Skip to content

Zim front and center during late-game heroics

Jul 7, 2014, 6:00 AM EDT

AP AP

Ryan Zimmerman is plenty used to being in the middle of things during the final key moments of a ballgame. This is, after all, a guy with nine career walk-off homers on his ledger.

So the fact Zimmerman delivered what proved to be the game-winning hit yesterday for a Nationals club that eked out a 2-1 victory over the Cubs wasn’t all that surprising.

The fact he was back at third base for the ninth inning and was entrusted by manager Matt Williams to make two on-target throws across the diamond — while Anthony Rendon remained at second base and Danny Espinosa remained on the bench — was a surprise.

“Like I said before, Anthony at third and Danny at second is our best defensive alignment,” Zimmerman said. “I have no problem saying that, and O think there are going to be times when [Williams] does that and that gives us the best chance to win late in the game with a couple-run lead.”

Only four days earlier, Williams had done exactly that. With the Nationals clinging to a 4-3 lead in the eighth, Zimmerman was pulled for defensive purposes, with Rendon shifting to third base and Espinosa inserted off the bench.

So, what was the difference this time around?

“His arm feels really good, and he feels good,” Williams said. “So without getting into too much detail about the other day, there’s no difference.”

The insinuation there by Williams was that Zimmerman’s shoulder was bothering him Wednesday when he was subbed out, but that the longstanding condition wasn’t as much of a problem Sunday. Zimmerman, though, said his arm felt no different this time than it did before and that the two hadn’t discussed anything prior to the decision to leave him in.

“No, we don’t talk about it,” Zimmerman said. “He either does it or doesn’t. He makes the decisions. I don’t really lobby for anything either way. I think whatever he wants, and whatever he thinks gives us the best chance to win, that’s his job. And I think all of us in here respect that.”

Wouldn’t you know it but the first batter of the ninth inning sent a groundball Zimmerman’s way. He made the play and then threw to first base for the inning’s first out. Two batters later, he did it again, zipping a sidearm throw across the diamond to end the game.

So, if you’ve lost track, that’s now 17 defensive chances Zimmerman has had at third base in the last week, since he returned to the position. And he’s 17-for-17 in making the plays, including 12 on-target throws. Yes, that’s a 1.000 fielding percentage.

That’s not nearly enough of a sample size to suggest the Nationals are in the clear the rest of the season with Zimmerman at the hot corner. But it is enough to suggest he has done much better than expected since returning one week ago.

Here’s the surprising domino effect of it all: Despite conventional wisdom that would suggest Zimmerman is more likely to succeed at the plate while playing the less-demanding left field, his offensive numbers are far better when he plays third base.

During these six games, Zimmerman is hitting .524 (11-for-21) with a 1.274 OPS. Compare those to his numbers in 25 games as an outfielder (.198 average, 590 OPS) and it certainly appears the 29-year-old is more comfortable now than he was a week ago.

133 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. dryw4nats - Jul 7, 2014 at 7:34 AM

    I know he’s going to make some errors at third before the year is over, but I hope this past few days will quiet some of the LoZD (that’s Legion of Zim Doom) who seem to believe that we will automatically lose any game Zimmerman starts at third. Even with the shoulder, he’s still a pretty darn good third baseman!

    • dcwx61 - Jul 7, 2014 at 8:28 AM

      +1

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 7, 2014 at 8:36 AM

      If you use the early season stats, RZim was not good at 3rd base. UZR is too small a sample size but with the eye test he has been better than average making plays on 12 groundballs he has fielded.

      I don’t even know if we could say that the LF defense is better/worse since Harp took over in LF because RZim was very good on getting to balls that were catchable and there really haven’t been any LF plays at the plate or at 3rd base.

  2. chaz11963 - Jul 7, 2014 at 7:38 AM

    I don’t want to take anything away from Zim’s play, but that the better move would have been to put Danny at 2B and Rendon at 3B. It’s a real head scratcher as to why MW didn’t do that. Fortunately, we got away with it.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 7, 2014 at 8:44 AM

      When you are protecting a 1 run lead and you want to be in a “no doubles” defense, I agree with you that you make the moves necessary to put your best D on the field. Luckily RZim made the plays in the 9th. It was like a magnet drawing those balls to Ryan, and he made his Manager look good.

      The book on baseball is usually shoring up the defense if you have a weakness like Matheny last year was consistent on pulling Freese and moving Carpenter to 3rd with a small lead late in games. Freese only finished 76 of 129 games he started at 3rd base. I wish Matt Williams would take note of that.

      Just be consistent. Ryan says he prefers best defense in for the end of the game.

  3. Joe Seamhead - Jul 7, 2014 at 7:42 AM

    I, for one, am much more confident of this team winning with:

    A: Zimm in the lineup
    B: Zimm not in LF, but at 3B
    C: With Danny out, and Denard in.

    • Another_Sam - Jul 7, 2014 at 7:52 AM

      Seam, you nailed it again, man. Right on. I’m okay with a late inning defensive replacement but for day in day out lineup, I’m with you.

    • scmargenau - Jul 7, 2014 at 7:55 AM

      Bryce disagrees.

      I agree with you.

    • dcwx61 - Jul 7, 2014 at 8:29 AM

      +1
      a no brainer from this couch

  4. scmargenau - Jul 7, 2014 at 7:57 AM

    I think if Zim has a chance to hit the next inning or two, and the game is close you have to leave him in
    . However, with a bigger lead I would go the Rendon/espi option.

    • Another_Sam - Jul 7, 2014 at 8:05 AM

      ALERT: WISEASS COMMENT FOLLOWS

      No kidding. That’s what managing the club is all about. Lol.

    • dcwx61 - Jul 7, 2014 at 8:31 AM

      More Wise A comments
      What, a 13 run lead wasn’t big enough

    • everendp - Jul 7, 2014 at 3:55 PM

      +1

  5. natsjackinfl - Jul 7, 2014 at 8:24 AM

    As one who all along called for Zimmerman back at 3rd and Espinosa to the bench as the best option, I am happy to see it working out.

    Got into a discussion with a die hard Braves fan and a Twins fan and both agreed that Dennard Span has to lead off for the Nats.
    He doesn’t even need to be on the 25 man if he doesn’t. And the fact that he is in the top 5 of leadoff hitters in hits for a leadoff man helps to confirm that.

    Yes, he could and should walk more but he and Rendon back to back are a terrific duo in front of Werth, Laroche and Zimmerman.

    With Harper back in Spring Training mode while the rest of the league is in mid season form, I’m afraid he won’t be able to get untracked til well after the All Star break.

    • dcwx61 - Jul 7, 2014 at 8:32 AM

      +1….good call

    • NatsLady - Jul 7, 2014 at 9:04 AM

      I keep saying this and saying this. Denard Span is one of the best leadoff hitters you will find. I put the emphasis on “hitter.” Yes, he could look at more pitches in the first at-bat of the game to give the guys an idea of the opposing pitcher’s stuff. But which is more important–getting that first look, or getting that first RUN???!!!!

      Guys can look at video. Guys can stand in the on-deck circle, guys can peer out of the dugout. Guys can watch the pitcher warm up. Meanwhile, Denard Span can hit a double or a triple and get that first run home.

      • Joe Seamhead - Jul 7, 2014 at 9:23 AM

        You’re preaching to the choir, NL. I’m with you. His stats are not all that much to look at, other than the number of doubles and triples, but he is the catalyst of this offense right now, especially with Rendon hitting behind him.

      • NatsLady - Jul 7, 2014 at 9:27 AM

        And I disagree with “Denard should walk more.” No, he shouldn’t, not when he is leading off an inning (and otherwise, he’s just like any other hitter, and he does take walks in those situations).

        A lead-off single is the same as a walk. But a double is NOT the same as a walk. WPA of a leadoff double in the bottom of first inning of a 0-0 game – 6.2%. WPA of a leadoff walk/single in the first inning – 3.7%. Plus, you have a good contact man behind him, as Rendon’s K-rate is only 16% (Denard’s is only 9.8%), and Rendon rarely hits into double plays (only 4 this season). So if Denard is on 2nd or 3rd when Rendon comes up you have a good chance of advancing him.

        Denard’s weakness is not that he doesn’t walk, it’s that he hits weak grounders/popups to the right side. Those are the days he has 0-fers. Yes, maybe he could turn some of those into walks, but you risk him NOT turning them into doubles and triples.

      • natsjackinfl - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:28 AM

        You walk more by fouling off those pitches that get rolled over to 2nd base or popped up to short or shallow out field.

        Yes, he could and should walk more. Even he will tell you that.

  6. dgourds - Jul 7, 2014 at 8:43 AM

    As a charter member of the LoZD, I must beg to differ. 17 chances is a miniscule number. And of those 17, most were of the charging underhand/sidearm throw variety. 12/17 on target throws is not a good percentage. Nobody here has challenged his hitting ability or his glove work. He’s a mensch. But that throw he made to 1st on Saturday on the routine play to 3rd was just horrible. The thing that makes me uneasy is that FP said he has looked absolutely fantastic in practice, zipping balls across the diamond. But in game time when he has a lot of time, he has the yips with routine overhand throws. Nothing has changed. I’m not even necessarily advocating to play him elsewhere. I know we need his bat. I know Denard is playing pretty well lately. But the throwing story is definitely not over. It is a huge liability for the team and a real challenge for MW. In fact, it may define Williams ‘ success as a manager this season. So far it’s worked out. But tell the truth–how many of you don’t hold your breath every grounder to third?

    • natsjackinfl - Jul 7, 2014 at 8:49 AM

      No more so than when Desmond rifles a shot over. He’s been known to bounce one or land one in the camera well.

      I agree that he looks really awkward but that throw Saturday was by design. It was thrown on a perfect bounce easily handled by Laroche.

      • Section 222 - Jul 7, 2014 at 9:53 AM

        Dgourds said be honest, NJ. If you hold your breath on Desi as much as you do on Zim, you’ve been watching a different team for the last four years.

    • Another_Sam - Jul 7, 2014 at 8:55 AM

      No one disputes that his throwing is an adventure.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 7, 2014 at 8:55 AM

      “Ghost of Steve M. – Jul 7, 2014 at 8:36 AM
      If you use the early season stats, RZim was not good at 3rd base. UZR is too small a sample size but with the eye test he has been better than average making plays on 12 groundballs he has fielded (since his return to 3rd)..”

      Sure, the throws aren’t going to get a “10” on style points but they have been working. One big difference I see with the throws that are off is that he is releasing lower and a bouncer is far better than an overthrow. That was a much needed adjustment. Like I wrote before his return that the average 3rd baseman fields on average less than 3 groundballs a game. That average is spot on.

      The mistake was that MW left RZim in yesterday for the 9th. What was the reason for that? It worked out but still probably not the wisest of moves by MW.

  7. Hiram Hover - Jul 7, 2014 at 8:47 AM

    I am in complete agreement with Mark Z’s post – right up til the last graf.

    The Nats had too much to gain if Zim could play 3B passably not to try it. They did, and he can.

    As to that last graf – I’m happy about the improvement in offense, but I seriously doubt the move back to 3B has anything to do with it. Much more likely it’s the vagaries of small sample sizes, the chance to feast on weak pitching, and his knocking the rust off after almost 2 months on the DL.

    • adcwonk - Jul 7, 2014 at 8:52 AM

      Agree with HH here. it’s the vagaries of small sample sizes, the chance to feast on weak pitching, and his knocking the rust off after almost 2 months on the DL….

  8. adcwonk - Jul 7, 2014 at 8:59 AM

    I’d also like to push back against the LoBD writers, too (LoD on Bryce Harper)

    To those who say he “simply stinks,” I might point out that:

    1. RZ was out 44 days, and then in his first *26* games back, he batted .190

    2. Harper was out 57 days, and in the 6 games he’s been back so far, he’s batted .190

    If we can give RZ almost a month to get the rust off, perhaps we can give Harper, who’s much less experienced, more than a week to get the rust off?

    Just sayin’

    • natsjackinfl - Jul 7, 2014 at 9:05 AM

      +1. Exactly. And for all those that continue to harp (sic) on him throwing Span under the bus, all he did was answer questions that were asked. He never said a word about Span. All that was added conjecture by the press.

      • Section 222 - Jul 7, 2014 at 9:57 AM

        I’m not going to harp on it, but the “he was just answering the question” excuse is lame. As the biggest name on the team, he’s going to be asked questions all the time. Hope he learned a lesson.

      • scbilly - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:34 PM

        I don’t know about you, but “the center fielder” wasn’t too hard for me to decode. The questions could just as easily, and far more wisely, have been answered with some variation of “I’ll play and hit where they put me” as RZim did. It doesn’t take much smarts or much simple decency to figure that out, even on the fly. I know he’s young, but I’m beginning to wonder if his learning curve is a little flat.

    • Hiram Hover - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:27 AM

      +2.

  9. adcwonk - Jul 7, 2014 at 9:04 AM

    Stats question:

    Nats are 8th in BA, 7th in OBP, 8th in SLG.

    Yes, Nats are 5th in runs per game.

    Would those stats seem to imply that the Nats hitting is more productive and/or clutch than other teams?

    • bowdenball - Jul 7, 2014 at 1:15 PM

      Not really. 7th/8th to 5th is a minor jump, could just be above average baserunning or bunting or whatever.

      The more important point, though, is that the negative nabobs who thought this team couldn’t “get clutch hits” or “do the little things to score runs” or whatever was wrong.

  10. adcwonk - Jul 7, 2014 at 9:05 AM

    (that was supposed to be: “Yet, Nats are . . . “)

  11. Doc - Jul 7, 2014 at 9:08 AM

    So Den is once again one of the game’s heroes.

    Wonder what paltry stats we have for Harper and Espi, since Manager BH suggested that he would replace Span and put Danny at 2B????

    Let’s get the O’s next!!!

  12. Section 222 - Jul 7, 2014 at 9:10 AM

    Once again, MW is a Donald Rumsfeld-like sphinx. One run lead, with Zim not going to bat again for at least two innings seems like the perfect spot for a defensive substitution. I guess the beat writers were too intimidated or too confused to ask the follow up question: “Ok, if there was no difference, why did you do a defensive substitution a few days ago, but not today?” For us mere mortals, here are some possible rationales for this decision:

    1. Even though Zim never said anything to him, MW could tell by comparing his warmup tosses or his facial expression in the dugout that Zim’s arm wasn’t feeling good the other night, but it was fine yesterday. I hope his luck doesn’t run out.
    2. In a one-run game like yesterday, the possibility of extras is greater than in a two (or was it three?) run game like the other night. So he wanted Zim’s bat available for the 11th inning.
    3. He’s playing an elaborate mind game with Zim building his confidence to play 3B regularly. If the game is tied up in the 9th because of an errant throw, so be it. It will play dividends down the line.
    4. He’s playing an elaborate mind game with Harper. “See, Zim can play 3B just fine, and you will like it and STFU.”
    5. Espi was pouting in the dugout about not having started in a more than a week, and MW wanted to teach him a lesson.
    6. He was so excited that we had taken the lead, that he just forgot.

    The one thing I’d really like never to hear again is Bob and FP raving about Zim’s “strong throws.” His throws are not strong, they are awkward. But they are getting the job done. That’s what counts. Quit trying to tell us there’s nothing wrong with his arm. That’s so 2013.

    Finally, can we just get rid of the idea that what position a guy plays makes any difference to how he hits?

    • chaz11963 - Jul 7, 2014 at 9:18 AM

      LOL… good one 222… I am just baffled by MW’s strategy yesterday in the 9th. If Zim had problems with those 2 groundballs, MW would have looked awful dumb.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 7, 2014 at 9:19 AM

      I could be wrong but I think the 9th inning defense question was asked and answered rather vaguely. Kilgore quoted it and I will find it.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 7, 2014 at 9:22 AM

        “@ikhurshudyan: Here’s what Matt Williams and Ryan Zimmerman said about why Zim stayed at third in top ninth with a one-run lead. http://t.co/1WtuC8wrj2

      • chaz11963 - Jul 7, 2014 at 9:33 AM

        I don’t think MW addressed why he left Zim in yesterday as opposed to the same situation in the Rockies’ game.

      • Section 222 - Jul 7, 2014 at 9:59 AM

        Yes, the vague answer was Rumsfeldian. It deserved a follow up.

    • natsjackinfl - Jul 7, 2014 at 9:21 AM

      As someone who has ruined his rotator cuff and had arthroscopic surgery to clean it out, the final remedy to alleviate the pain I experience is shoulder replacement.

      Watching Zim throw leads me to believe that is what his future holds for him somewhere down the road.

      For now, and by now I mean the remainder of 2014 season, it is what it is. Only Ryan knows how long he will be able to perform adequately with that shoulder.

      But since he is able to make the plays by hook or crook, I will continue to marvel at his overall play.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:09 AM

        +1 on the ‘2014 season is what it is’ comment (and agree on the rest, as well). The 2015 season — even if the Nats were to win this year’s World Series — will bring significant changes to the everyday line-up. But for the rest of this season, barring more injuries, the line-up of the past few games is the line-up the Nats are going to either win with or falter with. And that’s why they play the games.

    • dgourds - Jul 7, 2014 at 9:29 AM

      Good post. +1. I think MW is trying to build RZ ‘s confidence. I also wouldn’t doubt that it is a combination of all of your other possibilities! It’s a huge issue. If MW handles it right, he’ll get my vote for manager of the year.

    • Candide - Jul 7, 2014 at 9:44 AM

      7. MW was making a public display of respect for Zimmerman. The guy has been nothing but class despite his injuries, has been the guy you point to when you think how you want players to behave when they’re off the field. And he’s just driven in the go-ahead run in the 8th inning of a tight ballgame.

      At which point you yank him and put him on the bench? “Thanks for the hit, Ryan, now go sit down. After all, what have you done for us lately?”

      • Eric - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:15 AM

        Re: not pulling Zim in the bottom of the ninth, I think it’s quite possible MW just didn’t want to say, “the difference was our willingness to involve Espinosa at that point in the game.”

        Re: Span, I have always been a big fan, and, by and large, he’s only given me reasons to stick by him.

    • rmoore446 - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:03 AM

      I like the thought that went into your list. I’d say #2 makes the most sense.

      • Eric - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:20 AM

        Agreed. Either that or not wanting to tacitly or explicitly criticize Espi.

  13. #4 - Jul 7, 2014 at 9:32 AM

    A few unrelated thoughts:

    1. Does anyone know if sacrifice bunt percentages are compiled anywhere. It seems to me that that the Nats would rate in the bottom half of converting in those situations. I’d like proof of it though. Yesterday’s failure by JZ really hurt.

    2. Span is growing on me as a lead-off hitter, and I agree with others that he is the only choice. OBP is nice, but his ability to get himself to 2nd base with his gap power, hustle speed, and ability to steal bases makes up for his lower than average OBP for lead-off hitter.

    3. After watching Harper for about 1000 MLB ABs now, I really have to question whether he will ever be a #3 hitter superstar. There is no doubt that he will have hot streaks where he carries the team for a few weeks, but I wonder if he has a .320/30/110 in him. To do that, I think he has to change his swing. There are so many moving parts in which he launches himself at the pitcher to create power that he really struggles to balance himself consistently. It’s akin to a pitcher that max-effort overthrows ever pitch and can’t command his fastball. Perhaps someone should tell him that 380 ft. HRs count just as much as 450 ft. HRs.

    • NatsLady - Jul 7, 2014 at 9:48 AM

      Sorry, I think I misunderstood your question. Here are the rankings for bunts (SH) by pitchers in the NL. Right now, the Nats are leading with 28 successful pitcher bunts.

      I’m not sure where to find bunt-strikeouts tracked, but I’m sure it is.

      • adcwonk - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:23 AM

        28 successful pitcher bunts.

        Roard and Fister combine for 15 of them!

    • Joe Seamhead - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:01 AM

      I still give Bryce Harper a lot of Community Chest and Get Out ofJail Free cards to use up. A couple of years ago the Nats outfield was in shambles when Davey rightfully pushed Rizzo to bring Harper up earlier than it was ever expected.The kid was still learning the basics of how to play the outfield and learning the adjustments to hitting real pro pitching. He still has a lot to learn.The man-child has put on a great show, but he has managed to bust himself up with his constant baseball extreme style of play. He has missed a ton of time in his thus far very short career. I really still believe Bryce is something very special, and the Nats, and their fans, are blessed to have him.He is still growing as a man, and as a baseball player, and I feel very confident that the best is still yet to come.

      • chaz11963 - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:04 AM

        Totally agree.

      • Another_Sam - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:26 AM

        Again, Seam — you said it. In my zen view, the lineup is surely much better — and more exciting for this fan — with BH in the lineup at left field than with him on the pine. However, I don think that at least for night now hitting sixth or so is the right spot.

      • micksback1 - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:43 AM

        Joe

        I don’t know, i hope you are right. But, this is his 3rd full season, he had a rehab assignment as well. This is what separates Trout from harper and frankly is the difference between and ordinary player and a special player. I am not seeing it at all.

        Best example is look at Rendon, twice the young man faced slumps in his first 2 season sand twice he quickly bounced back by being a great student of the game and learning. Bryce does neither well

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:32 AM

        Mick

        Well, there are a number of things that separate Trout and Harper. One is that Trout has never been on the DL, period–let alone for 60 days–so we don’t know how long it would take him to ramp back up.

      • bowdenball - Jul 7, 2014 at 1:33 PM

        micksback1 said:

        ” I don’t know, i hope you are right. But, this is his 3rd full season, he had a rehab assignment as well. This is what separates Trout from harper and frankly is the difference between and ordinary player and a special player. I am not seeing it at all.

        Best example is look at Rendon, twice the young man faced slumps in his first 2 season sand twice he quickly bounced back by being a great student of the game and learning. Bryce does neither well.”

        Being in your third season of pro ball is not a lot, especially when you start a year before most people. The difference is that most guys make their mistakes in the anonymity of the minors.

        Comparing Harper and Trout is not fair. Comparing anyone with Trout is not fair. Trout is the best player in the game by far. If you deem anyone who falls short of that to be a failure you better get used to disappointment.

        The Rendon comparison is also unfair. Rendon is more than two years older than Harper. And what’s more, he didn’t “quickly bounce back” from his slump. Rendon hit .187/.237/.319 for the entire month of July last year and his numbers for the entire second half of the season were pretty bad: .234/.310/.340. That’s a MUCH longer slump than any that Harper has suffered through in his career.

        Is it possible that you’re letting unreasonable expectations and unfair media portrayals of Harper shade your opinion of him? Because if you’re asking him to be Trout and saying that he slumps worse than Rendon it kind of seems like it.

    • micksback1 - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:46 AM

      Imagine what Coach Buddy reaction would have been to JZim for not getting that bunt down, lol

  14. NatsLady - Jul 7, 2014 at 9:40 AM

    Yes, bunt percentages are discussed in great detail in this article. http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/were-the-yankee-sac-bunts-in-the-8th-inning-correct/

    Also here. http://www.highheatstats.com/2014/04/a-wild-weekend-of-bunts/

  15. unterp - Jul 7, 2014 at 9:47 AM

    I failed to read all the comments, but if any have already said what I’m about to say then forgive me. but I wouldn’t take out “Mr Walk Off” in the 9th inning in a one run game. what if they take him out and the other team ties it, then you’re left without the best “walk off” man in base ball in extra innings…

    • natsjackinfl - Jul 7, 2014 at 9:49 AM

      And there you go. Great response in a nutshell.

    • Joe Seamhead - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:03 AM

      Yup.

      • Section 222 - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:01 AM

        So would you ever make a late inning defensive substitution for Zim? When?

    • rmoore446 - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:05 AM

      I completely agree.

    • chaz11963 - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:06 AM

      There are certainly arguments both ways on Zim being replaced or staying in the game. I just wish MW would have articulated the basis for his decision to keep Zim in the game. The non-answer he gave makes me feel he just forgot- which of course I don’t think was the case.

      • therealjohnc - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:18 AM

        The non-answer may be the best answer for internal team dynamics. Also, the non-answer avoids providing other teams with insight into a manager’s approach, thus making the strategic chess match at the end of the game a little more winnable. So I don’t think a follow-up would have generated anything else.

        Fortunately, I also don’t think that Williams or Rizzo owe me an explanation. And I don’t assume that a decision was made for no reason or a dumb reason simply because I can’t think of what seems to me like a good reason.

  16. Candide - Jul 7, 2014 at 9:54 AM

    Span is growing on me as a lead-off hitter, and I agree with others that he is the only choice. OBP is nice, but his ability to get himself to 2nd base with his gap power…

    He has 28 doubles in 86 games. That projects to 52 for 162 games. Rickey Henderson, the greatest leadoff hitter ever, never had more than 33 in a season. Stan Musial led the NL in doubles eight times, but the most he ever had in a season was 53.

    Span has 28 doubles, 5 triples, and 11 net stolen bases. That mean’s he’s gotten into scoring position solely by his own efforts 44 times (assuming all the SBs were of 2nd).

    • Joe Seamhead - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:05 AM

      And with that kind of aggressive style he’s going to get nailed once in a while.Sometimes looking foolish while getting nailed. Then he gets nailed to the cross on this blog.

    • adcwonk - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:21 AM

      Span’s 3rd in the league with 28 doubles — ahead of guys who have names like McCutchen, Freeman, Utley, Puig, etc.

      And he’s 4th in triples (tied with Rendon, who leads the Nats, and 8th in NL, in XBHs)

      • adcwonk - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:24 AM

        Meant to add: Span is also 3rd in NL for hardest to strike out

  17. Eric - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:16 AM

    Re-posting a post I accidentally posted as a reply…

    Re: not pulling Zim in the bottom of the ninth, I think it’s quite possible MW just didn’t want to say, “the difference was our willingness to involve Espinosa at that point in the game.”

    Re: Span, I have always been a big fan, and, by and large, he’s only given me reasons to stick by him.

    • Steady Eddie - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:59 AM

      Re keeping Zim in in the 9th, elaborating a bit on a post I had in the instant game summary —

      Agree completely on the one-run game and the potential for extras (that’s the point I made in my post yesterday — that the difference between Zim’s bat and Danny’s in extras was worth far more than the difference between their gloves).

      There’s an additional twist that makes keeping Zim in on Sunday while pulling him on Tuesday all the more reasonable and defensible. We had already scored 4 runs against the Rockies on Tuesday, and if it went into extras we’d be facing a bullpen with a bunch of guys with 4+ EPAs. We’d have trouble most of the two series against the Cubs’ pen, and would be facing guys with ERAs in the 2-3 range.

      So the difference was not only Zim’s bat versus Danny’s, but the difference of how much the whole Nats’ lineup might need Zim’s bat against the Cubs’ bullpen versus against the Rockies’ bullpen would have been considerable.

      (And obviously, in hindsight, having Zim’s arm versus Rendon’s arm at 3d didn’t end up making a difference. Anyway, most of Zim’s bad throws in 2013 were on plays where he had too much time to think and throw, not where he was charging the ball and would have to throw sidearm in a relative hurry.)

      • Section 222 - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:08 AM

        So you would never substitute for Zim when we’re ahead by a run in a close game in the late innings, even just the 9th, unless the other team has a lousy bullpen?

        I’m not sure I agree that the difference between Zim’s bat and Danny’s in extras is worth more than the difference between their gloves in the 9th. Really, it’s the difference between their arms we’re talking about, and that’s a very significant difference indeed.

        To me, one inning only, with Zim having been the last to bat in the in the 8th, was a no brainer. But you are correct to point out that there are lots of factors.

  18. micksback1 - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:35 AM

    The only positive about Harper’s poor performance is that we will not have to worry about MW ever moving Rendon out of the 2 spot for the rest of the season, barring an injury. The next 4 days is what al baseball fans live for, it is very cool that 2 teams right next door to each other are playing and bot are contenders. I hope those Dundalk idiots do not do that stupid and disrespectful “Oooo” during the national anthem in our park.

    All 4 games at bot parks sold out, this is a big series for harper period. If he does not get it going, we have a head case on our hands I am afraid another DC sports flop. sorry, but that is how I feel. if am wrong, i would loe to read why?

    • Eric - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:52 AM

      “this is a big series for harper period. If he does not get it going, we have a head case on our hands I am afraid another DC sports flop.”

      Yeah, the next 10 years of his baseball career rest on this very series!

      • micksback1 - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:59 AM

        very educational response, i would have expected nothing else.

        However, maybe you could explain why Trout and Rendon have far exceeded Bryce????

        Sure 10 years, as an ordinary player, not a super star like many of the pollyanish fans in here feel.

      • therealjohnc - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:01 PM

        OK, the thing he was making fun of was your contention that a slump after missing time with an injury = “head case, man, career over!” That’s pretty silly. For a longer, more reasoned response

        Trout has not only exceeded Bryce so far in his career, he has pretty much exceeded every player in the history of MLB at this stage of a career. So to be clear, your contention is that Harper cannot possibly be a superstar if he doesn’t match Trout’s performance level? There are a lot of superstars/HoF players on the list of players who have not matched Trout’s performance level so far in his brief career. If you look at Baseball-Reference’s “career comp” list, Harper’s career stats at his age puts him in the company of several bona fide superstars/HoF players (Mickey Mantle; Ken Griffey, Jr.; Al Kaline; and, yes, Mike Trout) and a couple of “ten years/good (not “ordinary”) players (Cesar Cedeno, Vada Pinson) and one of the greatest “might have been” cases in baseball history (Tony Conigliaro). Right now it’s impossible to say which track Harper’s career path will take in any meaningful way … and that will be true this time next week, and even by the end of the season.

        I don’t know why, but you seem to routinely make flat pronouncements based on insufficient data. You may wish to reconsider that pattern.

        As for Rendon “far exceeding Bryce” that’s not really supported by evidence. Yes, Rendon is having a better season than Harper this year – in which Harper has essentially played one month (28 games). But for perspective, Rendon in his breakout season so far has an OPS+ of 122. Harper’s career OPS+? 123. So Rendon’s breakout year is almost up to Harper’s career offensive output. Rendon’s career OPS+ is 112, by the way.

        And what makes Harper’s numbers still so impressive is that despite being drafted years earlier, Harper is more than two years younger than Rendon. Which makes the fact that his numbers still exceed Rendon’s (see above) a pretty powerful refutation of your contention that Rendon has “far exceeded” Harper.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:18 PM

        +1 to realjohn.

    • adcwonk - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:45 AM

      Oh, please:

      this is a big series for harper period. If he does not get it going,

      See my post above. It took 26 games for RZim to get going after his injury. Harper was out for longer, and he’s only played six games since coming back.

      However, maybe you could explain why Trout and Rendon have far exceeded Bryce?

      Well, for starters, age, experience, age, experience, age and experience.

      Rendon is 2-1/2 years old, and has three years of the highest level of college before he was drafted. Trout is also more than 1 year older than Harper and has played in 125 more games than Harper.

      Did you know that Harper is younger than anyone on the Harrisburg-AA team?

      • micksback1 - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:00 PM

        OK

        those are good answers. i did not know trout played in 125 more games. My point is simply that someone who is as highly promoted as Bryce in almost 3 seasons, DL or not would have a better approach to the plate. Wonk, it is not the 1 for 13 it is the quality of the at bats. If Bryce was hitting it hard and the ball is just not dropping, that is one thing, but he is not even close on his swings or his reads. again this is is 3rd season. I would be out of line if this was his rookie or early in his second year , but it is not.
        Bryce also has experienced playoff baseball too and has had some pretty damn good hitters ahead of him and behind him in the lineup, is that tre for Trout?

      • micksback1 - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:03 PM

        also, I am at least stating some facts for my opinion rather than just ranting that Bryce is this or that. I may be wrong in the long run, but you could also be wrong as well, we will see. I hope Bryce is the player of the week and I will gladly bow to all of you

      • micksback1 - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:14 PM

        real jon

        I just saw your post and I have to respond to a few things, beginning with this

        As for Rendon “far exceeding Bryce” that’s not really supported by evidence. Yes, Rendon is having a better season than Harper this year – in which Harper has essentially played one month (28 games). But for perspective, Rendon in his breakout season so far has an OPS+ of 122. Harper’s career OPS+? 123. So Rendon’s breakout year is almost up to Harper’s career offensive output. Rendon’s career OPS+ is 112, by the way.

        When Rendon was called up in early 2013, it was not in the plan, remember? he was called up due to Bryce, and Zim’s injury, he was not on the active roster in April 2013. In other words, he was thrown into the fire. Add to the fact that he did not have the lineup support Bryce had his rookie year due to Zim, Bryce and ramos out! Add Espi’s hitting woes too and what rendon did was far more impressive. Pus, Rendon went through a brief slump and then bounced back after MLB pitchers had seen him one time around. There is no comparison at all because rendon had far less to work with in terms of a supporting cast around him than Bryce did when he was a rookie That s my data, you can accept or reject it but i bet many others would accept it and at least consider it

        again, look at Bryce’s at bats, not the results, but how poor he is reading pitches and swinging.

      • masterfishkeeper - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:16 PM

        Best 2 1/2 year old in MLB history! I thought he looked young, but that’s Rendickulous!

      • adcwonk - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:57 PM

        mick,

        RZ didn’t have quality at bats either. Do you really have that short a memory? Just last week (June 28) RZ, in that double-header went 0-for-7 with 4 K’s and looked awful.

        Did you know that Harper is still the youngest person in the league? It’s awfully early to write off the career of a guy who is still only 21, still the youngest — and is also still younger than anyone on the AA Harrisburg team.

  19. David Proctor - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    The problem with Span not walking is that his OBP is entirely dependent on his hitting. Yes, I would sacrifice walks for doubles. Who wouldn’t? When Span is swinging it well, that’s fine. But when Span goes into one of his patented 0-19 slumps, his inability to draw a walk means he’s never getting on base. Ideally, he’d still be able to get on base when slumping.

    • NatsLady - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:13 AM

      True. But I would say that about Werth, also. Unfortunately, when he was slumping, he wasn’t walking either.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:44 AM

        That’s not quite right. When Werth was slumping in June (.212 BA, .293 SLG), he still was drawing walks at close to his career levels (10.8% BB in June, vs 11.9% career).

        Span walks far less, period–and even less this year (6.7% BB rate in 2014, vs 8.7% career).

      • Eric - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:46 AM

        Isn’t his K% way down, too, though?

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:56 AM

        Eric

        Yes, K rate is down too (9.8% this year, 11.7% career). But his BABIP is also down from his career norms (.296 vs. .316).

        So even tho he’s putting more balls in play, he’s not actually reaching base more.

      • Eric - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:35 PM

        I wonder how much of the reduced K rate comprises a lack of caught looking (for any of the 3 strikes, but especially the third). Reason I’m asking is maybe his walks and Ks are both down because he’s taking fewer borderline pitches. If so, learning to foul off borderline pitches instead of weakly hitting into an out would be fantastic; however, I think it’s a good approach overall. A ball in play has a chance of moving a base runner 1 or more bases regardless of the base they occupy, whereas a walk can only ever move a base runner exactly one base, and only if first is occupied. With a man on second, is it better if he walks or grounds out to 2B, but advances the runner to third (I honestly don’t know)?

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 7, 2014 at 1:11 PM

        Eric

        Fangraphs has swing rates if you want to compare them. Bbref has #s for things like pitches per PA, productive outs and GIDP.

        You can certainly drill down in those #s, but at the end of the day, I think the conclusion remains the same: Span is a decent, not exceptional, lead off hitter at this point in his career. A few more walks would make him a bit better.

  20. micksback1 - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:47 AM

    Span has to be leadoff period

  21. David Proctor - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:51 AM

    Giolito is ranked as the #7 prospect in baseball. AJ Cole #32.

    • therealjohnc - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:03 PM

      By whom?

      • David Proctor - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:15 PM

        Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America both came out with their rankings today. Both had them in similar spots.

      • therealjohnc - Jul 7, 2014 at 5:01 PM

        Danke!

  22. Section 222 - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:58 AM

    NJ, I was a charter member of your “Zim should play 3rd when Harper returns club.” It was the right decision then, and so far it looks like it’s turning out really well. But I’m also a charter member of the LoZR (Legion of Zim Realism) club, having been concerned about his throwing since 2010. His arm is not “better,” we all know that. Yet it sounds like you (and unterp) think that Zim should never be pulled for a defensive replacement because his bat might be needed in extras. If that’s not the case, please enlighten us –under what circumstances would you switch to our best infield defense (as even Zim will tell you).

    The more I think about it, the more I think Candide is on to something with his #7. Not really a sign of “respect” for Zim after his go ahead RBI, but more a gut feeling that “this guy just won the game for us, he’s in the zone, he’s not going to screw up in the field in the 9th.” And that’s fine. It’s ok for a manager to follow his gut. Just don’t pretend there was more to it — like suggesting it had to do with how Zim’s arm was feeling when you didn’t even talk to him about that. And saying that “there’s no difference” between the earlier night when he did substitute and yesterday when he did, was just dumb. Exactly. There’s no difference, so why di you manage it differently? That’s the question.

    • Eric - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:07 AM

      How do you know he didn’t talk to Zim about his arm? Because Ryan “I lie to you guys all the time” Zimmerman said so? ;)

      Regarding MW’s reticence, maybe he just didn’t want to tip his hand regarding how he’ll handle things going forward? Maybe he didn’t want to slight Espi publicly? Maybe he’s feeling disinclined to share details with a scandal-obsessed press that just dogged the team for 5 days? Who knows.

      We won. I’m happy.

      • Section 222 - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:15 AM

        I’m happy too. Just not as willing to let nonsensical answers slide as you are. As to Zim’s truthfulness, of course, if MW did actually talk to him, could he believe the answer he got? :-) And what difference would Zim’s self-assessment make really? Whether Zim thinks he can get the job done is kind of irrelevant. MW has to decide what would give us the best chance to win the game.

        Re: tipping his hand, he’s already shown he can change his mind on a dime (how many days off have Werth, and Desi had since Harper got back?), so I doubt that’s the reason. What are teams going to do with that knowledge anyway? Everyone knew that Carpenter would move to 3rd and Freese would be taken out in late innings last year, and the Cards did just fine. Late inning defensive replacements do not qualify as top secret strategy decisions.

      • Eric - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:00 PM

        I think the disconnect here is that I don’t feel MW’s job is to expose his inner workings to the press, it’s to win ball games. Would I *like* to know how he goes about optimizing (in his opinion) our chances each day? Absolutely, but simply due to personal interest. I don’t think it’s incumbent on him to do that for anyone but his bosses, unless, of course, his bosses tell him he has to reveal his thinking to the press.

        Whether or not coaches exploit the known tactical tendencies–including defensive replacements–of their opponents is another matter entirely. Personally, I would be pretty surprised if those tendencies weren’t scrutinized exhaustively.

      • Eric - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:04 PM

        For instance, if you *know* that Zim will come out of the game if he hits a go-ahead single, does that change how you pitch to him?

      • Section 222 - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:18 PM

        if you *know* that Zim will come out of the game if he hits a go-ahead single, does that change how you pitch to him?

        No, Ican’t imagine it would. And MW can always change his mind. He’s done it innumerable times already.

        Of course, MW doesn’t have to answer any question he doesn’t want to answer. But under your view, why have press conferences at all? To ask questions, like — “How big was it to get this win today and win the series?” I mean, come on. Questions about late inning defensive strategy are exactly what the press should ask, and if he wants to answer, great. If not, then say something like: “I’m still feeling my way on this. Zim’s been playing great in the field, and I have to consider what it might mean to lose his bat if the game goes to extras. On the other hand, Danny’s a gold glover who might save a game for us. It’s a tough call, and we’ll see how things develop.”

        My advice is worth every penny he paid for it of course.

      • Eric - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:24 PM

        “But under your view, why have press conferences at all?”

        A very good question. They’re pretty worthless, but I subject my wife to them anyway ;). At least sometimes we can laugh together about some of the ridiculous questions ;).

        I agree it’s annoying when a good question *is* asked, and MW dithers and dodges, but I don’t hold it against him. Also, BS has the same stink no matter how carefully you mold it. I suppose it can’t hurt to doll it up nicely when you can, but that’s tough to do 162 times a year.

  23. NatsLady - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:08 AM

    Nats Stats for Week 14. (None for Weeks 12 and 13 as I was on vacation…)

  24. David Proctor - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:16 AM

    From Boswell’s column:

    Soriano seems to show no emotion no matter what happens, a trait that can make fans feel comparably chilly toward him. Doesn’t he even care? But that’s largely a mask in a nerve-shredding job.

    Last month, he gave up a game-tying homer with two outs in the ninth. “It was a terrible pitch. I still feel bad about it,” he said last week, his face screwing up in disgust. “We ended up losing the game [in extra innings]. And it was my mother’s birthday, too.”

    Why did the birthday matter?

    Soriano breaks out the smile he seldom shows and shrugs. “I was going to give the ball to her.”

    ___________

    It’s almost like he’s human.

    • NatsLady - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:20 AM

      Nice story. Thanks for posting it. I’ve always liked Soriano, way back from when Rizzo brought him on. It’s interesting to see how the bullpen dynamic has changed, and Clip–at least–is the better for it. Hopefully, so are the others.

    • micksback1 - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:05 PM

      good story, its hard to argue his stats. I just wish he would not do that untucked crap after a win, i never liked that kind of stuff as a player or coach and as a fan

      • Section 222 - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:19 PM

        get over it mick. it’s his thing, and it’s a lot less annoying than some of the shenanigans that other closers pull.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:16 PM

      “Soriano seems to show no emotion no matter what happens, a trait that can make fans feel comparably chilly toward him. Doesn’t he even care? But that’s largely a mask in a nerve-shredding job.”
      +++++++++++++++++++++++++++
      Thanks for posting that excerpt, particularly the bit above. Too many posters seem to believe that if a player — whether Rafael Soriano or Bryce Harper or Steven Strasburg — fails show exactly the emotional reaction that the poster would then the player is either indifferent or a ‘head case’ or otherwise lacking in mental fortitude or team spirit. And it’s especially obvious when Mr. Soriano gets criticized for not being emotional enough in the same week (something even the same thread) that Mr. Strasburg gets lambasted for being reacting too emotionally to an almost identical situation. Go figure.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:22 PM

        That was supposed to read ‘ironic’ not ‘obvious’ in the final sentence. Also the ‘being’ shouldn’t be there.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 7, 2014 at 1:06 PM

        +1.

  25. raleighnat - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:45 AM

    I don’t think I’ve ever pulled for a classier ball player than Zimmerman. What a gentleman. Not down on Harper, but he could really learn something if he would observe the real face of the franchise.

  26. micksback1 - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:22 PM

    sec222

    tell me what Clip, Storen, Stammen, Barrett, etc.. do?

    I love emotional players, but in my view, pulling your jersey out to me is border line disrespecting your opponent. I did not like it when he was with the Yankees and I do not like it now.

    • Eric - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:27 PM

      What’s your position on green eggs and ham?

      • micksback1 - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:30 PM

        what’s yours? do you wave your pom poms for the eggs or the ham first?

      • Eric - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:41 PM

        I generally think eggs are disgusting, although very rarely I get a hankering for over medium with rye toast. I also love breakfast sandwiches. I’m not picky about color.

        As for ham, if we’re talking sliced, I like it, but prefer turkey. If we’re talking roast, I like it more than is good for me.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 7, 2014 at 1:13 PM

        Just to clarify – what’s the egg, and what’s the ham, here?

        I know people cheer when Soriano gets a save because it means the Nats win.

        But does anyone actually cheer for the untucking itself? That is news to me.

    • Section 222 - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:28 PM

      To each his own. None of our other relievers are closers. Soriano didn’t do it when he pitched the 8th for the Yankees. He only does it when the game is over. Last out, shirts out!

      You know he’s not disrespecting his opponent, and they know it too. It’s just part of his ritual. He’s entitled to that in my opinion.

      • natsjackinfl - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:33 PM

        +1.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:43 PM

        +1

      • Eugene in Oregon - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:44 PM

        And, if I recall correctly, it’s an homage to his dad (or something to that effect).

      • Eric - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:50 PM

        Yeah, that sounds right. I had the impression it’s based on something laborers in the DR (which I believe his dad is/was?) do when they finish work for the day?

        In any case, nothing about him doing it bothers me, but I always thought it was cheesy when others on the team started to join him.

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:54 PM

        It’s branding, and closers need that. Well, not need, but it’s part of the Cult of the Closer. Gossage had the chops and the glare; Eckersley had the “shoot down”; Chief had the cap over the eyes; Mariano had the clean, chiseled gunfighter look, which suited him perfectly, IMO; and on. They have run-in music. Macho posturing is the whole point.

        Anyhow, it’s pretty simple, it’s iconic, and it’s not directed at the other team (which is why it’s no more disrespectful than shaking hands with your teammates after a win). I like it. De gustibus, non est disputandam.

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Jul 7, 2014 at 1:00 PM

        But Rick Vaughn’s vest was probably my favorite.

    • NatsLady - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:45 PM

      You’re kidding. Clip, I love him to death, has more mannerisms than any THREE other pitchers. He paces around the mound, blows on his hands, and clenches his fists when he gets a strikeout.

  27. Section 222 - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:29 PM

    Anyone have a link or a reliable explanation on how the reserves and the pitchers for ASG are chosen. The players have a role, but so does the manager. How does it break down?

  28. micksback1 - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:43 PM

    touche Eric

    lol

    • Eric - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:48 PM

      Heh. Something about the cadence of your last line brought green eggs and ham to mind.

      I do agree with 222 that it’s not disrespectful, just another baseball player’s quirky ritual.

      To answer your follow up question, I wave my pom poms for the 1.03 ERA first.

  29. NatsLady - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:44 PM

    Injury Daze and Orioles Series Preveiw. GO NATS!!

  30. NatsLady - Jul 7, 2014 at 2:55 PM

    David Price was interviewed and he talked about his philosophy for going deep into games. One thing he said was he doesn’t like to get into long battles with hitters, especially with the bases empty and two out. His saying is three pitches, on or out, meaning he’ll just walk the guy or let him hit rather than a lot of foul-offs. This probably doesn’t work for late-inning relievers, who can’t afford to give up even one run, but I was wondering about it for starting pitchers. Any thoughts?

  31. Joe Seamhead - Jul 7, 2014 at 6:00 PM

    Green eggs and ham only come with Spam. [Monty Python]

    In sec 311 when Span gets a hit, and scores, a bunch of the misfits up there start singing SPAN, SPAN,SPAN SPAN! Oh! Glorious SPAN!

    Me, I hate spam, but I sure do like me some Span!

  32. TimDz - Jul 7, 2014 at 7:10 PM

    Not a huge fan of Bob and FP, but those multiple broadcasting teams the last few years were painfully uncomfortable….

  33. Danny - Jul 7, 2014 at 8:01 PM

    Done in by the long ball again..

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 58 47 --
ATLANTA 58 49 1.0
MIAMI 53 54 6.0
NEW YORK 52 56 7.5
PHILADELPHIA 47 61 12.5
Through Wednesday's early games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
THU: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Orioles at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 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.

Follow us on Twitter