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Final weekend odds and ends

Sep 27, 2013, 6:00 AM EDT

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PHOENIX — And so we’ve reached the final weekend of the season, with the Nationals wrapping things up out west in a three-game series against a Diamondbacks club that also stayed alive in the playoff race deep into September but now is playing out the string.

Here are a few news items, notes and other thoughts heading into the weekend…

Stephen Strasburg makes his final start of the season tonight, after which we’ll all try to make sense of a 2013 campaign that had plenty of highs and lows for the 25-year-old. Strasburg was absolutely dominant at times this season, taking a major step forward in reaching the ninth inning twice and racking up a career-high 176 innings (plus, obviously, however many he throws tonight). But he also was downright frustrating at other times, whether melting down in an early season start after Ryan Zimmerman committed an error at third base or failing to reach the third inning four separate times due to either injury, ejection, a long rain delay or poor performance. Strasburg is the first to admit there’s still room for improvement in 2014, but overall this season should be deemed a success for him. He made more starts and pitched more innings than in any previous time in his career while also putting fewer runners on base. That has to count for something.

— Strasburg is one of several Nationals who have a chance to reach some statistical milestones this weekend. If he somehow records 13 strikeouts against the Diamondbacks, Strasburg will reach 200 for the first time in his career. Others …

Gio Gonzalez, expected to start Sunday’s finale, needs only eight more strikeouts to reach 200 for the second straight year.

Jayson Werth has slumped a bit over the last couple of weeks following a torrid summer, but he has a chance to finish with an OPS of at least .922, which would establish a new career-high.

Ian Desmond last week became only the seventh shortstop in history with multiple 20-20 seasons, and with two more doubles he would join an even more-exclusive club. Only two other players this season have a chance to hit 20 homers, steal 20 bases and notch 40 doubles: Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen. Those might be the respective league MVPs, and Desmond could stack right up with each.

  1. TimDz - Sep 27, 2013 at 8:47 AM

    John Feinstein is apparently crawling up Boswell’s hind quarters with his article this morning….blaming this entire season on Rizzo’s decision to shut down Strasburg….

    On the Sports Junkies this morning, he mentioned a chain of events that supposedly wouldn’t have happened if Strasburg had not been shut down…however, he conveniently never mentioned the fact that Strasburg was fully GASSED by his last start (I was at that game against the Marlins and it was clear that he was toast) and that he was losing steam in the four or five starts prior to that….

    This season was indeed disappointing…I wish the conspiracy theorists would just leave it alone already….

    • NatsLady - Sep 27, 2013 at 8:51 AM

      I don’t read or listen to Feinstein. I turn off the radio when I hear “Sports Minute.” He’s a jerk.

    • tcostant - Sep 27, 2013 at 9:26 AM

      Feinstein clearly is not a diehard fan like we are. I read his article and he misses to many points. 1) Det likely wouldn’t have been in there if Stras was, so that’s one huge start that would have been missing in the post season & 2) the team blew a 6 run league in game 5.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Sep 27, 2013 at 10:51 AM

        That’s an interesting point Tcosant. Who would’ve sat of the 4 man postseason starters: Detwiler or EJax. Det outpitched him but EJax was supposedly here for that postseason experience and leadership. Detwiler was the much better performer last year but its interesting to wonder.

        In the playoffs, Det was the best of the starters as it urned out and EJax was a disaster as a starter and a reliever.

  2. tcostant - Sep 27, 2013 at 9:07 AM

    I’ll miss you baseball!

    • natsfan1a - Sep 27, 2013 at 9:25 AM

      Baseball’s been bery, bery good to me.

  3. NatsLady - Sep 27, 2013 at 10:06 AM

    The Arizona Fall League starts on October 8. Our team is the is the Mesa Solar Sox. Here is the link.

    http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/events/afl/index.jsp

    • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 27, 2013 at 10:21 AM

      And the Dominican Winter League season begins shortly after the World Series. Go Licey! Ahí vienen Los Tanques!

  4. NatsLady - Sep 27, 2013 at 10:14 AM

    It’s been a disappointing season, yes, but for me personally, a lot of fun. I went to many, many games, saw a lot of exciting stuff, my sis came to see me and we sat in the expensive suite on a rainy day, I learned to blog (not keeping it up right now, got really busy once school started).

    I don’t think the boys cared much about Davey’s “revenge” on the Cards. I think they (except Bryce) went out, got nice and drunk, and will worry about next season next season. Can’t blame them one iota.

    BTW, that Max Scherzer of the TIgers, that guy is a rip. He thought the Tigers might clinch they day before his (they didn’t) and said he was preparing to “pitch with a hangover.” They clinched, and he wore two different color goggles, in honor of his eyes.

  5. Ghost of Steve M. - Sep 27, 2013 at 11:11 AM

    I wonder if Davey puts JZim in for relief like Game 4 with the motivation this time to get him Win #20.

    Davey leaves behind quite the legacy. It wasn’t all perfect this year but in the end there is only 1 winner and 29 losers. The weaknesses were greatly exposed and I hope the boys saw what the Cardinals did with their approach. It’s the same approach Freddie Freeman has with men on base.

    The key is outscoring your opponent not hitting 450 foot homers (not that I don’t like those) when a hit into the gap scores 2 runs to go ahead. I think Wilson Ramos is watching Yadier Molina and his approach. The game is now very situational. Yes, there are times that Bryce should be trying to bash it out but good contact is key. They got better over the season no doubt, but always room for improvement.

    My team MVPs are Werth, Desi, JZim and Clip which covers outfielders, infielders, starters and relievers. Top rookie pitcher is Roark with honorable mention to TJord and top rookie position player is Rendon. Lombo gets top bench player as there were no MVPs there.

    I believe Taylor Jordan has more raw potential than Roark and the off-season will show what they can add to their repertoire.

    Hot Stove ahead. Remember you heard it from me 1st, Werth to 1st base!

    • tcostant - Sep 27, 2013 at 11:15 AM

      I don’t see him pitching JZimm in relief. I think he would start him on three days rest before making him a RP for the day. I don’t see either happening.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Sep 27, 2013 at 11:36 AM

        You’re probably right but Davey is full of surprises.

    • djbinfl - Sep 27, 2013 at 11:49 AM

      didn’t expect that switch

  6. natsguy - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:17 PM

    Interesting report in MLBTR about religion being discussed pretty loudly in the Nats club house. Apparently there isn’t always a great chemistry going on. Politics and religion are a bad thing to discuss at work.

    • therealjohnc - Sep 27, 2013 at 5:25 PM

      OK, natsguy, I ran it down. Stammen actually said this:

      “People always say, ‘When you’re with strangers you don’t talk about politics, you don’t talk about religion,’” Stammen said. “But we’ve all become good enough friends that I don’t think we judge each other too much. We can talk about it a little bit. And there’s guys who are very interested and inquisitive, because they don’t know much about it.”

      So you’ve taken a report where the Nats player says that being able to talk about religion is because they are close, and you have taken it as a sign of negative chemistry. That’s some impressive jiu jitsu there.

      Oh, and link: http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2013/09/27/jesus-hits-cleanup-for-the-nationals/

  7. natsguy - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:18 PM

    I might have that wrong. HBT is the source and Craig Stammed was quoted.

    • therealjohnc - Sep 27, 2013 at 5:17 PM

      Link?

  8. natsfan1a - Sep 27, 2013 at 2:50 PM

    They may be riffing off a piece by Amanda Comak. From that article (link below), it didn’t sound like there were chemistry issues to me. Your mileage may vary.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/sep/26/for-washington-nationals-religion-looms-large-on-a/

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ATLANTA 72 65 6.0
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FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
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