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Instant analysis: Nats 2, Diamondbacks 0

Sep 28, 2013, 10:37 PM EDT

Associated Press Associated Press

Game in a nutshell: In their penultimate game of the season, the Nationals got some big-time performances from a couple of guys who mostly disappointed in 2013. Dan Haren, making his final start, tossed seven scoreless innings, scattering four hits, to earn the win. Chad Tracy, starting in place of an injured Adam LaRoche, reached base three times and launched a home run. Denard Span also recorded his MLB-leading 11th triple and scored on Ryan Zimmerman’s groundout. Rafael Soriano made it interesting in the ninth but finished off the win and in the process ensured Davey Johnson will end his managerial career at least 300 games over the .500 mark. Entering tomorrow’s finale, Johnson owns a 1,372-1,1070 record.

Hitting highlight: It hasn’t been a particularly memorable season for Tracy, who struggled in his limited playing time early on and then continued to lose opportunities along the way. But given a rare chance to start tonight when LaRoche was scratched with biceps tendinitis, Tracy seized the moment. Playing in the ballpark where he began his career, the veteran infielder launched a deep flyball in the second, drilled a single in the fifth and then crushed a home run into the pool area in the seventh. Then he drew a walk in the ninth just for good measure. Tracy almost certainly won’t be returning to Washington next season, but he still believes he can be a productive big leaguer. And nights like this suggest he may be right.

Pitching highlight: This was by no means a good season for Haren, who was expected to be much better for the $13 million the Nationals gave him. But give the right-hander credit for righting his ship after a brief stint on the DL in midseason. Over his final 12 starts, Haren went 6-3 with a 3.14 ERA. And he capped it off with one of his best performances of the season: seven scoreless innings of four-hit ball against a good Arizona lineup. Haren, a former Diamondbacks ace, has always enjoyed pitching in this ballpark, and he sure looked like it tonight. After this rough year on the East Coast, Haren figures to sign with a West Coast team over the winter. His final numbers with the Nats: 10-14, 4.67 ERA over 30 starts. He also recorded a very memorable save in the 15th inning in Atlanta on Aug. 17.

Key stat: In 21 appearances since his brief demotion to Class AAA, Drew Storen has posted a 1.40 ERA.

Up next: The season (and Davey Johnson’s managerial career) concludes Sunday at 4:10 p.m. EDT. It’ll be Gio Gonzalez (trying to top 200 innings and 200 strikeouts) on the mound for the Nationals against Arizona left-hander Wade Miley (10-10, 3.63 ERA).

  1. David Proctor - Sep 28, 2013 at 10:40 PM

    Dan Haren has more wins than Stephen Strasburg. More proof that wins are meaningless.

    • dgourds - Sep 29, 2013 at 11:19 AM

      agreed

  2. philipd763 - Sep 28, 2013 at 10:46 PM

    Saves are a meaningless stat too because Soriano is a lousy closer. He hasn’t pitched a clean 9th inning all season.

    • David Proctor - Sep 28, 2013 at 10:49 PM

      Except he had a clean 1-2-3 inning his last time out. He’s had several 1-2-3 innings and he’s had many innings where he allowed only 1 baserunner. Soriano has had his issues, but no need to go crazy on the hyperbole.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Sep 28, 2013 at 10:58 PM

        it is amazing how fans exaggerate.

    • dgourds - Sep 29, 2013 at 11:19 AM

      agreed!

    • dgourds - Sep 29, 2013 at 11:20 AM

      agreed!!!!

  3. Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 28, 2013 at 10:49 PM

    Proof that draft choice position may be over-rated?

    • David Proctor - Sep 28, 2013 at 10:50 PM

      What do you mean?

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 28, 2013 at 10:54 PM

        Strasburg is being graded on an irrelevant scale, because he was picked first overall. Not his fault, and he got paid for it, but Jordan Zimmermann is the ace of this staff. Judge them on production, not what I expected them to do, or what somebody else expected them to do.

        But yeah, wins are not an accurate predictor of how good a pitcher somebody is. It is the only thing that counts, at the end of the day.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 28, 2013 at 10:50 PM

      His job is not to pitch a clean ninth inning. Clean ninth innings are spectacularly irrelevant. Does he get the save, yes or no?

      Well, most of the time. He’s OK. Could be better. Not bad at all, in the highest league there is, at the top of his profession.

      • Hiram Hover - Sep 28, 2013 at 10:57 PM

        Clean ninth innings are spectacularly irrelevant.

        Well, a clean 9th is nice for two reasons:

        1. kinder and gentler to the nerves of teammates and the fans

        2. an unclean 9th inning (runners on base) is much more likely to turn into an un-save.

  4. Hiram Hover - Sep 28, 2013 at 10:51 PM

    Props to Haren and Tracy–if it’s their last game as Nats, they went out the right way.

  5. Section 222 - Sep 28, 2013 at 10:53 PM

    FP wants to sign Chad Tracy again. Making excuses all game for him, and now that he finished with a .202 batting average, yeah, he’s had a decent season. Let’s bring him back. Oh for goodness sakes.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 28, 2013 at 10:55 PM

      Doesn’t matter what FP wants, any more than what we want.

      • Section 222 - Sep 28, 2013 at 11:25 PM

        Thank goodness for that.

    • dgourds - Sep 29, 2013 at 11:27 AM

      FP doesn’t want to resign Tracy. Does he prop him up, yes. FP was a bench player himself and id’s with him. But FP knows way more about baseball than any of us. WAY more. Give him a break.

  6. David Proctor - Sep 28, 2013 at 11:00 PM

    Strasburg’s numbers are better than Jordan Zimmermann’s across the board. The only thing JZ has more of is IP (which I’ll admit is significant) and wins (which is completely irrelevant). Strasburg has a better ERA, better WHIP, has allowed FAR fewer hits, strikes more guys out, etc. etc. There’s really no metric where JZ is better except for wins and innings pitched. And I say this as a big fan of JZ.

    • nats128 - Sep 28, 2013 at 11:40 PM

      David, interesting that you think that because the most important stat is how a starter leaves a game and in what inning and how many runs per inning.

      JZ is ahead in innings per start which is significant when he goes almost 2/3 of an inning further per start.

      JZ is known for having a few blowup games per season which makes ERA somewhat distorted. JZ pitched 25 starts of 3 runs or less and 21 games of 2 runs or less which is why he ended up with 19 wins. In contrast Stras pitched 23 starts of 3 runs or less and 21 starts of 2 runs or less. Yes, JZim started 2 more games but he also threw over 30 innings more which is about the equivalent of almost 5 games more over a full season.

      One other difference is how JZ pitched around unearned runs and Stras wasnt as good. Won/Loss isnt a great indicator for Stras as he put his team in position to win 21 games and JZ for 23.

      • David Proctor - Sep 28, 2013 at 11:43 PM

        I’d venture a guess that Strasburg’s innings per start total is slightly skewed. He was rained out once or twice, left for injury once and then had the ejection. If you take out those, it’s probably a whole lot closer. I think JZ still wins it, but not by nearly as much.

      • nats128 - Sep 29, 2013 at 12:04 AM

        David, factored in to Strasburg’s 21 starts of 2 runs or less is 3 starts where he went 2 innings or less and couldnt qualify for the Ws. MLB Network did that analysis how JZ was the ace of the staff going the deepest per start and the 21 starts of 2 runs or less.

        JZ didnt win 19 games by great run support, he earned each win and when you go 21 starts giving up 2 runs or less you can see why he won 19 and with better run support could have easily won more. Nats were 22-10 in JZ starts.

        Stras had 4 Tough Loss stats and JZ had 3.

        All in all, the Nats have 3 ace pitchers and comparing them probably isnt fair. Werth also said JZ was the ace of the staff and I think that teammates shouldnt make those comments.

  7. nats128 - Sep 28, 2013 at 11:05 PM

    Nats clinched a better record then the Orioles. Thats quite the accomplishment considering the huge gap that existed between there records on August 1st.

    • NatsLady - Sep 28, 2013 at 11:09 PM

      I looked at Aug 1. Nats were 7.5 games back of the WC. After playing their guts out for two months, they are 4 back. Just shows you that you need other teams to collapse, and only the D-Backs collapsed.

    • Natsone - Sep 28, 2013 at 11:31 PM

      That makes me very happy! Small victories are what’s left this season and that one I love very much!

      • nats128 - Sep 28, 2013 at 11:43 PM

        There were a few trolls from B’more rubbing it in our faces. What a difference. If the O’s lose and the Yankes win, the Orioles finish in 4th place. The best they can do is 3rd place.

      • dgourds - Sep 29, 2013 at 11:28 AM

        you, my friend, are easy to please.

  8. NatsLady - Sep 28, 2013 at 11:06 PM

    Dan Kolko ‏@masnKolko
    So change of plans. Again. Davey says Roark will start tomorrow, not Gio.

    So much for the honor of pitching Davey’s last game…

    • Faraz Shaikh - Sep 29, 2013 at 7:36 AM

      seriously? what is going there?

  9. philipd763 - Sep 28, 2013 at 11:07 PM

    In Tracy’s defense, bench players can’t excel when the manager lets his reserves rot on the bench all season long. Letting Tracy and Moore rot while The Zombie hits .230 playing every day was totally ridiculous.

  10. Hiram Hover - Sep 28, 2013 at 11:08 PM

    I know Davey is an important and impressive guy, for historical reasons. And I know some folks around here really like him. But I am really, really tired of this kind of crap:

    Mark Zuckerman @ZuckermanCSN
    So, after all that, Davey says Roark will start tomorrow, not Gio. All kids in lineup for finale.

    • NatsLady - Sep 28, 2013 at 11:11 PM

      Me, too.

      Although I do kind of like him playing Tracy, after Tracy was obviously upset by Kilgore’s article, and because Tracy obviously needs to show a little something to get a job next year. (If Tracy had sucked today, I don’t know if I would be so forgiving, but I see what Davey was after.)

    • David Proctor - Sep 28, 2013 at 11:11 PM

      Davey was pretty forthcoming. He said if we split the first two, it would be Gio, if we won the first two, it would be Roark. I don’t know why the beat reporters are asking surprised, they’re the ones who reported that exact quote a few days ago.

      • NatsLady - Sep 28, 2013 at 11:15 PM

        I wasn’t thinking of the beat reporters. I was thinking of Gio, who said all the right things, and apparently meant them. Gio got pretty jerked around.

        Nevertheless, probably the right move, since I don’t want Gio injured in a meaningless game. (Not that I want Roark injured, but, there’s a hierarchy here). But it’s just so blatantly self-centered on Davey’s part.

  11. David Proctor - Sep 28, 2013 at 11:13 PM

    Amanda Comak ‏@acomak 1m
    Young guys & Werth tmrw. Lineup already up:Kobernus LF, Rendon3B, Werth RF, Moore 1B, Walters SS, Lombardozzi2B, Solano C, Perez CF, Roark P

    That’s quite the lineup. Odd that Werth is in though. You’d think he’d play Harper over Werth, if he’s going with young guys. Maybe Werth just wanted in.

    • NatsLady - Sep 28, 2013 at 11:18 PM

      Again, priorities. Don’t want Harper injured in the last game. Werth not likely to let himself get hurt.

      • David Proctor - Sep 28, 2013 at 11:24 PM

        I figure that Harper will probably be Davey’s pinch hitter of choice, if it comes down to it.

  12. philipd763 - Sep 28, 2013 at 11:25 PM

    Maybe Davey thinks Werth has a shot at the batting title. Gosh, he’s only 15 points behind the league leader.

  13. philipd763 - Sep 28, 2013 at 11:29 PM

    With Suzuki gone and with Ramos’ leg problems, The Nats need to sign a decent backup catcher over the winter. I don’t think any catcher currently in the organization can be considered adequate.

  14. Section 222 - Sep 28, 2013 at 11:34 PM

    Johnny and Ray want Haren back too, as well as Tracy. I understand why they aren’t going to be harsh and critical of our players, but seriously? Why do they think they need to gush over guys who have basically been a failure all year long? It’s embarrassing.

    So Haren reached 10 wins, and Tracy reached .200. Almost as good as making the playoffs.

    • David Proctor - Sep 28, 2013 at 11:38 PM

      In fairness, comparing Haren and Tracy isn’t really right. Haren in 15 starts since the DL has a 3.29 ERA. That’s not a small sample size. I’m not willing to just forget the first half, but it’s understandable why some would want him back.

      Now Tracy, I’m at a loss. He was useless.

      • NatsLady - Sep 28, 2013 at 11:54 PM

        I wouldn’t mind Haren back at all, if he would take a discount ($8MM?). But I doubt he will, or that his agent would let him, and some West Coast team like the Padres will take him–and that’s a better situation for him.

  15. Whynat - Sep 28, 2013 at 11:35 PM

    I think Davey manages the team for players. The 300 wins bs was likely just a tool to keep things interesting for them.

    • David Proctor - Sep 28, 2013 at 11:36 PM

      Agreed. I said that earlier. These games are meaningless. By saying he wants 300 wins, it gives them a reason to go out there and fight. It’s a motivational tactic. Of course, I’m sure he really does want the 300 wins. But Davey tends to know what he’s doing.

      • NatsLady - Sep 28, 2013 at 11:46 PM

        Maybe. But the players didn’t seem to buy into Davey’s “revenge on the Cards.”

        Davey didn’t seem too smart to me about motivating the team earlier in the year when they were sluggish and making a lot of errors.

        Somehow his motivation happened when (a) key players got healthy and (b) the schedule was cake and (c) it was too late.

  16. nats128 - Sep 28, 2013 at 11:45 PM

    More discontent in Atlanta. Chris Johnson and Coach Gary Pendelton got into a shoving match in the dugout. Crazy! They fight with each other! Johnson didn’t even pimp a HR.

  17. David Proctor - Sep 28, 2013 at 11:57 PM

    I don’t want Haren back at all. The salary doesn’t even factor in. Whether 13MM or 5MM, makes no difference. I know he was good in the second half, but he was good in the second half last year too. That didn’t transfer to the first half of this year.

  18. David Proctor - Sep 29, 2013 at 12:10 AM

    Mark Zuckerman ‏@ZuckermanCSN 37s
    Why was 300 over .500 important to Davey? He’s only 14th manager ever to do it. Of the other 13, 11 are in HOF, and Cox and LaRussa will be.

    • dgourds - Sep 29, 2013 at 11:38 AM

      yeah? how many managers were 299 games above 500? probably 13. it’s a stupid, meaningless stat. there is no reason to sacrifice development of one of our brightest players, Roark, so Davey can pad his stats. Roark had a bad last outing and can benefit from a strong performance to close his rookie season.

  19. David Proctor - Sep 29, 2013 at 12:23 AM

    NatsLady, from Kilgore’s article:

    “Honestly, I think he was using it just as a motivation,” Haren said. “I don’t think we played very good in St. Louis, and he didn’t want us going out and losing six in a row just because we got knocked out of the race. I don’t know if he really cares about it that much, but it’s a pretty cool accomplishment. We wanted to win the games and we’re playing our starters out there. So, tomorrow, I don’t know, but at least we got it for him today. I know he had his ‘Win one for the Gipper’ thing yesterday. So I guess we won two for the Gipper.”

    • NatsLady - Sep 29, 2013 at 12:37 AM

      You buy that? LOL.

      (1) If the players (especially the vets) need gimmicks like that, then they aren’t professionals–and I think they are.
      (2) Davey wanting to win a few games after being eliminated is foolish. He should be playing the rookies to get every possible at-bat at the ML-level–ALL the games, certainly all the AZ games.

      IF we lose ‘em, Rizzo would be happy. Draft position, draft pool $$. If it’s not foolish on Davey’s part, then it’s another slap at Rizzo. We already passed KC and Ballmer, and that’s two draft positions we lost.

      • Joe Seamhead - Sep 29, 2013 at 1:40 AM

        Doesn’t our next first round draft choice go to the Yankees for signing Soriano?

      • NatsLady - Sep 29, 2013 at 6:21 AM

        No. That already happened in the June 2013 draft.

      • dgourds - Sep 29, 2013 at 11:40 AM

        totally agree

  20. Joe Seamhead - Sep 29, 2013 at 1:38 AM

    In his last twelve games he has given up no runs, earned or otherwise. He has given up one run in his last 15 appearances. Yep, Soriano really sucks.

    Again, I disagree with NatsLady regarding Davey Johnson. Like I said on an earlier thread, one can only hope that our next manager knows as much about winning as Davey Johnson.

    • NatsLady - Sep 29, 2013 at 6:58 AM

      I never got on the Davey train. I appreciate his work, and there are a LOT worse managers out there and you see them making stupid mistakes all the time. I’m glad the boys and Mike Rizzo are sending him off in style, and not kicking him to the curb like Cholly. But I’m not sorry to see him go, and see what the next guy brings.

  21. natsfan1a - Sep 29, 2013 at 7:35 AM

    Atta way, Dan! Atta way, Nats! (Watched in real time but went to bed right after. Daytime baseball today. Niiiice.)

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 55 43 --
ATLANTA 54 46 2.0
MIAMI 47 52 8.5
NEW YORK 47 53 9.0
PHILADELPHIA 43 57 13.0
Through Tuesday's games

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SUN: Nats at Reds, 1:10 p.m.
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