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State of the Nats: Still staying afloat

May 19, 2014, 11:48 AM EST

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

Top storylines:

Injury updates - This week the Nationals lost yet another man to the disabled list as Gio Gonzalez went down with left shoulder inflammation. The lefty will now be shut down until the second half of this week where he will then begin throwing. If all goes well from there, he could set himself up to return on June 2.

As you can see, all that includes a few ‘if’s.’ Shoulder injuries for pitchers are nothing to mess with, and we’ve seen several Nationals injuries become worse than their original reports. Gonzalez’ otherwise clean injury history, however, should bode well. That, and the fact he had a negative MRI is also good news. There’s no question, though, that the next diagnosis for Gonzalez will be a big one considering he is a huge part of their rotation.

This week we should also find out a lot more about Adam LaRoche’s quad injury, and maybe even Ryan Zimmerman’s thumb. LaRoche was placed on the disabled list May 10 and is eligible to return this Sunday in Pittsburgh (May 25). If all goes well this week, the Nats should get back who was their best player for the first quarter of this season. Zimmerman, on the other hand, does not have a definitive timetable, but that could be revealed soon.

Who will start on Thursday? - After the Nationals play three against the Reds to begin this week, they will head to Pittsburgh to play the struggling Pirates. The first of that four-game series would normally be Gonzalez turn, but he won’t be available, so who will get the start?

The Nationals could go in a lot of different directions with this one. Right-hander Blake Treinen would seem the most likely choice as he pitched Friday with Syracuse and is set to throw this Thursday. Prospect A.J. Cole started on Saturday for Harrisburg and has been lights out this year with a 2.25 ERA in eight Double-A starts. And Taylor Jordan would be the other possibility, he has a 0.82 ERA at Triple-A Syracuse this season.

Neck and neck in the NL East - As of today the Nationals are a half-game out of first place against the Atlanta Braves after 43 games. The 43-game mark isn’t exactly significant, but it is about where the Nationals’ 2013 season went off the rails.

Last year on May 17 was the last day of 2013 the Nats were as close as 0.5 games behind the Braves. They were 23-19 at the time (they are 23-20 now) and proceeded to lose four straight games as Atlanta never looked back. At the time, however, they were out west and in the middle of a very tough road trip. It was this time last year that Bryce Harper ran into the wall in Los Angeles, and Yunesky Maya blew that game out in San Francisco.

The upcoming stretch for the Nationals this time around could be favorable. Until June 10 when they play the Giants in San Fran, the Nationals only play one series against a team with a winning record. That team is the Marlins, whom they face May 26-28 at Nationals Park. The Nats are also 5-1 against Miami this season.

The stretch begins with the Reds who the Nationals are 9-5 against over the last two years. Cincinnati will, however, have Johnny Cueto available on Tuesday. Cueto (4-2, 1.25) has been baseball’s best pitcher so far this season.

NL East Standings

source:

Offensive game of the week: Wilson Ramos 5/18 vs. Mets – 2 for 3, 2B, R, BB, 4 RBI

Pitching game of the week: Doug Fister 5/14 vs. Diamondbacks – 7 IP, ER, 5 H, 0 BB, 6 SO, HR, 100 pitches, 64 strikes

Quote of the week:

Jayson Werth on saving the Nationals (and Rafael Soriano) with a home run-robbing catch Friday night against the Mets:

I probably should’ve untucked my shirt.

Tweet of the week:

Denard Span on not attending the Wizards’ final home game vs. the Pacers. Oops:

Road ahead

MON – 7:05 p.m. vs. Cincinnati Reds (Strasburg)
TUE – 7:05 p.m. vs. Cincinnati Reds (Fister)
WED – 4:05 p.m. vs. Cincinnati Reds (Roark)
THU - 7:05 p.m. at Pittsburgh Pirates (TBD)
FRI - 7:05 p.m. at Pittsburgh Pirates (Zimmermann)
SAT - 7:15 p.m. at Pittsburgh Pirates (Strasburg)
SUN – 1:35 p.m. at Pittsburgh Pirates (Fister)

  1. nats106 - May 19, 2014 at 11:57 AM

    I know many are ragging on Matt Williams’ inexplicable line up cards, use of the Bullpen, starting the wrong guy in the wrong position for the wrong game, but compared to last year, where I made frequent rants about what I thought was a soft (possibly lazy?) team, I get a sense that MW is getting this team tough and ready for the next phase, which is not only getting to the playoffs, but hanging around for the final dance.

    Also, I take back what a said about Hairston and the fact that Noodles and company wanted his arm as their logo. While he still doesn’t have an arm, after he dropped that routine ball against the Dodgers, I saw him hustle to the ball, and try his best to get the ball in quickly Friday against the Mets. And got a couple of hits, to boot. (uh no pun intended).

    I like this team and its makeup so far. Anybody see the bird man get decked Friday night after he ran the bases? It looked worse from LF than on the you tube videos.

    • Brookstoor - May 19, 2014 at 12:46 PM

      I was in left field for that game too and the Birdman got clipped pretty hard. I had a great time watching that though. Some people were furious but I consider that a once in a life time event. Hopefully only once at least.

      Hairston can actually throw and that surprised me too. He gets bad jumps. On Friday I watched Span give Hairston instructions between every at bat to get him in position. Hopefully there is improvement there as long as MW gives Hairston some starts. No point in dumping on the guy if he has to be out there, as much as I dislike him doing anything besides pinch hitting.

      How great does Rendon look with the high socks? A single and 3 walks yesterday. That guy could (should, even) be our new lead off hitter. I like Span in the 8 hole as a “second lead off man” or what have you. He’s better with runners on and the guy just can’t take enough pitches for a walk but he can do some damage with those line drives. There are never runners on for the first AB of the lead off man so that first at bat is wasted more often than though.

      • nats106 - May 19, 2014 at 1:08 PM

        Brookstor, if you go to youtube there is a pretty good video clip on it from the first base side. It was more of a wrestle to the ground-from our vantage point it looked like he got clotheslined, then put out of commission.

        I am still such a Span fan that it’s hard for me to be critical, but I am coming around to thinking Rendon might be good there. Although yesterday was an improvement over his last 50 ABs or so. I expect (hope?) Span to starting hitting soon like he did late last year and justify MW’s confidence in him at lead off.

  2. chaz11963 - May 19, 2014 at 12:49 PM

    I think they are truly doing a great job hanging in there with the big boppers out. The offense is scoring barely enough runs and the pitching is doing enough to get them most of the wins. We could stand to get a bit more from our much hyped SPs, but all in all they cold be in a lot worse shape. There’s lots of reasons to believe things are going to get better going forward.

  3. NatsLady - May 19, 2014 at 1:01 PM

    Nats Stats for Week 7

    Injury Daze and Reds Preview

    No word on Votto yet.

    • Eugene in Oregon - May 19, 2014 at 1:41 PM

      Just heard on MLB radio that the Reds aren’t even sure he’ll make the trip to DC.

    • Doc - May 19, 2014 at 1:47 PM

      Great update!

      Thanks NL.

    • Hiram Hover - May 19, 2014 at 1:57 PM

      Great stuff, NL – thanks!

    • Section 222 - May 19, 2014 at 4:40 PM

      Great write-ups NL. Always enjoyable. Your editorial support of Espi is touching, especially given how awful he’s been according to your chart. Struck out 42.9% of the time in the last 11 games? Ouch.

  4. Ghost of Steve M. - May 19, 2014 at 1:44 PM

    “Nats106…Also, I take back what a said about Hairston and the fact that Noodles and company wanted his arm as their logo. While he still doesn’t have an arm, after he dropped that routine ball against the Dodgers, I saw him hustle to the ball, and try his best to get the ball in quickly Friday against the Mets. And got a couple of hits, to boot. (uh no pun intended).”

    Again, Frandsen was batting .400 off the Mets lefty Niese and probably could have followed up on his .400 BA against him if he got the start in LF.

    When you factor in Hairston’s mis-read on Eric Young’s double that turned into a run and a long inning it became evident to me that the offense he created was negated by that mis-play.

    And his arm is a noodle. Let him be the RH bench pinchhit specialist and don’t put him in the field. Please.

    • nats106 - May 19, 2014 at 2:25 PM

      Yeah I see what you are saying. Possibly I had alcohol induced syndrome over my confusion of hustle over a misplay. because I think that was the play that I thought he exerted the greatest effort on.

      That being said, I honestly believe you see a different game sitting in LF as opposed to inside the diamond or on TV. Just feel like he deserved a little love (very little) for the 2 hits and my perception of effort. I’m trying to be a kinder, gentler Nats106 this year.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 19, 2014 at 2:46 PM

        He had a good offensive game and deserves that credit.

  5. Doc - May 19, 2014 at 1:56 PM

    With RZim taking flies and grounders in LF, the Nats now have 7 left fielders on the roster, who have played there, not including JDub.

    Maybe Rizzo should ask for Divine Guidance in the matter??

  6. adcwonk - May 19, 2014 at 2:05 PM

    Wonk’s Monday’s Midbits

    - A’s swept the Indians by a collective score of 30-6 over their three games. The A’s have scored 10+ runs for the 8th game this season.
    – That is twice as many 10-run games than any other AL team this season

    - Nats don’t play the Mets again until 6 games in August, then 7 games in Sept.

    - Phillies are to 11-3 in Saturday and Sunday games. They are 8-19 during the week.

    - Robinson Cano has the longest on-base streak in MLB this year: 26.

    - Astros — who once batted seven guys in their lineup with sub.200 average (and who’s team BA was below .200) have now gotten 9 hits or more in 8 straight games. They move into next-to-last place in team BA in the AL batting .233; and one game ahead of MLB’s worst record. Go Bo!

    - Rockies turned a triple play (with help from baserunner interference) and had a walk-off homer.

    - Pirates won at Yankee Stadium for the first time since 1960 (game 5 of the WS!)

    - In 60.1 innings Tim Hudson has walked four batters. One was intentional.

    - Reds out-hit Phillie 10-to-9
    – Reds lost by five runs
    — Reds 1-for-16 RISP

    - Wil Nieves batted second.
    – This is the first time he’s ever batted above sixth in a batting order.
    -– He hit a home run

    - Cubs’ starter Jeff Samardzija is now 0-4
    – His ERA is 1.62.

    - D-backs hit three triples in one inning
    – off of Kershaw
    — Kershaw had one walk entering the weekend
    —- He walked Cody Ross twice — in one inning.

    • nats106 - May 19, 2014 at 2:30 PM

      Thanks-those are some great facts. My favorite is the line on Samardzija. I know the Mets find a different way to lose to the Nats every series, but to basically give up a run every start and be 0-4. Wow-the Cubs have to look under the rocks for at least a couple of runs. .

      I also find the Phillies W-L fascinating. Having been to Phillies games up there (and hoisted a few) I wonder if there is a correlation between Phillies wins and the consolidated breathalyzer tests at Citizens Bank park.

      • adcwonk - May 19, 2014 at 3:01 PM

        Samardzija is 2d in the NL in WAR for pitchers and 2d in ERA.

        Not a free agent till 2016 ;-)

  7. Theophilus T.S. - May 19, 2014 at 2:14 PM

    I’m bothered by the idea of two roster spots held by, for all practical purposes, pinch-hitters, i.e., Dobbs and Hairston (whose butchery on the E. Young double was every bit as bad as it looked, and Dobbs is, what, in fourth position on the 1B depth chart, behind LaRoche, Moore and Fransden?) Right now, that leaves Walters, Fransden and McLouth as the only bench guys who can catch a ball. And on most days one of them is in the starting lineup.

    I’m firmly of a belief that each team needs a killer LH pinch-hitter (Gates Brown, Deacon Jones, Terry Crowley) on the bench, to deter opposing managers from rushing a RH reliever into the game in the late innings. So I’m OK w/ keeping Dobbs around — so long as he hits. But keeping Hairston — who plays the OF like, literally, one hand is tied behind his back — is surplusage and limits late inning flexibility (e.g., you could not use Hairston to PH for McLouth in the eighth inning of a close game because doing so would downgrade the OF defense). Plus, generally, because most pitchers are RH, LH pinch hitters are more valuable that RHs.

    • adcwonk - May 19, 2014 at 3:04 PM

      He’s 8-for-18 this year with 2 doubles. Small sample size, yes, but that ain’t chopped liver.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 19, 2014 at 3:34 PM

      Look who your starting 1st baseman is tonight. Defense vs offense. I hope Dobbs is up to the task.

  8. TimDz - May 19, 2014 at 2:20 PM

    Does anyone else think that if MW stayed with Arizona instead of signing here, that Kirk Gibson would be fired by now? I like MW and think he will be here a long time and we were lucky to get him….

    • masterfishkeeper - May 19, 2014 at 3:03 PM

      Yes, but would anyone want to coach the Diamondbacks right now?

  9. Eric - May 19, 2014 at 2:28 PM

    Ramos’ use of Phish’s Wilson is now being noted by a fairly popular “jam band’ media outlet:

    http://www.jambase.com/Articles/121702/Washington-Nationals-Adapt-Phish-Wilson-Chant-For-Ramos

    • Hiram Hover - May 19, 2014 at 2:56 PM

      Does anyone know how he picked it up?

      The Seahawks were using it last year for Russell Wilson, after a sort-of-joke by Trey Anastasio.

      I was assuming Ramos or the Nats music guy picked it up that way.

      • Hiram Hover - May 19, 2014 at 2:57 PM

        Duh. That’s what your link says.

        I should read first, post second–not the other way round.

      • Eric - May 19, 2014 at 3:07 PM

        HH – I’ve tweeted Ramos, Phish, Charlie, Dave, Kilgore, and others trying to get the scoop on whether Trey was involved. So far, nada. This article is the closest I’ve seen, and it’s just telling us what we already know: Ramos is using “Wilson” for his walk up music.

        I would be kind of surprised if Trey *wasn’t* involved given the traction it got last year. And, I have to think it’s great cross pollination for all commercial entities involved (Nats, MLB, and Phish).

      • Hiram Hover - May 19, 2014 at 3:10 PM

        My sense is that the “vector” here is another commercial entity, the NFL–Nats are imitating the pointy ball crowd.

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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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