Archive for the ‘ What to Watch for ’ Category

What to Watch for: 9.29.13

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Washington Nationals (86-75) vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (80-81)

RHP Tanner Roark (7-1, 1.74) vs. LHP Wade Miley (10-10, 3.63) 

The visiting clubhouse at Chase Field was light and boisterous on Sunday, the final day of the 2013 regular season. A half-dozen regular starters, none of whom were penciled into the lineup for the season finale, took in breakfast while they absorbed the first slate of NFL games on the RedZone channel. Hoots and hollers sprung up from the back rooms, where a season-long challenge was determined with a final weigh-in. And for the last time, Davey Johnson huddled with the media in his office, in uniform for one final game.

In typical Davey fashion, he refused to let the moment become too sentimental.

“It’s not like I’m dying tomorrow,” he quipped, after a particularly overwrought question about what it all meant.

He did allow himself a moment of reflection, though, about his five decades in the game.

“I feel melancholy, because this is a great group of guys, a great organization, and the city that made me love baseball, with the Senators,” he said. “My life has come full circle.”

Once a bat boy for the original Nationals, Johnson helped return baseball glory to Washington by guiding the 2012 club to the first postseason in The District since 1933. But despite repeated attempts to cajole his favorite moment from the past two-and-a-half seasons, Johnson played his cards close to the vest.

“Everywhere I go, my goal is always to make the team better,” he explained, saying that he would leave the decision on Washington’s next skipper to the man who appointed him, Mike Rizzo. “Well, the last manager he hired did a good job. I hope.”

Johnson will head back to D.C., then home to Florida, where he says his golf group is already set for Wednesday. He has joked since Spring Training about his impending vacation to Bora Bora, and reiterated that he has no desire to be a Major League manager next season. But the charm of the game still pulls at him.

“When you love the game as much as I love this game, with the competition, you just enjoy it,” he said.

Johnson will return as a senior advisor to Rizzo next season, but what about other opportunities the game might afford him?

“I never say never to anything, I’m always open for new challenges,” he said. “Heck, I’ve already got a job to manage in the Florida Collegiate Summer League next summer.”

And so, just like the season itself, while Davey’s career as manager of the Nationals comes to a close, it does not really end. After all, pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in about 19 weeks.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Jeff Kobernus LF

2. Anthony Rendon 2B

3. Scott Hairston RF

4. Tyler Moore 1B

5. Zach Walters SS

6. Steve Lombardozzi 2B

7. Jhonatan Solano C

8. Eury Perez CF

9. Tanner Roark RHP

FINISHING STRONG

Dating to August 9, Washington owns Major League Baseball’s best record (32-15, .680). Over the same span, Washington paces the National League in runs scored (235) and run differential (+70).

3B-SPAN

Denard Span enters the final day of the regular season leading MLB with a career-high 11 triples. No D.C.-based big leaguer has ever led MLB in triples, although 3B Howie Shanks (18 in 1921) and SS Joe Cassidy (19 in 1904) did tie for the MLB lead in three-baggers. In 2009 with the Twins, Span tied Jacoby Ellsbury for the AL lead with 10 triples.

ROAD LESS TRAVELED

The Nationals are 105-94 on the road under Davey Johnson. The corresponding .528 road win percentage in that span ranks third in MLB behind only Texas (.562) and Los Angeles (NL) (.534).

What to Watch for: 9.28.13

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Washington Nationals (85-75) vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (80-80)

RHP Dan Haren (9-14, 4.87) vs. RHP Brandon McCarthy (5-10, 4.64)

The Nationals hit two of the three longest home runs in baseball last night, as Wilson Ramos followed Jayson Werth’s three-run blast in the fifth inning (first, 448 feet) with one of his own in the eighth (third, 423 feet). Werth’s blast matched the longest of his career, also matching Ian Desmond’s August 14 drive off Tim Lincecum for the second-longest hit by a National this season. Desmond’s Kauffman Stadium blast 11 days later checks in as the longest by a Washington batter in 2013 at 455 feet.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Jayson Werth RF

4. Bryce Harper LF

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Wilson Ramos C

7. Chad Tracy 1B

8. Steve Lombardozzi 2B

9. Dan Haren RHP

NAT WERTH

Jayson Werth is the only National Leaguer to rank in the top five in OPS (third, .935), slugging percentage (third, .535), batting average (fourth, .319) and on-base percentage (fifth, .400). At .935, Werth currently weighs in with the second-best OPS total in the Nationals nine-year history.

POWER SURGE

At the completion of play on September 1, Ryan Zimmerman was tied for 38th in the NL with 15 home runs. Zimmerman has hit 11 long balls and is currently tied for fifth in the NL with a team-leading 26 homers. Zimmerman’s 11 homers this month are the most in Major League Baseball (Hunter Pence, 10) and have established a Nationals record for the month of September. The only National to hit more home runs in single month: Alfonso Soriano – 12 in May, 2006.

20 x 5

Thanks to Ryan Zimmerman (26), Jayson Werth (25), Ian Desmond (20), Bryce Harper (20), and Adam LaRoche (20), the Nationals are one of three teams with a quintet of 20-homer bats, joining Atlanta and Toronto.

What to Watch for: 9.27.13

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Washington Nationals (84-75) vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (80-79)

RHP Stephen Strasburg (7-9, 3.02) vs. LHP Patrick Corbin (14-7, 3.28)

Washington opens its final series of the 2013 season Friday night in Phoenix against the Arizona Diamondbacks. While the series does not have any postseason implications, the opening matchup will pit two of the brightest young pitchers in the National League against one another as Stephen Strasburg faces off against Patrick Corbin. These two met earlier this year with each allowing two runs over 7.0 innings of work in a game that was eventually won by Arizona, 3-2 in 11 innings.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Jeff Kobernus LF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Jayson Werth RF

4. Bryce Harper CF

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Wilson Ramos C

7. Tyler Moore LF

8. Anthony Rendon 2B

9. Stephen Strasburg RHP

EVEN STEPHEN

Stephen Strasburg will make his career-high 30th start of the season tonight. He will also add to his career-best innings total, which sits at 176.0 entering play. Strasburg has improved upon his ERA, and WHIP thus far this year, and he needs 10 more strikeouts to match his career high (197), set last season.

SHORT LIST

Jayson Werth (.316) appears likely to become the fifth qualified National to hit .300+ in a single season, joining Dmitri Young (.320, 2007), Cristian Guzman (.316, 2008), Ryan Zimmerman (.307, 2010) and Michael Morse (.303, 2011) on the short list.

ROAD LESS TRAVELED

The Nationals are 103-94 on the road under Davey Johnson. The corresponding .523 road win percentage in that span ranks fourth in Major League Baseball behind only Texas (.562), Los Angeles NL (.534) and Detroit (.532).

What to Watch for: 9.25.13

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Washington Nationals (84-74) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (93-65)

RHP Jordan Zimmermann (19-7, 3.18) vs. RHP Shelby Miller (14-9, 3.12)

The Nationals played a different kind of spoiler on Tuesday night in St. Louis.

While they hit a handful of balls hard against Cardinals hard-throwing righty Michael Wacha, they found themselves without a hit after 26 outs, just one away from being no-hit. And although the Montreal Expos had suffered such a fate four times in their existence, the franchise had not had a no-hitter thrown against it since moving to Washington in 2005.

Ryan Zimmerman made sure it stayed that way.

His chopper off home plate lofted over Wacha’s head, grazing the tip of his mitt as it bounded up the middle of the infield. Shortstop Pete Kozma charged the ball, made a barehand stab and threw to Matt Adams at first. The ball tailed, pulling Adams off the bag, and Zimmerman strode through the bag, evading the first baseman’s attempted swipe tag. Safe.

“I was just using my blazing speed to try to get there as fast as I could,” joked Zimmerman after the game, his comments thick with sarcastic self-deprecation. “That’s baseball. Baseball’s weird. We hit the ball on the screws the whole night and that’s the one that breaks it up.”

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Jayson Werth RF

4. Bryce Harper LF

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Adam LaRoche 1B

7. Wilson Ramos C

8. Steve Lombardozzi 2B

9. Jordan Zimmermann RHP

GOOD COMPANY

Jordan Zimmermann toes the rubber today in search of his 20th win, hoping to join Gio Gonzalez (21 wins in ‘12) on the short list of Nationals who have won 20 games. If Zimmermann pockets that 20th win, he’ll also move into a tie with Livan Hernandez (44) as the winningest pitcher in Nationals (‘05-present) history.

FOR WHAT IT’S WERTH

At .922, Jayson Werth currently weighs in with the third-best OPS total in the Nationals nine-year history. A closer look at the top 5 OPS campaigns turned in by Nationals:

PLAYER YEAR OPS
Nick Johnson 2006 .948
Adam Dunn 2009 .928
Jayson Werth 2013 .922
Alfonso Soriano 2006 .911
Michael Morse 2011 .910

AUCTION BENEFITTING VICTIMS OF WASHINGTON NAVY YARD SHOOTINGS

The Nationals are auctioning off game-worn, autographed patriotic jerseys in honor of the victims of the Washington Navy Yard shootings. Proceeds from the auction will benefit Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), which has committed to provide support and care for the families of the victims who died in our neighborhood’s tragedy. Please visit nationals.com/auction before the auction ends at 8:00pm ET on Thursday, September 26.

What to Watch for 9.24.13

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Washington Nationals (84-73) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (92-65)

LHP Gio Gonzalez (11-7, 3.39) vs. RHP Michael Wacha (3-1, 3.21)

The Nationals can damage the Cardinals chances of clinching the NL Central with wins in either or both of their final two games in St. Louis. The Pirates and Reds both currently trail the Red Birds by two games in the tightly contested division. Davey Johnson will stick with his everyday lineup on Tuesday night, despite being eliminated from postseason play on Monday.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Jayson Werth RF

4. Bryce Harper LF

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Adam LaRoche 1B

7. Wilson Ramos C

8. Anthony Rendon 2B

9. Gio Gonzalez LHP

BEST BALL

Washington owns Major League Baseball’s best record dating to August 9 (30-13, .698). Since that point, the Nationals lead the National League in runs scored (224) and run differential (+70). The Nationals have won 9 of 10 series since taking three of four at Wrigley Field, August 19-22.

PRODIGIOUS POWER

At the completion of play on September 1, Ryan Zimmerman was tied for 38th in the NL with 15 home runs. In the 21 games since, Zimmerman has hit 11 long balls and is currently tied for fifth in the NL with a team-best 26 homers. Zimmerman’s 11 homers this month are the most in MLB and have established a Nationals record for the month of September. The only National to hit more home runs in any single month was Alfonso Soriano, who slugged 12 in May, 2006.

ROAD LESS TRAVELED

The Nationals are currently 37-39 (.487) on the road this season and must win at least four of the season’s final five contests to register a second consecutive winning record on the road. Washington led MLB with a .593 road winning percentage last season (48-33). The Nationals are 103-92 (.528) on the road under Davey Johnson, who began his tenure with Washington with a 4-3 setback on June 27, 2011 at Los Angeles (AL). The .528 road winning percentage in that span ranks third in MLB behind only the Rangers (.562) and Dodgers (.537).

What to Watch for: 9.23.13

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Washington Nationals (84-72) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (91-65)

RHP Tanner Roark (7-0, 1.08) vs. RHP Adam Wainwright (17-9, 2.98) 

Washington heads to St. Louis and Arizona for the final road trip of the 2013 season as the Nationals return to Busch Stadium for the first time since the 2012 NLDS. The Nationals continue to cling to slim postseason odds, but enter tonight’s game winners of six of their last eight, 13-of-16, and 24 of their last 32 games. In addition to the best September record in the National League, Washington owns the best overall mark in all of baseball (30-12) since August 9, since which point the Nats are +71 in run differential.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Jayson Werth RF

4. Bryce Harper LF

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Adam LaRoche 1B

7. Wilson Ramos C

8. Anthony Rendon 2B

9. Tanner Roark RHP

MR. 20-20

Ian Desmond (number 20) stole his 20th and 21st bases of the season on Sunday, becoming the first National to reach the 20-20 plateau more than once. The only prior 20-20 seasons in Nationals history belong to Desmond (25 HR, 21 SB) in ‘12 and Alfonso Soriano (46 HR, 41 SB) in ‘06. Desmond is the eighth Major Leaguer to attain 20-20 status this season.

NAT WERTH

Jayson Werth is currently the only player who ranks among the National League’s top five in OPS (fifth, .927), slugging percentage (fourth, .528), batting average (fifth, .319) and on-base percentage (fifth, .398). Werth has hit better than .300 in July (.367), August (.380) and September (.304).

2,652,422 THANK YOUS ARE IN ORDER

In 2013, the Nationals hosted 2,652,422 fans to Nationals Park. The average attendance (32,746, 81 openings) is the highest in the six-year existence of Nationals Park and the highest since the inaugural year of the franchise back in 2005. Attendance at Nationals Park in ‘13 was up over 9.1% (or 2,736 per game) compared to 2012.

What to Watch for: 9.22.13 – Game Two

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Miami Marlins (57-98) vs. Washington Nationals (83-72)

RHP Stephen Strasburg (7-9, 2.96) vs. LHP Brian Flynn (0-2, 9.64) 

The Nationals close the home slate of the 2013 season with the second game of this twin-bill against the Marlins. Washington owns an 8-1 mark against Miami at home this season as they take aim at their 84th win of the year and their 47th in Washington D.C.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Jayson Werth RF

4. Bryce Harper LF

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Wilson Ramos C

7. Tyler Moore 1B

8. Anthony Rendon 2B

9. Stephen Strasburg RHP

ZIMMERMAN AT WORK

Ryan Zimmerman launched his team-leading 26th home run in the opener of the doubleheader to account for both Washington runs. The blast pulls him into a three-way tie for fifth in the National League. He has hit 11 of those roundtrippers since September 2, when he entered play tied for 38th in the league with just 15 on the season.

500 CLUB

500KWith 494 in the bag, Stephen Strasburg enters his assignment tonight just six strikeouts shy of the reaching the 500-strikeout threshold. With Strasburg at 421.1 career innings entering play tonight, here’s a closer look at where Strasburg might rank for the fewest innings required to reach 500 strikeouts (since 1900, special thanks Elias Sports Bureau).

NATIONAL LEADERS

The Nationals sport the best record in the National League in September, with a 15-5 mark. It should be no surprise, then, that they have compiled both the lowest ERA (2.63) and the most home runs (27) in the NL.

What to Watch for: 9.22.13 – Game One

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Miami Marlins (56-98) vs. Washington Nationals (83-71)

RHP Tom Koehler (3-10, 4.51) vs. RHP Dan Haren (9-13, 4.88)

With Saturday’s postponement, the Nationals will wrap the home portion of the regular season with a split doubleheader today against the Marlins. Washington comes into the day having won five-of-six, 12-of-14 and 23 of its last 30 to pull within 4.5 games of the Reds and 5.5 games of the Pirates in the chase for the postseason. The Nationals will send Dan Haren – who is 1-0 with a 0.75 ERA (1 ER/12.0 IP), allowing just seven baserunners while striking out 12 over his last two outings – to the mound in the opener.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Jayson Werth RF

4. Bryce Harper LF

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Adam LaRoche 1B

7. Steve Lombardozzi 2B

8. Jhonatan Solano C

9. Dan Haren RHP

SO YOU’RE TELLING ME THERE’S A CHANCE…

Updated ScenariosWith just over a week to play in the regular season, the Nationals enter Sunday’s twin-bill with a 1.2 percent chance of reaching the postseason, according to Baseball Prospectus. In order for Washington to force a one-game playoff for the final Wild Card spot, the Nationals need to pair their record with one of the scenarios in the box to the right from either the Reds or Pirates.

NAT WERTH

Jayson Werth currently ranks among the National League’s top five in OPS (third, .934), slugging percentage (fourth, .532), batting average (fifth, .321) and on-base percentage (fifth, .402). Werth is the only player in the league to rank among the NL’s top five in each of those four categories. Werth has hit better than .300 in July (.367), August (.380) and September (.314).

THIS, THAT, THE OTHER

The Nationals have out-homered their opponents, 22-4, over the past 14 games, dating to September 7. In 40 games dating to August 9, the Nationals have scored four or more runs 27 times, going 25-2 in those contests. After starting 60-for-86 (69.8%) on the basepaths, Washington has been successful on 21 of its last 22 stolen base attempts (95.4%).

What to Watch for: 9.20.13

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Miami Marlins (56-97) vs. Washington Nationals (82-71)

RHP Jacob Turner (3-7, 3.51) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (18-8, 3.33)

The Nationals won their seventh game in as many tries at home against the Marlins Thursday night with a 3-2 victory behind Gio Gonzalez. Washington has won four-of-five, 11-of-13 and 22 of its last 29 games in its frantic, late-season push for the postseason. The Nationals will have their eyes on the Reds and Pirates – both of whom they are chasing in the Wild Card hunt – who begin the first of six matchups over the season’s final nine games.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Jayson Werth RF

4. Bryce Harper LF

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Adam LaRoche 1B

7. Wilson Ramos C

8. Anthony Rendon 2B

9. Jordan Zimmermann RHP

ALL GREAT THINGS MUST COME TO AN END

Denard Span’s 29-game hit streak came to an end last night, one game shy of the Nationals (2005-present) franchise mark, set by Ryan Zimmerman in 2009. A look at the longest hit streaks in D.C. baseball history:

1. Heinie Manush* (AL Nationals)              1933        33

2. Sam Rice* (AL Nationals)                      1924         31

T3. Ryan Zimmerman (NL Nationals)   2009        30

T3. Sam Rice* (AL Nationals)                     1929-30   30

T5. Denard Span (NL Nationals)           2013        29

T5. Sam Rice (AL Nationals)                       1920        29

* – Hall-of-Famer

FOUR SCORE AND 20 BLASTS AGO

With Bryce Harper’s 20th homer, the 2013 Nationals became the first club in franchise history, including Montreal, to have five 20-homer players. Ryan Zimmerman (25), Jayson Werth (23), Ian Desmond (20), Adam LaRoche (20) and Harper helped Washington become the third Major League team with five 20-homer players this season.

20-20 VISION

Ian Desmond—via his 20-homer, 19-stolen bag effort so far—is on the cusp of becoming the first National with multiple 20-20 campaigns (25 HR, 21 SB in ‘12). Six Major Leaguers have attained 20-20 status so far in ‘13: Carlos Gonzalez (26 HR-21 SB), Hunter Pence (25-21), Mike Trout (26-33), Will Venable (22-20), Carlos Gomez (21-36) and Andrew McCutchen (20-27).

What to Watch for: 9.18.13

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Atlanta Braves (89-62) vs. Washington Nationals (81-70)

LHP Alex Wood (3-3, 3.45) vs. RHP Ross Ohlendorf (4-0, 3.15)

The Nationals completed an exciting doubleheader sweep over the Braves on Tuesday to cap an emotional day Tuesday in The District. Washington rallied for three runs off Craig Kimbrel for a 6-5, walk-off win in the matinee, while Tanner Roark tossed seven shutout innings in the 4-0 nightcap victory to become the first Nationals player (2005-present) to win his first seven decisions. Ross Ohlendorf steps to the hill tonight as Washington aims for its 11th win in 12 contests and a three-game sweep of its division rivals.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Jayson Werth RF

4. Bryce Harper LF

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Adam LaRoche 1B

7. Wilson Ramos C

8. Anthony Rendon 2B

9. Ross Ohlendorf RHP

BEST BALL

Washington owns Major League Baseball’s best record dating to August 9 (27-10, .730). In that span, the Nationals lead the National League in runs scored (201) and run differential (+65). The Nationals have won eight of nine series since taking three of four games at Wrigley Field, August 19-22.

HOMER HAPPY

At the completion of play on September 1, when the Nationals departed for their most recent road trip, Ryan Zimmerman was tied for 38th in the National League with 15 home runs. In the 15 games since, Zimmerman has hit 10 long balls — including one to spur a three-run eighth inning in Tuesday’s nightcap — and is currently tied for sixth in the NL with a team-best 25 homers. Zimmerman’s 10 home runs this month are the most in MLB (ahead of Hunter Pence’s nine) and have established a Nationals record for the month of September.

SOME REST FOR THE WEARY

Wilson Ramos’ Nationals record and MLB season-high string of 24 consecutive starts behind the plate came to an end in Tuesday’s nightcap against the Braves. During the 24-game run, which began August 22 at Chicago, Ramos went 24-for-91 (.264) with a double, seven home runs and 24 RBI. Washington played .750 (18-6) ball during that stretch.

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