Results tagged ‘ 2010 Season ’
This could be the year of John Lannan. While everyone has been focused on Stephen Strasburg’s every move and pitch, Lannan has done what he has always done best–traveled under the radar like a stealth bomber. The cool-headed, hard working pie master, low maintenance man is having his best Spring to date: 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA (3 ER/ 11 IP), one walk, six strikeouts and a .190 BAA. The kid that keeps defying odds is entering his third full season in the Majors–not even he thought he would ever make it to the pros– and he could be the Nats first 15-game winner since Livan Hernandez in 2005.
A few thoughts from Lannan…
On the additions of Jason Marquis and Chien-Ming Wang:
“We got a lot of guys that have won and know how to win. Of course I am happy with what the front office has done.”
Marquis and Lannan are the only two Native New Yorkers to beat the Mets and Yankees in the same season:
“There is something about pitching in front of your family and against the team you grew up watching. It is a great feeling just to pitch there and have your whole family and friends cheer you on. That’s a pretty cool fact.”
(Every pitcher has pitched well enough to get a victory but for whatever reasons walked away with the loss. It seems to happen to Lannan more frequently than others though. The sum of his outings weren’t indicative of his overall record last season. First, he had a 3.71 run support average, the second-worst RSA in the Majors last season with at least 200.0 IP. Second, just look the numbers between CC Sabathia and himself. It begs the question: how many wins would have Lannan had if he pitched for the Yankees in 2009?)
Number of games started allowing three earned runs or less:
Sabathia: 23 Lannan: 23
ERA in those games:
Sabathia: 1.78 ERA (32 ER/ 161.2 IP) Lannan: 2.24 ERA (39 ER/ 156.2 IP)
Individual Record in those games:
Sabathia: 18-0 Lannan: 9-5
Team Record in those games:
Sabathia: 20-3 Lannan: 12-11
“I am taking my lumps right now. It doesn’t really get to me. There have been plenty of times when I have given up more than three runs and have walked away with the win. It evens out. You can’t really look too deep into that. You want to go out there and put up wins. But you have to look at how many games the team wins when you are out on the mound. That overall record is more important than my individual record.”
(As you probably could have guessed, it doesn’t quite even out. During his two-plus seasons in the Majors, he has just two wins when he has allowed four runs or more and he has 13 losses when he has allowed three runs or less. In the losses, he has a 3.10 ERA but a 1.22 run support average and that explains it all.)
On being the de facto ace last season and how he sees himself entering 2010:
“I am just going to do what I do… the title of ace didn’t really fit my attitude with where I was with my game last year. But hopefully one day I can feel comfortable with that title, but right now I am comfortable with where I am at.”
On losing the twitter battle–first person to garner 1,000 followers–to teammate Collin Balester:
“He had a two week head start. I lost and I will give him that but look at who has more followers now.”
On 2010 goals:
“You don’t want to put a cap on what you can do. No one has won 33 games but you don’t want to say you can’t do that. That mentality has really helped me out. As far as numbers go, I just want to improve on last year, little by little and just have fun. Go out there and compete and just improve every year.”
The 2009 regular season is in the books for the Nationals. They ended the final week with a bang. They won the last seven games, sweeping the Mets at Nationals Park with a Justin Maxwell walk-off grand slam and the Braves at Turner Field. Of course, baseball has a stat for everything and the Nationals became the first team in Major League history to lose the first seven games of the season and win the last seven games.
Game 162 lasted four hours and 18 minutes, went 15 innings, with a combined 41 players used, 425 pitches thrown, 26 hits and only three runs. That’s baseball. The Nats took a 2-1 lead when Alberto Gonzalez singled to center to score Elijah Dukes in the top of the 15th.
It was a meaningless game that meant everything. With Pete Orr playing third base, Mike Morse playing first base and Jorge Padilla playing left, the Nats made game 162 a memorable moment.
“This is going to be my strongest memory,” reliever Ron Villone said. “I haven’t been involved in a World Series, but I’ve never been in a game on the last day of the season like this — the way we turned things around. We didn’t accomplished what we wanted, but we went out there, battled and left it all out there.”
The Nationals are hoping the 2010 season brings many more winning streaks like this one that closed out the 2009 campaign, more dramatic victories and October baseball to NatsTown.
It may happen sooner than you think.
The storm clouds–literally (22 games totaling 2,460 minutes of delayed, suspended and postponed baseball) and figuratively–will eventually roll away from Nationals Park. The 2010 season is next and the forecast is favorable.
True, the Nationals didn’t look like a contender in 2009. Still, there is a growing sense of progress within the Nationals organization that has spawned optimism about 2010. So how does a team with consecutive 100-plus loss seasons turn it around? Well, it helps to first see them as a 71 win team, the pace the team has kept since the All-Star Break. That turns the math from calculus to simple subtraction. The magic number to win a wild card or a division varies each year but 90-91 wins almost certainly secures a spot. Plenty of teams have improved 20.0 games in one season. It is less of a feat than the 31.0 game improvement completed by the Rays in 2008, they too had the worst record in the Majors the year before.
The Rays aren’t the only team to complete a 180 degree turnaround in one season. In 1999, the Diamondbacks improved 35.0 games. The Giants improved 31.0 games in 1993. Since 1991, seven NL teams and two AL teams completed the climb from cellar to Division Champion. The Nats would gladly settle for the Wild Card. Nationals President Stan Kasten keeps 1991 close to his heart. It provides an immediate rebuttal to anyone who says it can’t happen. He references the 1991 Braves when looking at the Nationals future. He joined both franchises, the Braves in ’87 and the Nationals in ’06, at a similar stage in the building process–the bottom. He is using the same building principles and philosophies with the Nats that helped orchestrate an unprecedented 12 straight division titles from 1991-2003 under his watch with the Braves.
In 1990, the Minnesota Twins finished last in the AL West Division with a 74-88 record and the
Atlanta Braves finished with the worst record in the Majors at 65-97. In 1991, two teams went from worst to first, the Twins won 95 games and the Braves won 94. It took seven games to determine the World Series Champion.
There is a stark difference between opportunity and achievement–it separates a team from a 70-
92 record from a team with a 92-70 record. The Nats know that. They know what has to happen if they want to be celebrating with champagne at the end of September.
The bullpen is bolstered.
This will be the Nationals main priority. They had 20 blown saves and posted a 5.71 ERA at the All-Star break. They have revamped the relief corp and there is only one bullpen pitcher left from Opening Day. They only blew five in the second half of the season.
“I think it’s a major point of emphasis for the offseason,” General Manager Mike Rizzo said. “We have gotten better. We have many more capable hearts than we did at the beginning of the season. But I’m certainly not satisfied with it.”
Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard have been nice additions. Mike MacDougal has provided stability out of the closer’s role that was missing earlier in the season. Who stays, who leaves is still a question mark but a bullpen makes or breaks a potential playoff ballclub in September.
The young guns lose… young.
Kasten points to future Hall of Fame pitchers John Smoltz, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine’s collective sub-.500 record their first two years in the Majors when talking about young pitchers struggling early in their careers–almost all pitchers experience growing pains.
“I think our young pitchers have kind of grown up right in front of our eyes and offensively we have hit our stride,” Adam Dunn said. “It’s going to be fun next year… It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
The Nationals have watched their young guns John Lannan, Jordan Zimmermann (out for the
2010 season), Ross Detwiler, Shairon Martis, Craig Stammen, J.D. Martin, Collin Balester and Garrett Mock experience it firsthand. But all of them have shown signs of promise this year. The starters posted a 3.86 ERA in the month of June. At least three of them need to lose the “young”
moniker in 2010.
The defense turns hits into outs.
The Nats will be searching for a free agent field general up the middle. Their defense has drastically improved since the All-Star break but their shortstop-second baseman combo committed the most errors in the Majors this season. That isn’t a formula for success. “It’s hard to win,” Ryan Zimmerman said, “when you give the other team more than 27 outs.” Dunn has smoothly transitioned to first base and Zimmerman is a Gold Glove caliber player at the hot corner. Nyjer Morgan solidified a place in center field for the coming years and covers more ground than Rock Creek Park.
What is good gets better.
The Nationals defining moment of the 2009 season happened off the field, tucked behind home plate, adjacent to the Lexus Presidents Club, in the press conference room at 4 p.m. on April 20. The soft-spoken, clean-cut Zimmerman–with the stroke of a pen–became a National for the next five years. Add Dunn and Josh Willingham to the mix and you have a ferocious heart of the order that will carry the offense. “We’ve got a lot of guys that are in their prime offensively and if we can continue to make progress in pitching and defense,” Dunn said, “that’s the formula to go from last to first.”
Stephen Strasburg and Drew Storen become the wild card.
Someday the 2009 First-Year Player Draft might be viewed as the turning point for the Nationals. Time will tell but it has left a strong first impression. The Nationals used their 2009 compensation pick (No. 10 overall) to draft Storen, a closer, who had a sensational first season in the Minor Leagues. Strasburg and Storen will pitch in the Arizona Fall League this October and will get a chance to make the team out of Spring Training. During the 1991 season in Atlanta, left-handed pitcher Steve Avery was the X-factor. The third overall pick in the 1988 First-Year Player Draft went 3-11 in 1990. He had a sensational sophomore season as a 21-year-old and went 18-8.
A veteran pitcher arrives.
The team picked up the rubber armed Livan Hernandez to eat innings in September. Will he pitch for the Nats in 2010? The Nats believe the additions of Dunn, Willingham and Morgan will attract a veteran pitcher and persuade them that it is the beginning of a good, exciting ballclub.
“We have to have a special type of veteran pitcher, who is willing to give of himself as a
teacher and mentor type of guy,” Rizzo said. “We have to get a team-oriented person, a person that is going to give his time and his knowledge. It’s not an easy task.”
The Nats task isn’t easy. Baseball teams can’t be built overnight and turnarounds aren’t instant, seamless and easy. It takes time, a lot of it. The Rays endured 10 consecutive seasons of losing. The Braves had seven straight losing seasons before 1991. But then it clicks and it will click eventually. So consider yourself warned because the future is bright and the Nationals are primed to put Washington back on the baseball map in 2010.
2010 Schedule Released
The 2010 schedule is out. The Nationals kick off the season on Monday April 5, 2010 vs. NL East-rival Philadelphia for the second consecutive season. It will be Washington’s 77th home opener since 1901.
- To get the action started NatsTown battles Red Sox Nation in an exhibition game on Saturday, April 3. Earlier this season, the Red Sox-Nationals series resulted in three sellouts, as over 125,000 fans witnessed Boston’s initial pilgrimage to Nationals Park.
- The Nats are hosting a Fourth of July game for the fifth time since moving to the District in 2005–the most logical place for an Independence Day game. The New York Mets come to town for a four-game set over the Fourth of July weekend (July 1-4). They will be back for Labor Day weekend too.
- Other clubs of note making weekend plans in DC next season that aren’t in the NL East are the Milwaukee Brewers (April 16-18), Los Angeles Dodgers (April 23-25), San Francisco Giants (July 9-11) and the St. Louis Cardinals (August 27-29).
- The Cubs come to Washington for a three-game series, August 23-25.
- The 14th season of interleague play starts with the annual home-and-home series with their friendly neighborhood rival, the Orioles. The 2010 version of the “Battle of the Beltways” series begins at Nationals Park the weekend of May 21-23 and concludes at Oriole Park, June 25-27.
- The NL East plays the AL Central for Interleague play. The Nats make interleague treks to Cleveland (June 11-13) and Detroit (June 15-17). They host a three-game visit from the Chicago White Sox, June 18- 20, which headlines the interleague slate at Nationals Park. The Kansas City Royals will also visit the Nation’s Capital for the first time, June 21-23. The interleague tilts against the White Sox and Royals allow the Nationals to officially complete the Major League Baseball circuit of having played each of the other 29 clubs at least once. They don’t play the Twins in 2010.
- Washington fans will enjoy 12 homestands in all, three of which last a season-long 10 games. The Nationals and their fans will notice a concentration of home dates both early and late in the season. Washington opens the 2010 campaign with 13 of its first 18 games played at home. Then, starting with an August 23 contest against the Cubs at Nationals Park, 23 of Washington’s next 38 contests will be played in the District.
- The NL will aim to end a winless streak dating back to 1996 as the Angels host the 81st All-Star Game on July 13.
- There are a few interleague matchups that are World Series rematches: the Mets at Baltimore (1969 World Series), Atlanta at Minnesota (1991 World Series), the Yankees at Arizona (2001 World Series), Cincinnati at Oakland (1972 and 1990 World Series, Boston at Colorado (2007 World Series) and Philadelphia at Toronto (1993 World Series).The Yankees travel to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers from June 25-27. They met in 10 World Series.
You can see the complete 2010 Nationals schedule here.
Instructional League Lineup Announced
The Nationals announced their 50 man roster for the Florida Instructional League which includes both first round draft picks, Stephen Strasburg and Drew Storen. The players selected will report to the Nationals Florida complex in Viera on Friday and begin practice on Saturday. They will play 15 games against other Florida area clubs including Detroit, Atlanta and Houston. Players are sent down to the Instructional League each year at the end of the Minor League season to get further development and refinement in preparation for the following season.
Here is the complete Instructional League roster.
C Dan Killian
C Sany Leon
C Ricardo Martinez
C Adrian Nieto
C Bill Pena
INF Justin Bloxom
2B Jeff Kobernus
2B Stephen Lombardozzi
1B Tyler Moore
1B Brett Newsome
SS Roberto Perez
3B Adrian Sanchez
3B Steven Souza
INF Michael Taylor
INF Jean Valdez
OF Michael Burgess
OF J.R. Higley
OF Destin Hood
OF Jesus Morales
OF Eury Perez
OF Derrick Phillips
OF J.P. Ramirez
OF Wander Ramos
OF Aridio Rodriguez
OF Brandon Whiting
LHP Gregori Baez
RHP Cleto Brazoban
RHP Dustin Crane
RHP Paul Demny
RHP Pedro Encarnacion
RHP Robinson Fabian
RHP Marcos Frias
RHP Luis Garcia
RHP Danubio Gonzalez
LHP Bobby Hansen
LHP Graham Hicks
RHP Juan Jamie
LHP Chad Jenkins
RHP Taylor Jordan
RHP Nathan Karns
RHP Brandon King
LHP Pat McCoy
RHP A.J. Morris
LHP Dan Rosenbaum
LHP Josh Smoker
RHP Drew Storen
RHP Stephen Strasburg
RHP Matt Swynenberg
RHP Wanel Vasquez
RHP Dean Weaver
Catcher Flores to Undergo Surgery for Torn Labrum
After missing most of the season with a nagging injury, catcher Jesus Flores was diagnosed with a torn labrum in his right shoulder which will require surgery. Flores was originally injured after being struck by a foul ball on May 9th. However Flores was never able to fully recover and his injury worsened from a contusion to a stress fracture to tendonitis to the final diagnosis of a torn labrum. The procedure will be performed today by Dr. James Andrews who expects a 3-6 month recovery period for Flores. However, the Nationals aren’t worried about his availability for next season.
“He should be ready for the middle of Spring Training, worst-case scenario,” General Manager Mike Rizzo said.