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Close, but not there yet

Sep 28, 2012, 4:36 AM EDT

Associated Press photo
Michael Morse rounds the bases after hitting his first of two homers.

PHILADELPHIA — They’ve won 95 games, matching the franchise record. They’ve won more games than they’ve lost every month this season. They’ve played .643 ball since snapping a five-game losing streak in Miami on August 29, clubbing 51 homers during those 28 games.

But as the final week of the regular season arrives, the Nationals have yet to celebrate anything, aside from the fact they’re guaranteed to play at least one playoff game in October.

Even with Thursday night’s 7-3 thumping of the Phillies, the Nationals only inched closer to the NL East title. Their magic number now at 3, they can’t clinch the division until Saturday night in St. Louis at the earliest.

For that, they can thank the scorching-hot Braves, who simply won’t concede the East without putting up a fight right down to the wire. Winners in 10 of their last 12, they remain four games back with six to play, still needing a miracle to overtake Washington but refusing to help their rivals finish the job.

“Take nothing for granted,” manager Davey Johnson said. “I know if we win three more, we’re in, we win the pennant. That’s all I want everybody in that room to figure on.”
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135 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. Clip&Store - Sep 28, 2012 at 4:39 AM

    Great win. I take back all i said after game 1…Morse horse was in beast mode again finally, bryce and natgio doin their thing…great to take the series in phila and give them a losing home record too…now lets keep the momentum into the final 2 series' and the playoffs!

  2. Drew - Sep 28, 2012 at 5:21 AM

    To put Gio's season in perspective:Justin Verlander has one 20-win season.The great Roy Halladay has three. He's nine years older than Gio.With one more win, Gio would improve his career record to 60-40 for a dandy .600 winning percentage.

  3. Unknown - Sep 28, 2012 at 5:32 AM

    Think about the power possibility for the starting eight next year if everyone remains healthy:1B–Adam LaRoche: .270-27-1002B–Danny Espinosa: .260-20-65SS–Ian Desmond: .288-27-903B–Ryan Zimmerman: .290-30-110LF–Michael Morse: .285-27-90CF–Bryce Harper: .289-30-83 RF–Jayson Werth: .275-20-80Ca–Wilson Ramos: .265-15-55That will be pretty amazing, just amazing.Farid @ Idaho

  4. Joe Seamhead - Sep 28, 2012 at 10:16 AM

    Sean Brunette and Tyler Clippard's strong outings last night were the most encouraging signs last night, even if Tyler did get a gift from the h.p. ump on the 3-2 pitch to Ruf. Folks, we've got this, but it's still a dogfight until the end with the Braves.Win the division, and then comes the next level of heart stopping fun! But, I 'm telling you, this team, from the manager down to the last guy to make the playoff roster, is made to win playoff baseball. This is going to be a blast!Speaking of the Braves, have you ever noticed that their fans show signs of having a collective split personality? I mean really, one minute they're doing this tomahawk chop thing, and then they have a bugle blow over the p.a. system and they all yell "Charge!" Seriously, they don't know if they're a tribe of braves, or if they're the Calvary. They're seriously mixed up down there. By the time that the Nats are finished with them, they will all need treatment for this obvious personality disorder that they are suffering from.GYFNG!!!

  5. baseballswami - Sep 28, 2012 at 10:36 AM

    Random thought – we have started Stras,Gio, Znn, EJax, Det– regular five. Wang and LannEn have started . Is that it- only seven? That seems low to me. Do we know if any other teams have done that?

  6. Joe Seamhead - Sep 28, 2012 at 10:49 AM

    I'm bringing this over from the last blog, regarding who "earned" playing time:Joe Seamhead said…Johnson is not experimenting with much of anything until the Fat Lady sings.You notice that Corey Brown isn't playing much? The argument could also be made that he "earned his chance to play based on his performance in Syracuse" And so it could be said about Perez, and every other call up from Syracuse, but, in spite of what peric says, that argument is wrong. None of these guys "earned" anything other then a call up to be with the club in September. Davey made it clear when the roster was extended that getting any of these guys playing time was not his priority. The only guys on this team that have "earned" playing time down the stretch are the guys responsible for getting the team to where it is.September 28, 2012 6:43 AM

  7. 320R2S15 - Sep 28, 2012 at 10:54 AM

    Beast is back, let's just hope so we really do need the "goofball". Watching Geo grind out the problems was a thing of baseball beauty. This is so much more than I had hoped for, not just for this year but for thirty three, seriously.

  8. Natslifer - Sep 28, 2012 at 11:26 AM

    Win the Series, Win the Division… lather, rinse, repeat. GYFNG!!

  9. Another_Sam - Sep 28, 2012 at 11:46 AM

    Is gorzalany (sp?) hurt?

  10. Faraz Shaikh - Sep 28, 2012 at 11:47 AM

    Gio is awesome, but I still vote for Dickey I think if I had a Cy Young vote. I wonder who is the last 20 game winner on a mediocre team like Mets. Besides he has come a long way.Also recently read about Rizzo being voted as executive of the year award. I am not too sure about that either. Most of the contributors for Rizzo are not last off-season's acquisitions. but if we are voting for him because how he put together the team and it finally came together this season, then he deserves that award. but based on a single season, I give it to Beane.as far as Nats and Braves streaks, braves have to be frustrated that they are playing so good but have only gained one game on us. let's clinch it soon though.

  11. Faraz Shaikh - Sep 28, 2012 at 11:51 AM

    you know what will be like kardiac kids, getting swept in St Louis and then sweeping Philadelphia at home to win the division. I think that will cause some serious jammage to heartbeats around the area.

  12. Faraz Shaikh - Sep 28, 2012 at 11:55 AM

    Swami, to answer your question, we have gone over that couple times before. There are few more teams such as Reds, DBacks, etc that had used only five pitchers at one point in the season. I think Reds stand at six, with sixth guy making only one start. that's pretty serious consistency.

  13. Faraz Shaikh - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:04 PM

    by the way, is their a way to find average HR distance by teams? Which team hits the longest home runs? I bet it will be Miami because Stanton is the only guy who homers on that team and we all know what power he has.

  14. Gonat - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:12 PM

    What I find impressive is that the Nats fell behind and usually pack up and it goes into the L column, but last night, the big boys fought back. Almost all the production came 1-5 in the order.

  15. baseballswami - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:13 PM

    Faraz – sorry, I must have missed that discussion on pitchers used. I also think this will not go the easy way for the nats and their fans. I disagree on Dickey, though. MLB reports Dickey changed his starting day so that he could get his 20th win in front of his fans – how cute. They were celebrating like they had actually won something – oh, wait – they didn't win anything at all. As a matter of fact, they sucked pretty bad this season. He is an old guy, a knuckleballer and a quirky guy. Nice story. I didn't realize that was the criteria for cy young. How about pitching when every single pitch and out really means something? How about the daily pressure? How about throwing real pitches that hitters know how to hit because they see them every day instead of a trick pitch that no one ever sees anywhere else? Apples and oranges. The Nats are not about individual accolades, they are about the team – Dickey is a master of self-promotion. The Nats are going to the post season and the Mets are going home. That about says it all. I am not saying that he is a bad pitcher at all, just not as great as his pr.

  16. NatsLady - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:13 PM

    FS => Maddux won 20 games in 1992, tied for the NL lead, and was voted his first National League Cy Young Award. The Cubs went 78-84 that year.

  17. Gonat - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:13 PM

    Faraz, go to this link and you can sort each team and drop into a spreadsheet to do average distances for Home Runs:http://hittrackeronline.com/

  18. SW - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:14 PM

    FarazUse espn's home tracker:http://hittrackeronline.com/index.php?sortm=true_dist&sort=descStanton had a 494 foot HR this year, at Coors field.

  19. Section 222 - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    JoeS, thanks for bringing over your excellent post on who "deserves" what. You're absolutely right. Remember when folks were saying that Brown and Perez would have a chance to make an "impact" in September? Meh, not so much. Not that they haven't done well when given a chance, but Davey knows what he has to do and who he has to play to win the division and go deep into the playoffs. As for Duke, he's done well also, while Gorzalanny has pretty much disappeared from the bullpen (except when making circus catches of homeruns). But I still doubt he'll replace Gorzo as the LH long man. The only September callup with a shot at the postseason roster is Garcia, despite FP's lobbying last night for Perez. (Who would Perez replace anyway? Bernadina? Moore? Not likely.)As for why Wang is starting against the Cards instead of Duke, it has nothing to do with who pitched better in AAA and everything to do with who pitches with which arm. Davey wants to start 3 righties against the Cards, just as he wanted to start 3 lefties against the Phils. Davey is looking for any advantage he can get to lock up the division. Maybe Duke will get a start after we clinch as his reward. peric will be in ecstasy, thinking that means something for next year's rotation, but trust me, it won't.

  20. Gonat - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    baseballswami, I feel the same way as you. Gio is my pick.I think Dickey is the equivalent of the singles slap hitter vs. Gio being the HR hitter and at the end of the season they have the same batting average.Who is better? Probably have to look at other metrics.

  21. DaveB - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:20 PM

    Faraz … aren't awards like Exec of the Year named for both NL & AL? How cool that leading candidates on both sides are partly defined by a true "win win" trade (or 2 if you count suzuki) that helped both teams this year and into the future.

  22. NatsLady - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:21 PM

    Agree on RA Dickey, don't like him, too much PR, don't like the way Collins jiggered the schedule (remember Reyes sitting down last year?). However, Dickey did volunteer to pitch in relief (that did not go well) when the Mets were still sort of in it.Watching Gio pitch against the Fillies while the Fish laid down for R.A. Dickey–well, they didn't, exactly–makes me wonder which pitcher had their wins against the better teams? Off to do some stats.

  23. Donald - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:23 PM

    Really looking forward to this St. Louis series. There's a decent chance that this is a preview of the Nats first playoff series next weekend — opening in St. Louis if they win the WL play-in game over the Braves.

  24. Faraz Shaikh - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:24 PM

    Swami, I refer to you his autobio. Yes, it is written by him (helped by another author). but great stuff. How many difficulties he had to overcome to get where he is. Besides, I think it is even harder to strive to be better when everyone around is sucking. I have mentioned this before that winning 20 games out of your team's 70 or so wins is much more impressive than winning 21 out of 95 for me. If Dickey was on a team like ours, he might have even more wins. I think all that daily pressure is little overrated. also Dickey was pitching very well when Mets were contending so not exactly his fault that the team fell out of contention.Gonat, I am on that site looking for team totals but can't see it. bet i am not looking right.thanks Natslady. I am sure there have been quite a few 20 game winners on .500 or greater ballclubs since then.

  25. hiramhover - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:25 PM

    swamiCY is an individual award, so I'm not what being about the team (or not) has to do with it.Dickey and Gio are pretty closely matched in the various stat categories, with each leading in some. Given that, I think the atmospherics are more likely to matter more than ever. I'm guess that the aging knuckleballer who ekes out 20 wins on a sub-par team is going to have the edge. Remember, it's sports writers who decide this, and it's already clear (given all the national attention he's gotten) that they think Dickey is the better story.

  26. NatsLady - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    Also, Davey wanting Wang to start reminds me that Gio is a lefty. Why is that important in the Cy Young? Because of the preponderance of RH hitters in the league… So a lefty has an uphill battle to begin with.

  27. Faraz Shaikh - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:28 PM

    ah ha, I thought Nationals do hit long balls quite far. MLB site confirms it, by placing them four in both leagues and second only to Colorado in NL.http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/stats/longest_drive/index.jsp

  28. Theophilus T. S. - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    Agree w/ Swami and NatsLady on Dickey, to the extent I don't think knuckleballers get a lot of respect in Cy Young voting. Neither Niekro won a CY, though in spectacular seasons they finished 2d (Phil) and 3d (I think)(Joe). Also agree with Mark that the CY goes for mastery not mettle and if Gio ends up w/ 21 wins and less than 200 innings its going to look a little cheap. It would be a year in which a F. Hernandez performance could win in the NL — except there hasn't been anybody w/ a F. Hernandez profile.I think Dickey gets it.

  29. Faraz Shaikh - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:38 PM

    DaveB, i am not sure about executive awards by league. I know it is given by baseball america and someone else, but not MLB. in your case, choice is easier. beane and rizzo take it home.

  30. Section 222 - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    How can you not like R.A. Dickey? Please have a listen to the Fresh Air interview he did early this year before you reach that conclusion based on your desire that one of our guys win the award. And lefties have an uphill battle? That's the first I've ever heard such a thing. Lefties are prized by teams because LH sluggers are tough outs and don't do that well against lefties because they don't get to see them that much. They have an advantage because they are rare, not a disadvantage because there are lots of right handed batters. The silliest criticism is to say that the knuckleball is not a real pitch. It's almost as if you think that what he does is easy. Far from it. We discussed the timing of Dickey's last start before. It's not clear that he asked for the change, but what is clear is that he was on regular rest. The issue was whether someone else would get skipped so Dickey could pitch his last game at home. Why anyone would begrudge the Mets fans the chance to thank their most successful player is beyond me.

  31. derwink - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    This experience of being pushed by the Braves is good for the relatively young Nats. The fact that every game counts will help them come playoff time. The Braves are doing them a favour by playing so well. They need the pressure.

  32. bowdenball - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    Has there been any discussion of what the Nats are going to do with Gio over the next ten days or so? If he pitches again on regular rest he'd go on Tuesday, but then the Nats would risk not having him ready if they start the playoffs on Saturday, or God forbid on Friday. But they can't really shut him down between now and then either, that seems like too long between starts to me. I assume they want him to be the guy who starts Game 1 and potentially Game 5 of the NLDS.

  33. Feel Wood - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:43 PM

    The only September callup with a shot at the postseason roster is Garcia, despite FP's lobbying last night for Perez. (Who would Perez replace anyway? Bernadina? Moore? Not likely.)If you paid attention to what FP actually said instead of just knee-jerkingly hating on him, you'd know that he said Perez would be a good addition to the postseason roster if they decided that it would make more sense than carrying an extra reliever. There's your answer on who Perez would replace. Is it likely? Who knows, and FP never said it was. But if that's the decision Davey makes, it would make sense. Dedicated pinch runners in the postseason have paid off before. See the 2004 Red Sox for an example.

  34. Faraz Shaikh - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:45 PM

    Looking across all individual stats, dickey seems like a better candidate to win Cy Young. Of course I will not complain if Gio wins it. He has had an incredible season for us. I am not looking at too much PR, losing team record, and trick pitches. I don't think any of them are valid arguments against Dickey.

  35. natsfan1a - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:46 PM

    I think the award goes to only one executive. On starters in STL, no doubt it depends on what happens in the early game(s) of the series, but fwiw the team site currently shows EJ, JZ, and Det starting.

  36. Theophilus T. S. - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    Give Rizzo credit for realizing/holding fast to the conviction that his team had the stuff to hold on and win w/out giving away prospects for short-term returns at the trading deadline. Then waiting a week into the waiver trade period before striking the Suzuki deal and the right time and for a fair price. "Some of the best trades are the ones you never make."The executive's job can only be truly measured over the long term. Rizzo's record, starting w/ Langerhans-for-Morse, has been consistently good, and gritty (sitting Strasburg and sending Lannan to Syracuse) and designed to benefit the team over the long haul (signing Giolito arm issues notwithstanding). You could give him the award this year, and the next three, probably.

  37. natsfan1a - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:49 PM

    Regarding who has or hasn't earned a specific award, we'll know that when the winners are revealed. Until then, we're each entitled to our opinion, right? (If we choose to deliberate about it, which I don't, seeing as how I don't get an actual, you know, vote. :-))

  38. Faraz Shaikh - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:54 PM

    bowdenball, if Nats win division before Tuesday than they should skip Gio and have him start the 1st game. If they win tuesday or after and gio is used, then use det or ejax depending on who we face in first series (atlanta or cards resp). worst case scenario, we have to play cards in WC game. use lannen since he has had good numbers against cards in the past.

  39. mick - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:54 PM

    The Braves are like Rasputin, eventually, they will fall, lol

  40. Theophilus T. S. - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:56 PM

    Except as a designated runner, Perez has no role in the post-season. Unless somebody — heaven forbid — gets hurt, Harper and Werth start every game and play nine innings, and Bernadina is available for defense and Lombardozzi for emergencies. I think the only question mark is between Moore and DeRosa, and that may be decided by the park in which the Nats are playing. Both St. Louis and ATL are neutral parks but DeRosa would make more sense in SF (need the extra IF more than the RH power bat) and Moore in Cincinnati (can't miss the opportunity to let the kid swing in that bandbox).

  41. Section 222 - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    Feel, I don't hate anyone, although people here who engage in gratuitous, snide, personal attacks for no apparent reason make that tougher every day. I'll admit I didn't hear FP say that Perez would be a good choice "if they decide it would make more sense than an extra reliever". Something tells me that you just inferred that, which is fine I guess and certainly makes his lobbying make more sense than just promoting him for the playoff roster with no consideration of who would be left off to make room for him. I'd argue that if they decide not to add an extra reliever, Davey is more likely to keep DeRosa or even Brown, but it's moot because Davey has as much as said he's going with 8 relievers. And would you really want to keep a pinch runner over Garcia? I didn't think so.

  42. MicheleS - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:04 PM

    RepostingPERIC please note the person riling you up in the Instant Analysis was Michael S and not MicheleS.

  43. Faraz Shaikh - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    no 1a, it is a matter of who is right and wrong. I am right in choosing RA and everyone else is wrong.by the way, have you guys seen trailer for 42, movie on jackie robinson? should be fun.

  44. MicheleS - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    On to the good stuffGlad we made it possible for the phillies to have a losing record at home. Very happy to see Sean & Clipp have good outings. If they are on we just shortened the game even more.Now i am stuck at Reagan Airport with a flight delay. But i will be at tonights game

  45. natsfan1a - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    Haven't seen the trailer, Faraz. Will have to check it out. I've been trying to talk my husband into going to the movies this weekend. :-)

  46. Section 222 - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    bowdenball, we're on the same page, wondering about the plan for Gio. I asked the same question yesterday. So far we haven't heard anything definitive from Davey, but there's a dilemma here since, as you say, if he pitches on Oct. 2, he wouldn't be available to start Game 1 on Oct. 6. Someone theorized that if we clinch the East, Gio would pitch 3 or 4 innings on Oct. 1 or 2 to stay fresh, and then start on Oct. 6 if needed that day. But if we really need him to pitch 6 or 7 innings on Oct. 2, I'm not sure what the answer is. We won the season series against the Reds, so I think that makes our magic number 5 to clinch the No. 1 seed. Going to be hard to do that without Gio pitching on Oct. 2, especially since the Reds face the Pirates and Astros to close out their season. On the other hand, Davey seemed to imply that he'd almost prefer to be the No. 2 seed so he'd know earlier who we'll be playing in the NLDS. And with the Braves still on fire, that might be better anyway. So maybe after we clinch the East he concentrates on lining up Gio for Oct. 6, however that can be done.

  47. natsfan1a - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    As previously noted, no worries, MicheleS. Anybody who reads your posts knew it wasn't you.Also glad to see the L hung on the PHI home record. I enjoyed Ray's line about Phans being born and saying "boo" instead of "waa."Have fun in STL and thanks for representing us.

  48. bowdenball - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    Faraz Shaikh said…"bowdenball, if Nats win division before Tuesday than they should skip Gio and have him start the 1st game. If they win tuesday or after and gio is used, then use det or ejax depending on who we face in first series (atlanta or cards resp). worst case scenario, we have to play cards in WC game. use lannen since he has had good numbers against cards in the past."No offense, but every single one of these three options sounds awful.1- If they clinch and then rest Gio, he'll go nine or ten days between starts. That's a long time, much longer than he's gone all year. And they won't know if it's nine or ten until the season ends. There may be some way to get him work without forcing a potential "short rest" start in Game 1; I'm just curious as to how that works.2- I like Detwiler and Jackson, but if we start them in Game 1 of a five game series we're putting ourselves at a HUGE disadvantage. The Game 1 starter is also the presumed Game 5 starter. How is it OK to have one of those guys get two starts in a 5 gamer instead of Gio or Zimmermann? I can't see that happening.3- There is zero chance that if the season comes down to one game, John Lannan starts the game. I don't care how well he did in 2009 against guys that aren't on Cardinals any more.

  49. bowdenball - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:19 PM

    Thanks 222.I'm torn on the #1 vs. #2 thing. I think the Braves are the best of the three potential opponents if we win the East. But it's not just a question of Braves/Cards vs. Giants. It's a question of Braves with Medlen starting only Game 4/Cards vs. Giants with Cain able to go in both Games 1 and 5.

  50. Theophilus T. S. - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:20 PM

    Lannan gets one more start, then goes home to begin building his case in arbitration.

  51. Faraz Shaikh - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:22 PM

    bowdenball: 'No offense, but every single one of these three options sounds awful.'that's why I am not the manager. I don't get paid to come up with these options, I just base them on whatever half-baked ideas I can come up with.

  52. Faraz Shaikh - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    I think I would worry more about Reds and their bullpen (and starting pitchers such as Arroyo and Cueto who have given us trouble in the past) than braves and their left-handed heavy lineup. if you throw 3 lefties and JZ – Ejax at Braves, you should come out with 3 wins technically.

  53. Faraz Shaikh - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:25 PM

    1a, let's hope Ford does justice to Rickey (I believe he was central to this whole thing).also 'trouble with the curve', another baseball movie is out right now. I am gonna try to watch it this weekend.

  54. Donald - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    My guess on CY is that Dickey wins if he's within a win of Gio. So if they end where they are today, Dickey gets it. If Gio wins his last start (assuming he makes that start) and Dickey doesn't, I think Gio ekes him out. 22 wins vs. 20 is kind of big.

  55. hiramhover - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:34 PM

    Is that the one where Clint throws breaking balls to an imaginary batter?

  56. 320R2S15 - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    You seem pretty sure about thar FS. I think you are indeed wrong. The knuckle ball is BS pure and simple,is it ok for me to feel that way?

  57. natsfan1a - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:51 PM

    FS, yes, that one sounds interesting, too.320, I don't think FS was telling anyone what to think or how to feel.

  58. Faraz Shaikh - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:54 PM

    hiramhover, that's the one I think.320R2S15, it is OK for you to feel that way, but you would be misguided, misled, and mistaken about it.

  59. NCNatsie - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:54 PM

    I have to admit I have always felt the knuckleball was akin to cheating — and when it was Wakefield doing it for my beloved Red Sox I felt somewhat guilty. Not sure why. Just sayin'.

  60. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    Davey and McCatty will figure it all out but will the pitchers figure it all out? The stress seems to get to some of these pitchers. None of them except EJax has post-season experience.I'm always worried about which Gio will show up. He has not always shown up in big games in terms of being shutdown but he gets excellent run support and near tops in the Majors.Lannan has pitched in the most high stress games for the Nats over the years. That may or may not mean anything to Davey and McCatty and I only would expect him -if- the Nats were facing Atlanta where he has pitched well against them.Ross Detwiler on 1 extra days rest only gives up 1.75 runs in those games. He doesn't do well with 2 extra days rest.Jordan Zimmermann was great in July and average in August but has picked it up again. When he is locating his fastball with movement, he is going to throw a great game.EJax when he has a quick 1st inning is usually great. When he doesn't, not so great.

  61. mick - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:57 PM

    Gio is one bad a–!!!! Love this kid!!!

  62. Feel Wood - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:00 PM

    I'll admit I didn't hear FP say that Perez would be a good choice "if they decide it would make more sense than an extra reliever". Something tells me that you just inferred that, which is fine I guess and certainly makes his lobbying make more sense than just promoting him for the playoff roster with no consideration of who would be left off to make room for him.I didn't "infer" anything. I'm not into transcribing broadcasts or rewinding them to parse what announcers say, but he definitely was weighing the options of keeping an extra reliever vs having a guy like Perez who could pinch run and do what he did last night in a tight playoff game where every run is crucial. And he wasn't "lobbying" for Perez either. Just because someone says cake is nice, it doesn't mean they're trying to tell you it's possible to have your cake and eat it too. When it comes to FP, it's pretty clear you already know what you want to hear from him, so no matter what he says you're going to hear it that way and no other. You're just like the kid who doesn't like vegetables even though he's never tasted one in his life.

  63. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    NCNatsie said… I have to admit I have always felt the knuckleball was akin to cheating — and when it was Wakefield doing it for my beloved Red Sox I felt somewhat guilty. Not sure why. Just sayin'. September 28, 2012 9:54 AM A lot of people feel the way you do but I think Dickey will win. I think if you purely look at stats, Dickey is the Cy with Gio and Kershaw and Cueto all in the mix.I also expect Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg and even Ross Detwiler to get some votes. For those that don't like a pitcher that predominantly throws one pitch, how's about Mariano Rivera? He throws mostly his cutter and is the greatest closer in baseball history.

  64. natsfan1a - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    Me, too, on the Gio love. I was telling my husband the other day that it didn't take that long for him to have Nats fans wrapped around his little finger. On a somewhat related note, did I ever mention my idea for a Gio chant? Maybe it's too pointy-ball derivative (or too much clapping) but it goes like this:clap-clap, clap-clap-clap, clap-clap-clap-clap – GIO!Couldn't get anybody in my section to do it last weekend, though, including my hubby. :-)

  65. 320R2S15 - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    FS, you cannot read the pitch. You can read, or "pick up" a fastball, curve, slider, etc. There is no way to really "solve" a knuckler, nobody knows where it will break, so I really don't consider it to be a fair test of a hitter's ability. If you hit it, then it is luck, well unless you are Ted Williams but he was special. I hope they give the award to a conventional pitcher (GG). By the way, your confidence does not become you.

  66. bowdenball - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:07 PM

    Feel Wood, why must you make everything personal? Can't you just discuss the team without badmouthing posters? It's really not that hard. For example you could have just left the last two sentences off your last post. It wouldn't change anything about what you said about the team or FP. Why demean complete strangers on the internet?

  67. Feel Wood - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    There may be some way to get him work without forcing a potential "short rest" start in Game 1; I'm just curious as to how that works.It's pretty easy, actually. You just pick one of the games Tuesday or Wednesday and treat it like a spring training game. Gio starts and pitches two or three innings or to some specified pitch count. But of course you can't do that unless you've clinched. Which is why they aren't discussing plans for something like that yet – because they haven't clinched.

  68. JaneB - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    We got people in our section to yell "Let's Go, Gio" (insert clapping here). I loved the RA Dickey piece on Fresh Aire. Definitely one of the best sports interviews I've heard. ANd the book is good, too. That said, I vote Gio. And not just because I think he's the bees knees, which I do. But their numbers are comparable. He will have won more games that RA. Tie goes to Gio. Gio has more pitches, too. But I expect RA will win.On Rizzo as GM of the year — I think part of what's made him terrific is the deals he DIDN'T do, as much as the deals he did. And the deft way they handled the period of time when every catcher we had was on the DL, practically. And not to get into the middle of everything, but FP's comment about Eury was definitely in the context of whether they kept an extra reliever. I like Eury and would like to see more of him, but I know we won't till the clinch happens.

  69. Diz - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    Changing topics again, this series with the Cards feels like playoff baseball. Both teams with huge goals to play for.Cards trying to close out the last playoff spot up 3 with 6 to play and the Nats trying to close out the East up 4 with 6 to play.Cards are showing it throwing their best 3 starters against the Nats this weekend.Vegas opened up with Cards at -150Wainwright (13-13, 4.02) vs Jackson (9-10, 3.77)Lohse (16-3, 2.77) vs Wang (2-3, 6.60)Lynn (17-7, 3.69) vs Zimmermann (12-8, 2.90)Tough series and on paper, tonight has to be our best chance to win, even though we are -150.Tomoorrow is iffy at best with Wang on the mound, but Sunday is probably a tossup.And factor in the Braves playing the dredge of the East and a Pirates team that has mailed it in, should be exciting all the way to the end.

  70. mick - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    It is really cool to find old photos from 1924, 1925 and 1933, this town was electric over the Nats then. Of course, this was before the Skins and any other pro team. However, that could be said about most towns, exceptions of course NY,, Chi, Boston and Det. What I find interesting is that in 1933, with the Great Depression is full gear, how baseball and the Nats brought the town together. Similar to what Coach George Allen did in 1971 with the Skins, bringing the town together 3 years after the the riots. I am very excited as all of you, in fact, I just joined NI in 2010, I am happy Mark Z, for all of you that were a part of this during the 109 loss season, this season is for all of you too.

  71. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    What a difference having Michael Morse in the lineup and Jayson Werth getting on base.Last month when the Nats were swept in 3 against the Phillies, in his 1st at-bat in that 3 game series, Kendrick hit Morse on the hand and he was out for the rest of the series.On Werth, in all the games the Nats have beaten the Phillies this year, Werth has either drawn a walk or had 2 hits.

  72. mick - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    and for djinfl who helped with this site!

  73. Faraz Shaikh - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:20 PM

    320, just found this quote by Branch Rickey 'luck is the residue of design'. So even if hitters are considered lucky to get hits off of knuckleball, it is only because they thought they had a chance and went for it. (I hope that's what the quote means, I just googled it).

  74. mick - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:20 PM

    Ghost… a great point. also, I suspect the Phillies will be very good and hungry in 2013.

  75. blovy8 - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    The thing that's amazing about Dickey's knuckler is how hard he throws it, that's probably the key to his control of the pitch. Looking at the numbers, it seems he's gradually put a little more on it over the years.

  76. natsfan1a - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:23 PM

    Speaking of last night's opponent, sounds like their phans were left with an awkward feeling last night. Also, some of the commenters on the piece seem to see the writing on the wall (Or is that a clock on the wall? Tick-tock.)

  77. Faraz Shaikh - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:23 PM

    Diz, given JZ's last start against Cards, Sunday is an automatic loss for Nats right now. But then that is still only on paper.

  78. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:23 PM

    Diz said… Changing topics again, this series with the Cards feels like playoff baseball. Both teams with huge goals to play for.I agree. It has felt that way for a while from my perspective. Nats have to take 2 of 3 this weekend and tonight is huge and tomorrow looks tough on the matchup as Lohse has been excellent this year.

  79. bowdenball - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:25 PM

    Diz, I'd say Sunday is our best chance to win by far. Don't let the W-L and records confuse you. Lynn isn't an elite pitcher. He started the year incredibly hot but slumped thereafter. In fact he was in the bullpen until two weeks ago- he came out of the bullpen twice in the series in Washington and the Nats tattooed him both times. We'll be heavy favorites to win that game if we haven't clinched by then.

  80. mick - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:26 PM

    actually, what is Cards magic number for WC and can they catch Braves for top WC seed?

  81. Feel Wood - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:26 PM

    NCNatsie said… I have to admit I have always felt the knuckleball was akin to cheating — and when it was Wakefield doing it for my beloved Red Sox I felt somewhat guilty. Not sure why. Just sayin'.If it hasn't been outlawed by MLB, it's not cheating. Throwing a spitter now would be cheating, but throwing a spitter in 1920 wasn't. And the knuckleball isn't a "trick pitch" any more than a cutter or slider or curve ball is. But because so few pitchers throw it, it is a novelty act. A pitcher who succeeds throwing mostly knuckleballs is like a batter who can only get a hit by laying down a bunt and beating it out. So begrudging giving the Cy Young to a knuckleballer is like begrudging giving the batting title to someone who hits .350 by getting mostly bunt singles. Is the award only for those who are the best, provided they're not one trick ponies?

  82. mick - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:27 PM

    I assume Phils are done and Brewers as well? i am too lazy to look up magic numbers, lol

  83. hiramhover - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:27 PM

    I love Gio (and I loved the way he gutted it out last night), but I've never understood this hate for the knuckleball–at least, if you're not in the batter's box facing it. The only reason the knuckleball seems like a "trick" pitch is that it's so hard to pitch correctly that few pitchers learn to develop it–and when knuckleballers are bad, they're really, really bad. Part of what's impressive about Dickey's season is that in 32 games, he's had so few of those really, really bad games. Only one, really–an 8-run, 4.1 inning game at ATL back in April.

  84. natsfan1a - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:27 PM

    JaneB, yes, we had that chant going, too.On a series note, and with all due respect, why would I care what Vegas thinks? There's a reason they play the games. (And you kids get off my lawn! :-))

  85. natsfan1a - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:29 PM

    Mick, wild card elimination numbers are in parentheses in the stub (far left column) of the table.

  86. NCNatsie - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:29 PM

    JaneB, you are a girl after my own heart with the bees knees thing. I haven't heard that in EVER so long.And thinking about Rizzo and the deals he didn't do brought to mind the role that luck plays in success. If its true as was reported at the time that Rizzo really went after Buehrle and simply lost out to the Marlins, think how lucky he was and we all were. We could have had Buehrle instead of Gio. Even given that B. might have pitched better for Davey, McCatty, etc than he did in the Miami Zoo, I just can't imagine us being where we are without Gio.Don't think I'm dissing Rizzo. He had the guts to make the Gio deal, and that's point number one in the Vote Rizzo talking points memo. But he almost didn't get the chance.

  87. mick - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    Thank you Natsfan1a!!!!!

  88. natsfan1a - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:31 PM

    You're welcome!

  89. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:31 PM

    Faraz Shaikh said… Diz, given JZ's last start against Cards, Sunday is an automatic loss for Nats right now. But then that is still only on paper. September 28, 2012 10:23 AM That had nothing to do with the Cardinals, JZim was going through that shoulder issue the last 3 weeks of August and into early September.Should be a good matchup and another must-win for the Nats.

  90. mick - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:32 PM

    so Dodgers still have a shot and Brewers ever so slightly

  91. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    mick said… I assume Phils are done and Brewers as well? i am too lazy to look up magic numbers, lol September 28, 2012 10:27 AM Yes, stick a fork in the Phools. If the Nats sweep the Cardinals, the Dodgers and Brewers are right behind them if they win.

  92. Faraz Shaikh - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    GoSM, I don't know. He has always struggled against Cards. Hope I am not reading too much into it.

  93. Feel Wood - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    Cardinals are 7 games behind the Braves with 6 to play. No way they can catch them. But they are only 3 games ahead of the Dodgers for the second wild card with 6 to play, so their magic number for that is 4. Depending on what the Dodgers do this weekend, Cardinals could sweep the Nats and still not clinch.

  94. mick - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:34 PM

    It seems like Nats could be spoilers for Cards, if we swept them and Dodgers win 3 in a row

  95. Faraz Shaikh - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:35 PM

    since we are talking awards (at one point), ruf deserves NL ROY over Harper or anyone else. His OPS is 1+.

  96. mick - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:35 PM

    Ghost… that would be really fun to see a one game differential between Cards, Dodgers and Brewers going into the last series

  97. A DC Wonk - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  98. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    Faraz Shaikh said… GoSM, I don't know. He has always struggled against Cards. Hope I am not reading too much into it. September 28, 2012 10:33 AM Sample size of 2 games? He matches up well against the Cardinals (without Pujols).

  99. NCNatsie - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    I take your point, Feel, but like I said, I'm not sure why I "feel' the way I do about the knuckler, but it's how I feel. And I do think you went a bridge too far with the bunting comparison, first because nobody has ever done anything remotely like that, and second because if someone bunted that often defenses would adjust and take the option away. There's no defense against the knuckleball.Once when asked the toughest thing about catching, Joe Garrigiola said, "catching a foul tip, because you can't practice it." That's the other thing about the knuckleball — you can't practice against it because nobody on your team or coaching staff can throw it.I do expect Dickey to win, by the way. New York media bias.

  100. A DC Wonk - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:38 PM

    Why anyone would begrudge the Mets fans the chance to thank their most successful player is beyond me.No kidding! Sheesh, they don't have much else to root for. Imagine if, during the Nats' miserable seasons one of the pitchers had a chance to go for 20 in front of the home crowd?Dickey's having a great season. Winning 20 for the Mets is quite an achievement. As is having a WHIP of 1.050 — better than any Nats starter, btw. And he's 37.As for what he throws? He throws the same thing as any other pitcher: a baseball. His grip and delivery is his choice, as it is for every other pitcher.A good case can be made for both Gio and Dickey, as far as I'm concerned.

  101. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:38 PM

    mick said… Ghost… that would be really fun to see a one game differential between Cards, Dodgers and Brewers going into the last series September 28, 2012 10:35 AM Would like to see the Brewers win it and take on the Braves in the Wild Card game.

  102. NatsLady - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:38 PM

    I'm looking at stats now. First of all, I have nothing against the knuckleball. If it's legal and it gets hitters out, it's a pitch. Dickey's is extraordinary because of its speed and his control. I'm going to take out the one relief appearance because that was a fluke–you can argue it was Dickey being a "team player" or you can argue it was Dickey's ego thinking he could do it all–but I'd rather compare apples to apples.I'm pretty sure already that Dickey is going to win his case on stats. The reason is, and I wish I could find the table, he contributed more to the wins. All of his wins were quality starts (four of Gio's weren't) and he pitched more innings when his team won. Now, that might have been out of necessity (bad bad Mets bullpen), but he did do it.As a starter, he pitched 226.2 innings with a 2.62 ERA with a .219 BA (against). He has 24.7% K. The K% is where Gio beats him (hands down), and also the 21 HR's (vs. Gio's 8. Fangraphs shows Gio leading in WAR and FIP. Those HRs are a real knock against Dickey's FIP, but you have to feel there is some element of luck in a HR/FB% of 5.8%–meaning Gio's been somewhat lucky that a lot of his flyballs have been caught.NL Starting Pitchershttp://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=sta&lg=nl&qual=y&type=8&season=2012&month=0&season1=2012&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0I already eliminated Cueto. You can't help the division you pitch in, but Cueto won against some bad teams. He didn't pitch vs. the Nats, he lost to Atlanta and the Giants, and had no-decisions vs. MIL, PHI and STL(twice). Here are his stats.Average of all teams Cueto pitched against 0.466Average of teams when Cueto won 0.446Average of teams when Cueto lost 0.481Average of teams when Cueto no-decision 0.522You could argue that you are supposed to dominate against bad teams, and that's fine for the overall win total. I like to see what he did against other contenders because that will be the measure of how he does in the playoffs.(I understand pitcher wins are meaningless…)

  103. mick - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    DC wonk… I agree with you. I was able to watch the Nats at Citi field two weeks ago… it is very depressing for Mets fans. I spoke with a lot of them and other than Dickey and Knight, the feeling is you could take the rest. The anger is towards Wilpon…. OMG… you stalk about anger, I do not blame them.

  104. Feel Wood - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:40 PM

    Vegas opened up with Cards at -150Wainwright (13-13, 4.02) vs Jackson (9-10, 3.77)Lohse (16-3, 2.77) vs Wang (2-3, 6.60)Lynn (17-7, 3.69) vs Zimmermann (12-8, 2.90)Tough series and on paper, tonight has to be our best chance to win, even though we are -150.If they lose tonight and especially if the Braves also win, don't be surprised to see Zimmermann get the start tomorrow instead of Wang. He last pitched on Monday, so he will have four days rest. Remember the mantra is whatever it takes to win today's game.

  105. mick - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:40 PM

    Ghost…. I like that, however,there is something about the Brewers that scares me over the Braves, maybe I am wrong.

  106. NatsLady - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:41 PM

    Sorry, Gio had 9 HRs. Typo.

  107. NatsJack in Florida - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:41 PM

    As Bob Uecker explained, he had no problem handling a knuckleballer. "I just wait for it to stop rolling around on the ground, then I pick it up."

  108. natsfan1a - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:42 PM

    NatsJack, also, he got to visit a lot with the folks sitting behind home plate. :-)

  109. NatsLady - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:43 PM

    mick==> Dickey and Wright? I agree, they probably would like Knight back, I mean, in his youth!

  110. mick - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:45 PM

    I just looked up Cy Young, the dude lived to be 88 years old, passed away in 1955, he was born 1867, 2 years after Civil war… I get chills thinking about that, very cool

  111. NatsLady - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    FW, agree, and for another reason also. JZ does not thrive when he has extra rest. I would bet Davey has told both pitchers to be flexible in their routines.

  112. natsfan1a - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    Uecker quote courtesy of Baseball Almanac:"In 1967 I set a major league record for passed balls, and I did that without playing every game. There was a game, as a matter of fact, during that year when Phil Niekro's brother (Joe) and he were pitching against each other in Atlanta. Their parents were sitting right behind home plate. I saw their folks that day more than they did the whole weekend."

  113. mick - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    Nats lady… yikes, I meant wright… but yes, I am sure the would like the Silver Fox back too, lol

  114. natsfan1a - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:47 PM

    As I posted a few hours ago:On starters in STL, no doubt it depends on what happens in the early game(s) of the series, but fwiw the team site currently shows EJ, JZ, and Det starting.

  115. mick - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:47 PM

    well said Nats Jack, lol

  116. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:48 PM

    NatsLady, great job and I think you make the fair point: He is throwing a legal pitch. Its going to be interesting because a lot of voters are old-times that will not vote for Dickey.I'm also not big on Cy voting going on W/L records. I start with ERA and look at the other factors.I give it to Dickey but wouldn't be surprised if Gio got the hardware or even Kershaw.

  117. natsfan1a - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:49 PM

    Plenty more Uecker quotes here if you need a laugh this a.m. :-)

  118. mick - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:49 PM

    Dickey is a great story, Gio is young and will have many more chances, so I will not be upset if Dickey wins it

  119. mick - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:49 PM

    thanks natsfan1a

  120. Feel Wood - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    I take your point, Feel, but like I said, I'm not sure why I "feel' the way I do about the knuckler, but it's how I feel. And I do think you went a bridge too far with the bunting comparison, first because nobody has ever done anything remotely like that, and second because if someone bunted that often defenses would adjust and take the option away. There's no defense against the knuckleball.There must be a defense against the knuckleball, because if there wasn't every pitcher would throw one. There's no defense against a pitcher who has perfected the knuckleball. Same goes for the bunt. There is always the possibility of someone becoming so proficient at it and so fast that they could win the batting title strictly by bunting. Or if you don't like bunts, how about someone like Ichiro who hits only perfectly-placed singles. Should he be downplayed for MVP awards because other players can slug?

  121. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:53 PM

    natsfan1a said… As I posted a few hours ago:On starters in STL, no doubt it depends on what happens in the early game(s) of the series, but fwiw the team site currently shows EJ, JZ, and Det starting. September 28, 2012 10:47 AM Wow, you are correct. Wang has been replaced by JZ and Det on Sunday.

  122. NatsNut - Sep 28, 2012 at 3:07 PM

    Seamhead, I hope you don't mind. I just posted your awesome quote about the Braves fans split personality on my Braves' fan friends and family FB pages.=)

  123. NCNatsie - Sep 28, 2012 at 3:15 PM

    Feel, there's really not much point in trying to talk me out of my attitude about the knuckleball, because it's not subject to analysis. It's like trying to talk someone out of loving his wife by pointing out all her bad points. That said, your analogies are getting farther afield with every post. Perhaps the reason not every pitcher throws a knuckleball is because for most people it's not a learnable talent. Every decade (or so) seems to produce one guy who can do it successfully. It has nothing whatsoever to do with defense.As for someone being so "proficient and fast" they could bunt for a hit successfully 35% of the time (your original standard), Usain Bolt himself couldn't do that if the opposing team knew he was going to bunt. As to Ichiro, I don't see the point. I believe there are MVP voters who DO downplay him because he doesn't hit for power, although I would not.The fabulous beauty of baseball lies most of all in the delicate balance of spacial relationships to human potential. Move the bases in or back a foot and the game would change dramatically for the worse. If human beings could throw 200 mph fastballs, the pitchers mound would have to be moved back, and again the game itself would be the loser. Baseball in Denver is a joke because the altitude distorts the relationship. Maybe at the core of my "feeling" is the notion that the knuckleball is somehow a distortion of the spatial relationships. I don't really know. But I've posted more on this subject this morning than I ever intended, so I thank you for the opportunity for the mental exercise, but now I'm tired.

  124. Laddie Blah Blah - Sep 28, 2012 at 3:19 PM

    Faraz"Also recently read about Rizzo being voted as executive of the year award. I am not too sure about that either. Most of the contributors for Rizzo are not last off-season's acquisitions."Think about all the deals out there that he did not make – Dunn, Fielder, CJ Wilson, Buerhle, et. al., that now look so astute in hindsight. Many of the FAs he did pick up, like Werth, Tracy and ALR, are linchpins of this championship team. Getting Suzuki for a song and also having Oakland pick up part of his salary was a brilliant deal. The Gio trade speaks for itself. He has picked up Ryan Perry, Christian Garcia, Corey Brown, HRod, Zach Walters and other assets for almost nothing. Many of those guys are going to pay off, one way or another. He has built an organizational culture around winning and character, and of building from within.That's before you even get to the draft picks and his selection of a manager. He has many of the Nats' best players locked up for years to come, at reasonable cost. Beane has been working on improving Oakland for years, and probably won't even make the playoffs, again, despite their improvement this year. Rizzo, by contrast, has completely turned the Nats franchise around in only 2 years, without breaking the bank or mortgaging the Nats future, or his own flexibility as a GM. Unlike Beane's Oakland team, Rizzo's Nats have already made the playoffs and are in a great position to not only win a divisional title but also win home field advantage throughout the NL playoffs.No contest. Rizzo is baseball's executive of the year.

  125. Theophilus T. S. - Sep 28, 2012 at 3:22 PM

    I think some of you are skeptical about the knuckleball because the good knuckleball pitchers are so rare. My memory of the knuckleball goes back to Hoyt Wilhelm, followed closely by Wilbur Wood, and then the Niekros. Those guys were really good, durable pitchers who won/saved a ton of games. Wakefield won a lot of games simply because he pitched in front of a Red Sox team that scored buckets of runs and is in sort of a second tier. Dailey seems freakish because — by his own standards — this is a freakish season. A third of his career victories have come this year.If you want to talk about a freakish, fad-ish — and over-hyped — pitch, think of Burt Hooton's "knuckle curve." Or the screwball, which nobody throws any more because of what it does to the arm. (But think what Fernando Valenzuela could do following Strasburg in the rotation.)And save your scorn for the spitball, and the emery ball, and the grease ball.

  126. hiramhover - Sep 28, 2012 at 3:27 PM

    NCNatsieI hear you, but knuckballers aren't moving the bases or changing the altitude or even throwing particular hard. They don't throw from closer or farther away. They're doing something that's been a part of the game for more than a century.Among a universe of MLB pitchers, successful knuckleballers are a rarity–a freak doing something well that most of the others can't. Of course, among the human population at large, all MLB pitchers are freaks.

  127. Laddie Blah Blah - Sep 28, 2012 at 3:38 PM

    "by the way, have you guys seen trailer for 42, movie on jackie robinson? should be fun."I started growing up the day I asked my dad why they were booing Jackie Robinson. When I found out that a Marine veteran of Okinawa had warned everyone that they would have to go through him, first, if they tried to get to Jackie, that guy became my childhood idol. That's a photo of the back of his jersey that I use as my NI icon.That guy belongs in the HOF, for many, many reasons, not least because of how he supported his beleaguered teammate at a time when it meant a lot more than usual, and when it may have been downright dangerous.

  128. Laddie Blah Blah - Sep 28, 2012 at 3:43 PM

    "Wow, you are correct. Wang has been replaced by JZ and Det on Sunday."Davey is going for the kill, and he wants the body by Sunday night.

  129. original Nats Fan - Sep 28, 2012 at 3:51 PM

    Laddie, the Davey and I are in complete agreement. I, too, want the body by Sunday, if not sooner.

  130. NatsLady - Sep 28, 2012 at 3:55 PM

    I grew up with Wilber Wood and Hoyt Wilhelm also. How about Mo's cutter? Is that fair? A lot of pitchers try to incorporate it into their repetoire (including Clip) but they aren't as good at it–by far. When the slider was first introduced it was considered sneaky. If how you pitch depends on your physical and mental ability and not on PEDs and grease on the baseball (or pine-tar) then it's fair. A fastball thrown straight across the plate is batting practice. A fastball thrown with "movement" and "location" is an art.

  131. NatsLady - Sep 28, 2012 at 3:56 PM

    Yes, no surprise on the pitching change, none at all. CMW on the "probable" list was a place-holder in case we clinched.

  132. Section 3, My Sun Monster Sofa - Sep 28, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    Former American League umpire Ron Luciano once said, "Like some cult religion that barely survives, there has always been at least one but rarely more than five or six devotees throwing the knuckleball in the big leagues . . . Not only can't pitchers control it, hitters can't hit it, catchers can't catch it, coaches can't coach it and most pitchers can't learn it. The perfect pitch."

  133. Section 3, My Sun Monster Sofa - Sep 28, 2012 at 4:07 PM

    And most umps can't call it.

  134. TheManBearPig - Sep 28, 2012 at 4:49 PM

    I disagree that Dickey's stats are better than Gio's. The stats that tell you who you would prefer not to face if you're a hitter clearly favor Gio, who leads the NL in BA against and OPS against, and has only given up 9 HR all season, to Dickey's 22. Gio's just a tougher pitcher to face. That should give him the edge over Dickey.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 53 43 --
ATLANTA 54 44 --
NEW YORK 46 52 8.0
MIAMI 45 52 8.5
PHILADELPHIA 43 55 11.0
Through Sunday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
MON: Nats at Rockies, 8:40 p.m.
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WED: Nats at Rockies, 3:10 p.m.
THU: OFF
FRI: Nats at Reds, 7:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Reds, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Reds, 1:10 p.m.
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