Apr 21, 2014, 11:01 AM EDT
Mike Trout and the Angels in town – When the 2014 MLB schedule came out back in September, one early season series for the Nationals stood out immediately. On April 21 (today) the Los Angeles Angels would travel to Washington to play the Nats, finally pitting Bryce Harper and Mike Trout against each other in a game that counts.
Harper and Trout have played on the same field before, they were teammates in the Arizona Fall League and opponents in MLB All-Star Games. But this marks the first meeting in what should be a rare occurrence moving forward. Unless the Angels and Nationals meet in the World Series, it could be years until Trout plays at Nats Park again.
The Angels are also bringing Albert Pujols to town, who just hit his 498th home run on Saturday. Pujols will now have three games to chase No. 500 while he’s in D.C. Ironically, Pujols hit his 400th career homer at Nationals Park, as well. That was on Aug. 26, 2010. If you don’t remember it, you can watch the video here.
Harper’s benching - Though it was two days ago – and though many Nats fans are probably tired of hearing about it – Matt Williams’ decision to bench Bryce Harper is something that will likely be referred to all season. Everything was fine on Sunday in the Nationals’ win, as Harper bounced back from the incident with a single and a walk. But as the season continues, it will be interesting to watch how Harper and Williams’ relationship develops. Harper was essentially put on notice in a very public way, we’ll see how he and the rest of the team responds.
Fister’s progress - Doug Fister threw two innings (28 pitches) at extended spring training on Thursday and is set to throw again this Tuesday. The next time he goes out the goal will be 45 pitches. After Fister completes his second outing in Viera, he is expected to go on a minor league rehab assignment. We will probably find out those details from Matt Williams some time early this week. Fister is on track to return from his right lat strain in the first or second week of May.
In the meantime, the battle between Tanner Roark and Taylor Jordan for the fifth starter’s spot should start heating up. Both have struggled to start the season, so it will be interesting if another name gets consideration. Would Ross Detwiler be given another chance? What about Blake Treinen? Here is a look at Roark and Jordan’s numbers through the season’s first three weeks:
3 GS, 1-0, 5.29 ERA, 17 IP, 13 SO, 6 BB, 1.412 WHIP, 4.67 FIP
3 GS, 0-2, 5.94 ERA, 16.2 IP, 12 SO, BB, 1.740 WHIP, 3.68 FIP
NL East Standings
Offensive game of the week: Anthony Rendon 4/14 vs. Marlins – 2 for 5, 3 RBI, 2B, 3B
Pitching game of the week: Gio Gonzalez 4/18 vs. Cardinals – 7 IP, ER, 4 H, BB, 7 SO, 101 pitches, 65 strikes
Quote of the week:
Matt Williams on why he benched Bryce Harper on Saturday:
No, lack of hustle. That’s why he came out of the game… the inability to run 90 feet.
We made an agreement. He and I made an agreement, this team made an agreement, that when you play the game that we hustle at all times, that we play the game with intensity and a willingness to win.
Tweet of the week:
Zach Walters’ new walkup song is becoming a fan favorite:
WARNING: Yes I know all the words to “Frozen” and will sing them to you
— Zachary Walters (@Zwalters02) April 17, 2014
MON – 7:05 p.m. vs. Los Angeles Angels (Roark)
TUE – 7:05 p.m. vs. Los Angeles Angels (Jordan)
WED – 7:05 p.m. vs. Los Angeles Angels (Gonzalez)
THU – 7:05 p.m. vs. San Diego Padres (Zimmermann)
FRI – 7:05 p.m. vs. San Diego Padres (Strasburg)
SAT – 1:05 p.m. vs. San Diego Padres (Roark)
SUN – 1:35 p.m. vs. San Diego Padres (Jordan)
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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