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Up next: the Cubs

Jun 26, 2014, 6:00 AM EDT

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

Despite a disaster of a series finale – a 9-2 loss to the Brewers that was capped by the benches clearing – the Nationals have to be pretty satisfied with their performance in Milwaukee. They won the first two games against the NL’s best team, including a 16-inning marathon that took just about everything out of them.

Now, after finishing on such a poor note, the Nationals (41-36) are probably glad to be moving on to the next one. Thursday they will begin a four-game series with the Chicago Cubs, owners of the worst record in the NL at 32-44.

The series includes a late afternoon start on Friday and a split doubleheader on Saturday. The Saturday games will begin at 1:05 and 7:15 p.m., giving the teams Sunday off when Chicago will be gridlocked for the city’s Pride Parade.

Going from playing a team with the best record in the NL to the worst should favor the Nationals, who have taken care of business against lesser teams this year. The Nats have the best record in the NL this season against clubs with records under .500 at 26-11. The Cubs, meanwhile, have the second worst mark among NL teams against teams with winning records at 17-32 (the Nats are third worst).

In recent years the Nationals have had the Cubs’ number in head-to-head matchups. Since 2011 Washington is 14-7 vs. Chicago and 6-4 at Wrigley Field.

Here are the starting pitchers for each game:

Thu. 8:05 p.m. – Doug Fister (6-2, 2.65) vs. Travis Wood (7-6, 4.55)

Fri. 4:05 p.m. – Tanner Roark (7-4, 2.79) vs. Jason Hammel (6-5, 2.99)

Sat. 1:05 p.m. – Gio Gonzalez (4-4, 4.38) vs. Dallas Beeler (0-0, 0.00)

7:15 p.m. – Blake Treinen (0-3, 2.08) vs. Jeff Samardzija (2-6, 2.53)

On Saturday, Gio Gonzalez will go up against a rookie making his MLB debut. Dallas Beeler will be called up from Double-A Iowa to start the first game of the doubleheader. A former 41st round pick in 2009, Beeler has a 3.71 career ERA in five minor league seasons. He’s a 6-foot-5 right-hander who is 5-3 with a 4.03 ERA in 10 Triple-A starts this season.

While the Nats figure to have the advantage in Game 1, the second game of the doubleheader will feature a Nats rookie against Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija. As part of the 26th man rule for doubleheaders, Blake Treinen will be called up to start the night game in his fifth career start.

Treinen has been solid in all four starts this year, going at least five innings with two earned runs or less in each of them. This will also not be the first time Treinen has pitched opposite an elite pitcher. Already he has gone up against Clayton Kershaw, Andrew Cashner and Tim Hudson.

One factor to look out for this series is the return of catcher Wilson Ramos. The Nationals’ backstop is set to be activated Thursday after serving 15 days on the disabled list with a right hamstring strain. In four games split between Harrisburg and Potomac, Ramos went 7-for-16 with two home runs, a double and nine RBI.

Ramos should help a Nationals offense that has been relatively quiet lately. Though the team has won four of their last five games, the Nats haven’t scored more than four in a game in eight consecutive outings. Over their last 13 games they have averaged just 2.76 runs.

The Cubs, though, have had scoring troubles of their own. This season they rank third to last in runs scored (289 in 76 games) and have a .293 on-base percentage as a team.

When it comes to Chicago’s lineup this year, there are two names that stand out: Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro. They are the only two Cubs’ regulars who are hitting above .270 this season.

Rizzo, 24, is enjoying the best year of his young MLB career. He’s batting .284 with a team-best 17 homers, 44 RBI and 52 runs scored. His .923 OPS ranks 11th in baseball.

Castro is also having a very good season, as he is on pace to set career-highs in several offensive categories. He’s hitting .287 with 11 home runs, 45 RBI, 23 doubles and a .812 OPS.

Getting to know the Cubs may not be a bad idea, as the Nationals will face them in seven of their next 10 games. By all accounts it should be a great opportunity for the Nats to string together some wins against an inferior team. We’ll see if they take advantage.

105 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. unkyd59 - Jun 26, 2014 at 6:32 AM

    Gotta play the games, before we can notch the wins…

    Oh! And GYFNGGOGOGO!!!!!

  2. Joe Seamhead - Jun 26, 2014 at 6:46 AM

    The return of Ramos will make a new look to the lineup and also, nothing against the Loboton, but Wilson seems to bring out the best with the pitching staff, too.Get Harper back next week and that lineup will actually put fear in the opponents pitchers. Should be fun.

    The in game blog was wonderful the night before last in the marathon game. I wish that I could say the same about yesterday’s, but it was embarrassing to even be a part of it, though I said little. We had a full grown man make over 35 derogatory remarks about Stephen Strasburg’s lack of character. We had a man telling us what a baby Stephen Strasburg was throughout the entire thread, while himself coming across as acting like a 3 year old. I’m not saying one can’t express their dissatisfaction with anything regarding the Nats. You don’t like Stras? Fine, tell us, but not over and over again for the entire blog. I think most, though not all, of the regulars will criticize some individual players and their performances on occasion. But to totally destroy the integrity and quality of the of the Nats Insider blog that Mark and his crew provide is selfish, insulting ,immature, and inconsiderate to not only our hosts, but also to the entire Nats Insider community.

    Just another Joe Seamhead editorial

    GYFNG!!!

    • npb99 - Jun 26, 2014 at 7:39 AM

      Well said.

    • pburm9qp - Jun 26, 2014 at 8:10 AM

      I’m all for being level headed and whatnot, but let’s not take this sports too seriously. You’re talking about a guy like he was farting and yelling profanities at a wedding. While I love and respect what has been built at this blog, you have to remember that it is a blog for fans (which is short for ‘fanatics’) of a team that plays game that involves spitting, chewing tobacco, grabbing your crotch, butt slapping, hot footing, and calling umpires those two magical words.

      Relax, dude. If you want to call a guy out, call a guy out. Let’s just not go overboard in either direction.

      • alexva6 - Jun 26, 2014 at 8:20 AM

        +1

      • knoxvillenat - Jun 26, 2014 at 8:21 AM

        Sorry but I don’t think Seamhead went overboard at all. He has pointed out what others have said before about this blog when one person seems to take control and dominate the posting by saying the same thing over and over again.

        I wish the poster he was calling out would sit back and read the comments from others who have been critical of his constant posting of the same material and try to understand our frustration with him and his posting. Say what you got to say but say it once move on and let others post their comments as well. This constant posting by one person, especially when it comes off as whining, is driving several people who are good contributors to the discussion away from the in game blog…and that is a shame.

      • adcwonk - Jun 26, 2014 at 9:01 AM

        pburm9qp — I’m sorry, but I respectfully disagree.

        The plain, objective, truth of the matter is that am extremely vocal, extreme minority (less than, say, four guys) have driven away a lot of posters from looking and/or taking part in game threads ever, and have driven away others from game threads in those game when the Nats are not playing well (count me in this latter group).

        Relax, dude. If you want to call a guy out, call a guy out. Let’s just not go overboard in either direction.

        Don’t make a moral equivalence here. Unless Joe Seamhead criticizes those guys over 30 times in the same thread, then it’s not equal at all.

        Bottom line: a very few are ruining it for the rest of us. That’s a situation worth calling out, imho.

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Jun 26, 2014 at 9:04 AM

        Thank you for that analogy. That is EXACTLY what it is like.

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Jun 26, 2014 at 9:08 AM

        Ok, so it’s not a wedding. Still.

        And I was the first to say “rhetorical flatulence” in this space, several weeks ago.

      • Dave - Jun 26, 2014 at 9:35 AM

        Not that anyone will care, but I used to be much more involved in game threads than I am now. I now avoid them like the plague, for exactly the reasons Joe Seamhead stated.

        Two or three guys posting the same comments (usually, but not always, nasty and negative) over and over, ad nauseum, make the comment threads very tedious and unpleasant indeed.

    • sjm308 - Jun 26, 2014 at 8:28 AM

      Just another reason I don’t go near it.
      Can only imagine how bad it got
      I turned it off at 7-2 although it was interesting to see Jordan Hill throw.
      When did the benches clear and why?

      • Joe Seamhead - Jun 26, 2014 at 8:48 AM

        Hill hit Carlos Gonzalez with a pitch that got away. No big deal, but then CarGo was hit into a forest out at 2nd and he tried hard to whip Frandsen’s legs out from him with his slide and Desi and he had words about it. A lot over very little.

      • Joe Seamhead - Jun 26, 2014 at 8:50 AM

        Edit: he was hit into a force out

      • alexva6 - Jun 26, 2014 at 9:01 AM

        I’ll say the pitch got away, Carlos Gonzalez was playing in Colorado

      • adcwonk - Jun 26, 2014 at 11:30 AM

        ;-)

      • Joe Seamhead - Jun 26, 2014 at 9:20 AM

        Edit again! Gomez

      • natsfan1a - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:03 AM

        Also, during said slide, Gonzalez had his leg extended in a manner that could potentially cause injury to Frandsen. Also, said slide was late in the game, with the Brew Crew up by 7 runs.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Jun 26, 2014 at 11:17 AM

        Desmond thought CGom was retaliating against Kevin for HBP by Hill.

    • janebeard - Jun 26, 2014 at 7:30 PM

      Agree. SOME people need to grow up. That poster, for one.

  3. ArVAFan - Jun 26, 2014 at 7:09 AM

    Good Morning! And it is a good morning ,sitting in the airport on the way to Chicago for art, for friends, but most of all, for baseball .

    GYFNG!

  4. 3on2out - Jun 26, 2014 at 7:23 AM

    Joe:

    I totally agree. But the yahoos in question only post in game threads in which the Nats are losing. My solution? I simply don’t read game threads unless the Nats are winning. Their silence is music!

    • adcwonk - Jun 26, 2014 at 8:56 AM

      Pretty much the same here. I was at work, and turned on gameday right before the grand-slam. I knew what the game thread would be and so I never looked at it. I still haven’t looked at it.

    • natsfan1a - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:04 AM

      What 3on said. I don’t tend to read game threads here and didn’t tend to read them at other Nats blogs that I frequented in the past because of the same phenomenon, which is not unique to this venue, imho.

      • natsfan1a - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:05 AM

        Well, actually, I don’t tend to read game threads when they’re winning, either, so not exactly what 3on said, but most of what 3on said. :-)

  5. sjberke - Jun 26, 2014 at 7:31 AM

    Let’s look at it this way…

    Over the past 2 1/2 weeks, the Nats played 16 games, all but two against winning teams, and all but six on the road. They ended up 9-7 in that stretch, 7-7 against the winning teams, with major contributors still missing.

    Over the next 3 1/2 weeks til the All-Star break, the Nats will play 17 games, ten at home, and all but four against teams currently having losing records (and the one exception, the Orioles, only a few games over .500). Not too far into this stretch, the Nats will have all their major players on the roster for the first time this season (remember Fister was on the DL on Opening Day.)

    How well the Nats capitalize on this stretch may say a lot about their fate this season.

    • slidell2 - Jun 26, 2014 at 7:40 AM

      Good job putting things into perspective.

    • Joe Seamhead - Jun 26, 2014 at 7:48 AM

      Good post.
      +1

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 26, 2014 at 8:00 AM

      sjberke, the Nats starting position players have only been on the field for a total of 6 1/2 innings together this season.

      Countless games missing 3 of them and plenty missing 4 of them in which I referred to as the split-squad games.

      • sjberke - Jun 26, 2014 at 9:20 AM

        Actually, last year at this time the Nats were holding their own. After Game 77 last year, the Nats were 39-38 (two games worse than now) and five games behind the Braves ( who were playing somewhat better than now). They played .500 ball up until the ASG (disappointing in that they were losing to teams like the Phillies, Marlins, and then-mediocre Brewers), and at the break were 48-47, six games behind.

        Then the Nats went 6-13, starting with six straight losses (at home)’, and ending on August 7 with a sweep by the Braves (also at home) to leave then 54-60, 15.5 games behind. This was (needless to say) the low point of the season; things got better after this but as often noted, it was too little too late.

        Sorry to revive this melancholy history; hopefully we won’t live through anything like it again.

  6. Nats fool - Jun 26, 2014 at 7:44 AM

    Don’t sleep on the Cubs. I remember that 1-0 loss from last year. We seem to be on a better path than last year, but it was about this time last year until the two weeks after the ASG that we lost it. The lineup was complete with the exception of Rendon. Hitting is what has prevented us from going on an extended run and it is still a big problem, with or without our full lineup. Our bench, while marginally better than last year, is still bad. We strike out too much. Rizzo needs a trade for second base, but no one is really available. We basically have to hope the bats do better than last year. I think we can do it, but the hitting must be addressed next year.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 26, 2014 at 7:57 AM

      Yes, they have some decent starters in Samardzijia, Wood and Arrieta. The Nats get to miss Arrieta but get the other 2.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 26, 2014 at 12:04 PM

        I left off Hammel. I had hoped a couple of them would have been traded by now.

      • masterfishkeeper - Jun 26, 2014 at 12:31 PM

        Yes, let’s hope that Hammel and Samardzijia have been traded before the Cubbies come to DC.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 26, 2014 at 12:34 PM

        I would think so. How fitting that their best pitcher could be Jake Arrietta who the Orioles gave away for little in return.

    • adcwonk - Jun 26, 2014 at 9:02 AM

      I agree. Losing right before seeing the Cubs will, I think, help the guys. I’m sure their angry about the dismal preformance, and they’re going to take it out on those cubbies.

      That’s my story today and I’m stickin’ to it!

      • natsfan1a - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:09 AM

        Well, Doumit (I think it was) said the Braves were going to take it out on the Nats during their four-game series after Atlanta was swept by the Phillies. Don’t need any bulletin board material. Just take it one game at a time, and do your best in every one. Just another natsfan1a editorial. :-)

    • natsjackinfl - Jun 26, 2014 at 9:49 AM

      +1 on the Cubs.

  7. sjm308 - Jun 26, 2014 at 8:31 AM

    Hopefully just once

  8. adcwonk - Jun 26, 2014 at 9:03 AM

    mazel tov — you must be so proud

  9. sjm308 - Jun 26, 2014 at 9:08 AM

    Ghost – I continue to be impressed with your predictions.
    You had Hill coming up
    You had Treinan starting the 2nd game of the double header.
    We all had Dobbs gone when Bryce came back but you had it early
    Must be nice to have sources – keep up the great work

    • Joe Seamhead - Jun 26, 2014 at 9:23 AM

      Again, +1
      Ghost has been right on lately.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 26, 2014 at 9:24 AM

      Thanks sjm. We will see how things go!

    • dcwx61 - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:41 AM

      Yes, what was the logic for bringing Hill.,,I haven’t been following him but I’m sure there was good reason to choose him

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 26, 2014 at 11:12 AM

        They wanted an innings eater and hoped it was going to be with a big lead. Unfortunately they got an innings eater with Hill with a large deficit.

        The good news is the Nats rested the entire bullpen yesterday and Werth

        The bad news was the final score.

    • Sonny G 10 - Jun 26, 2014 at 2:19 PM

      +1

  10. dryw4nats - Jun 26, 2014 at 9:11 AM

    Funny, I usually don’t read the in-game comments for the same reasons mentioned here, but yesterday I read them for the exact opposite reason. I was feeling a little down on Strasburg myself, and reading all the comments about how we’d be lucky to get a bag of balls for him and how he has zero positive character traits helped me get things back in perspective. I still am not seeing him as our #1 though.

  11. micksback1 - Jun 26, 2014 at 9:19 AM

    Nats have played 77 games and for me, i have only posted twice all season during the game threads. i o not retract a single post I made on Stras yesterday period. I also simply laugh at the the bold face liars in here who make comments that certain people only post when the Nats are losing, that is a lie and you should be ashamed of yourselves, if you have any to begin with. Sick and tired of cherry picking liars

  12. micksback1 - Jun 26, 2014 at 9:22 AM

    BTW, Stras is not even the 3rd best pitcher on team, Even Ray Knight has questioned Stas leadership and poise as a team player over the course of the past 2 years and with all due respect, I will take what Ray Knight has to say about this game much more seriously than the many so called experts here

    • bowdenball - Jun 26, 2014 at 9:46 AM

      These forums are insufferable whenever Strasburg has a bad outing, but the last two posts from micksback1 may be the worst I’ve ever seen. He calls people names, including referring to them as liars repeatedly and tells them they should be ashamed of themselves.

      And then in the very next post he criticizes Strasburg’s performance “over the course of the past two years” and says he is “not even the 3rd best pitcher on the team” even though STRASBURG LED THE ROTATION IN ERA, WHIP, ERA+ and FIP IN 2013. And then he throws in “with all due respect” as if that makes it OK that he called everyone bold faced liars and cherry-picking liars and so on.

      With all due respect, micksback1, calling everyone else liars without bothering to check the veracity of your own posts is not a good look. And furthermore, micksback1, if the vast majority of your posts about a first place ballclub are negative in tone, maybe you should think about a different hobby. With all due respect.

    • Brookstoor - Jun 26, 2014 at 9:47 AM

      If Stras is the third best pitcher on the team that says more about Fister and Zimmermann (I assume they are the ones ahead of him) than it does about Strasburg. There’s no shame in being behind those two guys. I was hard on Stras yesterday in my own way but I have a short memory and am already saying my sorries to my Strasburg bobblehead. I’m glad he’s on the team and we don’t necessarily need him to be the leader, Fister has post season experience and I think he can speak with authority to the rest of the guys. Stephen will get there one day, he’s not there just yet but that’s okay.

    • micksback1 - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:44 AM

      we will have a few brews my friend, you are funny too and I enjoy your posts as well

  13. micksback1 - Jun 26, 2014 at 9:28 AM

    agreed!
    now that will get the zealots after you, ha ha.

    • sjm308 - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:22 AM

      Mick – you know I have always enjoyed you as a person but you do realize you are one of the guys being talked about on here. Make your point, get pissed and then stop – please

  14. jd - Jun 26, 2014 at 9:54 AM

    Mick,

    With all due respect it’s not just about Stras. Last week you went off on Ryan Zimmerman, earlier this year it was Desmond not to mention the fact that you also posted that Werth and Rendon are the only worthwhile players and they deserve better team mates.

    Again with all due respect to Ray Knight, Baseball is a highly measurable sport so you can choose to have emotional reactions to certain situations or you can look objectively how people are doing. You are welcome to call Stras the 4th 8th or 12th best pitcher on the team, this is your choice but to question someone’s character ad noseum the way you do and I’m pretty sure that you don’t have a clue about any of the player’s characters cheapens your credibility and I don’t really care how many times you say ‘period’.

  15. TimDz - Jun 26, 2014 at 9:56 AM

    I pretty much stay away from posting during threads, but for different reasons….
    The forum has a great many knowlegeable posters…however, it has gotten quite clique-ish, where there are the “cool kids” that talk amongst themselves and don’t want to be bothered responding to the comments/questions of the riff-raff….
    Just my observations and experiences….

    • Brookstoor - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:07 AM

      Tim that vibe you’ve picked up on is valid, in my opinion. A few people will say it’s the trolls and jerks that chase away new commenters but it’s the clique-ishness that turns me off. I’m truly not trying to insult anyone, but the way it goes is one of the regulars (or “cool kids”) will make a fairly innocuous prediction and when it inevitably comes true the rest of the gang comes out to hoist him or her up and parade them through the streets. Okay that’s obviously an exaggeration and I’m sure I’ve become just as annoying for getting on the “back patting” aspect of this website, but I really don’t see that on any of the other message boards I’m on. It has started to bother me a lot less and it’s become only slightly irritating. I try to not even pay attention to usernames and just comment where I see a good post.

      • adcwonk - Jun 26, 2014 at 11:29 AM

        To each his own, Brookstoor. I hear what you’re saying, and there are different turnoffs to different folks.

        There’s one guy here who seems to only show up when there’s negative stuff, and, way back on April 25 declared the season to be “already gone”. Or, another guy who repeated the same negative comment dozens of times last night and made, apparently, over 30% of the comments himself — btw, he was the same guy who repeated a different negative comment about Gio nine times in the space of ninety minutes (note: this was while Gio was pitching 6 shutout innings against one of the best hitting teams in the league). That’s just very tiring to me, and, for sure, it drives a number of us away.

      • Brookstoor - Jun 26, 2014 at 12:13 PM

        Wonk, I definitely know “that guy”, even if we aren’t talking about the same guy specifically. There’s one on every site and it sure is tiring. Like, why do they even bother if they appear to hate the Nats so much? The type who declares the season as over but still shows up to complain. It’s just easier for me to ignore those types than engage I suppose. Thanks for your thoughts.

      • coop202 - Jun 26, 2014 at 12:55 PM

        Any chance Harper gets pulled back early if the next day or two goes off without a hitch?

      • adcwonk - Jun 26, 2014 at 1:16 PM

        I hear you — but when 30% of all the posts in a game thread are from a single guy, it takes a whole lotta effort to ignore it. It just starts to drown out everything else.

    • Joe Seamhead - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:28 AM

      TimDz, you make fine contributions to this board, imho. SometimesI get a little miffed for the same reasons, but I get past it.

  16. Dave - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:01 AM

    In general, I think this is a pretty good philosophy–without particularly singling anybody out.

    Bowdenball said:

    “…if the vast majority of your posts about a first place ballclub are negative in tone, maybe you should think about a different hobby. With all due respect.”

    +1

  17. Faraz Shaikh - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:08 AM

    Stras has struggled in past three starts I agree but I trust him to turn it around soon enough.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:12 AM

      Not true.. His last 3 starts are yesterday’s game, Atlanta (I didn’t think it was a ‘bad’ game) and then the Giants… He only gave up like 1 run in 6 innings pitched and had like 5/6 Ks…

      • Faraz Shaikh - Jun 26, 2014 at 11:12 AM

        For some reason, I thought it was yesterday’s start, against Atlanta where he gave up four runs in six innings, and before that he faced off against cardinals.

  18. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:08 AM

    Uhm… Good Morning???

    Yesterday was a clunker.. Sure SS didn’t have a good game but out of 16 or 17 starts, he has had 12 quality starts… I just thought he had a bad day, which all pitchers tend to some times have…

    But the Nats won the series and that is more important to me…

    On another note, Nats only had 2 hits… That is a bigger issues to/for me…

    • jd - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:27 AM

      MrsB.

      You are exactly right about Stras. for some reason he’s a lightning rod but the numbers don’t lie and his numbers are pretty damn good, yesterday’s game notwithstanding.

      BTW,

      I am curious what it is about you and Clip. Again, the numbers say he’s been one of the very best relievers in baseball for like 3 years now. What is it about him you don’t like?

    • bowdenball - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:31 AM

      The good news, MrsB, is that the lineup going forward won’t bear much resemblance to yesterday’s lineup. Werth was out yesterday of course, and Harper will return soon. But most importantly, Ramos will be back.

      There are obviously better hitters on this roster than Wilson Ramos, but nobody’s absence hurts more. When we lost an OF or a corner infielder we can move guys around and still have a productive bat in the lineup. When Ramos is gone we basically sacrifice a third of our innings because both the 8 and the 9 spot are automatic outs. After a passable start to the season Lobaton is hitting .179/.273/.179 in June and wasn’t much better than that in May. And the .275 OBP is artificially inflated by batting in front of the pitcher.

      Hopefully when he returns to his usual backup role he’ll be a little more productive, but more importantly we’ll replace his numbers with Ramos’ potent bat, which is a HUGE upgrade. I bet moving Espi back to the 8 spot will help him, too.

      • dcwx61 - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:45 AM

        who bats 8th on days with Harp/Span/Werth in the OF and Zimm/Desi/Rendon/ALR in IF and Ramos behind the dish…Maybe a hypothetical question but according to MW it will happen
        Desi, Span….

  19. Nats fool - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:17 AM

    I’m collecting theories on why we are such a bad offensive team. I subscribe right now to the bad plate approach theory. It doesn’t seem that we make opposing pitchers work. We try to ambush fastballs early in the count. Teams know this, so the don’t throw strikes. That gets us in a whole where we have to protect the plate, thus expanding the zone. We strike out or fail to barrel pitches without forcing the pitch count up. Some batters can adjust, but too many on our team simply can’t. Our first priority in the off-season was to address this at second base. We picked up a good starter but did not address plate approach. Thus, we can’t pick up pitchers to the extent necessary to go on extended runs. I project 84 to 88 wins.

    • alexva6 - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:28 AM

      while not exactly setting the world on fire, they are ranked 8th in the NL in OBP so average may be more the case. individually I think we expect the players to be doing better and as is always the case let’s see how things play out for the whole year.

      you hit as part of a lineup so getting back Harper and Ramos may be the difference we are all hoping for.

      • jd - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:30 AM

        I think it’s nothing more complicated than having 3 middle of the lineup players out for 2 months each.

    • bowdenball - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:36 AM

      Hate to break this to you, Nats fool, but the Nats have the second-lowest overall swing % in the National League as well as the second-lowest O-Swing % in the NL. They’re also 5th in the NL in walk rate. They’re basically exactly the opposite of the team you think they are.

      The reason the offense has been mediocre is the prolonged absences of Harper, Ramos and Zimmerman. It’s really that simple. No reason to overthink it.

      • bowdenball - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:37 AM

        Sorry, meant to explain for those not familiar: O-Swing% is % of of pitches outside the strike zone that are swung at.

      • adcwonk - Jun 26, 2014 at 11:50 AM

        +1 (to bowdenball 10:36). Bringing actual data. What a concept!

    • raleighnat - Jun 26, 2014 at 11:42 AM

      I have thought about this and tried to understand why we struggle offensively. I think my conclusion is that we just don’t have any really great hitters. We have a lot of average to good hitters. The key for us is for the lineup to be long where every batter, while not feared, can do damage. It increases the odds that day in and day out someone will be a hero. That’s why I think Ramos being in the line up is disproportionately important – he eliminates a black hole and adds another potential hero for the day. Injuries – especially at catcher where there is NO offensive depth – shorten our lineup and really hurt us. We don’t really have any single hitter that can carry the team. At least that’s my theory of the day.

  20. Nats fool - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:28 AM

    Really, what we need is one or two more grinders in the lineup. If we count on one player per game to have an 11 pitch at-bat, a lot of our problems would be solved.

  21. nats2005 - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:37 AM

    The Nats need to play well before the ASG as the Barves have an even easier road to the break and don’t play a team with a winning record until (wait for it….) July 29th!

    1 at Houston (13 Under .500)
    4 at Philly (7 Under .500)
    7 versus the Mets sandwiched around (6 Under .500)
    3 versus Arizona (15 Under .500)
    3 at Cubs (12 Under .500)

    ASG

    Then at home for 11 games
    3 vs Philly
    4 vs Marlins (Even .500)
    4 vs Padres (11 Under .500)

    finally LA on the road on July 29th.

    Nats really need to play well the next month as the Barves won’t go away with that schedule.

    Diz

    • natsjackinfl - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:46 AM

      Funny, my tickets for the first 3 games after the All Star break say that the Nats are playing the Brewers.

      • nats2005 - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:53 AM

        NatsJack,

        I posted the Barves schedule there. Nats do have Milwaukee after the break.

        Diz

    • natsjackinfl - Jun 26, 2014 at 1:04 PM

      Sorry Diz, My bad.

  22. Mark Gauthier - Jun 26, 2014 at 11:04 AM

    I hope the Cubs can take one from the Nationals, it’s going to be tough.
    http://mlblogscubden.wordpress.com/

  23. micksback1 - Jun 26, 2014 at 11:06 AM

    I was going to let this go, and if one wants the last word, so be it, this will be my last response on this issue. S, let me copy and paste what I am referring too:

    These forums are insufferable whenever Strasburg has a bad outing, but the last two posts from micksback1 may be the worst I’ve ever seen. He calls people names, including referring to them as liars repeatedly and tells them they should be ashamed of themselves.

    worst ever huh, really? now, whom did I call names too my friend, unlike you who singled me out. show any post from yesterday where mentioned another blogger by name?? And yes, a liar is someone who makes the claim that ONLY post when things go bad, that s a lie and most importantly, yesterday was only the second time in 77 games I posted during a game! However, I realize you like to cherry pick your own set of facts to set your own narrative.

    And then in the very next post he criticizes Strasburg’s performance “over the course of the past two years” and says he is “not even the 3rd best pitcher on the team” even though STRASBURG LED THE ROTATION IN ERA, WHIP, ERA+ and FIP IN 2013. And then he throws in “with all due respect” as if that makes it OK that he called everyone bold faced liars and cherry-picking liars and so on.

    Yes, yo are entitled to believe Stras is the second coming of Walter Johnson and i am entitled to reject fangraphs which in my book are garbage.

    With all due respect, micksback1, calling everyone else liars without bothering to check the veracity of your own posts is not a good look. And furthermore, micksback1, if the vast majority of your posts about a first place ballclub are negative in tone, maybe you should think about a different hobby. With all due respect.

    with all due respect, to post that most of my posts are negative are just plain wrong and i fact, anyone who single another one out as issues. I notice with you in particular, if some one agrees with you or even posts something interesting that maybe someone did not know about, you have nothing positive to say to a poster. I always compliment a poster for sharing information, Ghost, sjm,Dave, SW etc… You only go after someone who does not preach your company line and that is what cherry picking is and it is dishonest. By the way, whom did I single out as a liar???? did I specifically mention or post a blogger, I think not.

    but my all means, go ahead and have the last say, I think i got out what I wanted to o this matter

    • coop202 - Jun 26, 2014 at 12:57 PM

      Think he might be the same guy as swm to be honest just trolling around.

      • sjm308 - Jun 26, 2014 at 2:27 PM

        Coop202 – can definitely verify that Mick is not swm & really, while others have him as a LoD guy, he is just a fan that wants us to win. Mick doesn’t need me to speak for him and I am not in his head but it appears he wants us to win each and every day, I call that a “football” mentality where each Sunday is huge. Baseball is not like that. Strasburg can come back next outing and throw a gem. We have a game tonight after a clunker yesterday. Mick will get excited when we win and will get pissed when we lose. I, for one chose to laugh when he gets all upset but again, I don’t read in game stuff so I miss a lot of the negativity. I also can’t believe that Mick was the one posting 30% of the time but I won’t go back and read the ingame so I will never know. I guess my point is that in my mind Mick is not a troll.

        Go Nats!!

      • bowdenball - Jun 26, 2014 at 3:01 PM

        sjm308-

        You’re right. I see the breathless attacks and assume he’s just a troll, but maybe he’s just engaging in ridiculous fan hyperbole; as you say, bringing a football mentality to a sport with games every day for six months. It’s a weird approach but who am I to say it’s the wrong one? Certainly I can point out that calling the team’s 2013 leader in all major pitching categories its 3rd best pitcher is wrong, but beyond that I shouldn’t comment. I’ll ignore him going forwardl we’re just people who don’t see the game the same way. Thanks for pointing this out.

  24. Faraz Shaikh - Jun 26, 2014 at 11:19 AM

    Can we please stick to players, teams, and the game? I feel like we discuss posters more than games these days.

    • Another Tyler - Jun 26, 2014 at 11:56 AM

      As one of the silent majority of people who seldom post but often read, +1.

    • sjm308 - Jun 26, 2014 at 2:27 PM

      whooops – wrote before I read, Sorry Faraz

  25. adcwonk - Jun 26, 2014 at 11:31 AM

    My smiley was reacting to alexva’s comment about the ‘pitch that got away” — Colorado

  26. unkyd59 - Jun 26, 2014 at 12:02 PM

    Oy…. Anybody else suddenly getting an email alert for Every. Single. Comment on this thread? I can scroll past negativity, stream-of-consciousness posting, and the possibly-even-more-annoying posters whining about other posters…. But word press is what may chase me IFC this blog! If I had to pay a nickel a year for it I’d already be gone… It’s pretty cheesy to piss about a free service, but I’m prolly gonna hafta send comcast a long diatribe re: chronology, and filling up my inbox….

    And I am NOT cranky!

    • Faraz Shaikh - Jun 26, 2014 at 12:58 PM

      I was getting notifications when I accidentally checked “notify me” making a post once. You may have done the same?

      • unkyd59 - Jun 26, 2014 at 1:53 PM

        I did that once, too… But that’s for responses to my comment…

        I’ve gotten 70+ email notifications… Every comment on the thread….

    • Faraz Shaikh - Jun 26, 2014 at 12:59 PM

      Having said that, WP is giving problems no doubt.

  27. Joe Seamhead - Jun 26, 2014 at 1:20 PM

    Bryce said last week that he wants to probably play 7-9 minor league games to get his timing back and Matt Williams concurred with that plan. Personally I wish it was yesterday!
    Sorry about calling Carlos Gomez “Gonzalez” earlier, though it did make for a funny retort by Alexva6. Touché!

    • sjm308 - Jun 26, 2014 at 2:29 PM

      Seam – I appreciate you trying to fill me in on what happened. I liked your version better then the Post for what its worth.

    • natsfan1a - Jun 26, 2014 at 7:08 PM

      I’ll see your sorry and raise you one, because I repeated it in a follow-up post. I hadn’t yet had my second cup of coffee. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it…

  28. Sec 3 My Sofa - Jun 26, 2014 at 2:09 PM

    Different things annoy different people. For instance, I have learned that not everyone is grateful when you offer them valuable help in expressing their thoughts, by pointing out that they’ve mis-used a term or stock phrase. Go figure.

    So now I just enjoy them for themselves. We had a really good one the other day–someone referred to a player as a “pre-madonna.” Instant classic in this “doggy-dog world.”

    We’ve had people describe a persistent problem as “the flaw in the ointment.” When things started going really bad, “the wheels came off the horse” (the one that went before the cart, I think).

    I think it was somewhere else that someone discussed their fiscal status as “trying to make hens meet.”

    • letswin3 - Jun 26, 2014 at 2:26 PM

      I love it when they just pop up out of nowhere. It’s spawn tanius.

    • Sonny G 10 - Jun 26, 2014 at 2:59 PM

      :)

      • Dave - Jun 26, 2014 at 3:13 PM

        So I wonder if I really can respond to Sonny G 10’s smiley by replying, in the email notification above the line? If you all are reading this, then yes.

        Just messing with the WordPress. Better than trashing players.

      • Dave - Jun 26, 2014 at 3:14 PM

        Yes! It worked! That last comment came to you via my email! Learn something new every day!

  29. Dave - Jun 26, 2014 at 2:28 PM

    WordPress is definitely sick today. I just got an email with all the comments I had already read (and gotten an email for) from this thread and the Game 77 thread. It’s spitting out email notifications uncontrollably today.

    Yes, you’ll probably get a notification about this post now, too. Sorry.

  30. sjm308 - Jun 26, 2014 at 2:34 PM

    I am horrible with computers but for some reason, my mail thinks all of this is junk (they might be right- ha,ha) and so I never see the emails or comments unless I click on junk and since I never click on junk, I am saved.
    I love this blog and the people who comment here.
    Not sure I disagree that there are several of us who probably congratulate each other a little bit too much. I just love baseball and learn almost as much on this site as I do from the actual articles of Insider, MASN, and other places Mark lists for us.

    Also have to admit that my ego does get strokes when someone comments positively about something I wrote. It has gotten to the point where I have actually had people come up to me at games and introduce themselves. How great is that!!! Anyway, I just want our team to win, this blog to stay as positive as possible with the understanding that its baseball and you can’t please everyone and that this game can be second guessed probably more then any other.

    Go Nats!!

  31. Sec 3 My Sofa - Jun 26, 2014 at 5:50 PM

    Not sure why this came to mind.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 72 53 --
ATLANTA 66 61 7.0
MIAMI 63 63 9.5
NEW YORK 60 68 13.5
PHILADELPHIA 56 71 17.0
Through Wednesday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
THU: Diamondbacks at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
FRI: Giants at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Giants at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Giants at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

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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