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State of the Nats-7/1

Jul 1, 2013, 4:30 PM EST

Photo by USA Today

Team Record: 41-40 (15-15)

N.L. East Standings



Offensive Game of the Week: Ian Desmond 6/30 vs. Mets – 2-for-4, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, 2B, SB, HBP
Pitching Line of the Week: Gio Gonzalez 6/30 vs. Mets – 7 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 7 SO, 2 BB, 119 pitches (84 strikes)
Top Storylines
Bryce Harper’s return – The Nats have maintained their .500 pace, treading water if you will, since Harper went out on May 26. Now he comes back right as the Nats are set to play five consecutive series against teams with losing records, 17 total games. With Harper back in the lineup, the Nats’ offense should have balance and power top to bottom. They could be setting up to finally break out on offense, especially with Wilson Ramos coming back around July 4.

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  1. UNTERP - Jul 1, 2013 at 4:35 PM

    The Bryce Harper Rises…

  2. Eric - Jul 1, 2013 at 4:40 PM

    Rain, rain, go away…

  3. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 1, 2013 at 4:40 PM

    Chase – I think Thu. – 11:05 p.m. vs. Milwaukee Brewers (Jordan) should read 11:05 a.m. and isn't Wednesday a TBD on pitchers given Detwiler's sore back or has he been determined to be fine?

  4. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 1, 2013 at 4:44 PM

    Eric, left you a message on the last thread that some would consider injuries "bad luck" or looking at the Braves they sustained 2 injuries in their bullpen with Venters and O'Flaherty who they ran both into the ground with over-use and they got back McCann rather quickly from his pre-season recovery. Beachy was an injury from last year.Other than a couple of 15 day DLs the Barves are starting their "A" lineup and "A" rotation and mostly a bullpen that they pieced together with Kimbrel, Walden, Wood and Avilan that have performed very well.

  5. Doc - Jul 1, 2013 at 4:50 PM

    Ah, isn't it time that Mr. Sabermetria, aka Davey, put Desi in the # 4 clean-up spot? I mean 28 RBI's in June, sportsfans!!!!!!!! Leading the team in HR's, too! Desi also attacks FB's the way Davey wants them all to go after pitchers. He's a slugger, like all #4's are. That pitch that he hit off of Recker (Sp.?) almost went through a window at the Empire State Bldg.

  6. Eric - Jul 1, 2013 at 4:50 PM

    OK, thanks, I asked about that, Ghost. Thought I'd read about a lot of Braves injuries, but yeah, if overuse took out their relievers, that's not really bad luck.Faraz, I agree we have poor playing as much as bad luck to blame, but I really do think playing tough teams, facing All Star aces for mediocre /bad teams, etc., in conjunction with our injuries, has played a role in at least a few losses.

  7. Eric - Jul 1, 2013 at 4:54 PM

    Someone mentioned doubling Desi's total so far to get a sense of what his full season output would be. That's probably a fairly safe approach, but it ignores the fact that ~60% of his home runs and RBIs this season were accumulated over the last month (33% of the season so far). It appears that he's ramping up in a big way!

  8. UNTERP - Jul 1, 2013 at 4:55 PM

    58-23 :o)

  9. NatsLady - Jul 1, 2013 at 4:56 PM

    Good point on Desi's HRs. So he's unlucky on balls-in-play, but lucky on flyballs. Works for me!

  10. NatsLady - Jul 1, 2013 at 4:57 PM

    The rest of the season is against .469 average teams. You can expect some of these teams so sell/trade players so they will be even worse. We can do this.

  11. Faraz Shaikh - Jul 1, 2013 at 4:58 PM

    I don't know. I think mostly it has been lack of timely hitting. Otherwise we had some great pitched games we had won last year that we did not this year because collectively our lineup was sleeping.regarding karolchak's point of improving bench, while I agree that is necessary, taking a chance on jeff is not necessarily the answer. like eric said, at least bernie and tracy are coming around. i am sure they can trade for someone better than jeff. why would you wanna give another reason for folks to bash rizzo by signing frenchy?

  12. Don - Jul 1, 2013 at 5:03 PM

    Harper is not enough. He'll help, no doubt, and a lot. But the club needs more. They should consider taking a salary-dump rotation upgrade, if a long term guy is not to be had for what they are willing to part with in terms of minor league talent. And it would also be nice to have another go-deep type RH bat who could play a corner infield spot (presuming Tyler Moore does not turn it around now) on the bench. The Braves are going to add bench help and maybe Kevin Gregg in the pen, and the Nats are 6.5 games back from what is right now a very strong club in Atlanta (and the WC is coming out of the Central as things stand now). Rizzo needs to be bold, not just hope that health is enough.

  13. nats guy - Jul 1, 2013 at 5:10 PM

    Hey everybody calm down. This tean is 34 and 38 since the middle of April. For almost 11 weeks they have been playing sub .500 baseball. Do you think they are going to turn it around that dramatically because of one player. I hope so but I doubt it. They are very lucky to be at 1 game over right now. They have a defensive liability at 3B and 2 SP slots with issues. Harper needs to be the 2nd coming of Ty Cobb/Babe Ruth/Hank Aaron to do that. Tough row to hoe. I am just hoping for one good series at a time and for the Braves to play a little below .500. Hoping but certainly not expecting.

  14. Eric - Jul 1, 2013 at 5:12 PM

    "I don't know. I think mostly it has been lack of timely hitting. Otherwise we had some great pitched games we had won last year that we did not this year because collectively our lineup was sleeping."Yeah, but I think that can probably be pretty directly correlated with injuries and the pitchers we've faced…for instance, here was our lineup against Kershaw, a game we lost 2 – 0 (with Haren pitching, of all people):Espinosa, 2BLombardozzi, LFZimmerman, 3BDesmond, SSLaRoche, 1BMoore, T, RFRamos, W, CPerez, E, CF-LFThen, the next night, it was this against Greinke (a game we lost 3 – 1 and during which Det went down):Span, CFLombardozzi, LF2-Perez, E, PR-LFZimmerman, 3BLaRoche, 1BDesmond, SSRamos, W, C1-Suzuki, K, PR-CEspinosa, 2BBernadina, RFNow, imagine the following line up playing the Dodgers in 3-game series where we happen to miss both Greinke AND Kershaw:SpanWerthHarperZimLaRocheDesiRendonSuz-amos

  15. nats guy - Jul 1, 2013 at 5:14 PM

    Eric,Good teams overcome injuries bad teams are overcome by injuries. Last year they overcame this year not so much.

  16. Eric - Jul 1, 2013 at 5:14 PM

    Ooops, I left the pinch hitterse in for the line up against Greinke. It should've been:Span, CFLombardozzi, LFZimmerman, 3BLaRoche, 1BDesmond, SSRamos, W, CEspinosa, 2BBernadina, RF

  17. Eric - Jul 1, 2013 at 5:17 PM

    Don, nats guy, to reduce this season's woes to Harper's DL stint is extremely inaccurate; likewise, omitting a variety of positive developments accompanying his return. Particularly if we're comparing the July 2013 Nats to the April 2013 Nats.

  18. sjm308 - Jul 1, 2013 at 5:17 PM

    Don: while one of the wildcard spots will probably be from the Central, I would argue that they still have lots of games between those three teams and I am thinking/hoping that all 3 will take turns beating up on the other which will allow us to slowly but surely make a move. If we keep winning series things will work out. We are 4.5 back of the wild card which is two full games better than our shot at the Braves. If we can be two games out by the All-Star Break I think it gives us even more incentive. Winning 3 of 4 from the Brewers would be a great start. They played 14 innings last night and hopefully they used up a lot of their pen in losing that game.Go Nats!!

  19. Oldguy - Jul 1, 2013 at 5:18 PM

    Adam Kilgore needs to quit reading this blog. Look at his first paragraph in the Post today. What do you see? "maddening first half"; "pulverizing reminder" and "deadened their bats." Man, now that's positive coverage, right? Now delete that. reboot your brain, and read his second paragraph."In a 13-2 demolition at Citi Field, the Nationals received their largest offensive output of the season as Gio Gonzalez continued his recent brilliance. The Nationals thumped high-profile rookie Zack Wheeler for 4-2/3 innings and pounded the Mets’ bullpen so severely they sent backup catcher Anthony Recker to the mound in the ninth inning. Ian Desmond launched one of Recker’s batting-practice fastballs to the upper deck in left field, completing the Nationals’ four-homer, 10-extra-base-hit onslaught" Night and day. Does it matter? Damn right it does. One thing that will carry this team down the road is a fan base–people who buy tickets and hot dogs and watch the games on TV. What the writers write helps build–or destroy–that. Given that there are some 20,000 season tickets holders, and maybe 50 or 100 regulars in here, what we say here doesn't matter. What goes in the Post does.Year ago Boz wrote a particularly nasty column about the Nats, and I emailed him and complained. He didn't answer, but he didn't do it again. Word matter. They can help, or they can hurt. It's out choice.

  20. Oldguy - Jul 1, 2013 at 5:19 PM

    Words matter …

  21. sjm308 - Jul 1, 2013 at 5:20 PM

    I will agree with Ghost however from the last post that those 9 games head to head with the Braves are huge. If we can go 6-3 then that race is also much tighter and 7-2 would be unrealistic but just lovely for this old fan!!

  22. Oldguy - Jul 1, 2013 at 5:20 PM

    It's our choice

  23. Faraz Shaikh - Jul 1, 2013 at 5:21 PM

    Eric, first of all, Ramozuki is cooler than Suz-amos. Second, the lineups you posted, most of them were opening day starters for us. that means the guys we counted from start to produce. yes, injuries took their toll. our record with harper in the lineup is much better than without him but we just did not play well.nats guy, last week or so they have not played sub .500. didn't someone post their current run of 7 of 11 or something?

  24. nats guy - Jul 1, 2013 at 5:24 PM

    Eric I never said that. Isaid that thet have been a consistently average club Harper or not all season. One change will probably not fix that. Out of an 81 ganme season so far they have been 34-38 for the last 72 games or about 11 weeks. That is what I was speaking about. Thety also have 3 major holes

  25. nats guy - Jul 1, 2013 at 5:26 PM

    Faraz that shows how much it took just to get them to 34-38. Holes are tough things to get out of without a lot of time and help.

  26. Eric - Jul 1, 2013 at 5:26 PM

    Faraz, for sure the slumps took their toll, but the odds of run production go up imo significantly if you throw a healthy Harper and Werth into that line up. Then, add Rendon in place of Espi…

  27. JD - Jul 1, 2013 at 5:28 PM

    I think that almost as big as Harper's absence is the fact that the 5th spot in the rotation (and 4th also lately) has been a black hole. The big 3 have been magnificent together since Stras's return but we have to start splitting the games the back end starts if we are to get back in.

  28. nats guy - Jul 1, 2013 at 5:28 PM

    At game 9 they were 7-2 mostly becuse of Miami. At game 81 they are 41-40. In other words they have been playing at 34-38 since. In any book that is not a very strong record. Thank god for Miami.

  29. Eric - Jul 1, 2013 at 5:29 PM

    >Eric I never said that. Isaid that thet have been a consistently average club Harper or not all season. One change will probably not fix that. Out of an 81 ganme season so far they have been 34-38 for the last 72 games or about 11 weeks. That is what I was speaking about. Thety also have 3 major holesYou absolutely "[omitted] a variety of positive developments accompanying [Harper's] return."Such as: Werth is back and producing. LaRoche is back and producing. Rendon has replaced Espi. Desi has become an offensive powerhouse. Our top three starting pitchers have locked it in. Our bullpen has solidified.None of these things was the case in April. Or, much of May.

  30. Eric - Jul 1, 2013 at 5:31 PM

    Er, didn't mean to imply LaRoche was ever gone, but he may as well have been.

  31. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 1, 2013 at 5:33 PM

    I hope the Braves do go for Kevin Gregg because he is a couple of meltdowns from returning to his form of years past.

  32. Eric - Jul 1, 2013 at 5:35 PM

    PS – we played exactly .500 ball in June and we're 28 – 26 since 4/30.

  33. nats guy - Jul 1, 2013 at 5:37 PM

    Eric every team in baseball has had many injuries. Even with Werth, and Rendon back they have still been playing about .500 baseball. I hope they do well but don't expect it. Teams set patterns for themselves. For all the goods you talk about there are some nagging problems. What do you do about RZim's fielding? What do you do for the 4th & 5th starters? Where is the bench? You sure like to put words in my mouth. I was just showing how thet have been playing fairly bad to average baseball for a very long time and that is a very tough pattern to break. I have watched an awful lot of bad teams in DC. These guys won't be good until they fix some problems that no just solved by Bryce Harper.

  34. Eric - Jul 1, 2013 at 5:39 PM

    I expect nothing out of this season or any other, I just think it's inaccurate to suggest that the only thing that's changed for the better since mid-April is Harper coming off the DL.In other words, they already have "fix[ed] some problems that no just solved by Bryce Harper."Harper will be batting in a line up that is *significantly* improved since mid-April.

  35. nats guy - Jul 1, 2013 at 5:41 PM

    Eric it'll take a lot better than 28-26 to get to the playoffs. Like I said they have been playin at about .500 or more/less. Can you sayy average or mediocre. Either way not playoff unless they do much better and fix the holes.

  36. Faraz Shaikh - Jul 1, 2013 at 5:41 PM

    of course eric. no doubt about that. they should perform better now. everyone seems to be healthy. defense has lapses sometimes but mainly plays clean games.

  37. Eric - Jul 1, 2013 at 5:41 PM

    Now, that's not to say they've been consistent. Certainly they haven't. But, lots of bad trends have been reversing for a long time, and I think it's possible that Harper will be the impetus that pushes ongoing positive trends over the top.

  38. nats guy - Jul 1, 2013 at 5:43 PM

    Eric again with the putting suggestions or words in my mouth. I stated that they have several holes still to fix and they have been playing sub .500 baseball for a very long time. Quit the putting of words in my mouth.

  39. Faraz Shaikh - Jul 1, 2013 at 5:44 PM

    yes eric, let's hope so.

  40. nats guy - Jul 1, 2013 at 5:44 PM

    Faraz were Friday and Saturday clean defensive games? I don't think so.

  41. Eric - Jul 1, 2013 at 5:44 PM

    nats guy, obviously we can do nothing but watch and see what happens. Surely everyone could fall back into their mid-April funks, Rendon could flame out, Harper could go back on the DL, etc., etc., etc.But, in the recent future, without Harper, things have started trending positive. If we turn a corner this season, it will start with a small sample size and then one day we'll realize that it was sustained through a large sample size.IMO, if we do turn a corner, the sample size will have begun back in Colorado with our 10-hit, 1-run game.

  42. Eric - Jul 1, 2013 at 5:50 PM

    Er, hrm…that 10 hit game wasn't against the Rockies, but I still peg that time (early – mid June) as the time when any turn around will have begun.

  43. Faraz Shaikh - Jul 1, 2013 at 5:55 PM

    nats guy, I missed your post where you listed all these holes you keep referring to.

  44. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 1, 2013 at 6:22 PM

    If you can't get excited about the best trio of starting pitchers in baseball (JZim/Stras/Gio) and this starting 8Span, Werth, Harper, RZim, ALR, Desi, Rendon, Ramozukithen I don't what to tell you!

  45. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 1, 2013 at 6:27 PM

    Ian Desmond goes on an absolute en fuego smash & grab on opposing teams in June with 28 RBIs in the month. Is it just a coincidence that Espinosa last played on June 2nd? I say it's not as Desmond started to surge when Rendon was placed behind him to begin that hot streak.

  46. Eric - Jul 1, 2013 at 6:29 PM

    At the risk of again putting words in nats guy's mouth that I lifted straight from his posts, I think the holes he's referring to are:-4th starter-5th starter-RZim-BenchI'd say the jury's still out on Det. If this "back stiffness" thing resolves by his next start, I think we'll see him ramp back up nearer to his early season levels in the next 2 or 3 starts. If not, then we'll have to hold our breath and hope Ohlendorf really has figured "it" out until Det recovers.The Haren slot is more up in the air. Taylor Jordan seems to have the potential to hold down the fort, but it's too early to tell. I will also say that I'd really love to see Haren succeed, because his good starts have been outstanding. If that cortisone shot really has him feeling better than he has all season, I am cautiously optimistic that he will be appreciably more successful in the second half.I'm not overly worried about RZim. He's had very few fielding errors all season (I think he may have doubled them up on Saturday?) and his throwing seems to be getting better and better. Likewise his hitting. I still sweat and shake when the ball is hit his way, but I don't see him as being anything close to a "hole" at this point.I think the bench has been improving, as discussed recently. I do think Moore is still a hole, and that Tracy is still teetering on the edge. But, overall I think the bench has graduated from "hole" to "area of concern," mostly due to Lombo and the Shark becoming more productive. Still, it appears to be our problem with the fewest solutions so if there isn't continued improvement it will be harder to address.All that said, I think our downsides are now much more akin to a small set of manageable problems than the ubiquity we've dealt with for the last 2 months or so.

  47. Faraz Shaikh - Jul 1, 2013 at 6:40 PM

    how does mark derosa has five HRs? he had none for us last year.

  48. d'grviii 8 - Jul 1, 2013 at 6:46 PM

    Mark DeRosa was hurt most of last year. This year he's getting much more regular playing time with the Jays.

  49. NCNatsie - Jul 1, 2013 at 6:46 PM

    Everyone seems to think its almost impossible to make up 6.5 games on Atlanta from July 1 to the end of the season.Heck, in 2011, the St. Louis Cardinals made up 9.5 games on Atlanta from August 25 to the end of the season and knocked them out of the wild card slot in the process. We've got almost an extra two months 3 games less to gain and an extra wild card slot to boot. Let's have a little positive thinking here.

  50. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 1, 2013 at 6:46 PM

    Good news on Ramos. Hopefully can be in uniform on Wednesday and play Thursday.http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/nationals-journal/wp/2013/07/01/wilson-ramos-to-move-rehab-assignment-to-potomac/

  51. Faraz Shaikh - Jul 1, 2013 at 6:49 PM

    agreed, NCNatsie.

  52. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 1, 2013 at 6:49 PM

    NCNatsie said… Everyone seems to think its almost impossible to make up 6.5 games on Atlanta from July 1 to the end of the season.Heck, in 2011, the St. Louis Cardinals made up 9.5 games on Atlanta from August 25 to the end of the season and knocked them out of the wild card slot in the process. We've got almost an extra two months 3 games less to gain and an extra wild card slot to boot. Let's have a little positive thinking here.Exactly but there are those that just want to complain. The Nats can start by dominating the Brewers this week and just go at it 1 game at a time.

  53. Eric - Jul 1, 2013 at 6:51 PM

    And, taking 2 of 3 over the last 2 series–one of which was against a division leader–is a fine start to a serious bid for making the postseason.

  54. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 1, 2013 at 6:59 PM

    Bryce officially activated and Purke promoted to High-A

  55. baseballswami - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:00 PM

    Tired of hearing people say we are a bad team. I disagree– I think we are a talented team that is underachieving. And I would rather have my team be talented and have the possibility of playing better than be a team with no talent that is temporarily playing well. I think the talent on this team makes it more possible for us to be in the hunt for the next several years. Barring key injuries of course:(

  56. ruggeds1000 - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:03 PM

    I hope Rendon doesn't lose momentum batting 7th.

  57. JD - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:04 PM

    Guys, No one is saying it's impossible to catch the Braves. I think what some posters are saying is that the Nats have shown no indication of having that type of run in them. I am generally an optimist but I have to admit that I am on the fence at this time. I am hopeful because we are close to having the team back and healthy but I am very concerned about the 4th and 5th starters.

  58. JD - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:06 PM

    Ghost, Very good new about Purke. He really should be at AA given his age and college experience but for now I'll take healthy and performing well at the level he's at.

  59. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:07 PM

    Exactly but there are those that just want to complain. Baseball is predicated on failure–you can't play it without somebody making outs. 28 teams will not play in the World Series, by rule. So it's a lot easier to say "I told you so" if you predict failure.

  60. JD - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:10 PM

    I think that the fundamental change from last year to this was the insertion of Denard Span into the leadoff spot and I supported that move whole heatedly. Upon further review I have to confess that I am not sure that it was a wise move after all. The lineup with Werth at the top functioned very well in the 2nd half last year and maybe we shouldn't have messed with that. I don't think that Morse is the issue here but rather the fact that Werth and Bryce consistently put pressure on the opposition right from the get go and Zim and LaRoche were bothe excellent following them.

  61. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:11 PM

    The one I love is "Don't get your hopes up."Why on earth would I NOT want to get my hopes up? What could I possibly stand to gain by not getting my hopes up, rooting for "my" team? That's the reason I watch baseball. It's entertainment.

  62. JD - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:19 PM

    Yes NL just say no to Frenchy. Please !!!

  63. Alphabet Soup Erik - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:20 PM

    Agree about the 4th and 5th starters. You need those guys to put together a streak. Right now, our 4th and 5th starters are nowhere near as good as the Braves, and they are going to get Brandon Beachy back fairly soon. The potential dominance of our 3 starters is great for the playoffs, but you have to get there first. Detwiler and Haren have been terrible for the majority of the year. Rizzo really needs to step up and add a Garza-type. Having watched Garza in person a few times, he has the ability to dominate at times. If you have to give up A.J. Cole again to do it, so be it.

  64. NatsLady - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:24 PM

    No matter how well Danny Duffy pitches in Triple-A as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, the team won't part with Ervin Santana if they're in contention. Should they fall out of the race, the Royals would likely make Santana available if they received an offer they deemed more valuable than a compensatory draft pick, suggesting that the Royals are planning on making Santana a qualifying offer this offseason.Dutton expects the recently DFA'ed Jeff Francoeur to clear waivers and sign with another team as opposed to a trade or Frenchy accepting a minor league assignment.It's still not clear if the Royals will be buyers at the deadline, though Dutton expects them to look hard at additions. However, he calls the odds of them making a big move "slim."

  65. NatsLady - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:30 PM

    I would take Ervin Santana, though, if Det and Haren don't get their act together and KC falls out completely. He is underrated, IMO.

  66. JD - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:32 PM

    Erik, I'm not sure Cole get's you Garza although he is only a rental as he's a free agent at the end of the year. He has been pitching very well of late and would certainly be an upgrade over what we have. I wouldn't give up Goodwin for him though.

  67. Gonat - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:34 PM

    For those who had Werth back in the 2 hole and Rendon after Desi win the contest.

  68. JD - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:35 PM

    NL, Santana is also a FA at the end of the year. His profile is crazy. He has good years followed by terrble years followed by good years etc. When he's bad he's very bad like last year.

  69. NatsLady - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:37 PM

    JD, agree. I would take him as a rental because he seems to be having a good year–this year.

  70. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:47 PM

    New Post

  71. natsfan1a - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:50 PM

    New earwig.Sec. 3, My Sofa said… The one I love is "Don't get your hopes up." Why on earth would I NOT want to get my hopes up? What could I possibly stand to gain by not getting my hopes up, rooting for "my" team? That's the reason I watch baseball. It's entertainment. July 01, 2013 3:11 PM

  72. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Jul 1, 2013 at 10:40 PM

    new earwigBless your luddite little heart, 1a, THIS is an earwig.That's an earworm.

  73. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Jul 1, 2013 at 10:41 PM

    Earwig, take 2

  74. natsfan1a - Jul 2, 2013 at 11:10 AM

    Dang, does this mean that my Trekkie card gets revoked?

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