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Beltway Baseball: Clinching Edition

Sep 21, 2012, 5:00 PM EDT

A small disclaimer: We taped this episode of Beltway Baseball yesterday afternoon, before the Nationals had officially clinched a playoff berth. But with their magic number at that point down to 1, we felt fairly comfortable talking about this team’s various postseason scenarios.

CSNwashington.com’s Chase Hughes and I also addressed some other topics, including Bryce Harper’s NL Rookie of the Year chances and the potential ninth-inning dilemma facing Davey Johnson.

Then Amanda Comak of the Washington Times joined me to talk about what, if anything, can be done to correct the recent spate of umpiring mistakes that have plagued the Nationals, the power of cortisone for Ryan Zimmerman and Danny Espinosa and the decision to start Chien-Ming Wang on Sunday.

Enjoy the show!

  1. Exposremains - Sep 21, 2012 at 5:12 PM

    Does anybody still think Clippard should close over Storen? I think you have to give it back Storen. If Clippard had been dominant, its another story but he hasn't.

  2. peric - Sep 21, 2012 at 5:25 PM

    Again, Clippard has definitely been overused the past three years. And Johnson knows it. Relievers don't last very long when they pitch 80-90 close to 100 stressful innings as Clippard did for Riggleman and now for Johnson. This year he's at 67 innings which isn't too bad … perhaps the damage has been done. Lately, Johnson keeps talking about staying away from Clip … you don't say that about your closer … unless he's got some injury issues. He probably should consider resting him more and using him less until the playoffs. But, then he gets rusty and loses something …

  3. Exposremains - Sep 21, 2012 at 5:31 PM

    I think you can put Kimbrel and Storen in the same sentence, not sure you can say that about Clippard. He's been a great fill-in, though.

  4. Faraz Shaikh - Sep 21, 2012 at 5:36 PM

    as much as I like storen, he is not at Kimbrel's level. Craig is the best 9th inning guy right now.nice to get back on winning track but basestealing for and against is still an issue for us I think.

  5. Exposremains - Sep 21, 2012 at 5:41 PM

    Kimbrel might be better right now but I think Storen can be as good. If Kimbrel had the same injury than Storen , it could be a different story. Storen will have a big year in 13.

  6. JaneB - Sep 21, 2012 at 5:54 PM

    I totally trust in Clip. I do. But Storen is the closer for me.

  7. Section 3, My Insufferable Sofa - Sep 21, 2012 at 5:59 PM

    I said it at the time and I'm sticking with it: Drew Storen will be the first-round pick that puts them over the top, not Strasburg.

  8. baseballswami - Sep 21, 2012 at 6:02 PM

    Storen was dominant last night. His first pitch was 96, he was painting with his fastball and his breaking stuff was ridiculous. He made three great hitters look silly. Plus – he is fresh as a daisy and just now approaching his peak form. Clip is at the end of the season, has thrown a lot of innings, under stress and his velocity is lower. How great is it to have them both?

  9. JD - Sep 21, 2012 at 6:03 PM

    The difference between Kimbrel and Storen is about 2-3 MPH on the fastball which is significant because the harder you throw the more room for error you have (Assuming good control; this is why Henry is not in the conversation). This is why Clippard is one notch below; when your fastball tops at 91 – 92 MPH your error margin is minuscule.

  10. JD - Sep 21, 2012 at 6:06 PM

    Swami, Agreed and Garcia is pretty exciting too; I think he's almost a lock for the playoff roster.

  11. Theophilus T. S. - Sep 21, 2012 at 6:48 PM

    Garcia and Nats together have masterfully handled his rehab. His inexperience shows once in a while — he likes to use all of his stuff, instead of just his best, or just enough to get the job done — and some hitter sits on a breaking ball, bang, a hit or a very loud out. I would put him on the playoff roster if for no reason other than I don't trust our starters to go more than six. There are going to be a lot of very intense innings for the BP. Next spring, the BP is going to be very full, very competitive in Spring Training. Predict no spot for H. Rodriguez, again. M. Gonzalez must be offered a deal to last spot may come down to him and Gorzellany.

  12. BigCat - Sep 21, 2012 at 6:53 PM

    Brewers are at 77-72 and have won 5 in a row. They are no pushover. Ryan Braun has 40 bombs with 105 ribbies and is hitting .311. Must of got a good batch of HGH for Sept/Oct

  13. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 21, 2012 at 7:12 PM

    Ryan Braun is one if the finest persons I have met. He's playing the Nats so I hope he goes 0-16 over the 4 games.

  14. baseballswami - Sep 21, 2012 at 7:12 PM

    Not one team that we have left to play is going to be a pushover. The PHillies scored 16 runs last night, the Brewers have the statistical best offense in the nl ( look where they play, though) and St. Louis is the reigning World Series champs. Remember what they did last year? That's why I have been warning against counting those proverbial chickens before they hatch. The Nats will have to be at the top of their games. We have handled these teams before. When the Nats are clicking on all cylinders they can beat anyone. When they are out of sync, like in Atlanta and vs the Marlins, anyone can beat them. How it all turns out is anyone's guess. Except that now we know that no matter what happens, there is the wild card. At least a chance. Although, I think we have 12 games left? If we win only 4, 33%, we will have won 95 games. That's absurd.

  15. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 21, 2012 at 7:13 PM

    Melky Cabrera not eligible for Batting Title.

  16. baseballswami - Sep 21, 2012 at 7:23 PM

    Ghost – at his own request. I hear that the mayor has declared the Wilson Building will have exterior red lights in honor of the nats! And a cupcake place in Georgetown is handing out curly w cupcakes for free. Hope some more businesses, including some in nova, get on this bandwagon! If you hear of anything else – please share!

  17. Alex Howard - Sep 21, 2012 at 7:24 PM

    I prefer storen, got better stuff than clippard, and clippard has struggled since his hot streak, doesnt get many easy saves, all stressful, i love storen, was drafted as the closer of the future, how ccan he not close

  18. NatsNut - Sep 21, 2012 at 7:39 PM

    I love Clip as the setup guy and Storen as the closer, but not necessarily because I think Clippard is struggling or isn't as good as Storen or anything. I just think it maximizes their talents better together.

  19. blovy8 - Sep 21, 2012 at 8:23 PM

    The closer role is overrated. It may be that since Storen is more effective at the moment, he's better used against tough hitters regardless of what inning it is.

  20. Steady Eddie - Sep 21, 2012 at 8:29 PM

    Swami — (1) 13 games left, not 12 (4vs Mil, 3 at Phi, 3 at Stl, 3 vs Phi)(2) Mil has indeed surged lately — mostly by cleaning up against the NL central (they're 16-3 against the central in their current streak, 9-5 against the NL East in that stretch. Plus their only away games against non-NL Central foes has been a 2-2 split at the Marlins. Yes, they've played well but their only really impressive series was their sweep of the Barves — at home in the bash-friendly confines of Miller Park. I don't see us doing worse than a 2-2 split unless we start Lannan rather than JZimm on Monday. Plus EJax seems to tend to pitch better against tougher teams at home, e.g., dominating the Cards on August 30 (his last good start).

  21. Scooter - Sep 21, 2012 at 8:29 PM

    In case anyone else was confused by Steve M's cryptic post, he's reporting news: Cabrera requested that he be ineligible for said title, and his request was granted.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB MN
WASHINGTON 78 58 -- 19
ATLANTA 72 66 7.0
MIAMI 67 69 11.0
NEW YORK 64 74 15.0
PHILADELPHIA 63 74 15.5
Through Monday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
TUE: Nats at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Dodgers, 3:10 p.m.
THU: OFF
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Braves at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

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

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