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Fister earning role as Nationals’ stopper

Aug 7, 2014, 12:07 AM EDT

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Debate all you want whether he’s the ace of the Nationals’ staff, the stopper, the best starter, whatever designation comes to mind. Doug Fister doesn’t care what title he holds right now. The only thing that matters to the right-hander is that he keeps winning games for his team.

And that’s something Fister’s teammates notice, regardless of which slot he occupies in the Nats’ rotation.

“It’s no coincidence that I feel like a lot of runs get scored when Doug pitches,” first baseman Adam LaRoche said. “I think it’s a matter of really quick innings. He’s pitching to contact. Guys are on their toes. And there’s a lot of action. You’re back in the dugout quick. I’ve got to think that has something to do with it. It seems like when he’s pitching, we’re out there for 30 minutes on defense and spend two hours in the dugout. That’s a good feeling.”

Imagine how good the Nationals felt Wednesday night when Fister did exactly as LaRoche described and carved his way through the Mets’ lineup, leaving plenty of time for his lineup to bust out during a 7-1 victory that was completed in a scant 2 hours, 31 minutes.

With 7 1/3 innings of 1-run ball (and that run was unearned), Fister added another masterpiece to his growing collection. He now sports an 11-3 record and 2.49 ERA, sixth-best among all NL pitchers with at least 100 innings this season.

But those basic numbers only tell the beginning of the story. Dig deeper and you come away all the more impressed.

In 104 2/3 innings, Fister has walked only 13 batters. Opponents have attempted only one stolen base against him … and failed on that one attempt. And then this: Wednesday night marked the ninth time this season the Nationals have given the ball to Fister following a loss. His record in those games is now 7-2.

All that from a guy whose 87.9 mph average fastball ranks 110th out of 119 big-league starting pitchers.

“The radar gun doesn’t blow up, but he throws the ball where he wants to,” manager Matt Williams said. “Tonight he was really down in the zone, really down and really on the corners tonight. We got a lot of groundballs, we got a lot of double plays, and that’s kind of what he provides for us: the ability with one pitch to get two outs. And that’s huge.”

Indeed, the double play is a designed part of Fister’s game. He induced two of them on Wednesday, giving him 10 total for the season in 16 starts.

“I’m trying to get a weak groundball on anything, especially when I get a runner on first base or first and second,” he said. “That’s exactly what I want to get. Fortunately we were able to do that a couple times tonight.”

As quickly as he works, and as many groundballs as he coaxes out of opposing hitters, is it any wonder Nationals infielder are so eager to take the field behind Fister?

“I enjoy it,” second baseman Danny Espinosa said. “It’s fun to see pitchers go out there and see them strike everyone out. But as an infielder, it’s fun to get groundballs, make plays and be part of the game.”

  1. natszee - Aug 7, 2014 at 12:18 AM

    yes, I agree, he is the best on the staff. Most reliable at the very least.

  2. Nolite Irrumator - Aug 7, 2014 at 12:40 AM

    “Relax, all right? Don’t try to strike everybody out. Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they’re fascist. Throw some ground balls – it’s more democratic.”

  3. Danny - Aug 7, 2014 at 12:40 AM

    Pay the man!

  4. Hiram Hover - Aug 7, 2014 at 3:07 AM

    Great write up. There are different things to like about all our starters. Mark doesn’t get distracted by debates about comparisons among them and labels (ace? stopper?) and hits all the right points about Fister. He’s awesome.

    This is one of the best rotations in baseball in 2014 and Fister is a key part of it. A great move by Rizzo, a steal at the price he paid, and a welcome upgrade over Haren and EJax.

  5. llf0701 - Aug 7, 2014 at 4:23 AM

    It WAS such a quick game Take Me Out to the Ball Hame” at 9ish?
    Fister was amazing. Happy for Danny and Bryce. Up by 4 games! Go Nats.

  6. ArVAFan - Aug 7, 2014 at 7:01 AM

    Not the MLB headline I was expecting this morning (or any other morning): “Without Yasiel Puig’s great throw, Dan Haren’s gem may have been all for naught.”

    Don’t see the words Haren and gem in the same sentence too often. But glad for him–apparently he’s been working with the pitching coach to get some life back in his pitching, and it’s working. For his sake, hope it works (except against us, of course: he owes us).

    • NatsLady - Aug 7, 2014 at 7:13 AM

      He already lost a game to us. If there was any ‘debt’ is paid. ;)

    • natinalsgo - Aug 7, 2014 at 7:23 AM

      It’s almost like he relaxed after the trade deadline passed. His splitter was splitting and he was low in the zone. Where have we heard that before. He was 0-5 in his last 5 starts before that with an ERA over 10.00

  7. natinalsgo - Aug 7, 2014 at 7:18 AM

    This is the closest I’ve seen Matt Williams get into a brouhaha!

    http://www.csnwashington.com/baseball-washington-nationals/talk/williams-quashes-harper-minors-possibility

    Glad to see Mark’s network had the video rolling on the pre-game presser. MLB Network just rolled this as their Quick Pitch lede.

    Holy freaking bleep!

    I’ve heard that it was Kilgore who asked Matt Williams the followup question and this is from Kilgore:

    Later in the afternoon, during his daily news conference, the subject surfaced again. Asked if sending Harper to the minors was even in the realm of possibility, Williams grew testy and faulted reporters for misinterpreting his comments on the radio.

    Translation: I got asked a question at 8:15 a.m. after a frustrating loss. I should have just said, ‘No offense, but yeah, that is kind of stupid.’ Instead I answered it in a manner that prompted a reaction I didn’t want or expect. Now I’m going to make sure that Bryce Harper knows I’ve got his back while killing this story line.

    A first-year manager handled a sensitive question awkwardly. That’s happened before.

    • nats128 - Aug 7, 2014 at 7:35 AM

      Heres the transcript.

      “I will caution everybody in this room. The minute you think you can read my FREAKING mind, you’re sorely mistaken, OK? It PISSES me off to even think about the fact that somebody would take a comment I make on the radio and infer that I’m thinking one way or the other. I’ve had it. Don’t do it any more. Bryce Harper’s one of the guys on our team. He’s a very important part of our team. Just like everybody else is. Do we understand each other? It’s not fair to the kid, it’s not fair to the other guys in that clubhouse, to even think about sending Bryce Harper to the minor leagues, or to cause a stir. It’s unacceptable. It won’t happen. Is that good enough for you?”

    • natsfan1a - Aug 7, 2014 at 8:02 AM

      Translation: Kilgore’s being a bit of a [jerk]. ;-)

      • rayvil01 - Aug 7, 2014 at 8:11 AM

        Kilgore is a bit of a (jerk).

    • 6ID20 - Aug 7, 2014 at 8:23 AM

      Bush league reporter steps in it and tries to cover his ass by blaming his source. That’s happened before.

      Go back and listen to MW’s interview with the Junkies. There was nothing awkward about his answer, and he said nothing that indicated they were considering sending Harper down. Kilgore took that and twisted it the other way around. Total yellow journalism. And now that he’s been called out for it, the yellow coward Kilgore is trying to pin the blame on Matt Williams.

      • nats128 - Aug 7, 2014 at 8:47 AM

        6ID20, Kilgore did step into it and the other beat writers were kind enough not to expose Kilgore. That really is as close as Ive seen Matt Williams to losing his temper.

        Of note, when someone asks a question with “Is that just a stupid idea on my part?”, it’s a stupid question.

  8. adcwonk - Aug 7, 2014 at 7:28 AM

    Question: isn’t Fister/Lobaton duo undefeated this year? In how many starts?

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 7, 2014 at 7:56 AM

      Yes, Lobaton is 10-0 in Fister starts. When Lobaton doesn’t catch him he is 1-3.

      Now also remember that in Fister starts the Nats average Free McNuggets in every game which is remarkable. Exactly 6 runs average per game. Best in the Majors.

      A couple of theories is that Fister has only had to face the other team’s #1 starter twice. He’s also given up 3 runs or less in 14 of his 16 starts.

      • natsfan1a - Aug 7, 2014 at 8:43 AM

        Might we have a new metric: Wins Above Replacement Nuggets? Nah. :-)

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 7, 2014 at 9:36 AM

        The 6 runs average is in his win games. 4.5 runs overall. Definitely costing McDonalds money!

  9. laddieblahblah - Aug 7, 2014 at 7:56 AM

    I could not help thinking about Robbie Ray, Lombo and Ian Krol last night. That wasn’t just robbery, it was the Burke gang clearing out the Lufthansa cash horde and driving out of the airport with $6 mn in non-traceable cash. All it cost them was a bribe they paid to the Lufthansa warehouse security guard. Rizzo paid less than that for the man who is rolling over the NL like an 18-wheeler over road kill,

    And even if Cabrera turns out to be only a rental, he gave Matt a LH bat and an actual gold glove defenseman for a guy the Nats had probably decided had no future with the team, anyway. And then he picks up a crafty lefty reliever with a 97 mph FB and a .250 ERA off waivers! How did he do that?

    But Mike’s best move was probably the deal he didn’t make. Desi has been trying to reach the concourse beyond the LF bleachers for much of this year. Steven Souza did it last night, and he wasn’t even trying, although that shot did sail about a yard foul.

    I love watching the Nats, but I enjoy trying to keep up with Rizzo even more. I almost can’t wait for the off-season to see what he will do, next.

    Great job by the Nats GM.

    • Section 222 - Aug 7, 2014 at 8:28 AM

      I almost can’t wait for the off-season to see what he will do, next.

      “Almost” being the operative word because there’s so much baseball to be played, and so much fun to be had, in the meantime.

    • NatsLady - Aug 7, 2014 at 8:30 AM

      Rizzo is a smart guy, a very smart guy. If we get to the playoffs, that will make 2 years of 3 (and 2013, despite the moaning and groaning, DID involve meaningful baseball into September). From a 100-loss team. And yes, you can say he had two 1-1 draft picks. But, Harper is hitting .250 and, so far, Strasburg isn’t Kershaw.

      Yet Rizzo’s never mentioned in the list of “smart” GMs by baseball analysts. Never. I’ve often wondered why. I think it’s because he’s not smooth, he’s not good-looking, he’s not particularly articulate (OK, he’s not articulate at all), he’s not funny like Davey, he’s not a college guy, and he’ll only wear a tie if he absolutely HAS to.

      – He’s a great scout, especially for pitchers, and he’s apparently got a great scouting staff. He’ll add a guy to a trade that you never heard of and the next thing you know the guy’s in the majors.
      – He’s not afraid to take risks on injured players. Not only pitchers. Rendon.
      – Apparently, the pitching development staff is good at fixing broken arms, and that reputation has gotten around (Nathan Karns, Ross Ohlendorf). As Stras said, “Trust the system.”
      – He’s not overly attached to prospects. He’s got a few untouchables, everyone else, “lemme see the offer.” He clearly outbid the Giants and a couple other teams for Cabrera, and gave up a guy who was basically blocked here. Even if Desi doesn’t sign long term he’s not going anywhere in 2015 and Walters needs to have a shot at the majors.
      – He’s made mistakes, but seems to learn from them. I don’t happen to think Danny is one of his mistakes, but YMMV.

      • NatsLady - Aug 7, 2014 at 8:39 AM

        Oh, and he seems to have a good relationship with the Lerners, who have learned (sorry) to butt out of his business. Despite saying the budget is at its limit, they forked over the $$ for Thornton. It may have helped that Cabrera was free. So you can say to the Lerners, look, “I don’t have a prospect to give up that the Yankees want, but we need this guy. I saved you money on the last trade, and you can see the state of the bullpen.”

      • adcwonk - Aug 7, 2014 at 8:46 AM

        I totally agree with you there, NL. I’d like to pile on ;-)

        — Rizzo grew up a scout. I think this is a way extra bonus that (I’m guessing) many other GM’s don’t have. This benefits the team in two different ways:
        —- (a) he doesn’t have to rely completely on the word of other scouts — if someone is particularly intriguing, he’ll go look at the player himself
        —- (b) he puts a great emphasis on scouting, more so than some other GM’s; the very first thing he did as GM was to beef up the scouting department

        — He’ll try completely new strategies; e.g.,
        —- as NL mentioned, he’ll sign medical risks (Rendon, who, because of injuries had slipped from a “projected first pick”, and the Nats scooped him up with a #6 pick); as well as other pitchers who were facing TJ surgery
        —- he more or less invented the idea (or at least perfected it) of picking guys in the draft who had slipped down because the kid had declared he was going to college, and then paying way way over slot money to convince them otherwise. He did it so well, that MLB banned the practice afterward.

        (btw, I think this very last item is why some other GM’s might be ticked off at him)

        — He’s a hardball negotiator
        —- E.g., My understanding is that Boras, representing Strasburg, with *90 seconds left* made a “final offer” to Rizzo, and Rizzo answered back with, “I’m sorry, I just can’t do that”. And then with 30 seconds left, Boras blinked and lowered the demand. (I’d never have the titanium cojones to do that)
        —- He also went down to the last two minutes with Boras on Harper.
        —- He said “no” to Riggleman’s threat of walking

        And, in closing, to repeat what NL said, you gotta love this: He’ll add a guy to a trade that you never heard of and the next thing you know the guy’s in the majors.

        I’m sure glad Rizzo is our GM, and not somebody else’s.

      • knoxvillenat - Aug 7, 2014 at 8:47 AM

        “YMMV”…….translation for this old guy please?

      • NatsLady - Aug 7, 2014 at 8:50 AM

        YMMV — Your Mileage May Vary (you may not agree, it’s debatable).

      • nats128 - Aug 7, 2014 at 8:55 AM

        Add to that Chris Young.

      • tcostant - Aug 7, 2014 at 11:31 AM

        Couldn’t agree more. Rizzo is great. Although I think he got some props in 2012, until they realized Stras would be shut down. I think the shut down has more to do with than his looks…

    • Hiram Hover - Aug 7, 2014 at 8:38 AM

      As I said above, the Fister trade was an absolutely awesome move, but let’s remember that Rizzo is not infallible – see, Hairston, Scott; Blevins, Jerry; McLouth, Nate.

      • NatsLady - Aug 7, 2014 at 8:40 AM

        Yes, he doesn’t seem to have the same knack for bench players, and that’s two years in a row (after an awesome bench in 2012). Blevins is a mystery to me. He can be good, he can be terrible. I hope that’s not the case with Thornton.

      • NatsLady - Aug 7, 2014 at 8:45 AM

        Don’t forget Dobbs and Stairs.

        Anyway, every one of the “smart” managers that are usually listed makes mistakes, even Billy Beane is going to have to eat a chunk of money for Johnson (never understood that signing).

      • adcwonk - Aug 7, 2014 at 8:49 AM

        Of course he’s not infallible. That’s why it’s called “taking risks”

        Taking risks means that not every one is going to work out. Otherwise, it’d be called a “sure thing”, and other teams would be doing it.

        The question is whether the “risks” tend to pan out at a higher rate than they do for others.

        Let’s not forget, Rendon was considered a “risk” (missed his entire last year in college due to a shoulder, not his first major injury, and many were wondering if it’s he a Nick Johnson) — enough so that while he had been projected as a #1 draft pick, the first five teams passed on him.

        Tons of other examples.

      • nats128 - Aug 7, 2014 at 9:02 AM

        Rodriguez, Henry Wang, Chen

        Mistakes will always be made but sticking with them for 2 to 3 years or in Stairs case more than Spring Training has to be a flaw that Rizzo has to improve.

        All GMs get duds but its how you handle it that sets you apart.

      • Hiram Hover - Aug 7, 2014 at 9:46 AM

        Wonk

        You and NL are absolutely right to talk about it in term of risks (the poster to whom I responded did not), and I agree Rizzo has more hits than misses in the risks he’s taken.

        Interesting thing about the Fister deal is that it didn’t involve much risk. There was some nervous nelly hand-wringing when Fister spent the first month of the season on the DL, but the only real “risk” was that Ray would (and still could) turn out to be a front line starter on whom the Nats missed out.

        But given what else the Nats have in the pipeline, and their need for pitching now, even that wasn’t really much of a risk.

  10. natsfan1a - Aug 7, 2014 at 8:04 AM

    On topic, love Fister. Loved FP’s story about his pregame routine of pointing to each infielder in turn (and LaRoche’s pointing back at him at the end). Let’s get ‘em, boys.

    • sjm308 - Aug 7, 2014 at 8:25 AM

      I missed that but thanks for sharing, will pay attention next time I am at the park and he is on the mound

      Going today to get the gnome taste out of my mouth

  11. Joe Seamhead - Aug 7, 2014 at 8:24 AM

    We’d all sure like to see Doug Fister get a contract extension. The guy is a gem!

    Meanwhile, after losing 8 in a row on the road, the Braves come home for a ten game home stand : 3 against the first place Nats, 4 against the first place Dodgers, and 3 against the first place A’s. That’s 10 games in a row against first place teams. If the Nats can beat the Mets and their new sensation today, the Braves will start that home stand 4 1/2 games back. Fredi G has been making references to the Nats series for the last week. He was looking past the Mariners. I hope that the Nats just take care of business. Beat the Muts today, take at least 2 out of 3 and bury them, and their arrogant chopping fans.

    • adcwonk - Aug 7, 2014 at 8:56 AM

      10 games in a row against first place teams.

      Holy moley — enough to make a Nats fan giddy!

      Finally, the scheduling is evening out — in a big way.

      So good it’s worth repeating:

      10 games in a row against first place teams.

      10 games in a row against first place teams.

      10 games in a row against first place teams.

      • Joe Seamhead - Aug 7, 2014 at 9:45 AM

        And after those 10 games it doesn’t get a whole lot easier for the Braves: Pirates and the Reds, both dangerous teams that match up well against them.

      • Eric - Aug 7, 2014 at 11:04 AM

        And, they’re chasing the Pirates for the WC at the moment…

        Is Votto back yet?

  12. coollikelivo - Aug 7, 2014 at 8:27 AM

    Off topic, but WaPo had a blurb that Espinosa has now raised the possibility of FINALLY abandoning LH batting altogether, but that it would be an off season project. Praise the Lord! It’s about time. He can become an All Star if he follows through with that, and I hope he does.

    • Section 222 - Aug 7, 2014 at 8:29 AM

      I like the idea of him giving RH hitting a try too, but “he can be come an All Star”? That’s going a bit overboard.

      • coollikelivo - Aug 7, 2014 at 8:46 AM

        Not saying “will” but “can” as in “might”…. Isn’t he over .300 right handed this year? Keep that up full time with his fielding, then yeah, it’s possible.

      • bowdenball - Aug 7, 2014 at 9:16 AM

        His amazing numbers hitting right-handed are partially because he only hits right-handed against left-handers. Even if he is able to make the transition to hitting from that side full time he won’t be able to replicate those numbers while facing RHPs.

      • masterfishkeeper - Aug 7, 2014 at 9:41 AM

        No, but if he could have even close to normal L/R splits, he’d be a pretty good hitter for a second baseman (or shortstop).

      • bowdenball - Aug 7, 2014 at 10:04 AM

        Yeah it’s possible, although even that seems like a stretch considering he’ll basically be starting from scratch seeing RHPs from the right side. Just saying don’t expect anything even close to what he does against lefties from the right side. It’s not a magical cure-all. It would be a long, slow process for him to get comfortable. Someone likened it to an American being dropped in London in rush hour and asked to race through traffic while driving on the left. I like that analogy. He will be absolutely lost at first.

    • dryw4nats - Aug 7, 2014 at 8:43 AM

      Thanks for pointing out this post. Not only do I find it an interesting idea, but I wanted to bring up this quote from Adam, for those who seem convinced that Danny is not a good clubhouse guy….

      “It’s great,” first baseman Adam LaRoche said. “We all pull for each other, obviously. But Danny is one we really want to see him do well. The guy works so hard, hasn’t been getting in there a whole lot. He’s had some bad luck on top of that. It’s good to see him hit a big three-run homer for us.”

      Apparently it’s not only Davey, Matt, and Rizzo who want to see Dany do well.

      • NatsLady - Aug 7, 2014 at 8:46 AM

        Wait, I thought Danny was a bad teammate, he sulks, and etc. etc. etc. I was told that by commenters on this very site.

      • Smyrcok - Aug 7, 2014 at 9:49 AM

        Did you see club-house cancer Bryce giving Danny a huge pat on the back and a hug after the homer? Man those two guys must be just awful behind closed doors where only our imaginations have access.

      • Eric - Aug 7, 2014 at 10:21 AM

        Really happy to see Danny getting some positive press. Mark Z posted some a few weeks back. Such a shame when fans turn their disappointment into personal attacks.

  13. Section 222 - Aug 7, 2014 at 8:32 AM

    Fredi G has been making references to the Nats series for the last week.

    Remember last year when the Nats were cratering at the end of July and some people kept pointing to the upcoming Braves series in early August as reason for hope? “If we can just sweep that series we can get back in it.” I fear (hope) the Braves fans are in for the same letdown. We don’t have quite the lead they did at this time last year, but the handwriting seems to be on the wall for their season.

    • ArVAFan - Aug 7, 2014 at 8:45 AM

      Yep, Baseball Prospectus dropped Altanta’s post-season chances to 27% after yesterday. Obviously, those numbers change every day, but their trend has been down, down, down.

      • adcwonk - Aug 7, 2014 at 8:54 AM

        This morning’s BP projection has us finishing 7 games ahead of the Braves.

      • NatsLady - Aug 7, 2014 at 9:00 AM

        Ah, they finally gave us another game. More likely dropped the Barves down. Well, you are never as bad as you look when you’re losing, but I don’t expect Simmons this weekend, he was on crutches yesterday (ankle) and “hoping to avoid the DL.” They have the off-day to decide.

  14. Doc - Aug 7, 2014 at 8:44 AM

    Fans like velo.

    Good pitchers are good when they show location.

    Fister does it all—even chases pop fouls into the stands.

    • ArVAFan - Aug 7, 2014 at 8:46 AM

      And has a game plan for every game.

      And thanks his teammates.

      And does the splits.

      • knoxvillenat - Aug 7, 2014 at 8:50 AM

        And works quickly, changes speed and throws strikes!

        Three key points to being a very good pitcher and not just a thrower.

      • adcwonk - Aug 7, 2014 at 8:53 AM

        And collects tickets are the door, sweeps the clubhouse, and does the team’s laundry.

        Unbelievable!

      • natsfan1a - Aug 7, 2014 at 9:04 AM

        And he goes to the defense meetings. [Heck], he *runs* the defense meetings. And he brings donuts. (Okay, I made the last two up.)

      • Soul Possession, Sec 3 My Sofa - Aug 7, 2014 at 2:20 PM

        And he goes to the defense meetings. [Heck], he *runs* the defense meetings. And he brings donuts.

        Not the Nats’ defense meetings, either — the DoD’s! And he doesn’t just *run* the meetings, he holds the meetings while running. Keeps the brass in shape!

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 7, 2014 at 9:14 AM

      Location, movement, deception.

      • Doc - Aug 7, 2014 at 10:32 AM

        Correctomundo, Ghost.

        Reminds me of that old golf adage, ‘drive for show, putt for dough’.

        Throw a FB for show, and locate for dough!

  15. coop202 - Aug 7, 2014 at 8:51 AM

    I imagine Souza finally gets a start in today, should be fun to see. Fister seems to inspire confidence in his team around him – not to sell any of our other starters short but I wish he had pitched a day earlier to booked the trip to Atlanta just in case we fall into the same old trap. Everytime he and zim go out there I imagine them in their head saying “activate the mechanism”

    • coop202 - Aug 7, 2014 at 8:52 AM

      *bookend. I hate that there is no wit function

      • ArVAFan - Aug 7, 2014 at 10:17 AM

        In this group? We definitely have a “wit” function!

      • coop202 - Aug 7, 2014 at 10:49 AM

        Touché ArVAFan

    • coop202 - Aug 7, 2014 at 8:52 AM

      *bookend. I hate that there is no edit function

  16. Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 7, 2014 at 8:53 AM

    “@Ken_Rosenthal: Doesn’t get easier for #Braves. Next three vs. #Nationals’ Strasburg, Roark, Gonzalez, then four vs. #Dodgers with Greinke in finale.”

    • Danny - Aug 7, 2014 at 8:58 AM

      Strasburg stinks against the Braves and Gio doesn’t exactly inspire confidence right now. Let’s hope.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 7, 2014 at 9:04 AM

        Let’s hope is right.

      • NatsLady - Aug 7, 2014 at 9:15 AM

        It is odd that he hasn’t done better against them. They’re a big strikeout team and he’s a big strikeout pitcher. He’s been on his game lately, so I’m ready for him to crush them. We get Santana, Harang and Wood.

        Wood’s been pitching well, 2.84 ERA in his last ten starts. He wasn’t the cause of them losing in Seattle, their defence and King Feliex were. They got a good deal in Santana. Harang has been better than expected but is still prone to a clunker.

        On Gio and Roark, just have the bullpen ready and use it wisely.

      • Eric - Aug 7, 2014 at 10:24 AM

        Stras hasn’t fared particularly well in Miami, either, but he was nails last time out down there. Hopefully he has a similar trend-bucking outing in Turner field this weekend.

      • masterfishkeeper - Aug 7, 2014 at 10:46 AM

        The good news for Strasburg is that the Braves no longer have the hitter who used to tear him up:

        wait for it

        Dan Uggla.

    • masterfishkeeper - Aug 7, 2014 at 9:43 AM

      Braves miss Kershaw, though. We’ll see on Monday if Dan Haren is truly rejuvenated. He had an awesome game against the Braves last year, of course.

  17. natsfan1a - Aug 7, 2014 at 9:12 AM

    Hasn’t Gio been better on the road of late? Let’s hope.

    • stoatva - Aug 7, 2014 at 9:40 AM

      That’s awesome, thanks.

      *highly recommended*

    • Eric - Aug 7, 2014 at 11:20 AM

      Excellent, thanks. I remember well practicing curve balls with my dad back in the day. He was always so excited when I got something to break.

      We were throwing on the beach a couple of weeks ago and I got a slider to break. Yup, I still have it! ;)

    • Doc - Aug 7, 2014 at 11:27 AM

      Great article!

      It was like the ‘War and Peace’ of a curveball.

      Thanks, NL.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Aug 7, 2014 at 11:28 AM

      +1

  18. exposedindc - Aug 7, 2014 at 9:39 AM

    So all things being equal who gets the ball to start game one of a 7 game series ? Fister, JZimm, Stras, Roark…..my choice would be Zimm, glad I don’t have to make that decision.

    • masterfishkeeper - Aug 7, 2014 at 9:43 AM

      Harder question is who gets it in a five game series.

    • Hiram Hover - Aug 7, 2014 at 9:52 AM

      Also, what color frosting do you want on the cake for your 100th birthday?

      Let’s slow down….

      • adcwonk - Aug 7, 2014 at 10:03 AM

        I’d like the white frosting on the chocolate cake, please!

      • natsfan1a - Aug 7, 2014 at 10:19 AM

        Chocolate frosting and cake for me, please. (Hey, it got me to 100 years old. Stick with what works.)

      • stoatva - Aug 7, 2014 at 10:46 AM

        Chopped liver.

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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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