Results tagged ‘ Cubs ’

Jason Marquis looks to build off last start

Jason Marquis will face his former club tonight as he tries to chip away at his ERA. When Marquis had surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow on May 14th, he went to the DL with a 20.52 ERA–a combination of only three starts, a few innings pitched and a lot of earned runs–but since his return earlier this month, he’s been steadily lowering that number.

 

“I’ve been working hard to get back to where I need to be,” Marquis said. “I was sick and tired of embarrassing myself out there.”

 

And the strategy has been successful. Marquis turned in his best outing in a Nationals uniform last time he was on the mound. In Friday’s game at Philadelphia, he allowed just one run on four hits  in five innings. Despite taking the loss in a 1-0 game, it was his longest outing on the mound this season.

 

“The results are a lot better than what they have been,” Marquis said. “I lost control of some counts, which I was unhappy about. But you still have to make pitches and get out of jams–and it’s a step in the right direction.”

 

Marquis did walk four in that game, but when it counted, he allowed Philadelphia to go only 1-6 with runners in scoring position. Remember, Marquis won 23 games during a two-year stint (2007-08) with the Cubs. Only two other guys, namely Ted Lilly and Carlos Zambrano, won more games for the Cubs in the same two-year span. He is also one of just ten Big League pitchers to have a double-digit win total every season since 2004. He is the only guy to do it exclusively in the National League.

 

In other ERA news, last night Miguel Batista (2.0 innings), Collin Balester (1.0), and Craig Stammen (1.0) combined for four innings of one-hit relief and didn’t allow a single run. Considering last year’s bullpen ranked last in MLB with a 5.04 ERA, this year’s 3.52 ERA thus far seems miniscule. It’s also good enough for eighth in MLB. The improvement of -1.52 points paces the Majors and second place isn’t even close–the Padres claim a -0.96 improvement. In fact, it ranks number five in the greatest bullpen ERA shrinkages since 2000.

 

Now for those lineups:

Cubs (53-74):

1.    Kosuke Fukudome – RF

2.    Starlin Castro – SS

3.    Marlon Byrd – CF

4.    Aramis Ramirez – 3B

5.    Micah Hoffpauir – 1B

6.    Alfonso Soriano – LF

7.    Blake DeWitt – 2B

8.    Geovany Soto – C

9.    Ryan Dempster – SP (11-8, 3.56 ERA)

*Alfonso Soriano clubbed his 20th home run of the season last night, a three-run shot in the second inning. He has now hit 20 or more long balls in nine consecutive seasons.

 Nationals (53-73):

1.      Nyjer Morgan – CF

2.      Ian Desmond – SS

3.      Ryan Zimmerman – 3B

4.      Adam Dunn – 1B

5.      Roger Bernadina – LF 

6.      Michael Morse – RF

7.      Adam Kennedy – 2B

8.      Wil Nieves – C

9.      Jason Marquis – SP (0-6, 11.39 ERA)

John Lannan looks to continue his streak


John Lannan back in red c.jpgJohn Lannan gets his turn on the mound tonight and Nats fans are hoping that he has regained his stride. He is throwing with confidence after he dealt with a little midseason adversity and Double-A demotion. His hair is longer and he wears his socks low but those are just minor changes.

 

“John really did a good job for us in his last start,” Manager Jim Riggleman said. “He got us into the sixth inning. He got us deep enough in the ballgame where we had good bullpen matchups. I felt the ball was sinking pretty good. His change-up and breaking balls were pretty good, so, knock on wood, it looks like he is back on track.”

 

The major changes include three wins in just four tries since being recalled from Double-A Harrisburg. Those three wins came after a no-decision and mark the first time Lannan has won three consecutive starts in his career. He failed to win even three games in the first 14 contests he played prior to the Minor League stint. His ERA at the time was 5.76, but his ERA in the four games since is 3.09. Lannan looks like the pitcher who gave the Nationals plenty of innings the previous two years.

 

“I feel that I’m close, and I’m going to keep on getting better with each start,” Lannan said. “The main thing for me is to go out there and be confident in my stuff and throw each pitch with a purpose. I’m more sure of my stuff since I came back.”

 

Willie Harris agrees. “They sent him down to the Minor Leagues. He went down there, persevered and faced a lot of adversity,” he said. “He came back. He is a different person.”

 

The Nationals could use Lannan’s positive momentum tonight after last night’s forgettable 9-1 defeat. And luckily, Lannan understands what it takes to come out of a rut.

 

“It was an experience that I wouldn’t take back. One thing I did learn was to take the positives from each day no matter how bad the day is. Just work on what you thought was positive and move forward.”

 

Hopefully he is able to instill that mindset in the rest of his teammates tonight.

 

Cubs (52-74):

1.    Blake DeWitt – 2B

2.    Starlin Castro – SS

3.    Xavier Nady – 1B

4.    Aramis Ramirez – 3B

5.    Jeff Baker – RF

6.    Geovany Soto – C

7.    Alfonso Soriano – LF

8.    Tyler Colvin – CF

9.    Carlos Zambrano – SP (4-6, 4.97 ERA)

 

*Last night, starting pitcher Casey Coleman earned his first Major League win and collected his first Major League hit with an RBI single in the 5th inning.

 Nationals (53-72):

1.      Nyjer Morgan – CF

2.      Adam Kennedy – 2B

3.      Ryan Zimmerman – 3B

4.      Adam Dunn – 1B

5.      Roger Bernadina – LF 

6.      Ivan Rodriguez – C

7.      Michael Morse – RF

8.      Alberto Gonzalez – SS

9.      John Lannan – SP (5-5, 5.13 ERA)

*Currently hitting .301, Ryan Zimmerman is attempting to become the first Major League third baseman based out of DC to hit .300-plus since “Buddy” Lewis hit .317 for the 1940 Washington Senators.

*The bullpen has fanned 8.20 batters per 9.0 innings this season, a tally that if maintained would be the best single-season mark posted by a Nationals bullpen since MLB returned to DC.

Nats-Cubs game 1

As everybody waits for the official word on Stephen Strasburg’s injury or condition, the Nats’ season continues tonight against the Cubs.

The Nats open a seven game homestand against a deflated and defeated Cubs team that is playing their first game with Interim Manager Mike Quade at the helm. Their former Manager Lou Piniella abruptly retired yesterday–six weeks earlier than expected to take care of his ailing mother. The Nationals had planned on presenting a plaque to Piniella commemorating his great career. The plaque featured a young Piniella in a Curly “W” cap during his season with the Peninsula Senators in 1963, the Single-A affiliate of the Washington Senators at the time.


Lou Piniella.jpgThe road hasn’t been a friendly place this season for the Nats. They went 2-4 on this most-recent six-game road trip to lower their record to 22-44 away from the friendly confines on Nationals Park. The Nats bats were kept at bay and they scored two runs or less in four of the six contests. It didn’t help that the Nats batted .143 (5-for-35) with RISP over the weekend against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. It also didn’t help that the Nats were blanked twice thanks largely to the efforts of Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt.

It’s not all bad. The Nats are back at home where they are 31-27 and they are 13-12 in games started by Livan Hernandez. Not to mention, they are facing a Cubs team that ESPN’s Senior National Columnist Gene Wojciechowski called “borderline unwatchable.”

“The Cubs are borderline unwatchable and completely irrelevant. They were so fired up for Sunday’s game–Lou Piniella’s last as Cubs manager–that they lost only 16-5. They haven’t quit; they just can’t do any better.” -Gene Wojciechowski, ESPN

Cubs (51-74):

1.    Blake DeWitt – 2B

2.    Starlin Castro – SS

3.    Marlon Byrd – CF

4.    Aramis Ramirez – 3B

5.    Xavier Nady – 1B

6.    Tyler Colvin – RF

7.    Alfonso Soriano – LF

8.    Geovany Soto – C

9.    Casey Coleman – SP (0-1, 7.82 ERA)

 

Nationals (53-71):

1.      Nyjer Morgan – CF

2.      Adam Kennedy – 2B

3.      Ryan Zimmerman – 3B

4.      Adam Dunn – 1B

5.      Roger Bernadina – LF

6.      Ivan Rodriguez – C

7.      Willie Harris – RF

8.      Alberto Gonzalez – SS

9.      Livan Hernandez – SP (8-8, 3.06 ERA)

21 games down… 141 to go


 
Desmond and Morgan c.jpgThe Nats are above .500 once again. This matches their best 21 game start since moving to the District. A win today against the Cubs in Chicago would give them their best 22 game start in the short history of the Washington Nationals. In 2005, they lost game 22 and dropped to 11-11. Of course, the season is young. There are still 141 games left for the Nats and it is tough to make a fair judgment on a team until about June 1, even then it is imperfect. See the 2009 Rockies.

Baseball is like the Masters in one way, you can’t win the green jacket on Thursday but you sure can lose it. Teams can’t win the pennant in April, but they sure can eliminate themselves from contention. That Nats are right where they want to be–sure they would like to have a few more victories–but it is far better than their 5-16 start last season. Not to mention, the Nationals are in the midst of an especially challenging first six weeks of the season. If we use 2009 records, the Nationals square off with winning ball clubs in 31 of the season’s first 40 games.

 

“The team’s had a little bit of adversity, and we’ve bounced back, which is a good sign,” Ian Desmond said. “We’re only getting better every day. I’m only getting better, the team’s only getting better, and we are definitely moving in the right direction.”

 

After 21 games in 2009, there were 16 teams above .500. Yes, that would leave 14 teams below .500. Of the 16 teams above .500, nine of them finished at or above .500. Of the 14 teams below .500, seven of them finished at or above .500. There were 10 teams that were 11-10 last year and only four of them finished at or above .500. The Royals were 11-10 last season and finished 65-97.

What this means is 21 games is a small sample size and only looking at 2009 is even a smaller sample size.

So I expanded the research a little bit–I looked at every team above .500 after 21 games since 2005. There have been 78 teams above .500 after 21 games and 49 of them finished at or above .500–yes, the 2005 Nationals are one of the 49 teams. There have been 72 teams below .500 and of those 72 teams, 30 of them finished at or above .500.

Here are the percentages: Since 2005… 62.8 percent of the teams above .500 after 21 games finished at or above .500. Since 2005… 41.6 percent of the teams below .500 after 21 games finished at or above .500.

What this means is 21 games is a small sample size but being above .500 is always better than being below .500.

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