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State of the Nats: On the road again

Apr 28, 2014, 11:52 AM EST

Strasburg's health overshadows loss

Top storylines:

Even more injuries – This week saw Bryce Harper head to the disabled list with a sprained left thumb, and until we hear about the second opinion he is set to have today in Cleveland, his timeline is unclear. Harper believes the injury will not linger beyond his 15 days on the disabled list, but nothing is definitive yet. Harper injured the same thumb in high school and they need to determine whether he suffered ligament damage.

Despite that unfortunate situation, the Nats should see more progress from Doug Fister and Scott Hairston this week. Fister – who is recovering from a right lat strain – will likely make his second and final minor league rehab appearance on Friday. That will set him up to make his Nationals debut sometime in the following week. Hairston – who is dealing with a left oblique strain – should have a better timeline after this week as well. He is heading to extended spring training for the next step in his rehab.

Though it doesn’t appear serious at this point, Danny Espinosa’s knee is another injury that should be monitored. He said he will see how he feels on Tuesday after taking a pitch off his right knee on Sunday. At this point it appears to only be a bruise, but he’ll need the swelling to go down in order to play.

First time facing the Phillies – On Friday the Nationals will travel to face the Phillies for the first series between the two teams this season. The Phillies are off to a decent start at 13-12, just a half-game game behind the Nationals as of today. It’s too early to call them a legitimate contender for the division, but they have been a surprise team. Chase Utley is off to one of the best starts to his career, he’s hitting .360 and carries a .998 OPS. Their pitching staff has struggled as a whole, but Cliff Lee (6 G, 3.29 ERA) and A.J. Burnett (6 G, 2.15 ERA) have been excellent. Ben Revere is also off to a nice start with a .312 average through 23 games.

Road trip – The Phillies series is just part of what will be a long time on the road for the Nationals. They will come back to play the Dodgers for three games May 5-7, but other than that, 11 of their next 14 are on the road. They’ll begin with the Astros before playing Philly, and then after the Dodgers go to Oakland and Arizona. So far the Nats are 5-4 on the road in 2014, but they will probably need to do better than that. After completing their recent 11-game homestand an underwhelming 5-6, it would be a nice time for a winning streak. As you see in the standings below, the Mets and Phillies are hanging in there.

NL East Standings


Offensive game of the week: Anthony Rendon 4/25 vs. Padres – 4 for 5, 2 RBI, 2 R, 2B, SB

Pitching game of the week: Tanner Roark 4/26 vs. Padres – 9 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, BB, 8 SO, 105 pitches, 73 strikes

Quote of the week:

Jose Lobaton after the Nats’ 12-inning loss to the Padres on Thursday:

We want to win. We’re there to win. I think everybody wants to. We’re trying to do the best. I can see in the dugout, everybody wants to. I know it’s going to happen. I know the offense is going to be better and better. I know everybody is working for that. We’ve got to just get past this day and get ready for tomorrow.

Tweet of the week:

Road ahead

TUE – 8:10 p.m. at Houston Astros (Gonzalez)
WED – 8:10 p.m. at Houston Astros (Zimmermann)
FRI – 7:05 p.m. at Philadelphia Phillies (Strasburg)
SAT – 7:05 p.m. at Philadelphia Phillies (Roark)
SUN – 3:05 p.m. at Philadelphia Phillies (Jordan)

  1. NatsLady - Apr 28, 2014 at 12:41 PM

    Nats Stats for Week 4

  2. Eugene in Oregon - Apr 28, 2014 at 12:46 PM

    The CBS Sports new-feed I get on the Nats is suggesting that Bryce Harper’s thumb injury may be more serious than originally thought. Sorry that I can’t link to it from this device, but it quotes an Adam Kilgore report/tweet.

    • NatsLady - Apr 28, 2014 at 12:57 PM

      Yes, that’s in my injury report.

    • Eric - Apr 28, 2014 at 1:20 PM

      “Sprain” has three classes: barely torn, majorly torn, and completely torn, so as soon as “sprain” and “second opinion” came into the equation, it was clear they were worried about how serious it is, imo.

      • Eric - Apr 28, 2014 at 1:24 PM

        Er, and the torn tissue in question with a sprain is ligaments, not muscle or tendon.

    • tcostant - Apr 28, 2014 at 1:26 PM

      I’ll be shocked if it’s less than a 6 week injury. Lets hops I get shocked.

  3. Theophilus T.S. - Apr 28, 2014 at 12:50 PM

    I don’t see how the idea of Hairston coming back is “progress.”

    • Eugene in Oregon - Apr 28, 2014 at 12:53 PM


      • adcwonk - Apr 28, 2014 at 1:01 PM

        I’m thinking does he have to come off the DL before he can be DFA’d? (So, it’s progress towards that, eh?)

  4. adcwonk - Apr 28, 2014 at 1:00 PM

    Wonk’s Monday’s Midbits:

    On Fri night, Miguel Carbrera made all three outs (on offense) in the third inning.

    Pitching line of the weekend — Brandon Morrow who got pulled for ineffectiveness while he was pitching a no-hitter: 2.2 IP, 0 H, 4 R/ER, 8 BB, 1 K.

    Cubs’s starter Jason Hammel is 4-1. The rest of the team is 4-14. (Hammel has a ridiculous MLB leading 0.692 WHIP!)

    Masahiro Tanaka, in his fifth start, tripled his season walk total.

    Tampa Bay has committed 11 errors this season — 4th best in all of MLB. Four of those eleven came in the 6th inning of their game yesterday. (Dodgers have caught up to the Nats — they are tied for first with most errors – 26. (Arizona (25) and Miami (24) are right behind).

    Nats are second in NL in runs per game (!). Fourth in batting.

  5. Eugene in Oregon - Apr 28, 2014 at 1:12 PM

    I obviously recognize that the Nats have been beset by injuries and I certainly don’t endorse the ‘legions of doom’ approach to writing off the season, blowing up the team, firing the GM and new manager, etc. But I’ve got to admit significant disappointment with the overall results of the just-completed home stand. Successful MLB teams need to win at home and don’t have that many extended home stands in the course of a long season. To go 5-6 may not be devastating, but it’s a missed opportunity (especially when you consider that the Nats were 3-4 against two teams that are playing below .500 ball even after taking two each against the Nats). I know that it’s a long season (I’ve written that myself, multiple times) and I know there’s nothing to be ashamed of in splitting with the Cardinals. But I just lament the missed chances, particularly with 11 of 14 coming up on the road.

    • adcwonk - Apr 28, 2014 at 1:43 PM

      I don’t think anyone disagrees — and your choice of words, imho, is good: that this homestand was a disappointment and a missed opportunity.

      But, off days (after stretches like this) are for getting one’s mind reset, and getting up for the next series!

  6. David Proctor - Apr 28, 2014 at 1:33 PM

    Why are we still bashing Scott Hairston? It isn’t like Tyler Moore has exactly wowed off the bench.

    • adcwonk - Apr 28, 2014 at 1:45 PM

      Now that you mention it — Hairston is batting .500 this season! 😉

    • Eugene in Oregon - Apr 28, 2014 at 1:53 PM

      Concur with that (regarding Tyler Moore), too.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:09 PM

        Check the bench stats. If it wasn’t for all those walks that bench would really look bad given their woeful PH batting average of .162 would make this the 24th in the Majors. 12 Ks in 37 AB is an awful K% at 32.4%

        Just as bad as last year and Hairston can’t be blamed but others can.

      • David Proctor - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:22 PM

        I’m pretty sure walks count. Why are you discounting them? If they get on base, that’s all I can ask.

      • therealjohnc - Apr 28, 2014 at 4:03 PM

        The bench has saved the Nationals in the early going of 2014. With the injuries to Zimmerman and Ramos, the bench of Espinosa, Lobaton, and to a lesser extent Kevin Frandsen has come through in a big, big way – both with the bats and the gloves. Discounting their contributions because they have “started” most games is a difference that makes no difference – these guy are the bench, filling in for starters, because that’s what bench players do Even after Sunday’s bump in the road, you can include Aaron Barrett as depth that has contributed, too.

        You want a “doom” scenario? Imagine how this month would have gone with 2014’s injuries and 2013’s bench. Instead of 2014 Espinosa and his 123 OPS+ , you’re talking some combination of Chad Tracy (56 OPS+), 2013 Lombardozzi (70 OPS+, mostly in the second half as his OPS the first half of the season was .540) or 2013 Espinosa (27 OPS+) – all of which would be terrible without even taking into consideration the defensive advantage that Espi has over both Tracy and Lombo. Instead of Lobaton’s 107 OPS+ and CS of 38%, we’d have Suzuki’s 65 OPS+ and 10% CS. Blech.

  7. Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 28, 2014 at 1:59 PM

    These type of comments (about Bryce) in regards to injuries makes me want to scream from a rooftop.

    “@TheRichardSands: @AdamKilgoreWP from a fantasy perspective I hope it’s a minimum DL stay w/ no lasting effects”

    No regards to a great young player, just concerned about his own self interests and wouldn’t give a s*** otherwise if Bryce wasn’t on his fantasy team.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:06 PM

      At the risk of sounding like the older guy that I am, I fear there’s a large chunk of contemporary society that views sports almost exclusively through the fantasy-team prism.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:13 PM

        Yes, and it’s part of that self-indulgence of putting self before others.

  8. breakbad1 - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:12 PM

    It was feeling like 2014 was the new 2013, but now it feels like 2014 is the new 2009.

    • David Proctor - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:21 PM

      You must not remember 2009 or you’re just trolling, then.

    • micksback1 - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:22 PM

      more like 2011 i am afraid, maybe MW will leave half way and nats will get a decent manager

  9. micksback1 - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:13 PM

    Bryce’s injury is not an excuse for this team so they get no pity from me. It is a bit debilitating to see the Mets in 2nd place. Even last year during the May-June swoon, we were always in 2nd place. Every team has injuries. If McClouth is worth anything, he will step up, so will Hariston when he returns. This is why the Nats signed McClouth and Frandsen, for situations like this as well as resting Werth, Span and Bryce throughout the season. The loss yesterday really stunk, Jordan stepped up and Det was his typical soft self we have come to know so well. His facial expressions show no confidence at all in his command of pitches. Barrret is going to be good but he is in too many tough situations so early and I hope MW knows what the hell he is doing. Very very disappointing again so far. The Wizards can teach the Nats something about stepping up and finding ways to win. Without Nene they found way to win in playoff game. hell, one of our guys go down in regular season game verse a sub 500 team and we behave like the game is over. Too many softies on the Nats and not enough guys who loathe losing. Again, very very disappointing and MW is losing me fast!

    • Eric - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:18 PM

      “hell, one of our guys go down in regular season game verse a sub 500 team and we behave like the game is over. ”

      You mean like how we lost Bryce (our third regular to go down), went on to score 6 more runs and win that game, then won a 4 – 0 complete-game shut out the next day?

      • micksback1 - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:19 PM

        sure and like we lose toa sub 500 team at home yesteray and are in 3rd place behind the Mets. yes, that team, but i know you will still be hyping te if they lost 100 games. more power to you

      • micksback1 - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:21 PM

        there is alos something called consistencty and this team does not have it. The Braves keep winning with their injuries, an you say the same about the Nats?

      • Eric - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:32 PM

        Hyping? I’m refuting the notion that we “behaved like the game was over when one of our guys went down.” We demonstrably did not do that when we lost our THIRD regular, going on to score six more runs that game.

        If you want to extrapolate something about me and the nature of my fandom, please feel free.

  10. Nattydread - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:13 PM

    Three starters out with hand injuries. Who’d a thunk it?

  11. micksback1 - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:18 PM

    Again, Braves have 2 starting pitchers down with TJ surgery and they have thunped us 5 of 6 games. Mets are wothout Harvey and have on appaer the worst BP in baseball, and are ahead of us. Nats may not even be the Caps of MLB but the DC football team (refuse to say the racially offense name anymore) of 2000, that team had over hyped over rated players and was picked to win it all and ended up a joke. The difference is, the Nats have young talent but I am beginning to believe they also have very poor coaches

    • Eric - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:29 PM

      I mean, if you look back at it, we were “down” all 5 starters for at least one full rotation in that every single one of them has had a horrendous start that led to us being down, and badly, by the end of the 2nd inning. 3 or 4 of our other starters have done that twice.

      AND, we’ve been missing 2 – 3 critical position players at any given time since the beginning of the second week.

      Obviously this doesn’t get us any games back, nor any sympathy, it just means it’s amazing we’re even above .500, imo. Dissatisfying, for sure, but we could be in far worse shape.

    • veejh - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:38 PM

      Redskins…redskins….redskins….there, I said it.

      • micksback1 - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:43 PM

        impressive… why don’t you yell that out in front of a group of Native Americans in person instead of typing it out froma computer. I bet the ranch you get an interesting response

      • scmargenau - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:14 AM

        They don’t care. Media cares.

  12. jd - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:26 PM


    The Nats are now down 3 guys from the meat of their order. Let’s see how Atlanta would do without say :Freeman, J.Upton and Gatis?

    In addition their 5th starter was sick (the nerve) and still gutted out 4 innings. Kennedy was really dealing yesterday. I don’t know how you can put this on MW.

    Also, the Nats didn’t acquire Frandsen, McLouth and Lobaton to be regulars, clearly that’s a step down from the people who’d normally be there. And the fact that they are now playing regularly also makes: Walters, Souza, Moore and Leon our bench which is another big problem.

    • micksback1 - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:33 PM

      I hope your right, but I have very bad vibes on MW. The base running misques a few weeks ago seemed border line bufonish baseball, not aggressive baseball. Every team has inujries and remember, when all the baseball experts pick the top teams, it is also based on their depth. Injuries are taken into consideration. For example, there are teams who have a solid 7-8 starters in the field, but the analysis on them is that they are very thin at certain positions and that an injury could hurt their chances. In 2014, the consensus among all the so called experts was that Nats had depth at each position to with stand injuries to starters and the only questions pertained to the bull pen depth which other than yesterday and Clippard has been ver good

      • Eric - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:38 PM

        It was also based on our starting pitching being one of the best in the majors, not the worst; it was the latter for over two weeks. How many more wins would we have if we removed the first two innings from even half of the horrible starts we’ve had this season?

        There are two big questions right now:
        1) Will we continue to be one of the top five offenses in the majors (despite injuries, this has been the case)?
        2) Will our starting pitching “revert” to its dominant norm?

        Everything else is situational, imo.

      • jd - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:40 PM


        I am not sold on MW just yet. At the same time I am not really down on him either. My feelings are something in the middle, I think he’s a rookie manager who is learning on the job, I think he’l make mistakes and hopefully he’l figure it out. In spring training all the talk was about speed, taking the extra base etc. well when all the minor leaguers go do the minor leagues and all the major leaguers start concentrating on winning instead of working on stuff you find out that other teams have a plan to control your running game and it ain’t that easy.

        As far as injuries, I think the pundits were correct in their assessment of the Nats depth, they could play through injuries and continue doing well but long term injuries to 3 middle of the order players would test any team’s depth. No one has enough depth to replace that much front line talent.

  13. jd - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:43 PM


    I think we simply need to keep treading water for the next few weeks. Atlanta is winning tons of very close games and that’s not sustainable. What I don’t want to happen is a repeat of last year where we fall way back and struggle all year to make up ground.

    • Eric - Apr 28, 2014 at 3:04 PM

      Agreed re: not wanting to fall too far behind, and 4 games is making me nervous; however, Atlanta’s .708 win percentage mitigates that somewhat. I don’t see them winning 114 games this year.

  14. mrnat7 - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:43 PM

    Stay in those ugly red uniforms and we will always be the Washington RED CROSS! Also, if Bryce can slide into second to try and break up a DP. He can surely slide feet first into 3rd! Stay true and put on the BLUE, trimmed in red.

  15. Theophilus T.S. - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:44 PM

    By my count, under optimistic assumptions, Harper will miss at least eleven more games before he comes off the DL. Apparently Kershaw will pitch one of them but, other than that, McLouth has to start at least eight times, RHP or not. I firmly believe that it is vain to expect a hitter to get his stride without four regular ABs every day. And McLouth was signed for the very purpose of filling in for extended stretches in the event of injury to one of the regular OFs. If he doesn’t hit at least .250 over that stretch than people can carp all they want.

    • jd - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:56 PM

      I agree that Mc.Louth needs to play every day for the next couple of weeks.

    • Eric - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:57 PM

      I also think he truly has put together some excellent at bats and that his primary failure has been in the “hit ’em where they ain’t” stat.

      • RPrecupjr - Apr 28, 2014 at 3:22 PM

        That’s correct, Eric. His BABIP is like .125 or something similarly horrendous. The only trend is up from there

      • Eric - Apr 28, 2014 at 3:26 PM

        .111 (per the new post)!!!

  16. micksback1 - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:46 PM

    JD and eric, you both have good points.

    I was down the middle on MW but am leaning more negatively. I want to see if he can change the mindset among some of the guys who need to be leaders in order for this team to win. Right now, i am not seeing it

  17. Eric - Apr 28, 2014 at 3:11 PM

    mick, JD, I don’t feel I’m anywhere close to knowledgeable enough to form a meaningful opinion on a manager overall; however, I do feel MW has had the kitchen sink of baseball thrown at is head and he’s mostly dodged it and kept us above .500. You start with the cratering of the starting rotation to start the season, move on to the DL list, and end by looking at the date: 4/28…

    I don’t care how good you are at managing, that can’t be an easy month to get through with the wheels still on…

    Looking forward, I honestly think if our pitching continues its positive trend all will be well, so long as our batting doesn’t fall off too much with the loss of Harper. And, honestly, if there’s any sliver lining regarding Harper’s underwhelming start this season, it’s that we’ve had heavy production anyway.

    • pdowdy83 - Apr 28, 2014 at 3:36 PM


      People here are acting like this team is 5 or 6 games under .500. With 4 major injuries the team is still 2 games over .500. They are right in the middle of the playoff picture tied for a wild card spot despite the early season adversity. Two wins against the Astros would put them at a .571 percentage which is roughly a 93 win pace. I will take my chances with 93 wins.

      • therealjohnc - Apr 28, 2014 at 4:34 PM

        As Boswell noted in his chat today over on the WaPo, the teams generally predicted to win their divisions in the NL were the Nationals (14-12), the Cardinals (14-12) and the Dodgers (14-12). Oddly enough, neither the Cardinals nor the Dodgers are panicking or giving up on the season. Indeed, even with the SSS that is this season so far (hey, April! – for cryin’ out loud), the Cardinals are farther behind than the Nats in their division (although at 14-12 all three are tied for the Wild Card).

        And as for the “the Nats only beat lousy teams” mantra, I’ll just note that the Mets are 14-8 when they don’t play the Nationals. The Marlins are 10-9 against other teams. The Braves are only 5-4 against the Mets and Marlins, and those games count, too.

        And as for the Braves dealing with injuries, only Medlen was significant and the Braves won the lottery by bringing in Santana (aka, the last respectable FA starting pitcher on the market). Most pundits preferred the upside of Ubaldo Jiminez, who signed first (with the O’s) and has been terrible. Beachy was never more than a question mark, and Minor’s injury was not season threatening.

  18. RPrecupjr - Apr 28, 2014 at 3:20 PM

    Wow, has Mick gone over to the dark side.

    As it stands right now, the Mets are 1/2 game in front of us because they’ve played one fewer game. We have the same record, 14-12, as the Cardinals and the Dodgers, neither of who is in first place in their respective divisions. The Dodgers are tied for second with Colorado, 1.5 behind San Fran, and are 4-6 in their last 10. The Cardinals are in second, 4.5 behind Milwaukee(!) and are also 4-6 in their last 10. The Nats are 5-5 in their last ten games, so they’ve actually made up a game over the last ten.

    It is not all doom and gloom, Mick. Remember, everyt team will win 54 and lose 54. It’s what happens with the remaining 54 that makes the difference. The Nats haven’t even played HALF of 54 yet, and they’re in the position they’re in without Ramos, without RZim, without Fister, now without Harper.

    As I saw someone post somewhere….could you imagine trading McLouth, Lobaton, Jordan and Walters for Ramos, RZim, Fister and Harper….yet still get to use the four you traded? That’s what’ll happen by the end of May.





As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...

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