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State of the Nats: Final week in August

Aug 25, 2014, 1:19 PM EST

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

Top storylines:

Nine-game road trip – The Nationals begin a three-game series in Philadelphia Monday night, the first leg of a nine-game road trip that will take them through Seattle and Los Angeles to play the Dodgers. The Phillies have been a mess this season and are in last place. The Nats, however, are only 8-5 against them in 2014. The Phillies haven’t just laid down in division games this year.

After Philly, the Nationals will head northwest to battle the Mariners, current holders of the second AL Wild Card spot. Seattle has been a nice surprise this season, but the Nats will miss Felix Hernandez. That’s quite a break. They will see Chris Young, though. The former Nats minor leaguer is 12-6 with a 3.17 ERA this year.

After Seattle it’s the L.A. Dodgers in a showdown of the two best teams in the National League. The Nats will see Clayton Kershaw in that series with a Game 2 matchup of Kershaw vs. Doug Fister on the docket. That should be a good one.

The Mariners (71-58) and Dodgers (74-58) represent the two best teams by record left on the Nationals schedule. The Braves and Marlins will be tough down the stretch, but this upcoming trip could be the biggest test for the Nationals remaining before October.

Cabrera’s injury – Asdrubal Cabrera left Sunday’s win with minor tightness in his right side, an injury the Nats hope is not serious. At this point it is unclear if he will miss any time, but the possibility is there.

Cabrera has been a very nice addition for the Nats since coming over at the non-waiver trade deadline. In 20 games he’s batting .264 with five doubles, two home runs, 10 RBI, a triple and 11 runs. He has a .365 on-base percentage and 12 walks to 10 strikeouts. His defense has also been a nice surprise.

If Cabrera needs to take a few days off, the Nats do have Danny Espinosa. Espinosa hasn’t enjoyed the greatest season, but he does provide sound defense and did have two hits including a home run on Sunday.

September call-ups – A week from now will be the first of September, a day rosters around Major League Baseball are allowed to expand to include players currently in the minor leagues. The Nationals will likely bring up between six and eight guys, all for different reasons and roles.

The biggest sure-bets for September are Aaron Barrett, Michael Taylor and Blake Treinen. At this point, it would be very surprising if any of those three were not brought in. Steven Souza, Jr. will also join the team sometime soon off the disabled list. A third catcher is a good bet, as well.

Who the Nationals bring up beyond that list is harder to tell. Tyler Moore probably has a good shot of coming up. Taylor Hill debuted back in June and has enjoyed a solid season at Triple-A Syracuse. Perhaps he gets the call.

I made some predictions a few weeks back and threw lefty reliever Matt Grace’s name out there. He’s a former 8th round pick who has a 1.25 ERA across 46 appearances with Harrisburg and Syracuse this season.

It may not be Grace, but do expect the Nationals to call up somebody we’ve never seen before. And it if is Grace, or somebody like him, don’t be surprised if he gets a real opportunity. Christian Garcia’s run in 2012 is a good precedent for that.

NL East Standings


Offensive game of the week: Bryce Harper 8/24 vs. Giants – 2-for-5, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, 2B

Pitching game of the week: Tanner Roark 8/20 vs. Diamondbacks – 7 IP, 0 ER, 5 H, BB, 2 SO. 99 pitches, 63 strikes.

Quote of the week:

Denard Span on his “alter ego”:

Denard is the guy that is passive, the guy that is afraid to make a mistake… ‘Span is the guy that is a playmaker. Span is the smooth guy, the guy that would talk to a girl.’ It’s like the Urkel and the Stefan [from Family Matters]. I just had to walk off and kind of hype myself up for a second. And then I came back to first and was: ‘let’s go.’

Tweet of the week:

The Nats haven’t really needed any outside help to rally back in games, but on Sunday a pigeon on the field at Nationals Park lent a hand (or a wing):

Road ahead

MON – 7:05 p.m. at Philadelphia Phillies (Roark)
TUE – 7:05 p.m. at Philadelphia Phillies (Gonzalez)
WED – 7:05 p.m. at Philadelphia Phillies (Fister)
FRI – 10:10 p.m. at Seattle Mariners (Zimmermann)
SAT – 9:10 p.m. at Seattle Mariners (Strasburg)
SUN – 4:10 p.m. at Seattle Mariners (Roark)

  1. Eric - Aug 25, 2014 at 1:26 PM

    Only 8 – 5? That’s 100 wins man!

    • therealjohnc - Aug 25, 2014 at 3:18 PM

      +100. I had the same thought :-)

  2. Soul Possession, Sec 3, My Sofa - Aug 25, 2014 at 1:33 PM

    Tyler Moore–out of option years?

    • langleyclub - Aug 25, 2014 at 2:35 PM

      In the story on Moore in the Post, the article stated that 2014 will be the last year that the Nats can bounce Moore between the big club and AAA. Next year, they can’t option him to Syracuse without exposing him to the MLB clubs. If ALR re-signs with the Nats (or if they bring in someone else to play 1B every day), pretty likely that the Nats will deal Moore.

      Would be shocked if Moore doesn’t get called up on 9/1. ALR’s numbers greatly decline against lefties; I can see MW resting ALR against some lefties down the stretch, and there really is no one else on the roster that is a legit first baseman (Fransden can play it if needed, but Moore is the better option there). –

  3. nats106 - Aug 25, 2014 at 1:42 PM

    I was thinking the same thing. Not only that, for the loser, it’s 62 losses. Translated, I’d take that and even less against any team in the league.

    Side comments regarding the annoying chirping sounds 50 miles north of us.
    1) did anyone see SC this morning with their special on food served in ballparks “bases loaded”. Hate to point fingers (or hands) but the guy cooking food at Camden Yards was the only one not wearing gloves in the whole segment. Ugh
    2) Mike Wise’s WaPo article on the possibility of a Nats/O’s World Series. Don’t want it. Not because I think the O’s are better-they aren’t.. It’s because of the continued conduct desecrating the National Anthem. Fortunately it is only that moment, which makes them much more palatable than the Braves, who can pull the “fear the chop” crap whenever they happen to be ahead.

    Just Nats106 report from the OF.

    • 6ID20 - Aug 25, 2014 at 2:03 PM

      Desecrating the National Anthem? Get real. Roseanne Barr grabbing her crotch is desecrating the anthem. Yelling one word – which is actually IN the song – real loud is not. It’s dumb when people do it at games where the O’s aren’t in the house, though. I grant you that.

      • Section 222 - Aug 25, 2014 at 2:25 PM

        +1. I’m always surprised when I hear it at Nats Park. Almost seems like there are people who grew up singing it that way and don’t remember why it’s done.

        The Chop is much more offensive, especially because they do it over and over and over again.

      • Soul Possession, Sec 3, My Sofa - Aug 25, 2014 at 3:10 PM

        I dunno. “Desecrating” is a bit strong. I think it is disrepectful, about equivalent to not taking off one’s hat, but YMMV.

        Roseanne was not mocking the anthem, she was mocking baseball players, or at least, clichés about baseball players. Not that I would put it past her, just saying. Anyhow, not the same as the OH.

      • Candide - Aug 25, 2014 at 5:15 PM

        Roseanne was not mocking the anthem, she was mocking baseball players, or at least, clichés about baseball players. Not that I would put it past her, just saying.

        Well, she’s in favor of beheading the Lerners, so, no, I don’t think she’d be above mocking the national anthem.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 25, 2014 at 3:54 PM

      I find the Oh as very disrespectful just as much as people who talk during the National Anthem.

  4. NatsLady - Aug 25, 2014 at 1:55 PM

    Injury Daze and Phillies Series Preview

    I didn’t see the program, but Camden Yards was unsanitary when I was there. Kid with a cold (sneezing, couphing) wasn’t sent home.

  5. nats106 - Aug 25, 2014 at 2:00 PM

    Yeah I saw that too once.

  6. Eric - Aug 25, 2014 at 2:02 PM

    According to Jonah Keri, the State of the Nats is “most powerful team in beisbol.”


  7. npb99 - Aug 25, 2014 at 2:06 PM

    Has Souza started playing in AAA yet?

    • nats106 - Aug 25, 2014 at 2:16 PM

      I think he’s on a minor league rehab assignment at Potomac

      • langleyclub - Aug 25, 2014 at 2:29 PM

        Souza has played rehab games at both Hagerstown and Potomac. The Nats are free to move him around to any of their minor league franchises during his rehab assignment. Would guess that he will play rehab games through the weekend, and that the Nats will activate him on Monday when the rosters expand.

  8. Section 222 - Aug 25, 2014 at 2:24 PM

    The Pirates sent Gregory Polanco back to AAA today. Pretty sure that means he won’t be eligible for the off season. Interesting. They said he had 1 hit in his last 30 ABs.

    That one hit was the double he hit off Soriano to put the Pirates ahead in the top of the 9th in Game 6 of The Streak.

    • Section 222 - Aug 25, 2014 at 2:37 PM

      By off season I meant post season, of course. Oy.

      • npb99 - Aug 25, 2014 at 2:42 PM

        Used to be the same in DC, but not anymore!

      • Section 222 - Aug 25, 2014 at 7:24 PM

        Haha! Well played.

    • langleyclub - Aug 25, 2014 at 2:56 PM

      As long as he is on the 40 man roster (and I doubt that the Pirates removed him from the 40 mand roster), the Pirates can still use Polanco in the post-season. Any player on the 40 man roster on September 1 is eligible for the post-season roster, but any player added to the 40 man roster after that date, is not eligible.

      • Section 222 - Aug 25, 2014 at 3:00 PM

        I don’t think that is correct. Pretty sure you have to be on the 25 man, or the DL. With exceptions for injuries to eligible players during the playoffs.

      • masterfishkeeper - Aug 25, 2014 at 3:13 PM

        Section 222, I don’t think that’s right. See Mark’s primer here:

        Here’s the money passage:

        “If any one of those 31 players is injured at the start of any postseason series, the Nationals can replace them with any other player from the organization (provided they were acquired by August 31).

        Ramos will remain on the DL at season’s end, so that’s a playoff roster spot that can be given to someone else, whether they’re on the 40-man roster or not. And it’s not a stretch to think any one of those other players currently on the DL could still be there come October, opening more spots.”

        So I think this means that the Nats could use McLouth being on the 60 day DL to use Barrett, for example.

      • Hiram Hover - Aug 25, 2014 at 3:21 PM

        Actually, I think this is the money quote, and confirms what 222 said:

        “That doesn’t mean a player must be on the active, big-league roster on August 31 to be eligible for the playoffs. Anyone on the 25-man roster, plus anyone on the disabled list, bereavement list or suspended list is eligible.”

      • Hiram Hover - Aug 25, 2014 at 3:32 PM


        Sorry, playing catch up – I now get what you said.

        What 222 said is correct as the general rule, but you are right that those DL slots can provide a back door to get a guy on the playoff roster even if he wasnt on the 25-man (or even 40 man) as of Aug 31.

      • Section 222 - Aug 25, 2014 at 3:57 PM

        Right. That’s what I meant by “exceptions for injuries to eligible players during the playoffs.” The point is that being on the 40 man is generally not enough. Michael Taylor or Tyler Moore, for example, if they stay in the minors until the September callups cannot be put on the roster for the NLDS just because they have a great September. The same applies to Polaco, which I referenced in my original comment.

        Stephen Souza, on the other hand, if he stays on the DL until Sept 1, can be put on the roster for the NLDS if MW decides he’d prefer him on the postseason roster instead of Hairston or Schierholtz.

        If Werth tears his hamstring coming in to score the winning run in the 5th game of the NLDS, then Taylor or anyone else in the organization could replace him for the NLCS.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 25, 2014 at 3:59 PM

        According to Mark’s primer, a player like McLouth can be replaced by anyone and RZim also if he doesn’t come back.

        Still don’t know if players on the Minor League DL qualify such as Treinen and Barrett. Certainly Souza would qualify since he’s on the MLB DL.

      • Section 222 - Aug 25, 2014 at 5:39 PM

        Yes, so my original statement was too narrow. Anyone in the organization can replace someone who was on the DL as of August 31 and is still on the DL on the day before the playoffs as an “eligible” player. I assume that’s how Christian Garcia was allowed to pitch in the postseason since he wasn’t on Mark’s original list of 31 in 2012.

  9. ehay2k - Aug 25, 2014 at 2:35 PM

    I just hit the AJC site there is a poll where fans can vote on whether the Barves would make the playoffs. Naturally, I voted No, and it looks like I am in the majority – 66% No, 33% Yes. The LoD is in full force in Atlanta!

    • masterfishkeeper - Aug 25, 2014 at 3:13 PM

      I did too. Felt good.

  10. scnatsfan - Aug 25, 2014 at 2:43 PM

    Any word on Cabrera?

    • Doc - Aug 25, 2014 at 3:02 PM

      Yeah, what’s the word on our favorite 2nd base guy?

  11. NIWatcher - Aug 25, 2014 at 3:17 PM

    Chase edited Span’s quote to insert that “Stefan” is from Family Matters. I would have guessed he was the Stefan from Saturday Night Live Weekend Updates.

    • Soul Possession, Sec 3, My Sofa - Aug 25, 2014 at 3:25 PM

      I can’t believe I have to do this:

      • NIWatcher - Aug 25, 2014 at 4:37 PM

        I cannot believe you had that at your fingertips. I was only a casual Family Matters watcher. Thanks for setting me straight. :o)

  12. coollikelivo - Aug 25, 2014 at 3:32 PM

    Cabrerra and Thornton have been great pick ups, but I almost fell out of my chair when I read this from Bleacher Report:

    “The Josh Willingham pickup may very well go down as one of the best waiver deals of all time, as he’s hit .324/.410/.618 with six extra-base hits and eight runs scored in 11 games since joining the Royals and given them a clear offensive spark in the process.”

  13. Faraz Shaikh - Aug 25, 2014 at 3:33 PM

    Just wanted to say thanks to Joe S, 6ID20, wearenationals for help on parking thing. we ended up doing street parking for 9 bucks. that was perfect. I am going to try that again next time.

  14. sjberke - Aug 25, 2014 at 3:41 PM

    Regarding the 9/1 callups, I think Chase should have noted that Syracuse is now 3.5 games up in its division with about 8 games to go, and is more than likely to be in the Governor’s Cup playoffs starting 9/3 (two best-of-five semis, one best-of-five final). I presume most if not all of the Syracuse guys will be allowed to stay there for the playoffs, which would delay their callup a week or more.

    • langleyclub - Aug 25, 2014 at 3:59 PM

      If a player is needed for the Nats, they won’t wait on the AAA playoffs. You can count on Barrett (and probably Treinen) getting called up immediately, along with Leon. If the Nats need to fill holes on the AAA roster, they will call guys up from AA.

    • Section 222 - Aug 25, 2014 at 4:00 PM

      Really? The AAA playoffs are more important than the MLB pennant race? Is that what teams usually do? How long could that delay their arrival?

    • npb99 - Aug 25, 2014 at 4:40 PM

      Time to send Harper to AAA. And Stras. And Rendon, Ramos, Werth, and Fister. Gotta win that AAA title!





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