Archive for the ‘ What to Watch for ’ Category

What to Watch for: 8.27.13

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Miami Marlins (49-80) vs. Washington Nationals (65-65)

RHP Nathan Eovaldi (2-4, 3.82) vs. RHP Ross Ohlendorf (2-0, 2.58)

With a successful 6-4 road trip behind them, the Nationals begin a six-game homestand tonight with the first of three against Miami, whom they swept at home to open the season. Washington has won 11 of its last 16 games, and looks to continue its winning ways with its next 19 contests coming against the Marlins (49-80), New York Mets (58-71) and Philadelphia Phillies (60-71).

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Bryce Harper LF

4. Jayson Werth RF

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Adam LaRoche 1B

7. Wilson Ramos C

8. Anthony Rendon 2B

9. Ross Ohlendorf RHP

AUGUST HEAT

After struggling offensively for much of 2013, the Nationals rank third in the National League in runs per game in the month of August. Washington has scored 108 runs in 22 games this month (4.9 per game). Only the St. Louis Cardinals (5.4 runs in 25 August contests) and Arizona Diamondbacks (5.0 in 23 games) have scored more profusely than the Nationals this month. 

GOING STREAKING

With Sunday’s four-hit effort at Kauffman Stadium, Denard Span has hit safely in nine straight games, at a .400 clip (16-for-40) with two walks, a double, two triples, a homer, five runs and four RBI. Span is in search of his first double-digit hit streak as a member of the Nationals. Meanwhile, Bryce Harper is 13-for-33 (.394) with six walks, five doubles, a homer, six runs scored and six RBI during his current eight-game hit streak. Harper has yet to register a double-digit hit streak at a big leaguer.

GOOD WOOD

The Nationals are 5-1 and have scored at least four runs in each of their last six games, during which they are batting .314 (72-for-229) with 28 walks, 14 doubles, two triples, and nine home runs, all of which have yielded a .387 on-base percentage, a .511 slugging percentage and an .898 OPS. Washington has also gone (.316, 18-for-57) with runners in scoring position in the same six-game span.

What to Watch for: 8.25.13

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Washington Nationals (65-64) vs. Kansas City Royals (64-64)

RHP Dan Haren (8-11, 4.64) vs. RHP Ervin Santana (8-7, 3.13)

Former Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim teammates Dan Haren and Ervin Santana hook up in Kansas City, with Haren and the Nationals seeking a three-game road sweep for the first time this season. Washington, which moved above the .500 mark for the first time since the All-Star break, is riding a five-game winning streak and has won 11 of 15 contests. The Royals, meanwhile, have lost seven in a row and 10 of 12. Denard Span has five hits and four RBI lifetime against Santana, while Chad Tracy, Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman have each gone deep against the homer-prone right-hander.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF
2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B
3. Bryce Harper RF
4. Jayson Werth DH
5. Ian Desmond SS
6. Adam LaRoche 1B
7. Wilson Ramos C
8. Tyler Moore LF
9. Anthony Rendon 2B
Dan Haren RHP

SWEET FIFTEEN

Jordan Zimmermann earned his 15th victory of the season Saturday night, becoming just the fourth Nationals pitcher to reach that plateau since the club arrived in The District in 2005. He joins Gio Gonzalez (21, 2012), Livan Hernandez (15, 2005) and Stephen Strasburg (15, 2012) in the 15-win club. The last time a D.C.-based pitcher won more than 15 games and another player repeated the feat the next season was 1940-41, when Sid Hudson won 17 games in 1940 and Dutch Leonard followed that up by winning 18 in 1941.

MORE MOORE, PLEASE

Since being recalled from Triple-A Syracuse on August 17, Nationals first baseman/outfielder Tyler Moore is batting .524 (11-for-21), raising his average 62 points on the season. The Nationals are 8-1 in the last nine games in which Moore has played.

THE POWER OF 3

When scoring three or more runs this year, as they did again Saturday night, the Nationals are 59-15 (.797). When plating two or fewer runs, Washington is just 6-49 (.109). The Nationals are an amazing 42-4 (.913) when they score five runs or more in a game.

What to Watch for: 8.24.13

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Washington Nationals (64-64) vs. Kansas City Royals (64-63)

RHP Jordan Zimmermann (14-7, 3.37) vs. RHP Wade Davis (6-9, 5.43)

The Nationals earned a hard-fought victory over the Kansas City Royals Friday night, battling back from a 6-0 deficit to earn an 11-10 win. They will go for their fifth win in a row Saturday, as Jordan Zimmermann takes the hill in search of his first career road win in Interleague Play. Washington batters have been all over the base paths in the past four contests, collecting 49 hits and drawing 24 walks. The Nationals will don throwback Homestead Grays jerseys tonight, while the Royals play as the Kansas City Monarchs.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman DH

3. Bryce Harper RF

4. Wilson Ramos C

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Adam LaRoche 1B

7. Tyler Moore LF

8. Chad Tracy 3B

9. Steve Lombardozzi 2B

Jordan Zimmermann RHP

ROAD LESS TRAVELED

With Friday’s 11-10 win at Kansas City, the Nationals have won a season-high four consecutive road games. The Nationals hadn’t won four straight on the road since August 29-September 12, 2012, and their last five-game road surge came during an eight-game road winning streak from July 28-August 11, 2012.

THE POWER OF 3

When scoring three or more runs this year, as they did Friday night, the Nationals are 58-15 (.795). When plating two or fewer runs, Washington is just 6-49 (.109).

KANSAS CITY HERE WE COME!

With Friday’s Kauffman Stadium baptism complete, the Nationals have now played games in 33 different ballparks since the franchise relocated to D.C. in 2005. With Kansas City now scratched off the list, the last big league frontier the Nationals have yet to visit is Oakland – and next season’s Interleague rotation is scheduled to yield games against the AL West. In terms of ballparks, the Nationals have played games at every current MLB venue except Target Field in Minneapolis and O.co Coliseum in Oakland.

What to Watch for: 8.23.13

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Washington Nationals (63-64) vs. Kansas City Royals (64-62)

LHP Gio Gonzalez (7-6, 3.38) vs. LHP Bruce Chen (5-1, 2.20)

Coming off a 3-1 series win over the Chicago Cubs, the Nationals continue their 10-game road swing with a trip to Kansas City for three games against the Royals. The Interleague series will mark Washington’s first visit to Kauffman Stadium since the franchise moved to D.C. in 2005, and the first game in Kansas City for a D.C.-based team since August 22, 1971 – 42 years and one day ago.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Bryce Harper RF

4. Jayson Werth DH

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Wilson Ramos C

7. Adam LaRoche 1B

8. Tyler Moore LF

9. Anthony Rendon 2B

Gio Gonzalez LHP

MOVING DAY:

The Nationals announced a pair of roster moves Friday, as the team dealt catcher Kurt Suzuki to the Oakland Athletics and outfielder David DeJesus to the Tampa Bay Rays.

In return for Suzuki, Washington acquired pitcher Dakota Bacus, a 6-foot-2 right-hander who was a ninth-round selection in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.  The 22-year-old was 9-5 with a 3.56 ERA for Beloit of the Class-A Midwest League this season, after going 3-0 with a 1.20 ERA, 12 hits, five walks and 35 strikeouts in 30 innings during his Rookie League campaign a year ago. Bacus will report to Hagerstown of the Class-A South Atlantic League.

Tampa Bay will send Washington a player to be named later or cash considerations in exchange for DeJesus, who was picked up in a deal earlier in the week from the Chicago Cubs. The Nationals recalled catcher Jhonatan Solano and left-handed reliever Xavier Cedeno to replace Suzuki and DeJesus on the 25-man roster.

GOON SQUAD COMES ALIVE:

Despite a slow start to the season, the Nationals bench provided a spark in the series win over the Chicago Cubs. Scott Hairston gave the Nats a huge lift with a go-ahead, three-run homer on Wednesday, while Tyler Moore (four hits in the series), Steve Lombardozzi (double and home run Thursday) and Chad Tracy (game-winning RBI Thursday) came through in key situations.

200 CLUB

Washington Manager Davey Johnson earned his 200th victory with the Nationals Wednesday night, the third team he has piloted to 200 wins. He went 595-417 with the New York Mets, 204-172 with the Cincinnati Reds and is now 201-171 with the Nationals. He also tallied 186 victories for the Baltimore Orioles and 163 more for the Los Angeles Dodgers during his illustrious managerial career.

 

What to Watch for: 8.22.13

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Washington Nationals (62-64) vs. Chicago Cubs (54-72)

RHP Stephen Strasburg (6-9, 2.93) vs. LHP Travis Wood (7-10, 3.13)

Stephen Strasburg takes the hill at Wrigley Field for the first time since Opening Day 2012, a game won 2-1 by the Nationals with some late heroics from Chad Tracy and Ian Desmond. The lineup he will face Sunday includes just two players who started that game for the Cubs, shortstop Starlin Castro and second baseman Darwin Barney. Chicago will go with All-Star left-hander Travis Wood, who is making his 91st appearance (87th start), but first against the Nationals.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Bryce Harper CF

2. Anthony Rendon SS

3. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

4. Jayson Werth RF

5. Wilson Ramos C

6. Tyler Moore 1B

7. Scott Hairston LF

8. Steve Lombardozzi 2B

9. Stephen Strasburg RHP

POWER OF 3:

The Nationals came through with a trio of three-run innings against the Cubs Wednesday night, powering their way to an 11-6 victory in the Friendly Confines. Jayson Werth and Scott Hairston blasted three-run homers in the winning effort, giving Wilmington, Illinois native Tanner Roark his third win – in front of more than 100 family and friends in attendance.

MORE GOOD THINGS COME IN 3s:

Werth’s three-run shot came on a 3-0 pitch. It was the first such home run for the Nats since Bryce Harper took a 3-0 pitch into the second deck in Miami on August 29 of last season. Wednesday’s contest also marked the first time all season the Nationals hit more than one three-run homer in a game.

200 CLUB

Washington Manager Davey Johnson earned his 200th victory with the Nationals Wednesday night, the third team he has piloted to 200 wins. He went 595-417 with the Mets, 204-172 with the Reds and improved to 200-171 with the Nationals. He has also tallied 186 victories for the Orioles and 163 more for the Dodgers in his illustrious career.

What to Watch for: 8.21.13

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Washington Nationals (61-64) vs. Chicago Cubs (54-71)

RHP Ross Ohlendorf (2-0, 1.85) vs. RHP Jake Arrieta (1-0, 0.69)

The Nationals send Ross Ohlendorf to the mound against the Chicago Cubs, his first appearance since going on the 15-day disabled list on August 4 (retroactive to August 1). Washington Manager Davey Johnson said he expects Ohlendorf to throw roughly 90 pitches in this evening’s contest. The Cubs will counter with former Baltimore Oriole Jake Arrieta, acquired on July 2 along with reliever Pedro Strop and cash considerations in exchange for Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger. Arrieta has never bested the Nationals (0-1, 5.57 ERA in four starts), but has been excellent in his two big league starts since joining the Cubs organization.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Bryce Harper LF

4. Jayson Werth RF

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Adam LaRoche 1B

7. Steve Lombardozzi 2B

8. Kurt Suzuki C

9. Ross Ohlendorf RHP

31 FLAVORS OF VICTORY FOR HAREN

Dan Haren continues to make career history, pocketing his first-career win at Wrigley Field – his 31st different park with a W – as the Nationals doubled up the Cubs, 4-2, on Tuesday night. The victory was his first since beating the Philadelphia Phillies on August 9, giving him wins against all 30 franchises. In between, Haren notched his first Major League save in a close-out effort against the Braves Saturday night.

NATS COME THROUGH IN CLUTCH

Despite a rough night in which Washington brought home just four of its 21 base runners, the Nationals made it count when it mattered most. Ian Desmond singled home Bryce Harper with nobody out in the ninth to extend the Nats lead to 3-1, and four batters later Denard Span brought home a two-out insurance run, when he plated Ryan Zimmerman to give the Nationals a 4-1 advantage.

NOT A MINOR ACCOMPLISHMENT

The Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Nationals are a stunning 45-8 (.849) this season, which began June 21. However the GCL Nats did lose 2012 No. 1 pick Lucas Giolito, who was promoted to the Short Season-A Auburn Doubledays – and promptly won his first start, a gem of a performance earlier Wednesday afternoon. Giolito went five scoreless innings, allowing just two hits, while striking out four. He did not walk a batter.

What to Watch for: 8.20.13

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Washington Nationals (60-64) vs. Chicago Cubs (54-70)

RHP Dan Haren (7-11, 4.79) vs. LHP Chris Rusin (2-2, 3.06)

Washington takes on the North Siders in the second of a four-game set at Wrigley Field. The Nationals send veteran righty Dan Haren – who leads Nationals starters in wins (three), batting average against (.174) and ERA (2.45) since the All-Star break – against Cubs lefty Chris Rusin. Haren has allowed just three home runs in 44.0 innings since coming off the disabled list, but will face a tough test with the wind blowing out on a warm night in Chicago.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Bryce Harper CF

2. Ian Desmond SS

3. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

4. Jayson Werth RF

5. Wilson Ramos C

6. Tyler Moore 1B

7. Anthony Rendon 2B

8. Scott Hairston LF

9. Dan Haren RHP

EXTRA, EXTRA, READ ALL ABOUT IT!

Ian Desmond’s 52 extra-base hits (33 doubles, two triples, 17 home runs) pace all big league shortstops. The 52 XBH are 10 more than any other MLB shortstop (Troy Tulowitzki, 42). Furthermore, with 33 in the bag, Desmond’s next double will establish a new career high (also 33 in 2012).

A WHOLE NEW DREW

Drew Storen has been sharp since his return from his stint at Triple-A Syracuse. The righty pitched an inning in all three games of the Atlanta series, allowing a single hit without a walk or a run scored while striking out five of the 10 batters he has faced.

NOT A MINOR ACCOMPLISHMENT

The Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Nationals are a stunning 43-8 (.843) this season, which began June 21. The .557 overall winning percentage (379-302) posted by the Nationals Minor League system ranks fourth among MLB’s 30 franchises, behind only San Francisco (.569), Houston (.568) and Texas (.560).

What to Watch for: 8.19.13

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Washington Nationals (60-63) vs. Chicago Cubs (53-70)

RHP Jordan Zimmermann (14-6, 3.02) vs. RHP Jeff Samardzija (6-11, 4.29)

The Nationals made a trade Monday afternoon, acquiring Chicago Cubs outfielder David DeJesus for a player to be named later. DeJesus brings a veteran, left-handed presence, along with the defensive versatility to play all three outfield spots. He’s also a familiar face for several Washington players, including Gio Gonzalez, Scott Hairston and Kurt Suzuki. All four played together as members of the Oakland A’s in 2011, while DeJesus and Hairston also shared a clubhouse in Chicago this season.

DeJesus didn’t have far to go to join his new team – he literally walked out of the Cubs dugout earlier this afternoon, crossed behind home plate, and disappeared into the Nationals dugout on the first base side.

On the field, DeJesus brings the same approach to the plate as other Nationals veterans, especially Jayson Werth. While he carries a career slash line of .290/.366/.448 against right-handers, DeJesus’ 4.07 pitches per plate appearance would put him in the top 10 in the National League with enough at-bats to qualify.

“My game is grinding out at-bats and making the pitcher work,” he explained.

Off the field, the 33-year-old hopes to provide an affable, congenial voice for a young club trying to come into its own.

“Try to be a leader, someone the young guys can learn from,” DeJesus said, when asked about what he brings to the club. “That’s my role, and I’m going to take that to heart.”

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Bryce Harper LF

4. Jayson Werth RF

5. Adam LaRoche 1B

6. Ian Desmond SS

7. Wilson Ramos C

8. Anthony Rendon 2B

9. Jordan Zimmermann RHP

ON SCHEDULE

The Nationals second half record is just 12-16, but they could be in store for a strong finish. Washington is 2-13 in the second half against the teams with the top four records in baseball (Braves, Tigers, Dodgers and Pirates) but 10-3 against everyone else (Mets, Brewers, Phillies and Giants). Beginning with today’s contest with the Cubs, the Nats play 27 of their remaining 39 games against teams currently at least 10 games below the .500 mark on the season.

CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE

Last season, the Nationals went 29-13 against the NL Central, and their corresponding .690 winning percentage paced the Senior Circuit against the division. Washington is just 12-15 (.444) against the NL Central in 2013, including a 1-2 record against the Cubs. The Nationals have seven games remaining against NL Central competition (four at Chicago, three at St. Louis).

D.C.’S HIT MAN SOON TO BE EXPOSED

Jayson Werth’s .334 batting average would rank a close second in the National League to Atlanta’s Chris Johnson (.335) with enough plate appearances to qualify. Werth’s 371 plate appearances are 10 shy of the 381 required (123 games x 3.1 plate appearances per game) to qualify for the NL batting title. His 4.28 pitches per plate appearance would also be tops in the National League (Paul Goldschmidt, 4.19).

What to Watch for: 8.18.13

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Washington Nationals (60-62) vs. Atlanta Braves (75-48)

LHP Gio Gonzalez (7-5, 3.42) vs. RHP Julio Teheran (9-6, 3.08)

A little less than 13 hours after wrapping up a marathon 8-7, 15-inning win, the Nationals will send Gio Gonzalez to the mound in search of a series victory over the Braves. Sunday’s matchup will be Gonzalez’s fourth against Atlanta this season, including his third at Turner Field. The southpaw has stifled the Braves in his last two outings against them, allowing just three runs on nine hits in 14 innings, walking two and striking out 12.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Anthony Rendon 2B

3. Bryce Harper LF

4. Jayson Werth RF

5. Adam LaRoche 1B

6. Ian Desmond SS

7. Chad Tracy 3B

8. Kurt Suzuki C

9. Gio Gonzalez LHP

BULLISH ON THE ‘PEN

Following Stephen Strasburg’s early exit Saturday, the Nationals bullpen fired 14 innings, striking out a Major League record 19 Braves (1971-present). The combination of Tanner Roark, Drew Storen, Craig Stammen and Dan Haren, who earned his first-career save, pitched what amounted to a full game, tallying eye-popping numbers: 9.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 16 K. Meanwhile, rookie left-hander Ian Krol, following a tough loss the previous night, navigated the Nationals through the pressure-packed 10th and 11th innings without allowing a run.

MOORE, TYLER PLEASE

Tyler Moore was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse prior to Saturday night’s game, and went 2-for-4 with a run scored while playing eight innings of flawless defense at first base. During his recent stint with the Chiefs, Moore compiled a .367/.442/.664 slash line, blasting eight home runs and plating a whopping 38 RBI in 33 games. Moore was lifted in the ninth in favor of Adam LaRoche, and the move paid off – albeit six innings later – when LaRoche belted the game-deciding home run.

SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER

Some staggering numerical mementos from Washington’s 15-inning 8-7 win at Turner Field:

0 number of Braves hits with runners in scoring position in 15 innings

1 position players remaining on the bench for either team (Kurt Suzuki)

2 number of career 15th-inning homers hit by Adam LaRoche (also August 24, 2007 for Pittsburgh at Houston)

4 number of extra-inning games between the Braves and Nationals this season

10 minutes first pitch delayed by rain

18 combined number of pitchers to pitch in the game

19 strikeouts notched by Washington’s bullpen

35 number of wins, against just 12 losses, when the Nationals score last in a game

44 combined players used by both clubs

126 plate appearances in the game

319 career appearances for Dan Haren upon earning first career save

329 minutes passed during game’s duration

513 pitches in game (335 strikes)

1413 days since the Nationals last 15-inning game, a 2-1 win over the Braves on 10/4/09. Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman & Tyler Clippard (Nationals) and Adam LaRoche, Brian McCann, Rafael Soriano and Kris Medlen (Braves) also played in that contest.

What to Watch for: 8.17.13

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Washington Nationals (59-62) vs. Atlanta Braves (75-47)

RHP Stephen Strasburg (6-9, 2.83) vs. LHP Mike Minor (12-5, 2.87)

Stephen Strasburg takes the hill in Atlanta, six days after his first career complete game and shutout, a four-hit, 99-pitch masterpiece over the Philadelphia Phillies in which he walked just one and struck out 10. Tonight will mark Strasburg’s 12th start vs. Atlanta, his most against any opponent. In his 11 previous career outings against the Braves, Strasburg owns a 3.43 ERA (22 ER/57.2 IP), 70 strikeouts and a 3.5/1 strikeout-to-walk rate.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Anthony Rendon 2B

3. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

4. Jayson Werth RF

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Wilson Ramos C

7. Tyler Moore 1B

8. Scott Hairston LF

9. Stephen Strasburg RHP

AS THE ROTATION TURNS

Through the last turn of the Nationals rotation, no Washington starter has allowed more than a single earned run in his respective start, with only two total earned runs allowed over the five games (0.58 ERA):

Stephen Strasburg: 9.0 IP, 0 ER

Gio Gonzalez: 4.0 IP, 0 ER

Jordan Zimmermann: 6.0 IP, 1 ER

Dan Haren: 6.0 IP, 1 ER

Taylor Jordan: 6.0 IP, 0 ER

MOORE, TYLER PLEASE

Tyler Moore was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse before tonight’s game and is in the starting lineup at first base. During his 45-game stint with the Chiefs, Moore compiled a .312/.395/.584 slash line, blasting 10 home runs and plating a whopping 46 RBI. Since the All-Star break, those numbers have been even better (.371/.451/.676).

SOMETHING IN THE GULF

The Gulf Coast League Nationals are a stunning 42-8 (.840) this season, which began June 21. With 10 games remaining on the schedule, the GCL Nationals have a shot at setting a mark for best winning percentage recorded by a domestic Short season/Rookie League team. The 1979 Paintsville Yankees (52-13, .800) of the Rookie-level Appalachian League hold the current record.

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