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State of the Nats: Movement in the NL East

Aug 4, 2014, 12:03 PM EDT

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

Top storylines:

Orioles makeup game - On Monday the Nationals will make up their game with the Orioles that was rained out on July 8. Both teams happen to be 3 1/2 games up in first place in their respective divisions. With the Braves being off, the Nats could have a four-game lead in the NL East by the end of the day.

Back in July the Orioles got the best of the Nats by taking two of three games split between each team’s ballparks. The O’s blew Washington out in the first one by a score of 8-2 before the Nats bounced back in Baltimore with a 6-2 win. The Orioles then took the finale 4-3.

The pitching matchup on Monday night is a good one, as Tanner Roark (11-6, 2.74) will go up against Kevin Gausman (5-3, 3.70), a former fourth overall pick. Gausman pitched at Nats Park last season in the second start of his career. He took the loss after giving up seven earned runs – including three homers – in four innings of work.

A timeline for Zim? – Since Ryan Zimmerman went down with a right hamstring strain, very little has been said about it by the Nationals. We’ve heard a report from MLB.com that it is a Grade 3 strain, and we’ve seen the Nats make a semi-significant trade to help out their infield. Still, no official details.

The team, and Zimmerman himself, appear to be holding out hope his injury is not very serious, and are waiting to discuss it until they can say for sure. At the time they said it would take two weeks of rest before a timeline could be established. Tuesday will mark exactly two weeks since he sustained the injury on July 22.

Even with wins in their last two games without Zim, the Nats are 5-6 since he hurt the muscle. How much success they can have without him is unclear at this point and the pennant race is getting close to heating up.

This week we could find out exactly how long Zimmerman will be out, whether he will be back soon or lost for much longer.

Braves slipping, host Nats this weekend - The Atlanta Braves have all of a sudden become a bit of a disaster, having lost six straight games. They were just swept by the Padres at San Diego, and after an off-day Monday will go to 57-54 Seattle for two games. They then return to Atlanta to host the Nats in the first matchup between the teams since June 22.

The Braves are freefalling and are now 41-47 since beginning the year 17-7. If the playoffs were to start today, they would be two games short of a wild card spot.

What has hurt them the most lately is their inability to score runs. Throughout their six-game losing streak they have averaged just 2.1 runs per game.

The Braves are 6-11 since the All-Star break and in that span have seen several players fall into major slumps. Freddie Freeman is batting .209 with 17 strikeouts and a .293 OBP in the second half. Andrelton Simmons is hitting .148 and has just 11 total bases in 16 games since the break.

NL East Standings

source:

Offensive game of the week: Anthony Rendon 8/2 vs. Phillies – 3-for-5, HR, 4 RBI, 2 R, 2B, SB

Pitching game of the week: Stephen Strasburg 8/3 vs. Phillies – 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, BB, 10 SO, 99 pitches, 68 strikes.

Quote of the week:

Rendon on getting close to a cycle on Saturday:

I heard a few people in the stands going: ‘Get the triple! Get the triple! I didn’t want to. That meant I’d have to run more. I’d stop at second base.

Tweet (or Instagram) of the week:

Gio Gonzalez loves dressing up his dog Stitch. Here is a ‘tribute’ to Derek Jeter:

Road ahead

MON – 7:05 p.m. vs. Baltimore Orioles (Roark)
TUE – 7:05 p.m. vs. New York Mets (Gonzalez)
WED – 7:05 p.m. vs. New York Mets (Fister)
THU – 12:35 p.m. vs. New York Mets (Zimmermann)
FRI – 7:35 p.m. at Atlanta Braves (Strasburg)
SAT – 7:10 p.m. at Atlanta Braves (Roark)
SUN – 8:05 p.m. at Atlanta Braves (Gonzalez)

  1. Eric - Aug 4, 2014 at 12:17 PM

    Jonah Keri focuses on the Nats in this week’s “The 30.”

    Interesting comments about the Cabrera pick up, our subsequent dearth of weak spots, our base running abilities, and more. It’s a very encouraging piece in a lot of ways.

    • laddieblahblah - Aug 4, 2014 at 1:04 PM

      They did take note of the Nats poor performance with RISP. Matt, I think, will do something about that. With the rotation they have, the defense they now play (with Cabrera at 2nd), and the aggressive running game, all they need to do is score a few more runs when that have RISP.

      Here’s a well-considered take on the Souza promotion, which I linked to at the end of the last thread:

      http://www.federalbaseball.com/2014/8/4/5963925/the-case-for-nationals-outfielder-steven-souza-jr

      • Eric - Aug 4, 2014 at 1:10 PM

        I saw that in the last thread and am almost done reading it. Good stuff, thanks for sharing!

        I’m a huge fan of Span > Rendon, but your points about Asdrubal to the 2 hole and Rendon to the 5 hole make a lot of sense…

        As for RISP, I tend to think of that as an execution problem, not so much a coaching problem; what do you think Matt can/will do in that regard?

        I do think it’s interesting that Keri cited our low RISP performance as an indicator of stability (i.e., we’re average or below average with RISP, but still manage to have rather high run differential and we’re in first place). I found it to be a very interesting overview all around.

      • David Proctor - Aug 4, 2014 at 1:11 PM

        I believe the point is that RISP numbers are fluky. See the Cardinals for an example, it’s not sustainable. So if your success is based on extremely high RISP numbers, you may be a regression candidate. That’s not the case with us

      • Eugene in Oregon - Aug 4, 2014 at 1:20 PM

        DP – Exactly.

      • letswin3 - Aug 4, 2014 at 2:49 PM

        Laddie, nice article. I don’t know who that author is, but he’s a good writer, and I learned from him. I also liked his suggestion that Souza get around 3 starts per week to determine just how much of an impact he might be able to make for the remainder of the season, if he stays up here.

    • sjm308 - Aug 4, 2014 at 1:07 PM

      Thanks Eric – great thing to read before hitting the gym. I am not as enthusiastic yet but it sure is nice to see others who like our chances

      Go Nats!

      • Eric - Aug 4, 2014 at 1:14 PM

        Don’t get me wrong: I’m nervous as hell!

  2. sjm308 - Aug 4, 2014 at 12:57 PM

    Question – when is the last time one of our 5 starters did not start a game?
    It’s just so comforting to look at this rotation. They might not always be on top of their game, and Gio right now is a tad troublesome, but what a starting group!

    Without looking back, my guess is that Treinen was the last pitcher to start a game besides these 5. I am sure someone will have an answer quickly. Another thing to love about this site.

    Go Nats!!

    • dc27dan - Aug 4, 2014 at 1:02 PM

      It was Treinen who started Game 2 of the Doubleheader in Chicago on June 28th, when he picked up the W.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Aug 4, 2014 at 1:22 PM

      sjm308 – (a) It was great to you a couple of weeks ago; just now returning to Oregon after two weeks of traveling up and down the east coast; (b) knock on wood, please.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Aug 4, 2014 at 1:33 PM

        “to meet” is the verb I meant to use.

      • sjm308 - Aug 4, 2014 at 3:21 PM

        Mr. Oregon – and you as well, not sure you will come back here so I will say hello (long distance) in a more current post – I did talk about how great it is to have people like you journey all the way across the country and then take the time to come upstairs to say hello to a fellow fan.

        Hope the rest of your trip was as good as the game you saw here

        Go Nats!!

  3. water47 - Aug 4, 2014 at 1:05 PM

    Just heard Mark Z on 980. Thanks for some nice insight. But, I must say. Kevin seems to have little to no interest in the Nats. He could not have wanted to move off the topic and get to Skins news. Disappointing that a talk show host in DC is so non-Nationals.

    • tcostant - Aug 4, 2014 at 1:23 PM

      I still like that they do these spots, years ago they could go a week w/o even saying the word “Nationals”. At least for those few minutes they need to talk some baseball. I don’t know if you listen to Loverro’s Dugout show run on weekends on sister station 570am. Worth a listen, you can hear past ones here:

      http://www.sportstalk570.com/page.php?page_id=91

    • janebeard - Aug 4, 2014 at 1:51 PM

      I agree on Kevin. But I love hearing our own personal Nats reporter sharing news and insights.

    • unterp - Aug 4, 2014 at 1:59 PM

      couldn’t agree more. I listen because it’s the only station I can get at work, more or less, and I really don’t care about the ‘skins much, but am not a hater, but it’s 97 percent Redskins all the time on this station…

      • water47 - Aug 4, 2014 at 2:10 PM

        tunein audio app has 106.7 and it is free

  4. bowdenball - Aug 4, 2014 at 1:18 PM

    “Even with wins in their last two games without Zim, the Nats are 5-6 since he hurt the muscle.”

    Do we really need to do this again? This isn’t as bad as the media comments about the Nats’ record without Zimmerman that ignored the overlapping DL stints of Ramos, Span, Harper, LaRoche and Gonzalez. But still- it’s 5-6 over 11 games. A small sample six that includes two one-run losses and one blown six run lead. I get their run differential over those 11 games is right in line with their season averages.

    The real problem with losing Zimmerman is that it leaves us thin and things could go south if there are more injuries. But if everyone else stays healthy his absence shouldn’t be much of an issue.

    • Eric - Aug 4, 2014 at 1:26 PM

      The inverse of the “exposed to another injury” point is “we’re one breakout away from rolling again.” Like, say Harper adds his power stroke to his apparently re-discovered ability to hit and walk consistently? Or, LaRoche rebounds to even 3/4 of his first-third production? Etc.

      Also, I think Cabrera and possibly Souza could prove to be meaningful steps that mitigate our exposure the additional injury.

      • letswin3 - Aug 4, 2014 at 2:55 PM

        Good thinkin, Eric. The glass is indeed half full …… maybe even a little more.

  5. Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 4, 2014 at 1:37 PM

    “They were just swept by the Padres at San Diego, and after an off-day Monday will go to 57-54 Seattle for two games.”

    Chase, they are 58-54

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 4, 2014 at 1:43 PM

      My mistake, I see you were saying Seattle is 57-54. After that 2 game series the Mariners could have a better record than the Barves.

      • Eric - Aug 4, 2014 at 1:46 PM

        BB Gods B Willing!

      • janebeard - Aug 4, 2014 at 1:52 PM

        From your fingers to God’s ear. Or Braves bats.

  6. Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 4, 2014 at 1:49 PM

    “Movers and Shakers

    The Dodgers (!) are the only top-six team that stood pat at the deadline.

    6. Baltimore Orioles (62-48, +29, LW: 7)
    5. Washington Nationals (60-49, +80, LW: 4)
    4. Detroit Tigers (61-47, +50, LW: 5)
    3. Los Angeles Dodgers (63-49, +53, LW: 3)
    2. Los Angeles Angels (66-44, +87, LW: 2)
    1. Oakland A’s (67-43, +164, LW: 1)”

    Jonah Keri with his Movers and Shakers has the Nats 5th. I like how the national media seems to value the Nats power rankings higher than our Zuckerman/Roney/Hughes guys.

    I have the Tigers ahead of the Angels and the 2 strongest teams from each League I have Oakland/Detroit and LAD/WashingtonN

    Health down the stretch will determine the final seedings and any Trade Waiver deals done before Aug 31. In the health department, it’s amazing how the Nats are still counting on Ryan Zimmerman to return in September. I am hoping like everyone that it could be for real.

    • Eric - Aug 4, 2014 at 1:57 PM

      “it’s amazing how the Nats are still counting on Ryan Zimmerman to return in September. I am hoping like everyone that it could be for real.”

      +1. I like especially that Zim himself stated he’s hopeful about an early September return, and says 2 weeks prior to the end of the season is the “worst case” scenario. That would hopefully mean he’d be hitting his stride just in time for any post season games we might be playing.

      That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s out of commission into October.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 4, 2014 at 2:04 PM

        I’m probably over thinking this but

        Do you think they know something good and just fed Ladson a bunch of bull?

        The timing was impeccable and was done right before the trade deadline.

      • Smyrcok - Aug 4, 2014 at 2:15 PM

        Eric, are any of those recent comments or are they from right after the injury?

    • bowdenball - Aug 4, 2014 at 2:05 PM

      Where do you see the Nats counting on Ryan Zimmerman returning in September? Hoping, sure, but I haven’t seen anything more than simply hope.

      You’re right about the disparity between the national media and the locals on the Nats. The Nats are pretty obviously among the 6 best teams in the league. You can put them in any order you like (so long as the A’s are first) but there’s a big gulf between those 6 and the next tier when you look at all the factors- record, run differential, trends, health, etc.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 4, 2014 at 2:10 PM

        Bowdenball, Ryan did an off-camera interview stating he could be back the 1st week of September if he heals well but expects to be back 2 weeks before the season ends if it takes longer.

        I know, we’ve heard it all before.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 4, 2014 at 2:15 PM

        Also this in Chase’s writeup from above:

        “The team, and Zimmerman himself, appear to be holding out hope his injury is not very serious”

      • bowdenball - Aug 4, 2014 at 2:47 PM

        Thanks, GoSM. Good to have a little hope, I guess. Still seems unlikely, but better than nothing.

        It would be nice to have Ryan at least healthy enough to be a bench player for the playoffs if we get that far. You’d hate to see him miss out on a rare postseason opportunity after he endured all those 90 loss seasons.

      • Eric - Aug 4, 2014 at 4:16 PM

        +1000 on hoping Zim can at least PH if we make the play offs.

  7. Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 4, 2014 at 1:52 PM

    Nats confirm shoulder inflammation in McLouth’s shoulder from a MRI performed. I think if you did a MRI on Rizzo’s shoulder you could find inflammation after a brisk workout.

    The good news is they can rest him then get him on a rehab and hopefully by playing every day he can right his ship. I just wish they did it in May instead of waiting for now.

  8. NatsLady - Aug 4, 2014 at 1:53 PM

    Nats Stats for Week 18 are up. Baseball Ref was very late updating their site….

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 4, 2014 at 1:58 PM

      ESPN is almost real time. I love the in-game movement of the pitcher’s stats.

      • NatsLady - Aug 4, 2014 at 2:12 PM

        Yes, ESPN has good stuff. I had to use it for the attendence, and their standings has the best layout. I hunt around for which site has what I need and which site formats it best. Since B-R wasn’t up to date I didn’t have ERA+ for the pitchers, but it didn’t change the rankings, so it was OK.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 4, 2014 at 2:13 PM

        I like your writeup. Why is Dobbs still on there?

      • NatsLady - Aug 4, 2014 at 2:14 PM

        Won’t have time to do a “series” preview for the O’s… I’ll get the Mets out tomorrow. They are playing the Giants today, so they don’t have an off-day–just like our boys.

      • NatsLady - Aug 4, 2014 at 2:16 PM

        I’ll check. I wondered about that last week, but apparently he lingered on the 40-man. I think he’s off it now, at any rated, he’s in Syracuse according to this chart. http://www.mlbdepthcharts.com/washington-nationals-2013-14-offseason/

      • NatsLady - Aug 4, 2014 at 2:18 PM

        I don’t see him on the MLB site, if that’s “official”. I’ll fix it. Thanks.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 4, 2014 at 2:19 PM

        Yes, Dobbs is off the 40-man and back at Syracuse. It is going to be very difficult to justify adding him back to the 40-man.

    • NatsLady - Aug 4, 2014 at 2:38 PM

      Got it. Formatting is screwy & I don’t have time to fix it, but at least it’s accurate. ;)

      GO NATS!!!! Beat them Birds.

  9. Theophilus T.S. - Aug 4, 2014 at 2:07 PM

    Mixed feelings about McLouth/Souza. I’m happy about Souza in the way that I can see a few innings — not games, so much — off for Werth without sacrificing much if any offense. I worry about those games that turn from sure things into late- or extra-inning affairs and there’s a linguine in the batter’s hands. But then, if Williams indulges himself w/ Souza’s bat, there’s no defense on the bench. So I pretty much think Werth’s going to have to go nine innings most days. You can’t ever have too much depth — good depth. Except as a Hamels specialist — and how many more times are the Nats going to face him this season? — Hairston is pretty much useless. The OF fixer-upper is only half done.

    • Section 222 - Aug 4, 2014 at 3:00 PM

      I thought Souza is an excellent fielder? Not true?

      • Theophilus T.S. - Aug 4, 2014 at 5:26 PM

        I think he is supposed to be good w/ the glove. The point being, the only glove left on the bench in those situations — once Werth is given a rest — would be Hairston’s.

      • Section 222 - Aug 4, 2014 at 10:56 PM

        Well, if your outfield is Harper, Span, and Souza, who cares what gloves you have on the bench? It’s not like you need a late inning defensive replacement. And I do hear that he’s a good fielder. I seem to remember that he made a few webgems in ST.

  10. water47 - Aug 4, 2014 at 2:17 PM

    I have noticed of late that the Nats seem quite on international signings. Every year Rizzo seem s to find a way to improve the team by changing the game. Used to be, way over pay for top talent in draft. Now, it seems he signs injured draft picks and these have helped. I just would have thought he would be more aggressive not only in the international signings but specifically Cuban players. They are like free draft picks. Granted, like the draft most do not work out but as they are developing they are prospects and have value.

    Is there a site where we can see the Nats international signings and or their use of the international signing pool?

    • David Proctor - Aug 4, 2014 at 2:27 PM

      They have been increasing their work there. Look up Wilmer Difo, Rafael Bautista, Jefry Rodriguez and Pedro Severino.

      • water47 - Aug 4, 2014 at 2:29 PM

        Thanks.

  11. Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 4, 2014 at 3:09 PM

    “SteeeeveM
    Another terribly written article by Kilgore. He should be hung in efficacy.”

    I don’t read NatsJournal much but I happened to see this. Obviously I know Steve M. isn’t an usual combo as we also have SJM who is another Steve M. and one other, but this commenter’s writings seems like someone who I recognize.

    • Section 222 - Aug 4, 2014 at 3:58 PM

      I don’t read the comments on NJ much, but I did see Feel getting criticism for his nitpicking of Kilgore’s articles. The guy is a broken record. At least he’s not frequenting this venue much with his new name of the month.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 4, 2014 at 4:03 PM

        Exactly who I think that is.

      • Eric - Aug 4, 2014 at 4:14 PM

        I fired a couple salvos at that person a few months back when the grammar trolling was truly incessant. A name like that is nothing but a running set up.

      • Eric - Aug 4, 2014 at 7:01 PM

        PS – “name like that” does *not* refer to “Ghost of Steve M” or apparent permutated adoptions thereof.

  12. sjm308 - Aug 4, 2014 at 3:27 PM

    uh, oh – is there a 3rd SM?? or is it the old Feel Wood who used to regularly bash Kilgore. I only read comments here but I actually love the coverage of our lads in the paper (both computer & real thing). The baseball page is one of the first things I read with my coffee and I actually still look at boxscores to see how old Nationals are doing.

Archives

NLDS: NATIONALS VS. GIANTS

FRI: Game 1 at Washington, 3:07 p.m. (FS1)
SAT: Game 2 at Washington, 5:37 p.m. (FS1)
MON: Game 3 at San Francisco, TBA (MLBN)
TUE: Game 4 at San Francisco, TBA (FS1)*
THU: Game 5 at Washington, TBA (FS1)*
*if necessary

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.

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