Walk this way and Lineups
It is important to preface any baseball statistics or arguments made a half week into the season by saying they probably mean nothing and the records mean even less. The Pirates are undefeated and tied for the lead in the NL Central and the Dodgers are in last place in the NL West. Of course, you would rather be 2-0 than 0-2 but neither record wins a playoff spot.
The Nats look to salvage game three of their opening series against the Phillies. They will count on 26-year-old Craig Stammen, who had an impressive spring to earn the third spot in the rotation and the Nats are hoping that the third game is a charm.
“Some of the hard work has paid off, but what you do in the spring doesn’t matter,” Stammen said. “All this stuff gets thrown out when the season starts. So I have to continue the success in April.”
For Stammen to have success against the Phillies’ lineup, he will have to pound the strike zone and limit free passes, something John Lannan, Jason Marquis and the bullpen has struggled with in the past few days.
Walk this way.
The Nationals pitching staff has struggled with their control in the first two games. They lead the Majors with 17 walks, nine walks in game one and eight walks last night. The Red Sox are right behind them with 16 walks but that is in three games. These high walk numbers might be more indicative of the two lineups the teams are facing–the Phillies and Yankees, respectively–but it is never easy to win a game when a team walks eight or more batters. Last year, there were 203 times that a team issued eight or more walks and the outcome is what you may expect. The teams issuing the walks went 55-148 (.271) in those games.
The Nationals won’t average eight walks a game but of the 17 walks: six were on full counts, two were on four pitches, two were intentional and five of the batters eventually scored. Pitching around a batter with two outs typically produces a different result than walking the first batter. Last night in the top of the ninth, the Nats intentionally walked Carlos Ruiz with two outs and the next batter, Ryan Madson, struck out. On the other hand, walking the leadoff hitter of the inning always seems to haunt teams. The Phillies leadoff hitter has been issued a free pass six times and they have crossed the plate four times. Walks aren’t runs but they lead to runs.
There are 11 teams that have surrendered 10 or more walks so far this season. Their combined record is 9-17. The 10 teams with the lowest walk totals are 16-7. These statistics aren’t trying to show a cause-and-effect–there isn’t one–and maybe there isn’t even a correlation. A team wins the game by scoring more runs than the other team–thanks John Madden–but walks help the other teams score more runs. It is that simple.
1. Jimmy Rollins – SS
2. Placido Polanco – 3B
3. Chase Utley – 2B
4. Ryan Howard – 1B
5. Jayson Werth – RF
6. Raul Ibanez – LF
7. Shane Victorino – CF
8. Brian Schneider – C
9. Kyle Kendrick – SP
*Kendrick had a stellar spring and allowed just four hits (0 BB, 0 R) over his first 9.0 innings. He gave up two earned runs or less in all seven of his appearances (5 starts).
*Kendrick replaced injured right-hander Joe Blanton (left oblique strain) in the Phillies’ rotation.
*To pitch to Howard or not is a tough question because Jayson Werth has been just as lethal against the Nats. “You are between a rock and a hard place with those guys,” Manager Jim Riggleman said.
1. Nyjer Morgan – CF
2. Cristian Guzman – SS
3. Ryan Zimmerman – 3B
4. Adam Dunn – 1B
5. Josh Willingham – LF
6. Willie Harris – RF
7. Adam Kennedy – 2B
8. Wil Nieves – C
9. Craig Stammen – SP
*Guzman gets his first start at SS after pinch hitting for Mike Morse and playing right field last night.
*Pudge gets a break because of the day game after a night game.