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
by Mike Feigen
What to Watch for: Washington Nationals (2-4) at Boston Red Sox (4-2)
April 13–15, Fenway Park, Boston
The Nationals will look to build on the momentum of their extra-innings victory on Sunday in Philadelphia, as they travel to Boston for the Red Sox’ home-opening series. Washington scored twice in the top of the 10th inning in Sunday’s 4-3 win, capitalizing on doubles from newcomers Yunel Escobar and Clint Robinson, a run-scoring wild pitch and an RBI single by Wilson Ramos.
The Red Sox dropped a 14-4 decision on Sunday Night Baseball in New York against the Yankees, as starter Clay Buchholz was battered for seven runs in the first inning. Despite winning two of three in the Bronx, the Red Sox put a lot of pressure on their bullpen, gutting out a 19-inning win on Friday night and needing 4.2 innings of relief on Sunday as well. Boston does get closer Koji Uehara back, a key ingredient in their World Series run in 2013.
With just 13 runs scored in their first six games of the year, the Nationals hope the return of Jayson Werth to the lineup will spark the club. The veteran outfielder has slashed .304/.396/.491 with 41 home runs, 61 doubles and 164 RBI over the past two seasons, highlighting his importance to the lineup. More importantly, an uptick in production will take some of the pressure off the Nationals’ pitching staff, a group that has a stellar 2.32 ERA through the first 54.1 innings of the season.
The two teams don’t have much history, but the Nationals swept the Sox behind strong starting performances by Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez in June of 2012 — who happen to be the Nats’ starters the next three days.
MONDAY, 3:05: RHP Jordan Zimmermann (1-0, 1.50) at RHP Rick Porcello (0-1, 4.50)
TUESDAY, 6:10: RHP Stephen Strasburg (0-1, 5.06) at RHP Justin Masterson (1-0, 3.00)
WEDNESDAY, 1:35: LHP Gio Gonzalez (0-1, 4.26) at LHP Wade Miley (0-0, 3.38)
The Nationals hope to get off to a strong start in the series behind the right arm of Jordan Zimmermann, a pitcher who hasn’t suffered a loss over his last 12 starts dating back to July 28, 2014. They will then give the ball to Stephen Strasburg, who took the loss against the Mets this past Wednesday, and Gio Gonzalez, who took a 1-0 lead into the seventh inning on Friday in Philadelphia.
Boston will counter with a pair of sinkerball specialists in the first two contests, as they hope to keep the Nationals’ powerful bats from clearing the Green Monster. The Nationals have five home runs in their first six games, though all have been solo shots. Wade Miley will pitch game three of the series, a pitcher the Nats have faced five times in the past four seasons when he was with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Ryan Zimmerman is 4-for-7 with three doubles and a pair of walks against the quick-working southpaw.
Boston’s attack features two new stars in the heart of the order, both of whom have worn out Washington pitching over the years. Hanley Ramirez, who moved from shortstop to left field this season after joining the team as a free agent from the Los Angeles Dodgers, has hit an incredible .336/.418/.623 with 30 home runs against the Nationals in just 121 career games, while third baseman and former San Francisco Giant Pablo Sandoval has hit .330/.370/.500 against Nats pitchers. Veteran sluggers David Ortiz and Mike Napoli are off to slow starts for the Red Sox, hitting just .130 (3-for-23) and .053 (1-for-19) on the young season.
The Nationals are still without Denard Span and Anthony Rendon at the top of the order, but Werth’s return could be a huge boost to the rest of the lineup. Escobar has been a pleasant surprise in the No. 2 spot thus far, hitting .304/.385/.391 with three walks and no strikeouts through the first six games of the season, while Robinson has four hits in 10 at-bats and could see time in the outfield or at designated hitter during the series.
Right fielder Bryce Harper has two home runs and a .346 on-base percentage on the young season, but hopes to see more RBI opportunities with the lineup becoming healthier.
The Best of the Rest
With Werth returning to the team today, Tyler Moore slides out of the regular lineup with Matt den Dekker joining Triple-A Syracuse. Moore is 0-for-12 on the year so far, but could regain his form in a familiar bench role. Left-hander Matt Thornton, who won a ring with the Red Sox in 2013, has yet to allow a run in 20 appearances in a Washington uniform. Former MVP Dustin Pedroia remains one of the toughest outs in the game, but has been quiet since homering twice against Cole Hamels on Opening Day.
by Amanda Comak
The Washington Nationals’ lineup got one of its biggest bats back on Monday as outfielder Jayson Werth was returned from rehab and reinstated from the 15-day disabled list, and outfielder Matt den Dekker was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse.
Werth, 35, returns to the Nationals’ active roster after missing the first six games of the 2015 season following offseason (January 9) surgery on the AC joint in his right shoulder. On a three-game rehab assignment with Single-A Potomac, Werth was 1-for-6 with three walks and one home run.
A career .276 hitter with a .370 on-base percentage, Werth has hit .282 with a .375 on-base percentage and a .452 slugging percentage in his first four seasons with the Nationals (507 games). Since arriving in the District in 2011, Werth has hit 108 doubles, five triples and 66 home runs. He has driven in 253 runs, stolen 46 bases and been caught stealing just seven times.
The veteran outfielder will transition his primary defensive position from right field to left field this season with Bryce Harper taking over in right.
den Dekker, 27, appeared in four games for the Nationals off the bench. He was 0-for-2 at the plate. den Dekker was acquired from the New York Mets on March 30 in exchange for left-handed pitcher Jerry Blevins.
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