by Amanda Comak
The Washington Nationals recalled infielder Wilmer Difo from Double-A Harrisburg, and returned from rehab and reinstated right-handed pitcher Aaron Barrett from the 15-day disabled list on Friday. Center fielder Denard Span was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to July 7, with back tightness and right-handed pitcher Jordan Zimmermann was placed on the paternity list.
Difo, 23, joins the Nationals for the third time this season. Most recently recalled on June 28 as the 26th-man for Washington’s doubleheader at Philadelphia, Difo has appeared in six games at the Major League level in 2015. He collected his first Major League hit in his first MLB at-bat, May 19 vs. New York Yankees.
Difo entered 2015 rated by Baseball America as the No. 7 prospect in Washington’s chain and was cited as the “Best Defensive Infielder” in the Nationals’ Minor League system by the same publication. In 63 games between Single-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg this season, Difo is hitting .296 (74-for-250) with 19 doubles, one triple, three home runs, 32 RBI, 14 walks, 14 stolen bases and 34 runs scored.
Barrett, 27, returns to the Nationals after missing 24 games with a right bicep strain. The right-hander did not allow a run and surrendered just three hits in 3.0 IP over four rehab games with Single-A Potomac. Before his injury, Barrett was 3-2 with a 5.06 ERA in 30 games out of the Nationals’ bullpen.
Since his Major League debut on Opening Day in 2014, Barrett’s 11.18 strikeout-to-walk ratio is the 15th-best mark among National League relievers.
Span, 31, ranks 10th in the National League in batting average at .304 through 59 games this season. He’s collected 15 doubles, five home runs, 22 RBI, 24 walks and 37 runs scored while going 11-for-11 in stolen base attempts.
Zimmermann, 29, is 7-5 with a 3.05 ERA this season. The two-time All-Star has been particularly strong of late, allowing just one earned run in his previous three starts, a 0.40 ERA (1 ER/22.2 IP). Zimmermann and his wife, Mandy, are expecting their second child.
by Amanda Comak
Washington Nationals right-handed pitcher Max Scherzer was named to the 2015 National League All-Star team on Monday night. Scherzer joins right fielder Bryce Harper, who was announced Sunday as a fan-elected starter, as the Nationals’ selections to the National League squad. The 2015 AL and NL All-Star rosters were unveiled during the “Esurance All-Star Selection Show” on ESPN on Monday night.
“We are thrilled that Max and Bryce will be representing our team at this year’s All-Star Game in Cincinnati,” said Nationals Managing Principal Owner Theodore N. Lerner. “The performance of both of these players during the first half of this season has not only contributed directly and significantly to our team’s success, but it has been historic in nature as well.
“We are so fortunate to get to watch both of these talented players on a nightly basis, and we are honored to call them ours. We can’t wait to see them get the credit they so richly deserve on a stage with so many of baseball’s brightest talents.”
Scherzer joined the Nationals this past offseason, signing as a free agent on January 21, and the 2013 American League Cy Young Award winner has had quite a memorable start to his career in a Nationals uniform. Scherzer threw the second no-hitter in Nationals history (2005-present) on June 20 vs. the Pittsburgh Pirates, carrying a perfect game into the ninth inning before pinch hitter Jose Tabata was hit with a pitch on his left elbow with two outs in the frame.
The no-hitter was one of three consecutive games in which Scherzer took a perfect game into at least the sixth inning, including his start ahead of June 20 (June 14 at Milwaukee) and the one that followed (June 26 at Philadelphia). Combining his no-hitter with his complete-game, one-hit shutout at Milwaukee, Scherzer became the fifth pitcher in the Modern Era, and the first since Jim Tobin (Boston Braves, 1944) to allow one hit or fewer in back-to-back complete games.
All told, Scherzer faced 54 batters between hits allowed (7th inn. at MIL on 6/14 – 6th inn. at PHI on 6/26), and opponents were 0-for-52 in that stretch (BB, HBP). Scherzer also ran his personal consecutive scoreless innings streak to 24.0 during that three-start stretch. He completed his third game of the season on Thursday night in Atlanta, despite suffering the loss.
Twice named the National League pitcher of the Month (May and June), Scherzer was also the National League Player of the Week for June 15-21.
The 2015 All-Star Game will be played at Great American Ball Park on Tuesday, July 14th. The 86th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries.
by Amanda Comak
Following a month that featured his first career no-hitter and in the midst of one of the most dominant stretches in Major League history, Nationals right-handed pitcher Max Scherzer was named the National League Pitcher of the Month for June on Thursday.
The Nationals’ right-hander was 3-2 with a 2.33 ERA over the course of the month, but after allowing four earned runs in each his first two June starts, Scherzer carried a perfect game into at least the sixth inning in all of his final three outings.
Scherzer threw the second no-hitter in Nationals history (2005-present) on June 20 vs. the Pittsburgh Pirates at Nationals Park, and that feat only came after 8.2 perfect innings were interrupted when a slider hit pinch hitter Jose Tabata on the left elbow. That bit of history happened one start after Scherzer allowed just one hit and struck out 16 in a shutout over the Milwaukee Brewers on June 14.
Scherzer became the fifth pitcher in the Modern Era, and the first since Jim Tobin (Boston Braves, 1944), to allow one hit or fewer in back-to-back complete games (6/14 at MIL; 6/20 vs. PIT). All told, Scherzer faced 54 batters between hits allowed (7th inn. at MIL on 6/14 – 6th inn. at PHI on 6/26). Opponents were 0-for-52 in that stretch (BB, HBP) and Scherzer went 24.0 consecutive innings without surrendering a single run.
The month also included Scherzer’s 100th career victory, making him the third pitcher to notch that milestone while in a Nationals uniform. He joined Livan Hernandez (5/9/05 vs. ARI) and Jason Marquis (5/10/11 vs. ATL).
Scherzer is the first National League pitcher to take home back-to-back Pitcher of the Month awards this season, and the first since Los Angeles’ Clayton Kershaw did so in June and July, 2014. Houston’s Dallas Keuchel got the nod in the American League in April and May this year.
Since the award’s inception in 1968, 19 National League pitchers have secured back-to-back awards, including September of one year and April of the next, and just 17 have done it in the same season.
The only other pitcher in franchise history to win this award in back-to-back months was Jeff Fassero, who earned the distinction with the Montreal Expos in June and July of 1996.
This is the ninth time a Nationals player has been honored with a monthly award. Scherzer and Bryce Harper swept the awards in the month of May and they joined Chad Cordero (June, 2005), Stephen Strasburg (April, 2012), Gio Gonzalez (May, 2012), Jordan Zimmermann (July, 2012) and Jayson Werth (July 2013, July 2014) as honorees.
by Amanda Comak
The Washington Nationals returned from rehab and reinstated right-handed pitcher Doug Fister on Thursday, and optioned right-handed pitcher Taylor Hill to Triple-A Syracuse.
Fister, who will start Thursday night vs. Tampa Bay at Nationals Park, rejoins the Nationals after missing 29 games with right forearm tightness. The 31-year-old was 0-1 with a 0.93 ERA (1 ER/9.2 IP), no walks and 10 strikeouts in two rehab starts that spanned Triple-A and Double-A.
After leading the Nationals’ starting staff with 16 wins and a 2.41 ERA in 2014, Fister went 2-2 with a 4.31 ERA in seven starts this season before being placed on the disabled list on May 15. Despite missing the past month, Fister’s 2.71 ERA since the 2014 All-Star break ranks eighth in the National League and his 10 wins in that time span are tied for 10th.
Hill, 26, posted a 3.75 ERA in six appearances (12.0 IP) out of the Nationals’ bullpen. Four of Hill’s six appearances were multi-inning outings.
by Amanda Comak
The Washington Nationals added another veteran arm to their bullpen on Thursday, acquiring right-handed pitcher David Carpenter from the New York Yankees in exchange for Minor League infielder Tony Renda. Additionally, outfielder Nate McLouth was transferred to the 60-day disabled list.
Carpenter, 29, joins the Nationals in his fifth Major League season, coming to Washington after stops with Houston, Toronto, Atlanta and the New York Yankees. The veteran reliever has appeared in 210 games over the past four-plus seasons, working to an 11-11 record with a 3.73 ERA.
No stranger to the National League East, Carpenter was 10-5 with a 2.63 ERA in two seasons (2013, 2014; 121 games) with the Braves. During his time in Atlanta, Carpenter posted a 10.0 strikeouts-per-nine-innings mark, and over the course of his career (885 batters), Carpenter has worked to a 26.2 percent swing-and-miss rate.
Acquired by the Yankees from Atlanta this past January, along with Chasen Shreve, in exchange for left-hander Manny Banuelos, Carpenter appeared in 22 games for New York this season (18.2 IP) and worked to a 4.82 ERA. He was designated for assignment by the Yankees on June 3.
Renda, 24, was a second-round selection of the Nationals’ in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. The right-handed-hitting second baseman entered the season as the organization’s No. 12 prospect, per Baseball America.
A 2014 Carolina League All-Star and Arizona Fall League Fall Star, as well as the inaugural recipient (2013) of the Nationals’ “Bob Boone Award”, Renda was hitting .267 with a .333 on-base percentage with Double-A Harrisburg at the time of the trade.
by Amanda Comak
On the heels of a record-setting May that thrust him into the Major League lead in multiple offensive statistical categories, Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper was named the National League Player of the Month on Wednesday, and right-handed pitcher Max Scherzer was named the National League Pitcher of the Month after six dominant May starts.
This is the first time in Nationals history (2005-present) that the team has claimed both awards in the same month. Harper and Scherzer are also the first pair of NL teammates to win Player and Pitcher of the Month in the same month since Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun and CC Sabathia (July, 2008).
Harper and Scherzer are the sixth and seventh Nationals players to earn the monthly honors, joining Chad Cordero (June, 2005), Stephen Strasburg (April, 2012), Gio Gonzalez (May, 2012), Jordan Zimmermann (July, 2012) and Jayson Werth (July 2013, July 2014).
Currently leading the Major Leagues in home runs (T1st, 18), walks (45), slugging percentage (.718), OPS (1.188) and at-bats per home run (9.44), Harper also ranks tied for second in MLB in RBI (44), second in on-base percentage (.470), and second in runs (1st in the NL) with 43.
With 13 home runs in 26 May games – including a streak of six in a three-game span – Harper set a Nationals record (2005-present) for the most home runs hit in a single month. The baker’s dozen topped the previous Nationals mark of 12, set by Alfonso Soriano in May, 2006. Harper also became the 10th youngest player in Major League history to hit three home runs in one game, which he accomplished on May 6 vs. the New York Mets.
Harper, who won back-to-back National League Player of the Week awards last month, on May 11 and May 18, hit .360 (31-for-86) with a .495 on-base percentage and .884 slugging percentage during the month. He clubbed four doubles, one triple, 13 home runs, 28 RBI, 22 walks, two stolen bases and 24 runs scored. The 22-year-old — who led the Nationals with five game-winning RBI and six go-ahead RBI last month — drove in multiple runs in seven games, including two five-RBI performances (May 6 vs. NYM and May 8 vs. ATL) and one four-RBI day (May 17 at SDP).
Harper reached base safely in all but three of the games he played in last month (23 of 26) and reached base safely at least twice in 12 consecutive games from May 6-19, the longest such stretch in the Major Leagues this season. It was also the longest stretch of Harper’s career, and in Nationals history (2005-present).
Scherzer went 5-1 with a 1.67 ERA during the month of May – the best record and lowest ERA among National League starters who threw at least 40.0 innings last month.
Throwing at least seven innings in each of his six May starts, Scherzer tied a Nationals record (2005-present) with eight consecutive starts (dating to April 17) of at least seven innings of work. He matched Livan Hernandez’s stretch of eight straight from June 20-July 31, 2005. Scherzer and Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels were the only National League pitchers to throw 43.0 innings or more in May.
After a loss to open the month (4-0 at NYM), Scherzer picked up the win in five consecutive starts and held his opponent to one run or fewer in four of those five outings. He closed the month with a flourish, topping the Chicago Cubs on May 27 at Wrigley Field, 3-0, with seven shutout innings and 13 strikeouts.
Scherzer, who struck out 10 or more batters in four of his six starts last month, posted 56 strikeouts and just six walks in May, a 9.33 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and struck out 11.72 batters per nine innings of work. He held opponents to a .208 batting average and a miniscule 0.91 WHIP.
On the season, Scherzer ranks among Major League leaders in the following categories: ERA (3rd/1st in NL, 1.85), strikeouts (T3rd, 90), innings pitched (2nd/1st in NL, 77.2), opponents’ batting average (8th, .202), strikeouts per nine innings (8th, 10.43) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (4th, 7.50).
The Nationals’ right-hander joins right fielder Bryce Harper in a clean sweep of the National League Player and Pitcher of the Month awards for Washington. This is the first time in Nationals history (2005-present) that the team has claimed both awards in the same month. Harper and Scherzer are also the first pair of NL teammates to win Player and Pitcher of the Month in the same month since Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun and CC Sabathia (July, 2008).
Scherzer and Harper are the sixth and seventh Nationals players to earn the monthly honors, joining Chad Cordero (June, 2005), Stephen Strasburg (April, 2012), Gio Gonzalez (May, 2012), Jordan Zimmermann (July, 2012) and Jayson Werth (July 2013, July 2014).
by Amanda Comak
Ryan Zimmerman is used to this by now. Ninth inning, 10th inning, game on the line, standing at home plate. He’s used to hearing his bat crack, watching the flight of the ball, moving his way toward first base, thrusting that right arm in the air. He’s used to flipping his helmet away and diving into a pile of waiting, happy teammates.
He’s used to it, because, quite frankly, since he hit his first walk-off home run on June 18, 2006 — in the 88th game of his career — no one in the Major Leagues has done it more.
Zimmerman’s latest walk-off home run, a two-run shot that clanked off the right field foul pole and into the home team’s bullpen at Nationals Park on Tuesday night, was the 10th of the first baseman’s career. Ten. Some players — good players — go entire careers without hitting one. Zimmerman has hit 10.
“Pretty special, isn’t it?” Nationals Manager Matt Williams said after Tuesday’s game. “You don’t realize things like that until it’s pointed out. It just means he knows what he’s doing.”
Zimmerman is now in some heady company. The most walk-off home runs hit in National League history? He’s third on a list that starts with Stan Musial (12) and Tony Perez (11), and tied on that list with Mike Schmidt (10), Albert Pujols (10), and Barry Bonds (10). Among active players, only Pujols (11) and David Ortiz (11) have hit more walk-off home runs in their careers than Zimmerman. Pujols is in his 15th season. Ortiz is in his 19th.
So, as this is the Nationals’ 10th-Anniversary season, let’s take a walk down memory lane and check out each and every one of Zimmerman’s 10 walk-offs.
May 19, 2015 — Nationals vs. Yankees, tied 6-6, bottom of the 10th vs. LHP Andrew Miller:
July 26, 2013 — Nationals vs. Mets, tied 1-1, bottom of the ninth vs. RHP LaTroy Hawkins:
August 19, 2011 — Nationals vs. Phillies, tied 4-4, bottom of the ninth vs. RHP Ryan Madson (walk-off Grand Slam):
July 31, 2010 — Nationals vs. Phillies, behind 4-5, bottom of the ninth vs. RHP Brad Lidge:
July 6, 2010 — Nationals vs. Padres, tied 5-5, bottom of the ninth vs. RHP Luke Gregerson:
September 6, 2009 — Nationals vs. Marlins, behind 3-4, bottom of the ninth vs. RHP Juan Carlos Oviedo:
May 12, 2007 — Nationals vs. Marlins, tied 3-3, bottom of the ninth vs. Jorge Julio (walk-off Grand Slam):
July 4, 2006 — Nationals vs. Marlins, down 3-4, bottom of the ninth vs. Joe Borowski:
June 18, 2006 — Nationals vs. Yankees, down 1-2, bottom of the ninth vs. Chien-Ming Wang:
by Amanda Comak
The Washington Nationals recalled infielder Wilmer Difo from Double-A Harrisburg on Tuesday and placed outfielder Jayson Werth on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to May 16, with a left wrist contusion.
Difo, 23, is coming off a breakout 2014 season in which he was named the South Atlantic League’s Most Valuable Player. Hitting .315 with Single-A Hagerstown, Difo led the league with 176 hits, while ranking second in total bases (263), second in stolen bases (49), fourth in RBI (90) and fourth in runs scored (91).
Added to the Nationals’ 40-man roster this past offseason, Difo hit .318 with one double, one triple, four RBI and one walk in his first Major League Spring Training (13 games) and has had a strong start to the year.
Recently promoted to Double-A Harrisburg, Difo is hitting .308 (16-for-52) with eight doubles, one triple, four RBI, one walk and three stolen bases in his first exposure to the Eastern League. In 19 games with Single-A Potomac to open the 2015 season, Difo hit .320 with a .386 on-base percentage and a .533 slugging percentage. He clubbed seven doubles and three home runs, walked eight times, stole four bases and drove in 14 runs.
Following the 2014 season, Difo was named the No. 7 prospect in the Nationals’ organization and cited by Baseball America as the “Best Defensive Infielder” in Washington’s system.
A product of the Nationals’ revamped scouting efforts in the Dominican Republic, the switch-hitting middle-infielder hit .324 with a .370 on-base percentage and .568 slugging percentage as a right-hander in 2014, and .311 with a .357 OBP and .436 SLG as a left-hander in 2014.
His tremendous season helped him earn the Bob Boone Award, which is granted annually to the Nationals Minor Leaguer who demonstrates the professionalism, leadership, loyalty, passion, selflessness, durability, determination and work ethic required to play the game the ‘Washington Nationals way.’
Werth, 35, hits the DL for the second time this season after he missed the season’s first nine games as he completed his recovery from offseason AC joint surgery. In 27 games since his return, Werth is 21-for-101 (.208) with two doubles, two home runs, 12 RBI, 12 walks, and 17 runs scored. In the 11 games before taking a pitch off his left wrist, Werth hit .275 (11-for-40) with a .375 on-base percentage.
by Amanda Comak
The Washington Nationals recalled left-handed pitcher Sammy Solis from Double-A Harrisburg and outfielder Michael A. Taylor from Triple-A Syracuse on Wednesday, placed outfielder Reed Johnson on the 15-day disabled list with a left calf strain and optioned right-handed pitcher A.J. Cole to Syracuse.
Solis, 26, joins the Nationals for the first Major League assignment of his career. Should he pitch in either of the Nationals’ next two games, he will become the fifth rookie to make his Major League debut this month for Washington.
Entering the season as the highest-rated left-handed pitcher in the Nationals’ system (No. 15), according to Baseball America, Solis is 0-0 with a 2.25 ERA in three games for Harrisburg this season. Joining the Senators from extended Spring Training just 10 days ago, Solis struck out three batters in four innings and allowed one earned run. Over the course of his Minor League career, Solis is 12-5 with a 3.30 ERA.
A second-round selection of the Nationals’ in the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft, Solis has consistently been rated as one of the organization’s top talents. Working hard to come back from 2012 Tommy John surgery, Solis is 4-2 with a 2.58 ERA since returning in 2013.
Taylor, 24, rejoins the Nationals for his second Major League stint of the season. The dynamic outfielder started in center field for the Nationals on Opening Day, and hit .271 with a .314 on-base percentage and a .500 slugging percentage in 12 games while Denard Span completed his rehab from core muscle surgery.
In 29 Major League games, the 2014 Double-A Eastern League Rookie of the Year has hit .241 with six doubles, one triple, three home runs, 13 RBI and two stolen bases.
Taylor, who Baseball America rated as the No. 2 prospect and “Best Athlete” in the Nationals’ system, as well as the No. 32 prospect in all of baseball entering the season, has appeared in seven games for Triple-A Syracuse this year. He’s hit .417 (10-for-24) for the Chiefs, with a .500 OBP and .580 SLG with one double, one home run, three RBI and two stolen bases.
Johnson, 38, has appeared in 12 games for the Nationals this season, going 4-for-18 at the plate, including 1-for-7 with an RBI-double as a pinch hitter. The veteran outfielder signed a Minor League contract with the Nationals on March 30 and made the Major League roster out of Spring Training.
Cole, 23, made his Major League debut against the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night, starting and tossing two innings in the Nationals’ 13-12 comeback victory at Turner Field. Cole allowed nine runs (four earned) on nine hits and one walk with one strikeout.
by Amanda Comak
The Washington Nationals recalled right-handed pitcher A.J. Cole from Triple-A Syracuse on Tuesday and optioned right-handed pitcher Rafael Martin there. Cole will start Tuesday night’s game against the Atlanta Braves, his Major League debut.
Cole, 23, entered the 2015 season ranked as the Nationals’ No. 6 prospect, and the No. 91 prospect in all of baseball, according to Baseball America. The hard-throwing right-hander, who was added to the team’s 40-man roster this past winter, will join the Nationals for the first Major League assignment of his career.
Coming off a tremendous 2014 season, in which he posted a 13-3 record with a 3.16 ERA in 25 starts between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse, Cole is 0-0 with a 2.40 ERA in three starts for Triple-A Syracuse this season.
Cole, who owns a career strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4.28/1, has struck out 9.0 batters per nine innings over the course of his Minor League career.
A fourth-round selection of the Nationals’ in the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft, Cole was traded to the Oakland Athletics in the six-player deal that brought left-hander Gio Gonzalez to Washington in advance of the 2012 season. The right-hander was then re-acquired by Rizzo in January of 2013, along with right-hander Blake Treinen and left-hander Ian Krol, in the three-team transaction that sent Michael Morse to Seattle.
Martin, 30, made his Major League debut for the Nationals on April 15 at Boston in dominant fashion: striking out five consecutive batters in two scoreless innings. The right-hander appeared in four games for the Nationals, working to a 9.00 ERA with 11 strikeouts.