by Amanda Comak
The Washington Nationals recalled outfielder Matt den Dekker from Triple-A Syracuse on Thursday and placed first baseman Ryan Zimmerman on the 15-day disabled list with left foot plantar fasciitis.
den Dekker, 27, joins the Nationals for the third time this season. A member of the Nationals’ Opening Day roster, den Dekker appeared in four games for the Major League team, going 0-for-2 in two at-bats off the bench. He was also added last week as the 26th man for the nightcap in the Nationals’ doubleheader split with Toronto, but he did not appear in the game.
In 47 games for Triple-A Syracuse this season den Dekker has hit .234 (41-for-175) with seven doubles, two home runs, 20 RBI, 16 walks and eight stolen bases.
Acquired from the New York Mets on March 30 in exchange for left-handed pitcher Jerry Blevins, den Dekker is a career .236 hitter with a .322 on-base percentage. He’s hit 12 doubles, one home run and 11 stolen bases in 84 Major League games (212 at-bats).
Zimmerman, 30, is hitting .209 with a .265 on-base percentage and a .346 slugging percentage through 56 games this season. He’s clubbed 12 doubles, one triple, five home runs, and driven in 34 runs.
The Washington Nationals selected the contract of right-handed pitcher Joe Ross, optioned right-handed pitcher A.J. Cole to Triple-A Syracuse, and moved right-handed pitcher Craig Stammen to the 60-day disabled list on Saturday. President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcements.
Ross, 22, joins the Nationals for his first Major League assignment after going 2-2 with a 2.81 ERA (16 ER/51.1 IP) in nine starts for Double-A Harrisburg. He has struck out 54 while allowing 46 hits and walking 12 over those nine starts. At the time of his promotion, Ross ranked among Eastern League pitchers in ERA (T10th, 2.81) and strikeouts (4th, 54). His 54 strikeouts led all Washington Minor Leaguers while his 2.81 ERA was good for fourth.
Ross’ most impressive start of the season came on April 25 vs. Reading (PHI) when he struck out eight batters in 7.0 innings of two-hit, shutout ball in Harrisburg’s 7-4 win. In his most recent start on May 31 at Bowie (BAL), Ross allowed one earned run on three hits in 7.0 innings of work, striking out seven and not walking a batter in the 6-4 defeat.
Ross was acquired, along with a player to be named later, from the San Diego Padres in a three-team trade that sent outfielder Steven Souza Jr. and Minor League left-handed pitcher Travis Ott to the Tampa Bay Rays on December 18, 2014. He was originally selected by the Padres in the first round (25th overall) of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. He is a native of Berkeley, California where he attended Bishop O’Dowd High School. Ross’ older brother, Tyson, pitches for the San Diego Padres.
Prior to being acquired by the Nationals, Ross was rated by Baseball America as the No. 4 prospect in San Diego’s chain. He went a combined 10-6 with a 3.92 ERA in 23 games/22 starts between Single-A Lake Elsinore and Double-A San Antonio in 2014. While with Lake Elsinore, he was named a California League mid-season All-Star and garnered California League Pitcher of the Week honors on May 5. He was promoted to Double-A in mid-July and, following the season, was rated by Baseball America as the No. 6 prospect in the Single-A California League.
Cole, 23, has appeared in three games for Washington (one start), notching one save in 9.1 innings of work.
Nationals reinstate INF Anthony Rendon and recall RHP A.J. Cole, option RHP Taylor Jordan and INF Wilmer Difo
The Washington Nationals returned from rehab and reinstated infielder Anthony Rendon from the 15-day disabled list and recalled right-handed pitcher A.J. Cole from Triple-A Syracuse on Thursday. They optioned right-handed pitcher Taylor Jordan to Triple-A Syracuse and infielder Wilmer Difo to Double-A Harrisburg.
Rendon, 24, missed the first 53 games of the 2015 season recovering from a left knee sprain, and then a left oblique strain. He returns to the Nationals’ active roster after eight total Minor League rehab games (five on his most recent assignment). Over the course of his rehab, Rendon hit .250 with three doubles, three RBI, three walks and one run scored in eight games for Double-A Harrisburg.
The Nationals’ first-round selection in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, Rendon is coming off a superb 2014 season in which he took home the National League Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger Award for third basemen and finished fifth in the National League Most Valuable Player Award voting.
Rendon, who is an exceptional defender at second and third base, hit .287 with 39 doubles, six triples, 21 home runs, 83 RBI, 58 walks and 111 runs scored in 153 games in 2014. The gifted infielder ranked fourth in the Major Leagues (second in the NL) in wins above replacement (6.6), according to FanGraphs.com, at the conclusion of the season.
Cole, 23, returns to the Nationals for his third Major League assignment of 2015. He has appeared in three games for the Nationals, recording his first career save on May 15 at San Diego. In six games for Triple-A Syracuse, he is 0-2 with a 3.26 ERA. Cole entered the 2015 season ranked as the Nationals’ No. 6 prospect, and the No. 91 prospect in all of baseball, according to Baseball America.
Difo, 23, appeared in five games in his first big league assignment. The Nationals’ No. 7 prospect and “Best Defensive Infielder” in Washington’s system, according to Baseball America, went 1-for-5 during his call-up. He picked up the first Major League hit of his career in his first at-bat, a pinch-hitting appearance on May 19 vs. the New York Yankees.
Jordan, 26, appeared in two games for the Nationals during his second MLB stint of 2015. He went 0-2 with an 8.44 ERA, making one relief appearance and one start for Washington.
by Amanda Comak
The Washington Nationals returned from rehab and reinstated right-handed pitcher Casey Janssen on Friday and placed left-handed pitcher Sammy Solis on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to May 18, with left shoulder inflammation.
Janssen, 33, joins the Nationals’ active roster for the first time this season after missing the first 41 games with right shoulder inflammation. The eight-year Major League veteran, who signed with the Nationals this past February, made six rehab appearances between Single-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg. He allowed two earned runs in 5.2 innings pitched and held opponents to a .182 batting average.
No stranger to late-inning relief, Janssen brings 90 career saves to the Nationals’ bullpen. The right-hander is a career 29-24 with a 3.52 ERA in 493.0 innings pitched, including five consecutive Major League seasons with an ERA of 3.95 or lower.
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 172.0 innings pitched. Before the All-Star break in 2014, Janssen was 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA in 23 games (22 IP) with 14 saves.
Solis, 26, is 1-0 with a 5.00 ERA in five appearances. Called up for his first Major League assignment on April 29, Solis began his Major League career with six scoreless innings over three appearances, including his impressive Major League debut (2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 K), vs. the New York Mets on April 30 at Citi Field.
by Amanda Comak
Following an historically powerful week with an encore that continued to solidify his place among the game’s elite, Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper earned his second consecutive National League Player of the Week award on Monday.
Harper went 12-for-23 (.522) over the last week, posting a .656 on-base percentage and a 1.087 slugging percentage, courtesy of two doubles, one triple, three home runs, nine RBI, nine walks, 10 runs scored and two stolen bases. In the month of May, Harper is hitting .411 with a .529 OBP and a .982 SLG.
Since the inception of the award in 1974, the Nationals’ 22-year-old right fielder is just the 10th player in its history to take home back-to-back Player of the Week honors.
Harper joins Domonic Brown (2013: May 20-26; May 27-June 2), Andrew McCutchen (2012: July 2-8; July 9-15), Matt Kemp (2012: April 4-8; April 9-15), Troy Tulowitzki (2010: Sept. 6-12; Sept. 13-19), Jose Reyes (2006: June 12-18; June 19-25), Jason Bay (2006: May 15-21; May 22-28), Jeff Bagwell (1994: June 13-19; June 20-26), Tony Gwynn (1988: July 4-10; July 11-17), and Jason Thompson (1982: April 26-May 2; May 3-9) as consecutive winners.
Breaking Harper’s splits down to just the last 11 games (since May 6), he is 22-for-39 (.564) with 22 RBI. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only other player in the last 75 seasons to compile a batting average over .550 with at least 22 RBI in an 11-game span during a single season was Colorado Rockies outfielder Larry Walker. Walker, who hit .571 with 22 RBI during 11 games in April, 1997, was the first to tally such gaudy numbers since Rudy York (.556, 26 RBI) did it for the Detroit Tigers in Sept. 1940.
Thanks to his torrid pace, Harper now leads the Major Leagues in the following categories: runs (36), RBI (37), walks (36), on-base percentage (.476), slugging percentage (.729), OPS (1.206), at-bats per home run (9.50), plate appearances per walk (4.72) and WAR (3.5 per Baseball Reference). He also leads the National League in home runs (14, 2nd in MLB) and intentional walks (5).
This is the second Player of the Week award of Harper’s career, following last week’s honors, and the 13th such honor for the Nationals organization.
He joins Jordan Zimmermann (Sept. 22-28, 2014; June 2-8, 2014), Adam LaRoche (Sept. 1-7, 2014), Jayson Werth (June 30-July 6, 2014), Ryan Zimmerman (July 16-22, 2012; Aug. 15-21, 2011; July 30-Aug. 5, 2007), Stephen Strasburg (June 7-13, 2010), Josh Willingham (July 27-Aug. 2, 2009), Cristian Guzman (Aug. 25-31, 2008), and Nick Johnson (May 31-June 6, 2005) as honorees.
by Amanda Comak
The Washington Nationals recalled right-handed pitcher A.J. Cole from Triple-A Syracuse and placed right-handed pitcher Doug Fister on the 15-day Disabled List with right forearm tightness on Friday. President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcement.
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, joins the Nationals for the second time this season. He made his Major League debut April 28 at Atlanta (2.0 IP, 9 H, 9 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 1 K).
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 0-1 with a 2.67 ERA in five starts for Triple-A Syracuse this season.
Cole, who owns a Minor League career strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4.30/1, has struck out 8.9 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.
Fister, 31, is 2-2 this season with a 4.31 ERA. Since being acquired from the Detroit Tigers in Dec. 2013, Fister is 18-8 with a 2.78 ERA in a Nationals uniform.
Welcome to the next installment of the 2015 Minor League report, courtesy of the Nationals Baseball Communications department. All the information below reflects games played from the start of the season through yesterday (May 12).
Here are a few highlights:
WILMER DIFO – INF – HARRISBURG SENATORS
INF Wilmer Difo was promoted from Single-A Potomac to Double-A Harrisburg on May 1…In nine games with the Senators, Difo is hitting .344 (11-for-32) with seven doubles, one triple, three RBI, one walk, three stolen bases and seven runs scored…He has hit safely in seven of the nine games…In 28 games between Harrisburg and Single-A Potomac, Difo is hitting an organizational-best .327 with 14 doubles, one triple, three home runs, 17 RBI, nine walks, seven stolen bases and 20 runs scored…His 14 doubles are tied for second most in all of Minor League Baseball…For his efforts during the month of April (.320, 7 2B, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 8 BB, 4 SB, 13 R), Difo was named Organizational Player of the Month for Single-A Potomac…Difo, 23, was signed as a non-drafted free agent, June 3, 2010…He entered 2015 ranked as the No. 7 prospect in Washington’s chain, per Baseball America.
SYRACUSE CHIEFS (AAA – International League)
Overall Record: 14-18
Standing – Games Back: 5th place, -5.5, International League North
Period Record: 8-5
HOT STREAK: 3B Ian Stewart leads Nationals farmhands and is tied for the International League lead with six home runs…His 19 RBI are tied for most in the Nationals’ organization and tied for fifth in the International League…On May 8 vs. Durham (TBR), Stewart clubbed two home runs the Chiefs’ 7-6 loss to the Bulls…Since that day, Stewart is hitting .286 (6-for-21) with three home runs, six RBI, one walk and six runs scored.
HARRISBURG SENATORS (AA – Eastern League)
Overall Record: 13-18
Standing – Games Back: 3rd place, -6.5, Eastern League Western
Period Record: 9-11
VOTE FOR PEDRO: After starting the season on an 0-for-22 skid, C Pedro Severino has stayed hot, hitting .377 (23-for-61) with three doubles, two homers, 12 RBI, five walks and nine runs scored in 17 games since April 17…He has hit safely in 13 of those 17 games along the way…His .277 average on the season is tied for eighth among Nationals farmhands.
POTOMAC NATIONALS (Advanced-A – Carolina League)
Overall Record: 14-18
Standing – Games Back: 3rd place, -3.5, Carolina League Northern
Period Record: 5-8
REY OF HOPE: Through two starts, RHP Reynaldo Lopez has yet to allow an earned run in 11.0 IP…He is 2-0 and has fanned nine batters while walking two and surrendering six hits in his first taste of Carolina League action…In his 2015 debut on May 7 at Wilmington (KCR), the 21-year-old Dominican Republic-native allowed two hits while striking out three and walking none in 5.0 innings of work in Potomac’s 2-1 win…He followed that up on May 12 when he struck out six while allowing four hits in 6.0 innings at Wilmington (W2-0)…Lopez entered 2015 rated as the No. 3 prospect in Washington’s system, per Baseball America…He was signed as a non-drafted free agent, June 21, 2012.
HAGERSTOWN SUNS (A – South Atlantic League)
Overall Record: 14-17
Standing – Games Back: T6th place, -8.0, South Atlantic League Northern
Period Record: 5-7
START ME UP: Through six starts, RHP Phillips Valdez is 3-2 with a 1.50 ERA (5 ER/30.0 IP)…His 1.50 ERA ranks second in the organization and third in the South Atlantic League…From April 19-May 1, Valdez went 2-0 and did not allow an earned run in 17.0 IP…He struck out 11 and did not walk a batter during that stretch…Valdez, 23, was singed as a non-drafted free agent, May 30, 2012.
Here is the full Minor League report:
by Amanda Comak
Harper, who is currently leading the National League in home runs (11) and is tied for the Major League lead in walks (27), hit .455 with a .520 on-base percentage and a 1.318 slugging percentage over last week’s six-game stretch. He clubbed six home runs, drove in 13, doubled once and struck out only four times in 25 plate appearances. The Nationals went 5-1 in that span.
Harper began his power surge on Wednesday, hitting three home runs in his first three at-bats, making him just the fourth Nationals (2005-present) player ever to hit three home runs in one game. He joined Alfonso Soriano (April 21, 2006 vs. ATL), Adam Dunn (July 7, 2010 vs. SDP) and Ryan Zimmerman (5/29/13 at BAL) on that list.
But that was just the start of Harper’s hot week. He followed Wednesday’s performance up with a two-homer game on Friday, and a walk-off homer on Saturday (the third walk-off home run of his career), before going 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI in the Nationals’ sweep-clinching victory over Atlanta on Sunday.
Harper had already made history with five home runs in the span of two games, becoming the youngest player in MLB history to do so, besting Mark McGwire (age 23, June 1987), and the first franchise player (Nationals/Expos) to accomplish that feat as well. But his six home runs and 12 RBI put him in even more elite company. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Harper is only the fifth player in MLB history to hit at least six home runs and drive in 12 or more runs over a span of three games during the near-century for which RBI have been officially compiled (1920-present). The only other players to do so were: Tony Lazzeri (1936), Ralph Kiner (1947), Manny Ramirez (1998) and Shawn Green (2002), but none of those players hit a walk-off home run during their three-game power trip.
Harper, who is 10-for-16 with six home runs and 13 RBI in his last four games, also joined Vladimir Guerrero as the only player in franchise history to produce such gaudy totals in a four-game period. Guerrero, who once went 10-for-15 with six home runs and 14 RBI for the Expos, did it over two seasons, in the final three games of 1999 and the 2000 season opener.
At 22, Harper’s heroics also put him in elite company historically. The only other Major League players to hit at least three walk-off home runs at age 22 or younger are: Frank Robinson, Tommy Davis, Eddie Murray, Juan Gonzalez and Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He is also the 10th-youngest player in MLB history to hit three home runs in a game.
This is the first Player of the Week award for Harper, who was twice named Rookie of the Month in 2012, and the 13th such honor for the Nationals organization. He joins Jordan Zimmermann (Sept. 22-28, 2014; June 2-8, 2014), Adam LaRoche (Sept. 1-7, 2014), Jayson Werth (June 30-July 6, 2014), Ryan Zimmerman (July 16-22, 2012; Aug. 15-21, 2011; July 30-Aug. 5, 2007), Stephen Strasburg (June 7-13, 2010), Josh Willingham (July 27-Aug. 2, 2009), Cristian Guzman (Aug. 25-31, 2008), and Nick Johnson (May 31-June 6, 2005) as honorees.
by Mike Feigen
What to Watch for: Philadelphia Phillies (3-6) at Washington Nationals (3-6)
April 16–19, Nationals Park
What a difference a day makes.
The Nationals found an offensive rhythm from the very beginning of their 10-5 victory at Fenway Park on Wednesday afternoon, tagging Boston starter Wade Miley with two runs in the first inning and six more in the third. Ian Desmond and Tyler Moore belted their first home runs of the year, Bryce Harper doubled in the Nationals’ first run and reached safely three times, while Wilson Ramos cleared the bases with a three-run double during the six-run frame. Starter Gio Gonzalez, rookie Rafael Martin, and closer Drew Storen made the lead stand up, giving the Nationals a happy flight back to D.C. for their seven-game homestand against the Phillies and Cardinals.
Meanwhile, the Phillies come in losers of four straight after winning a pair of games against the Nationals last Friday and Saturday. Philadelphia was swept at Citi Field in New York, mustering just six runs in the three-game series.
Both teams could use a series win to gain their footing in what has started out as a wide-open National League East race. The Braves and Mets are both 6-3 in the early going, while the Nationals, Phillies and Marlins are three games back at 3-6. That said, it may be most important to avoid dropping three of four or getting swept this weekend. Nobody can win a division in April, but they can make it a lot more difficult on themselves with a slow start.
THURSDAY, 7:05: RHP Doug Fister (0-0, 0.00) vs. LHP Cole Hamels (0-1, 3.75)
FRIDAY, 7:05: RHP Max Scherzer (0-1, 0.66) vs. RHP Sean O’Sullivan (0-0, 3.00)
SATURDAY, 1:05: RHP Jordan Zimmermann (1-1, 8.64) vs. RHP Aaron Harang (1-1, 0.73)
SUNDAY, 1:35: RHP Stephen Strasburg (0-1, 5.06) vs. RHP David Buchanan (0-1, 18.00)
Perhaps the top advantage the Phillies have entering the four-game set at Nationals Park is that their ace is on the mound in game one. Veteran left-hander Cole Hamels allowed just one run on two hits against the Nats on April 11, also the last time Philadelphia tasted victory. After that, right-handers Sean O’Sullivan, Aaron Harang and David Buchanan provide their own challenges against the Nats’ right-handed-heavy lineup.
All four of the Nationals starters in the series could lay claim to the individual matchup advantage, though the Phillies are more left-handed dominant at the plate and pose threats of their own. However, Fister and Scherzer allowed just one combined run last Saturday and Sunday in Philadelphia, while Zimmermann and Strasburg had to face the much more dynamic Boston Red Sox attack.
The Phillies still have many of the dangerous names Nats fans will remember, but they’ve scored the fewest runs in baseball to this point, with 22 tallies through nine games (2.44 per game). Second baseman Chase Utley homered twice off Matt Harvey two days ago, proving he’s still got the bat speed to compete with the National League’s best arms.
After a slow start in which they scored just 17 runs in their first seven games, the Nationals have matched that total in the last 14 innings. Right fielder Jayson Werth has contributed to the resurgence, as he reached safely to help spark the Nats’ six-run innings on both Tuesday and Wednesday. Washington also took a step forward with Michael A. Taylor in the No. 9 spot in the order, as the young center fielder collected two singles, a double, a triple and four runs batted in over the past two games.
The Best of the Rest
The Nationals will feature a new-look bullpen from the one they featured in Philadelphia last weekend. Absent are Craig Stammen (forearm stiffness) and Xavier Cedeño (designated for assignment) and in their place are the right-handed rookie Martin as well as left-hander Felipe Rivero, who was called up prior to Thursday’s game and could make his Major League debut during the series. Martin, 30, was incredible in his Major League debut Wednesday, striking out the final five Red Sox he faced in succession.
by Amanda Comak