by Amanda Comak
The Washington Nationals recalled left-handed pitcher Matt Grace from Triple-A Syracuse on Wednesday and placed left-handed pitcher Felipe Rivero on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to April 18, with a GI bleed.
Grace joins the Nationals for the first Major League assignment of his career. The 26-year-old, who utilizes a heavy fastball/slider combination to help him induce ground balls at a high rate, is 14-5 with a 2.32 ERA since converting to a reliever in 2013.
During his breakout 2014 season, Grace went 5-1 with a 1.17 ERA in 50 appearances across Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse. He held opposing batters to a .211 average, tallied 62 strikeouts in 77 innings of work, and surrendered just one home run — while inducing ground balls at a rate of 69 percent, 24 percent higher than the Major League average (45 percent).
At the conclusion of the 2014 regular season, Grace appeared in 10 games for Mesa in the prestigious Arizona Fall League, posting a 3.18 ERA (4 ER/11.1 IP).
The California native was an eighth-round selection of the Nationals in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft out of UCLA. In five seasons in the Nationals’ Minor League system Grace has worked to a 36-25 record and a 4.20 ERA.
Rivero, 23, made his Major League debut on Friday night, pitching one inning and allowing one earned run on three hits with two strikeouts in the Nationals’ 7-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.
by Amanda Comak
The Washington Nationals got one of their most important cogs back on Sunday morning when they returned from rehab and reinstated center fielder Denard Span from the 15-day disabled list and optioned outfielder Michael A. Taylor to Triple-A Syracuse.
Span, who underwent surgery to repair a right core muscle injury on March 9, returns to the Nationals’ active roster after a three-game rehab stint with Double-A Harrisburg and Single-A Hagerstown where he went 5-for-12 (.417) with one home run, two RBI and one walk.
One of the most dynamic center fielders in the game, Span is coming off arguably his finest Major League season. Hitting .302 with a Nationals (2005-present) single-season record 184 hits in 2014, Span collected a career-high 52 extra-base hits last season, to go along with a career-best 31 stolen bases.
The 31-year-old became just the sixth qualified player in Nationals history to hit .300 or better, joining Cristian Guzman, Michael Morse, Jayson Werth, Dmitri Young and Ryan Zimmerman.
From June 28-Aug. 10, Span reeled off a 36-game on-base streak that was the second-longest in Nationals history. During that stretch, Span hit .396 with a .463 on-base percentage and a .458 slugging percentage, clubbing seven doubles and one triple, and walking 19 times.
Taylor made a strong impression during the Nationals’ first 12 games this season. Considered the best defensive outfielder in the Nationals’ system, according to Baseball America, Taylor hit .271 with a .314 on-base percentage and .500 slugging percentage. The 24-year-old currently leads all qualified National League rookies in hits (1st, 13), extra-base hits (T1st, 6), and total bases (1st, 24).
by Amanda Comak
The Washington Nationals recalled left-handed pitcher Felipe Rivero from Triple-A Syracuse on Thursday, and optioned RHP Taylor Jordan there.
Rivero, 23, joins the Nationals for his first Major League assignment and provides the team with a second left-handed reliever in the bullpen. In five Spring Training games (5.2 IP) with the Nationals this year, Rivero was 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA. He allowed just four hits and struck out six.
The hard-throwing left-hander, who made three appearances for Triple-A Syracuse before his call-up, entered the 2015 season rated by Baseball America as the No. 18 prospect (No. 2 left-handed pitching prospect) in the Nationals’ organization.
The Yaracuy, Venezuela native struck out 50 batters while walking just 19 in 53.2 IP in 2014 across three levels of the Nationals’ chain. Rivero went 2-7 with a 3.35 ERA last year, but worked exclusively as a starter. He has since transitioned to relief work. Over the course of his Minor League career, Rivero has posted 7.5 strikeouts per nine innings and done well to keep the ball in the ballpark, surrendering just 24 home runs in 442.1 IP (0.5 HR/9).
Rivero was acquired, along with catcher Jose Lobaton and minor league outfielder Drew Vettleson, on Feb. 13, 2014 as part of a four-player trade with the Tampa Bay Rays, in exchange for right-handed pitcher Nathan Karns.
Jordan, 26, joined the Nationals on Wednesday but did not pitch. In one start for Triple-A this season (April 10 at Scranton-Wilkes Barre), he tossed six scoreless innings. In 14 career Major League games, Jordan is 1-6 with a 4.31 ERA.
by Amanda Comak
by Amanda Comak
Adding depth to their outfield, the Washington Nationals acquired Matt den Dekker from the New York Mets on Monday in exchange for LHP Jerry Blevins.
den Dekker, 27, joins the Nationals after spending parts of the last two seasons with the Mets.
In 80 career Major League games, den Dekker is a career .238 hitter with a .325 on-base percentage and a .310 slugging percentage. He’s hit 12 doubles, one home run, stolen 11 bases and driven in 13 runs.
In 2014, over the course of 174 plate appearances with the Mets, den Dekker hit .250 with a .345 on-base percentage. During his time with Triple-A Las Vegas in 2014, den Dekker hit .334 with a .407 on-base percentage and a .540 slugging percentage.
A versatile player, den Dekker has experience at all three outfield positions in the Major Leagues but was primarily a center fielder during his Minor League career (446 games in center field).
A fifth-round selection of the Mets’ in the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft, den Dekker is batting .256 this spring with a .373 on-base percentage and a .512 slugging percentage. He’s hit four doubles, two triples and picked up seven RBI.
Blevins, 31, was acquired by the Nationals in Dec. 2013 from the Oakland Athletics, in exchange for OF Billy Burns. During his one season in Washington, the left-hander was 2-3 with a 4.87 ERA in 64 appearances (57.1 IP).
The Washington Nationals broadcast partners, the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) and 106.7 The Fan, will broadcast a total of 14 Nationals Spring Training games throughout the weeks leading up to the start of the 2015 regular season.
The Nationals 2015 Grapefruit League schedule features seven games televised by MASN and a combined 10 games airing on 106.7 The Fan, and partner station CBS Sports Radio 1580 AM.
Here’s the full broadcast schedule:
NATIONALS 2015 SPRING TRAINING BROADCAST SCHEDULE*
|3/7||vs. STL||1:05 p.m.||VIERA, FL||MASN / 1580AM|
|3/8||@ NYY||1:05 p.m.||Tampa, FL||106.7 The Fan|
|3/9||vs. ATL||1:05 p.m.||VIERA, FL||MASN|
|3/10||@ MIA||1:05 p.m.||Jupiter, FL||1580AM|
|3/11||vs. DET||1:05 p.m.||VIERA, FL||MASN|
|3/16||vs. HOU||1:05 p.m.||VIERA, FL||MASN|
|3/19||vs. DET||1:05 p.m.||VIERA, FL||1580 AM|
|3/21||vs. MIA||1:05 p.m.||VIERA, FL||1580AM|
|3/22||@ DET||1:05 p.m.||Lakeland, FL||1580AM|
|3/23||vs. NYY||1:05 p.m.||VIERA, FL||MASN / 1580AM|
|3/25||@STL||1:05 p.m.||Jupiter, FL||1580AM|
|3/26||vs. NYM||5:05 p.m.||VIERA, FL||MASN|
|3/27||vs. STL||1:05 p.m.||VIERA, FL||1580AM|
|4/4||vs. NYY||1:05 p.m.||WASHINGTON, DC||MASN/ 106.7 The Fan|
* Subject to change
by Amanda Comak
The Washington Nationals exercised the 2016 club option on manager Matt Williams’ contract on Saturday, solidifying the 2014 BBWAA National League Manager of the Year’s spot in the dugout through the next two seasons.
“We are happy to pick up Matt’s option for the 2016 season,” said Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo. “It shows the great confidence we have in Matt to continue to lead this team on the field.
“During his rookie season, he helped us navigate through injuries and led us to our second NL East Division title in three years. His leadership has earned him the respect of our players, coaches and his colleagues around the league.”
In his rookie season in the dugout, Williams led the Nationals to the 2014 National League East division title, as well as the best record in the National League with 96 regular-season victories. Working to strengthen a culture of accountability in the clubhouse and hard-nosed play on the field, Williams guided the Nationals’ talent-laden roster back to the postseason following a one-year absence.
“Matt’s accomplishments on the field speak for themselves,” said Managing Principal Owner Theodore N. Lerner. “He takes great pride not only in how the game is played, but in our players. We are fortunate to have Matt as our manager and look forward to him leading us to new heights.”
After stewarding the Nationals through early injuries and inconsistencies before their ascension to the largest divisional lead in Major League Baseball (17.0 games), Williams earned the 2014 BBWAA National League Manager of the Year award and the 2014 Sporting News NL Manager of the Year award.
He was the first rookie manager since 2006, and only the fourth first-year manager in history to earn the BBWAA honors.
The decorated former third baseman was named the fifth manager of the Nationals on Nov. 1, 2013, replacing Davey Johnson.
by Amanda Comak
The Washington Nationals added a veteran right-handed arm to the back-end of their bullpen on Monday, agreeing to terms with right-handed pitcher Casey Janssen on a one-year contract with a mutual option for 2016.
Janssen, 33, joins the Nationals after 10 years in the Toronto Blue Jays organization, including five consecutive Major League seasons with an ERA of 3.95 or lower.
“We are happy to add Casey Janssen to our stable of relief arms,” said Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo. “We’re excited about what he will bring to our bullpen – on the mound, as one of the most effective and consistent relievers the last several years, as well as in the clubhouse.
“He is a veteran guy who has a plethora of experience in late, high-leverage innings, and we’re thrilled to add him to our mix.”
In 2014, Janssen was 3-3 with a 3.94 ERA over 45.2 innings pitched. From 2011-2013, however, Janssen was 11-2 with a 2.46 ERA while appearing in 173 games (102 games finished), racking up 58 saves, 170 strikeouts, and posting a 0.977 cumulative WHIP over 172 IP.
Before the All-Star break in 2014, Janssen was 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA in 23 games (22 IP) with 14 saves. Over the course of his career, Janssen is 29-24 with a 3.52 ERA, 90 saves, and 368 strikeouts in 493.0 IP.
The third Blue Jays pitcher ever to record three straight 20-save seasons, the veteran right-hander has significant experience in late-inning roles, including 90 career saves – 81 of which were earned in the previous three seasons alone.
With the addition of Janssen, the Nationals have designated right-handed pitcher Eric Fornataro for assignment. Fornataro was acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals on a waiver claim in November 2014. In eight Major League games in 2014, Fornataro was 0-0 with a 4.66 ERA.
by Amanda Comak
Solidifying their starting rotation as arguably the best assembled in Major League Baseball, the Washington Nationals agreed to terms with 2013 American League Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer on a seven-year contract on Wednesday. Scherzer will be announced in a 2 pm press conference.
“We are delighted to welcome Max Scherzer to our organization,” said Theodore N. Lerner, Managing Principal Owner of the Washington Nationals. “An incredibly talented and widely-feared pitcher, Max brings even more depth to an already outstanding rotation. We are confident he will make significant contributions to our pursuit of winning a World Series championship.”
The right-hander is 91-50 with a 3.58 ERA in 207 career games (198 starts) during his seven year career. Since 2012, he has posted at least 10.0 strikeouts/9.0 innings pitched and has eclipsed the 200.0 inning barrier for two straight seasons (2013-14). Since 2009, his first full Major League campaign, Scherzer has made at least 30 starts each season while posting double-digit wins in five straight years (2010-14).
“We could not be happier to add a player of Max’s caliber to our stable of starting pitchers,” said Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo. “It’s not every day that a team adds a Cy Young Award winner to its roster. He is a playoff-tested ace, and we’re excited to call him a part of our family.”
While helping to lead the Tigers to four consecutive AL Central titles, Scherzer earned the 2013 AL Cy Young award after leading the American League in wins (21), while ranking second in strikeouts (240), strikeouts per nine innings (10.8), quality starts (25), batting average against (.198), and fifth in ERA (2.90) and innings pitched (214.1). Scherzer followed that up by going 18-5 with a 3.15 ERA in 2014, while posting a career-high 220.1 IP, striking out 252 batters (10.3 batters per nine innings), and finishing fifth in the Cy Young voting.
During his five seasons in the American League, Scherzer has averaged 203 innings pitched per season, to go along with 216 strikeouts (1,081 total) and a 3.52 ERA.
The right-hander joins a rotation that includes three pitchers who finished in the top-10 in 2014 National League Cy Young voting: Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister and Stephen Strasburg, along with 15-game winner Tanner Roark, who posted the 12th-best ERA in the NL (2.85), and two-time All-Star Gio Gonzalez.
Before the acquisition of Scherzer, ESPN.com had already ranked the Nationals rotation as the best in the Major Leagues entering 2015.
Originally drafted by Rizzo, who was then the Diamondbacks’ Vice President of Scouting Operations, Scherzer was selected by Arizona in the first round (No. 11 overall) of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Missouri.
Scherzer made his Major League debut on April 29, 2008, and since that time he has compiled the eighth-most strikeouts (1321) of any starting pitcher in the Major Leagues – putting him on a short list of strikeout masters with the likes of Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw.
by Amanda Comak
Escobar, an eight-year Major League veteran, joins the Nationals after stops in Atlanta (2007-10), Toronto (2010-12) and Tampa (2012-14). He was traded to the A’s just four days ago (Jan. 10), along with INF/OF Ben Zobrist, in exchange for C John Jaso, INF Daniel Robertson, OF Boog Powell and cash considerations.
The slick-fielding infielder is a career .276 hitter with a .347 on-base percentage and a .381 slugging percentage. A shortstop for the majority of his Major League career, Escobar has started 950 games at shortstop since 2008 – the most in the Major Leagues over that span. Escobar started 20 games for the Braves at second base in 2007 – a season after which he finished sixth in the Rookie of the Year voting – and has experience at third base as well.
Escobar, 32, hit .258 with seven home runs and 39 RBI in 137 games for Tampa Bay in 2014. In his previous two seasons, both with the Rays, Escobar has averaged 145 games played and hit .257 with a .328 on-base percentage, 45 doubles, 16 home runs and 95 RBI.
Against National League opponents (472 games), Escobar is a career .291 hitter with a .366 on-base percentage and a .407 slugging percentage.
After defecting from Cuba in 2004, Escobar was drafted by the Braves in the second round (No. 75 overall) of the 2005 MLB First-Year Player Draft.
Acquired in Dec., 2007, from the New York Yankees in exchange for RHP Jonathan Albaladejo, Clippard is the only reliever to appear in more than 70 games each of the last five seasons (2010-14). He went 7-4 with one save and a 2.18 ERA in 2014 and, for the second time in his career (also 2011), led Major League Baseball in holds with 40. His 2014 season was just the third 40-hold campaign in MLB history (TBR’s Joel Peralta 41 in 2013, SDP’s Luke Gregerson 40 in 2010).