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Better late than never

Apr 17, 2014, 6:00 AM EDT

AP AP

We begin with a caveat that should be included in just about any analysis written about a major-league ballclub before the calendar shifts to May: It’s early, so it’s entirely possible this trend won’t sustain itself over the full season.

But it has become the defining quality of the 2014 Nationals, at least to date: The ability to beat up on other clubs late in games.

Last night’s 6-3 win in Miami was only the latest example, though one of the most dramatic. Trailing 3-0 entering the sixth inning, the Nationals tied the game on Jayson Werth’s three-run homer, then took the lead and expanded on it two innings later on Zach Walters’ homer and Ian Desmond’s two-run single.

Combined with some lights-out work from the back end of the bullpen, the Nationals beat the Marlins 6-0 over the game’s final four innings. Which was nothing new for this club.

So far this season, the Nats have outscored opponents 48-16 from the sixth inning on.

Stop and think about that for a moment, because it’s a staggering stat. That means the Nationals are scoring an average of 3.20 runs from the sixth inning on, while giving up only 1.07.

How lopsided is that disparity? It’s monstrous. Consider that last season, the Nationals were outscored in those final innings by an average score of 1.69-1.62. Even during their division-championship 2012 season, which featured plenty of late-game heroics, the Nationals outscored opponents by a mere 1.83-1.64 from the sixth inning on.

So, 2 1/2 weeks into this season, they’ve managed to double their late-game offensive output from 2013, while reducing the number of runs they allow by 37 percent.

Now, it would be foolish to believe the Nationals can sustain anything close to that rate. Teams just don’t average nearly a run per inning over the long haul, especially late innings against top relievers. But clearly this year’s team seems to have some quality about it that last year’s disappointing squad lacked.

Some theories…

— The bench is significantly improved. Nationals reserves (ie. players who weren’t in that night’s starting lineup) are now hitting a collective .310 with a .396 on-base percentage and .476 slugging percentage. Over the entirety of 2013, reserves hit a collective .207 with a .264 on-base percentage and .351 slugging percentage.

— The bullpen has been much better than you probably realize. Yes, Tyler Clippard is off to a rocky start. But collectively, Nationals relievers currently boast a 2.39 ERA, third-best in the majors. This, despite throwing the third-most innings of any bullpen in baseball to date.

— They’re taking advantage of some bad bullpens. Obviously, the Nationals have benefited from nine games so far against the Mets and Marlins, whose relief corps are somewhat lacking. Even the Braves, who most would say own one of the majors’ very best bullpens, are off to a shaky start with a collective 4.75 ERA.

Whatever the reason, the 2014 Nationals have been remarkably successful late in games. To expect this to continue at this rate would be foolish. But it’s certainly reasonable to believe this team can be very good in late innings.

And the more times they pull off late-game heroics like we’ve already seen several times in only 2 1/2 weeks, the greater their confidence level rises when faced with more situations that call for late heroics.

  1. laddieblahblah - Apr 17, 2014 at 6:31 AM

    Those are some telling statistics, and the improved bench is one of the main reasons. Last year’s bench was one of the worst in all of MLB. This year’s bench has to be one of the very best. How long into the season did the Nats have to go to produce 2 bench HRs last year, for example? The Nats are not only getting clutch, late-game PH’s this year, they are getting some very loud late-game PH’s.

    And Werth has not only hit 3 HRs, he has hit 3 clutch, game-changing HRs. That is what the 3-hole hitter is supposed to do. Matt made an excellent choice by putting him there. He is not only thriving in that role, he seems to be relishing it, e.g. coming up with the bags loaded just after Rendon was issued an IW.

    ALR has been off to a much faster start than last year, too. Rendon is now an accomplished ML hitter who has also been clutch in late game situations. Heck, that’s one reason why he was walked to get to Werth.

    And the Nats have been doing this without RZ, historically their most clutch hitter, and without Ramos. With Harper now seeming to be back in a “hitterish” mode, and Desi yet to become fully untracked, I think you can expect the late game scoring to continue. Desi showed last night how clutch he can be.

    If the Nats don’t have a place for Mr. Walters on their bench, they need to find one.

    Roark came just one grooved gopher ball from shutting out the Fish and beating Fernandez. Kept it low most of the game (except for that one, among a few others), and got a lot of ground ball outs. If he had pitched like that against the Braves, the Nats would have won that game.

    The starting pitching has been the Nats’ main weakness, so far. That will not keep up. Those guys are just too good. The defense has been atrocious, and the base running strangely counter-productive. And yet, they are 9 – 6. Those guys can score runs.

    • scmargenau - Apr 17, 2014 at 7:30 AM

      +1

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 17, 2014 at 7:31 AM

      Werth certainly doesn’t get enough credit when you consider he’s come through now several times in a young season. Probably 3 wins are sure losses without Werth.

      Yes, the starting pitching collectively has been the weakest part of the team and of course poor fielding hasn’t helped and mental mistakes.

      I had a change of heart last night in that Roark HR pitch. Lobaton didn’t help him out with a better pitch selection but clearly the pitch missed the spot and against an Ace you can’t make mistakes that significant.

      Last night the Fish lost on a mental mistake by their catcher. Salty with a 3 run lead and a sure out on Roark’s sac bunt tries to cut down the lead runner instead of the easy out at first and that led to Werth’s 3 run HR equalizer. Same mistake Stammen made the night before.

      • laddieblahblah - Apr 17, 2014 at 7:42 AM

        “Last night the Fish lost on a mental mistake by their catcher.”

        About time the shoe was on the other foot. Roark put that pitch where the hitter could not have teed it up any better. Hit the facade of the upper deck in right center. If we had lost that one on that single location mistake it would have been tough.

        Finally, the other guys made one that turned out to be even worse. You could see Fernandez deflate, right there on the mound, after Werth’s shot. Stanton’s shoulders drooped after he saw it go over the fence, too. Probably a really tough one to take on their side, considering they had given their Ace a 3-run lead, and should have been out of the inning. They were easy pickings for the Nats’ pen after that.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 17, 2014 at 8:10 AM

        Very good feeling to make a team pay for their mental mistake.

        Also notice how well overall the Nats pitched Stanton yesterday and how carefully the Fish were pitching Rendon with breaking balls inside which he will need to adjust to.

  2. Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 17, 2014 at 7:14 AM

    “@masnKerr: Former #Nats John Lannan and Nyjer Morgan sent to Triple-A”

    This year, teams are demoting and DFA’ing faster than I can remember.

    • BurnedOnce - Apr 17, 2014 at 8:02 AM

      Because the ST injured are now coming back online. The filling-ins being sent down.

  3. dgourds - Apr 17, 2014 at 7:57 AM

    It’s worth mentioning that with Espinosa and Rendon playing so well and Walters making it impossible not to play him, the team is better with Zimmerman on the DL right now. Defense was a huge reason we won last night. I don’t think there are many second basemen in baseball who could have turned that double play Espinosa turned in the 7th. It was beautiful and a huge moment in the game. As long as Espinosa is hitting alright, the team is better with Rendon at third, Walters on the roster and Zimmerman on the DL. You just can’t have a major league third baseman who can’t make a routine play. Period. Wally Pipp?

    • NatsLady - Apr 17, 2014 at 8:05 AM

      RZ in his last two games was making the routine AND the brilliant plays with his adjusted throwing motion. I wouldn’t be so quick to say the team is “better off” without him. OTOH, it never hurts that he will rest the shoulder some more, and come back in late May when Rendon gets tired or Desi needs a break. It will be like trading for a star, except you don’t have to trade anyone.

      • dgourds - Apr 17, 2014 at 8:52 AM

        The difference in our point of view is that you feel Zim’s throwing woes are due to injury, I feel they are due to mental issues that will not go away. He is either a 1st baseman or a DH. Not an everyday 3rd baseman. Tell me you don’t hold your breath every grounder to 3rd for the last 3 years. I’m tired of hearing “oh, he’s made the routine and spectacular plays the last few days”. It’s almost impossible to overcome the yips. He’s a very good hitter, has a great glove, can charge balls and throw side arm with the best of them, but he can’t consistently make routine plays. You can’t play that player every day at third.

      • Eric - Apr 17, 2014 at 9:21 AM

        Given that your entire basis for saying we’re “better off without Zim” is impossible to substantiate, it’s a pretty weak argument.

        IF Zim has the yips, I agree with you that he can’t play 3B anymore; however, his ability to overcome his throwing issues for significant stretches of time suggests pretty strongly that it’s not the yips. Unless such a thing regularly comes and goes? Also, last time I checked, Zim has significantly fewer errors (2) than, say, Desi (5).

        In the meantime, this is what you’re saying we’re “better off” without:
        Zim .364/.405/.636/1.042

        For comparison:
        Rendon .339/.381/.593/.974
        Werth .308/.410/.538/.948
        LaRoche .294/.410/.510/.920

        For the record, I was in Espinosa’s corner right up until he was sent down to the minors, because I highly value good defense, and because I wasn’t convinced that Rendon’s bat could make up for what were some borderline fielding stats. So, it’s not that I don’t care about defense, it’s that I think Zim’s issues are definitely injury-related (up to and including fear of pain/reinjury causing him to balk when throwing), especially after watching my wife go through extremely painful shoulder issues recently that are not even remotely on the same scale as Zim’s. She couldn’t even lift her arm to take off her shirt for a month.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 17, 2014 at 9:59 AM

        My opinion is RZim’s defensive issues are a mix of physical and mental in a difficult balance that nine if us can know. That HR he smashed after his days off coupled with Ray Knight’s comment (if accurate) that the cortisone shot was working is this regime of what works for RZim and that we will probably never know what he’s doing in the clubhouse and training room, and then becomes the question of how Riz and MW handle his return.

        On a pitching and defense structured team this current infield can work if Espi can reasonably be effective offensively as the comparisons above show Espi won’t achieve RZim’s OPS. So far so good in a week’s worth of games. Another 4 weeks to go.

      • Eric - Apr 17, 2014 at 10:16 AM

        I agree there’s a mental component, but I think it derives directly from the injury, not “the yips.”

        It really is amazing to see how debilitating even a minor shoulder injury can be. It’s also amazing how similar it looked to see my wife wince and abruptly change the direction of her arm movement when she got to the edge of her range of motion (approximately parallel to the ground). After awhile, if I tried to giver her a hug, she’d tense up and shrink back for fear of hurting her arm when raising it to hug me back.

      • dgourds - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:17 AM

        Eric, it is very hard to quantify “the yips”. But I have watched and played baseball my entire life. I’m not saying I have the talent eye of a professional coach or scout. But I do have a very good eye for mechanics. To me, Zim’s overhand throwing mechanics over the past 2-3 years show more than just injury. He has micro – hesitations in his motion which is indicative of the yips. He even has them when he goes through stretches without errors. I know it’s controversial to talk about mental issues with a ballplayer. The coaches/GM never will. And they shouldn’t. But an honest conversation about it should be allowed on this forum because it does happen and has a major effect on the team. I love Zim–really. But we just can’t risk his liability at third if we expect to compete at the highest level. My earlier point is that Espinosa is a phenomenal 2b, Rendon at good at 3b and hitting well, and Walters is hitting too well at the moment to send him down. The team is better right now defensively and offensively without Zim. MY is not afraid to make tough decisions. It would not surprise me if Zim spends a lot of time on the bench this year.

      • Eric - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:32 AM

        “The team is better right now defensively and offensively without Zim.”

        Offensively? No way. Defensively, sure. But, based on the numbers so far, we’d be in an even better defensive situation with Espi at short, Rendon at 2nd, and Zim at 3rd. Desi’s been struggling worse than Zim so far in all respects.

      • dgourds - Apr 17, 2014 at 12:48 PM

        Zach Walters would probably not be up if Zim weren’t on the DL. So, yes, right now with Espinosa hitting well and Rendon raking with Walters crushing, we are better offensively.

      • Eric - Apr 17, 2014 at 1:19 PM

        “Walters makes us better offensively than we would be now that Zim is on the DL” is a much different statement than, “The team is better right now defensively and offensively without Zim.”

        I agree with the former (so far…we’ll see how he holds up over time…).

        I disagree that we’re better offensively when we replace Zim with just about anyone else on our team that isn’t already starting…even including starts, it’s a toss up at best (Werth, Rendon, Harper, maybe LaRoche).

      • dgourds - Apr 17, 2014 at 1:38 PM

        Fair enough. Are you a lawyer? ;-)

      • Eric - Apr 17, 2014 at 1:45 PM

        lmao! No, I just play one in Internet debates ;)

        Your phrasing certainly took a minute to pick apart, so, assuming it was intentionally subtle, I’m tempted to toss the question back at you ;)

      • dgourds - Apr 17, 2014 at 2:14 PM

        Nah, just giving a fellow deadhead/Natshead a hard time.

  4. philipd763 - Apr 17, 2014 at 8:02 AM

    The Nats have beat up the Mets and Marlin late in games but not the Braves. They have feasted off the Mets and Marlins lousy relief pitching. That won’t happen against the stronger teams. Let’s see how they do against the always tough Cardinals this weekend.

    • dgourds - Apr 17, 2014 at 8:06 AM

      Very true. Big 4 game series vs. the Cards. They haven’t proven much yet.

      • bowdenball - Apr 17, 2014 at 10:59 AM

        They play almost 40 games this season against the Mets and Marlins- who by the way would both be over .500 if if weren’t for their games this season vs the Nats. They get another 19 against the Phillies. They play 7 vs the Cubs, 7 vs the Padres, 7 vs the DBacks, and 5 against the Astros and Mariners.

        In other words, if they continue to beat up on non-contenders at the rate they’re currently doing, it won’t matter what they do against the Braves, Cardinals and Dodgers until October.

        Oh, and by the way they guy they hung half their runs on last night is the best pitcher in the National League for as long as Kershaw is on the DL.

        You all are trying too hard to find fault with a team that has performed at or above expectations so far, considering the loss of their opening day #3 and #4 hitters and the absence of Doug Fister.

      • 6ID20 - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:16 AM

        It will matter what they do vs the Braves (especially), the Cards and the Dodgers because with the exception of 4 games vs the O’s, the Braves play the very same teams as the Nats.

      • dgourds - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:28 AM

        Bowdenball, I disagree. It does matter what we do against good teams, especially the Braves and Cards. The goal isn’t to make the playoffs. It’s to win the WS. You can’t discount how psychically damaging game 5 was to this team, not to mention being the Braves bitches last year (and also the Cards’ ). It’s about confidence. The team has yet to establish a consistent, confident identity yet. Success against top teams will do wonders to improve our chances to go far in the playoffs.

      • bowdenball - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:32 AM

        That’s fine if you want to believe that, dgourds. But that doesn’t make it correct to say that they haven’t proved much yet. They’ve proved that they are a winning baseball team that can still score runs after significant losses and they’ve proved that they don’t roll over when they trail late in games. To me that says they’ve proved plenty. Maybe they haven’t proved what you personally want to see, but it’s not chopped liver either.

      • Eric - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:37 AM

        I agree it’s important how we do against the Braves and Cards (the Dodgers, not so much), albeit it for different reasons. I think beating the Braves is important because they’re in our division; I think beating the Cards could be important in terms of team confidence since we haven’t beaten them since the Game 5 debacle. And, I definitely think team confidence matters.

      • dgourds - Apr 17, 2014 at 1:47 PM

        Bowdenball, while I agree that their winning percentage and fight are encouraging, it’s the middle of April and they’ve beaten up on two of the worst teams in baseball while losing 5 of 6 to last year’s division champs. We have not proven much. Taking the series vs. the Cards would be very significant.

  5. Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 17, 2014 at 8:28 AM

    S Hairston has to be a little concerned. Bench has been very productive in his absence… I think Tyler Moore should go back down as I still think he needs to play everyday…

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:17 AM

      I think Souza has to go back and work on doing it every day. Walters needs a defensive position and TyMo is the best 1st base backup so I think he has to stay until RZim comes back.

      • laddieblahblah - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:40 AM

        I think you are right on the money, Ghost. Somebody will have to go back down when Span returns. Souza appears to be the odd man out, at least for now. Maybe TyMo also goes back down when Zim comes back. Somebody will have to.

        They have 4 spots for Espinosa, Frandsen, McClouth, TyMo, Walters, Hairston, and Souza. Would not be surprised to see one or two of them moved by Rizzo. Man, when was the last time a team had a bench that deep? Hairston seems like the least marketable, but all of the others seem to have enhanced their market value recently.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:50 AM

        I think Hairston gets his job back with a short leash unless TyMo just tears the cover off the ball. Souza and Walters got a nice taste and Walters got the winning run yesterday!

  6. Eugene in Oregon - Apr 17, 2014 at 8:36 AM

    I’m enjoying the late-inning wins, but we’re only 15 games into the season. Small sample size.

    • Theophilus T.S. - Apr 17, 2014 at 8:55 AM

      Late-inning wins are something to which we are unaccustomed. In fact, late-inning runs have been unusual the past couple of years. How many times have the Nats opened with three or four early-inning runs and then shut down the rest of the game? I agree the bench has something to do with it — but the bench’s biggest contributions have been filling in for “regulars.” The three most note-worthy late inning hitters have been Werth, Desmond and Rendon.

      • Eric - Apr 17, 2014 at 9:42 AM

        Harper and Zim have had some pretty important ones, too, no?

  7. scnatsfan - Apr 17, 2014 at 9:13 AM

    Saw Mooneyham pitch last night on a cold night here in Myrtle Beach, not overpowering but a good outing.

    And Harper’s brother is sporting a porn star moustache. He pitched in the early game.

    • MicheleS - Apr 17, 2014 at 9:59 AM

      It’s a Rolly Fingers Mustache… :)

      • Doc - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:06 AM

        Is Rolly Fingers doing porn movies now?

  8. Joe Seamhead - Apr 17, 2014 at 9:18 AM

    I am really glad that Jayson Werth is on this team.The guy brings not just leadership off of the field, but lights a fire under some butts on the field, too, often in ways that don’t always show up in stats sheets.To this day I still believe the signing of Werth to be one of the three most important signings by this franchise.

    I remember the hate in 2011. The 7 year contract was way too long. Funny, the remaining years don’t seem all that awful anymore. I remember how we were told repeatedly that his legs were shot and that his power was gone forever by one genius here.

    I went back to Nats Insider from December 2010 when he was signed here. Interesting to read through the comments. If you can imagine it, there sure were some differences of opinion expressed.

    http://natsinsider.com/2010/12/05/nats-sign-werth-for-7-years-updated/

    • scnatsfan - Apr 17, 2014 at 9:22 AM

      It was easy to hate that contract and not see the long term value of it. I’m sure in years 6-7 people will look at his numbers and say it was a horrible contract again.

    • Eric - Apr 17, 2014 at 9:34 AM

      Couldn’t agree more re: having Werth on this team. Of course, I didn’t start truly following the Nats until just after he returned from breaking his wrist (almost exactly to the day, now that I look back at it…weird!), so I’ve only ever known him to be a hugely positive force for the team, both on and off the field.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:27 AM

      Joe Seamhead, an interesting link and JohnDC in that last post suggesting a Willingham, Desi, Norris trade for Garza sure reminds me of all the trade ideas people had to rid DC of Desi.

      Desi along with Werth are the definition of what this team is.

  9. jd - Apr 17, 2014 at 10:11 AM

    Werth is in year 4 of a 7 year contract and so far so good; better than good. Now with the benefit of hindsight we can go back and criticize the critics but there is no value in that because at the time the deal was considered historically bad by all neutral commentators and there were reasonable criticisms of the deal based on age and length of the contract.

    For the most part I wouldn’t consider the criticism as ‘hate’. Some posters are over the top negative about anything and everything and I generally skip over their comments in any event but a contrary opinion can still be respected even if it differs from one’s own.

    • Joe Seamhead - Apr 17, 2014 at 10:30 AM

      I absolutely agree with you, jd regarding contrary opinions can be respected.But there really was a lot of over the top hate directed at Werth in 2011, and even early 2012 when he struggled at times.

      I just really like watching the guy play ball. There certainly are more talented fielders. And hitters. And baserunners. But I love watching the guy get everything out of what he’s got, and I don’t think there’s many smarter all around ballplayers then Jayson. What got me started on this was after last night’s game it dawned on me that it’s approaching the halfway point in his contract and that at this point in time the back end of it might not be as bad as was feared by many of us and the neutral commentators.

      • sjm308 - Apr 17, 2014 at 10:42 AM

        Agree with jd, especially about respecting contrary opinions.
        Adding to the Werth signing is a point many of us made – that signing made our team relevant for the first time on the national scene. Sure, we overpaid but we now had a player getting big time money and you can see where we have gone from there. The awful years allowed us both SS and Harper but I think Werth has done more for us than any other singular player.

        Spending my last day in the US until May 13th at Nationals Park. What a great way to say good-bye.

        Go Nats!!!

      • Eric - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:01 AM

        Enjoy the game and safe travels, sjm!

  10. adcwonk - Apr 17, 2014 at 10:22 AM

    but a contrary opinion can still be respected even if it differs from one’s own

    True — but what bugs some of us here are those that present ideas as “facts” and the rest of us are stupid for not facing those facts. I’m sure many of us remember the repeated assertion that “Werth-less” — in 2011– was over the hill because his knees were shot, as just one example.

    • Joe Seamhead - Apr 17, 2014 at 10:31 AM

      +1 wonk

    • jd - Apr 17, 2014 at 10:42 AM

      wonk,

      You are right. It’s always good to remember that we’re fans talking about a game. It never ceases to amaze me how personally people take some comments and how angry they get.

      • sjm308 - Apr 17, 2014 at 10:44 AM

        +2 Wonk and jd

      • Eric - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:02 AM

        That’s the Internet for ya, jd. Free entertainment ;)

      • Doc - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:15 AM

        +3 for Wonk, jd, and Eric!l

        Never, ever, take this stuff too seriously.

        It’s baseball fan fun on the greatest communication format ever devised——the internet!!

        Just the same I’ll be very upset if we don’t beat the hated Cards 3 games outta 4!!!!

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:42 AM

        There was a time where NI was the place to go for players families and people in the media. I know NatsJack and I used to comment on that. Mark has never posted how the traffic is here but I would guess clicks are in the high hundreds to low thousands. There are people who won’t post because they don’t want conflict.

        There will always be blurred lines between opinions and facts even in mainstream media written by paid journalists.

  11. Joe Seamhead - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:14 AM

    sjm308, hope that your trip is spectacular, and the beer also.

    • jd - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:33 AM

      sjm308,

      Have a wonderful trip. we’ll hold the fort for you here.

    • sjm308 - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:45 AM

      Seam – I think the beer might just disappoint in Italy but I plan to search out brewpubs in both Florence and Bologna. the wine on the other hand will be spectacular so please don’t worry!! (I even plan to drink white wine in the Cuinqe Terre because that is what they are know for and you know, when in Italy, do what the Italians do)

      Thanks for the kind thoughts from all of you, and I will look forward to reading comments when wifi is available.

      Ghost & Laddie, keep up the great analysis and Dueces, don’t let anyone get too cocky on here!!

      I really am looking forward to the trip but will be missing baseball and this site.

      Go Nats!!! send me off with a win!

  12. micksback1 - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:20 AM

    enjoy Coach and drink a beer or two, or more for me, I’ll do the same LOL

    anyone watch Olberman with Richard Justice this morning, very interesting comments about Nats by both, fairly positive

  13. hitmeimopen - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:21 AM

    Late inning heroics are nice…and probably unsustainable. It’s our ace, Stras, who concerns me…and has since ’12. We don’t yet know what we have in Fister and Gio loses his poise when things don’t go swimmingly. That leaves us hanging our hats on JZ and Stras. The phenom who ain’t anymore. This guy is, in some circles, a laughingstock. His body language speaks volumes about his competitive makeup. Nonexistent. Our downfall this season, IMO, will be the rotation.

    • David Proctor - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:45 AM

      Strasburg isn’t a laughing stock in any circles.

      • therealjohnc - Apr 17, 2014 at 12:34 PM

        Well, he is in certain dark corners of the internet and bloviating sports talk radio “personalities” who don’t know very much about baseball. But in substance you are correct David.

    • laddieblahblah - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:48 AM

      Stras has had terrible numbers at Miami’s new ball park and also in Atlanta. Much better against virtually everyone else, and better at home against Miami and Atlanta. Miami is particularly odd for him, since they are not a good-hitting team, and are playing in a pitcher’s park. SI had an analysis just the other day detailing the stats.

    • therealjohnc - Apr 17, 2014 at 12:32 PM

      Meh. Strasburg is a laughingstock in certain dark corners of the internet, not among serious baseball analysts. Why? Because they see the stuff, the numbers, and the work ethic. If you build a player up to be the greatest pitcher of his age and then he “merely” becomes one of the better pitchers, is that an indictment of the player? There have been several games where Strasburg has faced adversity and come through just fine, thanks – but those games don’t count because they don’t confirm the bias of the observer that Strasburg can’t handle adversity.

      As for the cheap psychoanalysis popular among certain corners of the internet (Stras is fragile! Soriano hates people! Zim has the yips!) reminds me of Roosevelt’s “The Man in the Arena” speech:

      It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

      FWIW, hitmeimopen, I do agree that late inning heroics on this scale are unsustainable. But positive regression can be expected from the starting pitching, from Clippard in the bullpen and from Desmond. If you’re going to play the SSS card, optimistically or pessimistically, you have to allow for countervailing regression. If you’re going to be intellectually honest anyway.

    • adcwonk - Apr 17, 2014 at 12:41 PM

      Stras, who concerns me…and has since ’12….

      Can we please review Strasburg in 2013?

      3.00 ERA (8th best in NL)
      191 K’s (4th best K/9 IP)
      1.049 WHIP (6th best)

      That is a laughingstock?!?!

  14. letswin3 - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:24 AM

    Ya know, Zim might be the “face of the franchise”, but the current team was built on the shoulders of Mr. Werth. No, he didn’t score every run, or throw out every runner at the plate, or lead the team in homers and hitting every year, but he has performed very well, mentored impressionable younger guys, and managed to instill a sense of competitive fire and winning that has led this team to expect that every game can be won, every series can go our way and the National League East title goes through Washington. Too many dollars in that big contract? Not for my money.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:44 AM

      I agree with most of what you said. Werth only wants to win and was the change agent to this franchise.

      • sjm308 - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:46 AM

        No more “plush”, no more Riggleman – enough said right there!!

      • Doc - Apr 17, 2014 at 12:35 PM

        JDub is all baseball.

        It would be nice to think that some of his approach to the game is rubbing off on the other guys.

  15. Theophilus T.S. - Apr 17, 2014 at 12:45 PM

    Anybody besides me hoping Chis Russo ruptures his larynx before the All-Star break?

    • NatsLady - Apr 17, 2014 at 1:08 PM

      Not me. I get a big kick out of him. Very smart guy. Prefer him INFINITELY over Keith Olbermann.

      • therealjohnc - Apr 17, 2014 at 1:30 PM

        I’m with Theophilus on Russo. I can’t watch his show for more than a few minutes. Shouting does not substitute for knowledge or analysis. Olbermann is much less annoying when he is in the sports world than he is in his other pursuits – but unfortunately his first impression is already made for a lot of folks, and they can’t stand him.

    • Section 222 - Apr 17, 2014 at 2:32 PM

      Unwatchable. And poor Kristina Akra is stuck with him too. Imagine how she feels.

      He may be smart, but like a lot of radio shock types, he basically repeats his point over and over, and over again, and then repeats it again even louder. I’ll be interested to see if MLB Net sticks with him.

      I thought Olbermann was great during the playoffs last year. His pre and postgame show with Pedro and Dirk whatever his name is was excellent. What time is his show on now? It’s on the four letter network right?

    • sjm308 - Apr 17, 2014 at 2:40 PM

      Can’t stand being yelled at & he might know his stuff but I can’t watch for more than 5 min. His tone alone drives me crazy

  16. dcsportsfan2277 - Apr 17, 2014 at 12:48 PM

    While late inning heroics are nice they have mostly come against the other teams BP. This means that they are not hitting the starters very well and that could be troubling over a long season.

    Let’s start pounding the starters more starting this weekend with the Cards and not have to come from behind! Go Nats!

  17. NatsLady - Apr 17, 2014 at 1:06 PM

    The Atlanta-Phillies game is the free game on MLB.tv today. Also on MLB Network this afternoon. (We are on tonight).

  18. NatsLady - Apr 17, 2014 at 2:02 PM

    Oh, I like the Phillies giveaway, that straw hat.

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ON THE RADIO

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

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

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

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