I was a small child. I missed a lot of times going to the park with my dad and grandpa. I had to constantly defend and complain that Washington deserved a team while much smaller markets were being awarded teams. I even open a bank account in 1987 as a show of support when it looked like we might get the Padres. When Washington was awarded a team I went down to what I think was the first event at Union Station to meet Jim Bowden. I was actually so happy and "verklempt" that I started to tear up which I really did not expect. I could not be happier on how this team has done this season. There have been no real negative controversies and all our players are so likable. I will continue to enjoy the ride and I know this is one team that I will not forget.

  45. baseballswami - Aug 11, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    If Cole wins any kind of recognition this season that involves era, there should be an asterisk.

  46. realdealnats - Aug 11, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    Michelle–Missed your comment last night but it seemed to me he was trying to work a kink out of his back or shoulder or neck from even before the play at 1B. I predicted 84-86 trying to be really conservative, but said that given a tight race for the play offs this was the kind of team and chemistry that could rattle off a string of wins to hit 90–sort of like that first year the Caps did it with Ovetchkin. They obviously got way out in front of this scenario.Re: Strasburg's innings count: It depends on lots of things especially the stress of his remaining games–the pressure and pitchcounts. But in general, I think Rizzo's going to sit him between 165-172 or so. Meaning one more good start after he breaks the 160 inning plane. I also love Rizzo's two moves to get us to the finish line–especially Suzuki who seems to be a steal. What a load off JFlo's shoulders. JFlo was looking like a beat up warrior back of home plate, but now he can get fresh and be a presence for us twice a week.Most of all I love Davey. Everything he says is wise and cagey. Now he's slowly and adroitly changing the tone and substance of what he's saying to guide these guys right into the playoff chute. With blinders. This is really happening. And it's really really cool. WS here we come.

  47. peric - Aug 11, 2012 at 2:48 PM

    Another W-L factoid to consider: the Expos-Nationals franchise has won 95 games or more exactly ONCE in its entire 44-year history, going 95-65 way back in 1979.They're in DC now. Major League Baseball let Jeffrey Loria from bizarro world down in Florida completely dismantle that franchise. That's the legacy major league baseball created. Now its in Washington and hence will be compared to teams from the distant past, both AL and NL.

  48. peric - Aug 11, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    Please disregard the previous comment.You can delete it.

  49. Gonat - Aug 11, 2012 at 2:58 PM

    UNTERP said… 93 – 69 April 04, 2012 3:29 PM Gonat said… I can't believe nobody picked Michael Morse for the All Star game.88 wins for the Nats this year. April 05, 2012 7:40 AM How many games will the Nats win?Pete Kerzel — 88Adam Kilgore — 87Dan Kolko — 87Brian McNally — 87Amanda Comak — 86Bill Ladson — 85Craig Heist — 85Mark Zuckerman — 84Dave Sheinin — 83 ______________________________UnTerp, nice prediction. I had 88. Hopefully the Nats are there on August 31st.

  50. MicheleS - Aug 11, 2012 at 2:58 PM

    Realdeal, I kept seeing Stras do little shrugs and twists, so I thought back – comes from doing that on a daily basis for a tight back.Just saw the Scott H catch.. whatever, not even close to the Shark.

  51. peric - Aug 11, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    I guessed they'd win the division on the strength of their bullpen may be about to get another power arm in Christian Garcia. After 2 Tommy John's surgeries the fact this guy still throws as hard as he does is nothing short of amazing. Clearly he had to become a reliever. He's about to turn 27. Plus Henry will be returning on September 1st unless they decided to put him on the 60-day. I think they bring him back. His 9 saves at the beginning of the season do still count. That's just the first season. The second season, the playoffs is an entirely different animal. Given this will be the first for most of the Nats core its probably best not to raise expectations. Once the second season starts its all 0-0 again but teams are going to be worn down after 162 games. With four starters the bullpen becomes even more critical and that's where teams like the Nats thrive. But the Braves have a pretty good bullpen as well. Everyone has to make all sorts of conjectures about Stras getting shut down when the likely key to any short series playoff scenario would have to be the bullpen, There will likely only be 4 starters. If they could get Henry untracked that could be key … Storen back and rehabbed and on his game. Mattheus, Clippard and Burnett … perhaps they keep Garcia instead? Remember, it could start getting cold … and starters can't be relied upon to shoot 6-7 quality innings under those conditions. If it stays reasonably warm at both parks it might be different. And it would be extremely helpful to have Michael Morse mostly back from his back/lat problem and hot at the plate at the end of September. They will need as many hot bats as they can muster.

  52. Gonat - Aug 11, 2012 at 3:12 PM

    jd said… My predictions for the year:1) Nats record: 85 – 77.2) Braves, Phills and Marlins will be right around the same record.One of these teams will break 90 wins but not by much (91?)3) RZ will have a great year – 7 WAR4) ID will be fine at SS and leadoff; not all star level but better than average.5) DE will frustrate fans with many strikeouts but will come close to 20 HRs again and play dazzling 2B; better suited to batting 7th than 2nd.6) Werth will do better than last year but won't come close to earning his contract.7) Morse and Ramos will decline a bit from great last years but will still be productive.8) DeRosa will be tremendous as a super sub; Nady and Tracy will also be useful.9) JZ will take the next step and will establish himself as a top level no. 2 starter.10) SS will be occasionally brilliant but due to learning curve and careful handling he won't quite put up the numbers we hope for.11) If Rio and EJax are both the real deal the Nats have a chance to contend.12) CMW will have a nice year.13) Lannan won't finish the year as a Nat.14) The bullpen has chance to be special with Lidge a big upgrade over Coffey and HRod a big improvement over 2011 HRod.15) Lidge won't be as great as last year.16) Harper won't come up in April; he will start slowly in AAA.He may come up in June but September is more likely.17) Rendon will dominate high A ball and will also do very well at AA playing 3B. He will come up in September and will be one of the hottest commodities on next year's rumor mill.18) Purke will be the next be Arm produced by the Nats possibly battling for a rotation spot next year.19) Meyer and Goodwin will take longer to graduate; 2014?20) I could be totally wrong across the board. April 03, 2012 2:18 PM _____________________________Good stuff to read in hindsight

  53. peric - Aug 11, 2012 at 3:15 PM

    Looks like Tyler Moore instead of Bryce Harper in today's game. Perhaps we'll see BHarp take a seat more and more if his offense continues to decline.

  54. realdealnats - Aug 11, 2012 at 3:16 PM

    The thing about the Shark's play is I don't think I've ever seen a catch where a guy covers so much ground so fast only to disappear stage left and you don't know if he's actually caught the ball or not until he literally bounces back into view holding it up grinning, with a teammate in back of him jumping up and down behind a fence like he's in jail or something laughing and yelling. Really Bizarre.

  55. Gonat - Aug 11, 2012 at 3:18 PM

    Steve M. said… I wouldn't be surprised if JZim is a Cy Young candidate this year.This from Amanda Comak:For Zimmermann, one of the most positive developments this spring was the improvement of his changeup, a pitch that he's been working on for several years now but has finally gotten to a point where he's comfortable — and effective — with it.He threw one to David Ortiz on Monday that the big left-hander just stared at for strike three."I came into spring and it was hit or miss — and missing more than I was hitting," Zimmermann said. "Right now I feel like I could throw it down in the count or down on the zone anytime I want. The last one to Big Papi there was a changeup so I was pretty happy there."I think the more I face some teams and throw it to them, if I throw a lot of good ones they're going to have that in the back of their mind, 'He's got this fastball and slider and curve but you have to watch out for his changeup.' If I can just mix it in and throw it five, six times a game I think that's all I really need to throw it." April 03, 2012 11:46 AM _______________________________Another nice prediction!

  56. NatsLady - Aug 11, 2012 at 3:30 PM

    Davey's prediction: Nats will win the division. Best one of all. Someone posted (I don't think it was here) that Rizzo brought a lot of this controversy on himself by announcing that Stras would be shutdown like JZ was. Well, it wasn't controversial at the time. Ironically, what made the controversy was not the shutdown it was how unexpectedly well the Nats have done this season.

  57. sjm308 - Aug 11, 2012 at 3:35 PM

    GonatI am very impressed with your list – you didn't nail everything but you sure put yourself out there and I think you should be really happy with some of your predictions. Like you, I had 85 – 87 wins and I am so happy that I am not even going to be close to right. I was also a big Desmond fan for the last two years (although not as huge as unkyd) and think he was a big key to us being where we are now. Others have stepped right in and this could not be going much better. Go Nats!!

  58. Gonat - Aug 11, 2012 at 3:36 PM

    Gonat said… Looks like Bryce will sit tonight against Rookie lefty Wade Miley.Sounds like Tyler Moore, Jayson Werth, Michael Morse in the outfield tonight! August 11, 2012 9:46 AM ___________________________________peric said… Looks like Tyler Moore instead of Bryce Harper in today's game. Perhaps we'll see BHarp take a seat more and more if his offense continues to decline. August 11, 2012 11:15 AM ______________________________________Yes, I concur(ed)

  59. NatsLady - Aug 11, 2012 at 3:38 PM

    OK, there are 19 (or 20) postseason games. Let's assume 19. Nats have to go 11 of 19–minimum. 3/5, 4/7, 4/7. Are you telling me this rotation can't go 11 of 19 without Stras? Just get into the postseason, don't have losing streaks and things will look good (assuming no injuries).

  60. TNealls - Aug 11, 2012 at 4:08 PM

    As for National writers predicting a big season for the Nats, I remember an April Friday driving to work hearing Jeff Passan tell Steve Czaban he had the Nats in World Series – shocking the jock, and me. For the record here is the link to all his predictions.http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news?slug=ys-brown_henson_passan_season_predictions_040412

  61. Faraz Shaikh - Aug 11, 2012 at 4:10 PM

    JZ's pitch count last season: 2464 in 26 starts and 161.1 innings.SS's pitch count this season: 2165 in 23 starts and 133.1 innings.

  62. JamesFan - Aug 11, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    Stras is a key member of the team and I would hate to see Stras not on the team in the playoffs. I accept the shutdown, but wonder if there is not some way to shut him down but keep him on the 25 man roster through the playoffs?For example, what about stopping his starts at 150 or 160 innings, then moving him to the pen for limited duty for another 10-20 critical innings if required? There must be a way to essentially shut him down without dumping him from the team.

  63. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 11, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    Gonat, thanks for digging up my Jordan Zimmermann prediction. Please forward to Thom Loverro as he says he picked him as his Cy Young pick also.JD, I also enjoyed reading your 20 part prediction. I know I did a scientific prediction and can't find it. I think it was 85 to 88 with analysis on getting to the Promised Land.

  64. Manassas Nats' Fan - Aug 11, 2012 at 4:32 PM

    It Roger against Scott Hairston in the web gem vote. I already voted so he took an early lead 7 to 3 after 1- botes.Here is the linkk. You know the exercize.Thanks everyone for the help, Alison hastaken over 7th and now and need lots of help to catch 6th Please go to her link and do the normal :like" the post and place a comment.I remember going to this event (got home abou 330 AM)http://espn.go.com/mlb/baseballtonight

  65. NatsLady - Aug 11, 2012 at 4:32 PM

    I think they can put him back on the 25-man during the playoffs if there is an injury to a pitcher. So, you know how Rizzo is with "injuries." If things are going well, expect one!

  66. pRAA with the ISO - Aug 11, 2012 at 4:39 PM

    I accept the shutdown, but wonder if there is not some way to shut him down but keep him on the 25 man roster through the playoffs?If he's shut down you don't want him on the 25 man roster for the playoffs, because then you're playing a man short. He can still suit up and sit in the dugout, and he still gets his full playoff share even if he's not on the 25 man roster.

  67. NCNatsie - Aug 11, 2012 at 4:48 PM

    “The future is now.” — George Allen“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” — Anonymous“I never imagined I wouldn’t ever get to play in another Super Bowl in my whole career.” — Dan Marino“They’re going to have to rip the ball out of my hand.” — Steven StrasburgAs Nats Lady says, the Strasburg “controversy” exists only because the Nats have done unexpectedly well this season. That is a necessary cause; but it requires the additional circumstance of his celebrity to become sufficient. The conjunction of the two has made the controversy into a Controversy.. Reverse the years of the Stras and Zimmermann surgeries and the resulting controversies are minor matters by comparison. But the Strasburg Controversy, in the end, is not the issue. It’s just a controversy. The issue is priorities.In the world of athletics, George Allen’s dictum rules. That’s why Michael Morse says he didn’t even know he had a streak going. He’s just trying to help his team win the game today. Athletes know that their chance of achieving long-term goals is only the sum of their ability to achieve short-term goals, something that is far less the case in other walks of life. Dan Marino has no Super Bowl ring, and it gnaws at him today, in spite of all his other honors.That’s why all the ex-athletes on MLB and ESPN say, “Let him pitch.” They know they would want to pitch. They know he wants to pitch. They know the future is a chimera, a goal fraught with uncertainty. The only reality is today’s game. The only honorable thing to do is to give it everything you’ve got, today. Their priority, therefore, is to win the game.Mike Rizzo, on the other hand, has a different priority. His job is to build a franchise. He is very, very good at what he does. He has said many times that he views his Strasburg decision as one which will serve his goal, not only by preserving the asset that Strasburg represents, but also by showing other players – draft choices, free agents, etc. – that the Nationals are a franchise that cares about their long-term well-being.The problem is that the Controversy has caused players to think more closely about the question than he may have realized six months ago, when he set the policy based on the non-controversy of the Zimmermann success. And when they think about it, the players have pretty much universally decided that they would not want to give up a chance to play in a World Series for the possibility that overwork now might shorten their career. They consider the medical opinions and note that doctors can only deal with statistical probabilities, never certainties, and that in this case at least those probabilities are based on extremely small samples. And what of the opinion of the most important player of all in this matter: Strasburg himself. If he sits through the postseason, watching his teammates reach for glory, what will his thoughts be? If they win it all, how will he feel at having had no role? If they come up short, how will he feel at not having had the chance to make the difference? Will he be grateful to Rizzo for having kept his long-term well-being as the top priority? Or bitter at having been denied the opportunity in the here and now. Thus the Controversy moves from an extraneous distraction to a real factor in the calculation, and a real problem for Rizzo. Because the Controversy means the parameters of the calculation have changed. The metaphysical has intruded into the physical. Opinion has trumped fact, actually altered fact.That, I suspect is why the 160 innings has become “no more than” 180, and the flexibility thereby increased. Unless the Nats go into a sudden tailspin that makes the controversy go away naturally, Rizzo’s demonstrable managerial brilliance will be tested as never before in the coming month and a half.

  68. SonnyG10 - Aug 11, 2012 at 4:49 PM

    I thought 7 games above .500 would be realistic for the Nats, which would put them at 88 wins. I thought we had very good pitching, but I was concerned about the offense. I couldn't see where the Nats had done much to change the offense for the better. I did hope that our current group of guys would improve somewhat over last year given the additional year's experience. I think we have gotten that overall improvement, but I am pleasantly surprised at the magnitude of Ian Desmond and Adam LaRoache's improvement. They really carried us while we were waiting for others to heal or get hot.

  69. ehay2k - Aug 11, 2012 at 4:49 PM

    Nice analysis Natslady. 11 of 19 is a .578 winning percentage. Doable, but not easy, especially in the playoffs. The one thing that bodes well for the Nats is that they have been playing pressure cooker games all year, and in fact for the past several years. I just feel that the Nats will handle the pressure better than anyone thinks. (Will Morse even know he's in the plauoffs, or will he not track his stats that closely?)I realize that the Playoffs are different in terms of pressure. But it's often harder for teams that breeze through the regular season to deal with newfound playoff pressure than it is for teams who have felt pressure all season to do the same. Take last year's Philthies and Cardinals teams, for example. Of course, the Nats are a long way from making the playoffs. Next goal is the team record for wins, at 82. Confidence is high that that record will fall. Lastly, and for the record, I do not plan on living past the 200 year mark. Write that down because you can bank on it!

  70. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 11, 2012 at 4:55 PM

    Wang, Henry ,and DeRosa were all smart getting paid while injured and being part of a magical season.Ankiel and Nady both gambled on getting MLB jobs elsewhere. Not working out for Ankiel in semi-retirement right now.He could've been the designated 'arm' for September.

  71. NatsLady - Aug 11, 2012 at 5:10 PM

    Well, I believe Ankiel and Nady still get paid. I was pretty sure Ankiel wouldn't find another MLB job because every contender would have the same issue we had, and every non-contender is in "rebuild" mode, so why bother? Do you think Rizzo offered Ankiel an "injury" and he didn't take it, or he didn't?

  72. BigCat - Aug 11, 2012 at 5:11 PM

    So Ankiel is not playing anywhere? Hmmmmm…..wonder if he's eying the pitchers mound again. Players do funny things when the final curtain comes down on their career.

  73. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 11, 2012 at 5:12 PM

    Yes NatsLady, both on guaranteed contracts.

  74. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 11, 2012 at 5:16 PM

    NatsLady, I was told Ankiel was offered an injury which he really had and he wouldn't accept. Strange but he may have thought he was going to be picked up due to his Super Agent Scott Boras (sarcasm)Don't know about Nady.

  75. UnkyD - Aug 11, 2012 at 5:38 PM

    Stras is a key member of the team and I would hate to see Stras not on the team in the playoffs. I accept the shutdown, but wonder if there is not some way to shut him down but keep him on the 25 man roster through the playoffs?For example, what about stopping his starts at 150 or 160 innings, then moving him to the pen for limited duty for another 10-20 critical innings if required? There must be a way to essentially shut him down without dumping him from the team.August 11, 2012 12:18 PM————–Oh Dear Gawd…… Please make it stop…

  76. djinFl. - Aug 11, 2012 at 5:59 PM

    The one factor all of these expert opinions on how Strass should be scheduled fail to doscuss is the impact on his fellow starters. Suddenly we would have 5 starting pitchers with disrupted schedules. I belive I read where pitchers are worse than position players when it comes to set routines and how disruptions mess with their heads.

  77. NatsLady - Aug 11, 2012 at 6:06 PM

    Right, Ghost. I was pretty sure he was playing injured, and had been for most of the season.

  78. The Fox - Aug 11, 2012 at 6:07 PM

    NCNatsieWell written analysis of the Strasburg dilemma. Most athletes who missed the chance at the brass ring or were held out of that chance regret it and the few who risked everything and failed even if it adversely effected their careers say they would do it again. I'm not a doctor nor do I have all the information that Strasburg and Rizzo have so it is difficult for me to say what should be done. I do think that Rizzo not only is protecting his investment but also wants to do the right thing for Strasburg in an age when many athletes are looked at as expendable. If this was 5 years into Strasburg's career I would let him make the decision where it sits now I think I'll trust Rizzo. If you make a mistake for the right reasons its easier to live with yourself.

  79. sjm308 - Aug 11, 2012 at 6:20 PM

    So there is really a fan out there who thinks once we shut down SS, he will be banned from the clubhouse?? Please, he will still sit with his buddies, probably get even more relaxed and laugh with Gio and the others as the game goes on. He will be a plus in the clubhouse as he watches this team march on to history. That will probably nag at him since he is so competitive but he will still definitely be a big part and will undoubtedly get voted a FULL share of the playoff money as well. People have to stop! We will be fine!Go Nats!

  80. baseballswami - Aug 11, 2012 at 6:28 PM

    So now mlbtv has a strasmeter. Shoot me now.

  81. BigCat - Aug 11, 2012 at 6:30 PM

    "I'm sorry Steven….Mr Rizzo gave explicit orders, you are not to enter the clubhouse. You are banned!""But…but.. I won 13 games for us""So what….banned means banned….outa here!"

  82. JamesFan - Aug 11, 2012 at 6:55 PM

    Sitting on the bench and getting a share is not being a member of the team in the stress of a post-season. I think this can be worked out in a way that meets all requirements.If it can't be, OK, I'm in favor of shutting him down because I think Rizzo is right on this. I just think there must be something more nuance than an on/off swithch.

  83. Theophilus T. S. - Aug 11, 2012 at 7:01 PM

    Ask Strasburg whether he'd rather (A) miss this shot at a World Series and have a Nolan Ryan career or (B) pitch in this year's series and take a chance on a Mark Fydrich career.

  84. UnkyD - Aug 11, 2012 at 8:25 PM

    Theo, at 3:01: Exactly.

  85. UnkyD - Aug 11, 2012 at 8:27 PM

    " I just think there must be something more nuance than an on/off swithch."——————There's not.

  86. jesse campion - Aug 11, 2012 at 8:37 PM

    Strasburg pitching with a sore back is OK, but skipping a start is not even considered because it increases his chance of injury?

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