Results tagged ‘ Taylor Jordan ’

Nationals reinstate INF Anthony Rendon and recall RHP A.J. Cole, option RHP Taylor Jordan and INF Wilmer Difo

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by Kyle Brostowitz

The Washington Nationals returned from rehab and reinstated infielder Anthony Rendon from the 15-day disabled list and recalled right-handed pitcher A.J. Cole from Triple-A Syracuse on Thursday. They optioned right-handed pitcher Taylor Jordan to Triple-A Syracuse and infielder Wilmer Difo to Double-A Harrisburg.

Rendon, 24, missed the first 53 games of the 2015 season recovering from a left knee sprain, and then a left oblique strain. He returns to the Nationals’ active roster after eight total Minor League rehab games (five on his most recent assignment). Over the course of his rehab, Rendon hit .250 with three doubles, three RBI, three walks and one run scored in eight games for Double-A Harrisburg.

The Nationals’ first-round selection in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, Rendon is coming off a superb 2014 season in which he took home the National League Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger Award for third basemen and finished fifth in the National League Most Valuable Player Award voting.

Rendon, who is an exceptional defender at second and third base, hit .287 with 39 doubles, six triples, 21 home runs, 83 RBI, 58 walks and 111 runs scored in 153 games in 2014. The gifted infielder ranked fourth in the Major Leagues (second in the NL) in wins above replacement (6.6), according to FanGraphs.com, at the conclusion of the season.

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 23:  Anthony Rendon #6 of the Washington Nationals warms up before the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park on April 23, 2015 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)

Cole, 23, returns to the Nationals for his third Major League assignment of 2015. He has appeared in three games for the Nationals, recording his first career save on May 15 at San Diego. In six games for Triple-A Syracuse, he is 0-2 with a 3.26 ERA. Cole entered the 2015 season ranked as the Nationals’ No. 6 prospect, and the No. 91 prospect in all of baseball, according to Baseball America.

Difo, 23, appeared in five games in his first big league assignment. The Nationals’ No. 7 prospect and “Best Defensive Infielder” in Washington’s system, according to Baseball America, went 1-for-5 during his call-up. He picked up the first Major League hit of his career in his first at-bat, a pinch-hitting appearance on May 19 vs. the New York Yankees.

Jordan, 26, appeared in two games for the Nationals during his second MLB stint of 2015. He went 0-2 with an 8.44 ERA, making one relief appearance and one start for Washington.

Nationals recall LHP Felipe Rivero, option RHP Taylor Jordan to Syracuse

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by Amanda Comak

The Washington Nationals recalled left-handed pitcher Felipe Rivero from Triple-A Syracuse on Thursday, and optioned RHP Taylor Jordan there.

Washington NationalsRivero, 23, joins the Nationals for his first Major League assignment and provides the team with a second left-handed reliever in the bullpen. In five Spring Training games (5.2 IP) with the Nationals this year, Rivero was 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA. He allowed just four hits and struck out six.

The hard-throwing left-hander, who made three appearances for Triple-A Syracuse before his call-up, entered the 2015 season rated by Baseball America as the No. 18 prospect (No. 2 left-handed pitching prospect) in the Nationals’ organization.

The Yaracuy, Venezuela native struck out 50 batters while walking just 19 in 53.2 IP in 2014 across three levels of the Nationals’ chain. Rivero went 2-7 with a 3.35 ERA last year, but worked exclusively as a starter. He has since transitioned to relief work. Over the course of his Minor League career, Rivero has posted 7.5 strikeouts per nine innings and done well to keep the ball in the ballpark, surrendering just 24 home runs in 442.1 IP (0.5 HR/9).

Rivero was acquired, along with catcher Jose Lobaton and minor league outfielder Drew Vettleson, on Feb. 13, 2014 as part of a four-player trade with the Tampa Bay Rays, in exchange for right-handed pitcher Nathan Karns.

Jordan, 26, joined the Nationals on Wednesday but did not pitch. In one start for Triple-A this season (April 10 at Scranton-Wilkes Barre), he tossed six scoreless innings. In 14 career Major League games, Jordan is 1-6 with a 4.31 ERA.

Nationals recall RHP Taylor Jordan, place RHP Craig Stammen on DL

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by Amanda Comak

The Washington Nationals recalled right-handed pitcher Taylor Jordan from Triple-A Syracuse on Wednesday and placed right-handed pitcher Craig Stammen on the 15-day disabled list with right forearm stiffness.
 
Jordan, 26, joins the Nationals for the first time this season. The right-hander made one start for Triple-A Syracuse (April 10 at Scranton-Wilkes Barre), tossing six scoreless innings while allowing just two hits and a walk, and striking out five. 
 
In 14 career Major League games spanning the 2013 and 2014 seasons, the sinker-baller is 1-6 with a 4.31 ERA. 
 
A ninth-round selection in the 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft, Jordan made his Major League debut in 2013.
 
Stammen, 31, is 0-0 with a 0.00 ERA in five games (4.0 IP) this season. Since transitioning exclusively to relief work in 2012, the versatile righty is 17-12 with a 2.89 ERA in 167 games (246.1 IP) for the Nationals. ​

Spring Training Preview, Part III: Starting Pitchers

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by Kyle Mann

Coming off a Major League Baseball-best 3.03 starters ERA, the Washington Nationals added 2013 American League Cy Young Award Winner Max Scherzer to a starting staff that is now projected to feature five members with Top-10 Cy Young Award finishes since 2012.

We’ve already previewed the Nationals starting catchers and relievers; now let’s dig into what could be a historically good starting staff.

*Note, 2014 totals reflect only Major League stats.

MAX SCHERZER

2014 Season Totals: 18-5, 3.15 ERA, 2.85 FIP, 10.29 K/9, 2.57 BB/9, 5.6 fWAR in 220.1 IP
2015 Steamer Projection: 14-8, 2.91 ERA, 2.96 FIP, 10.46 K/9, 2.43 BB/9, 3.9 fWAR in 192.0 IP

Even in a rotation full of aces, Scherzer stands out due to his impressive resume that includes the 2013 American League Cy Young Award and a fifth-place Cy Young finish in 2014. Scherzer, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound right-hander, also has two straight All-Star appearances, earning the starting nod in 2013 and winning the game out of the bullpen last season.

Now back in the National League, where he started his career as a first round pick of then-Diamondbacks Vice President of Scouting Operations (and current Nationals President of Baseball Operations and GM) Mike Rizzo, Scherzer is poised to continue his success in 2015 and beyond. Scherzer, baseball’s active leader (and fourth all-time) in strikeouts per nine innings pitched, also led the AL in wins each of the last two seasons (tied in 2014) and was a top three finisher in in strikeouts each of the past three years.

the Washington Nationals Nationals play the San Francisco Giants in the 2nd playoff gameJORDAN ZIMMERMANN

2014 Season Totals: 14-5, 2.66 ERA, 2.68 FIP, 8.20 K/9, 1.31 BB/9, 5.2 fWAR in 199.2 IP
2015 Steamer Proj.: 13-9, 3.39 ERA, 3.45 FIP, 7.65 K/9, 1.72 BB/9, 2.9 fWAR in 182.0 IP

A model of consistency, Jordan Zimmermann has established himself as one of the best pitchers in the Major Leagues the past four seasons. After tying for the NL lead in wins and finishing seventh in the Cy Young Award voting in 2013, Zimmermann followed up his first All-Star season with an even better 2014.

Zimmermann’s no-hitter to end the regular season was certainly the highlight, but Zimmermann was dominant all year. Zimmermann twice won NL Player of the Week honors and allowed the fewest walks per nine innings in the league, en route to a fifth-place finish in NL Cy Young voting. Known for being a bulldog on the mound, Zimmermann finished second in the league in strikeout-to-walk ratio and fourth in WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) and finished behind only National League MVP and Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw in fielding independent pitching (FIP) —a key indicator of future performance.

STEPHEN STRASBURG

2014 Season Totals: 14-11, 3.14 ERA, 2.94 FIP, 10.13 K/9, 1.80 BB/9, 4.3 fWAR in 215.0 IP
2015 Steamer Proj.: 13-8, 3.03 ERA, 2.87 FIP, 9.78 K/9, 2.27 BB/9, 3.8 fWAR in 182.0 IP

Since being selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft out of San Diego State University, Stephen Strasburg has established himself as one of the game’s most talented pitchers. Last season, Strasburg led the National League in strikeouts and games started behind a dominating fastball that averaged 94.8 mph and a change-up that averaged 88.2 miles per hour.

Strasburg struck out 10.13 batters per nine innings, good for second in the NL, on his way to a ninth-place finish in the Cy Young Award balloting. Thanks to a reduction in walk rate, Strasburg improved his strikeout-to-walk ratio from 3.41 in 2013 to 5.63 last season, good for second in the National League.  Strasburg has been the Nationals’ Opening Day starter each of the past three seasons and served as the Game 1 starter in the 2014 playoffs — and at just 26, is still improving — but it remains to be seen where he’ll slot in this rotation at the start of the 2015 campaign.

MLB-Miami Marlins at Washington NationalsDOUG FISTER

2014 Season Totals: 16-6, 2.41 ERA, 3.93 FIP, 5.38 K/9, 1.32 BB/9, 1.3 fWAR in 164.0 IP
2015 Steamer Proj.: 12-10, 3.78 ERA, 3.68 FIP, 6.20 K/9, 1.82 BB/9, 2.1 fWAR in 182.0 IP

In his inaugural season in Washington, Doug Fister had the best ERA among all Nationals starters, and his 2.41 ERA was good for fourth best in the National League. Considering he may head into 2015 as a possible fourth starter in the rotation, D.C. has plenty of reasons to be excited about the team’s chances during the 2015 season. With a quick tempo and a four-pitch mix that perplexed hitters all season long, Fister improved his ERA every month of the season on his way to an eighth-place finish in the NL Cy Young Award voting. Finishing behind only teammate Jordan Zimmermann in the NL in walks per nine innings, Fister’s control is the key to his success. After flourishing in his first season in the nation’s capital, Fister is poised for another great season for the Nationals in 2015.

GIO GONZALEZ

2014 Season Totals: 10-10, 3.57 ERA, 3.03 FIP, 9.19 K/9, 3.18 BB/9, 3.1 fWAR in 158.2 IP
2015 Steamer Proj.: 11-9, 3.70 ERA, 3.59 FIP, 8.68 K/9, 3.32 BB/9, 2.0 fWAR in 163.0 IP

The lone southpaw in the Nationals’ batch of starters, Gio Gonzalez enters 2015 coming off a strong September where he posted a 2.48 ERA and had 31 strikeouts and only five walks. Overall, his effectiveness in 2014 was masked by an ERA more than a half run higher than his FIP, which could indicate a return to some of the numbers the Hialeah, Fla. native posted during his 21-win 2012 campaign. The two-time All-Star is sixth among active pitchers in strikeouts per nine innings and sixth among active MLB lefties in career ERA, with an uptick in numbers since joining the Nationals three seasons ago. Gonzalez could be in line for a strong 2015, particularly if he continues to develop his change-up, a pitch he threw with more regularity in the second half of the season.

TANNER ROARK

2014 Season Totals: 15-10, 2.85 ERA, 3.47 FIP, 6.25 K/9, 1.77 BB/9, 3.0 fWAR in 198.2 IP
2015 Steamer Proj.: 2-2, 4.10 ERA, 4.13 FIP, 6.44 K/9, 2.26 BB/9, 0.3 fWAR in 38.0 IP

Part of the package the Nationals received for Cristian Guzman in a 2010 trade, Tanner Roark finished the 2014 season with 15 wins and a 2.85 ERA, proving his strong rookie season was no fluke. While Roark’s 2015 role isn’t yet clear, he’s shown he can be very successful as a starter, or coming out of the bullpen, including 22.2 innings in 2013 in which he posted a 1.19 ERA. After finishing last season in the Top 10 in the National League in wins, WHIP, walks per inning pitched and pitching WAR, Roark provides great rotation depth for the Nationals and should easily beat his Steamer projections if he gets regular work. As the old saying goes, you can never have too much pitching, and Roark has shown he will provide value no matter how he is used in 2015.

New York Mets v Washington Nationals - Game OneBLAKE TREINEN

2014 Season Totals: 2-3, 2.49 ERA, 3.09 FIP, 5.33 K/9, 2.31 BB/9, 0.6 fWAR in 50.2 IP
2015 Steamer Proj.: 2-2, 3.55 ERA, 3.47 FIP, 6.83 K/9, 2.17 BB/9, 0.2 fWAR in 45.0 IP 

A key part of the three-team trade that sent Michael Morse to Seattle before the 2013 season — a deal that also netted the Nationals A.J. Cole and Ian Krol (later an integral part of the trade for Doug Fister) — Blake Treinen’s blazing fastball generated a lot of buzz in D.C. during his first taste of the Major Leagues. After posting an outstanding 2.49 ERA in 15 appearances (seven starts) with the Nationals in 2014, Treinen is an option to provide rotation depth, or be utilized out of the Nationals bullpen. A former college walk-on, Treinen threw his hard, sinking fastball nearly 80 percent of the time last season with an average speed of 94.8 miles per hour. Regardless of role, Treinen should be a solid contributor for the Nationals in 2015.

TAYLOR JORDAN

2014 Season Totals: 0-3, 5.61 ERA, 4.50 FIP, 5.96 K/9, 2.81 BB/9, 0.1 fWAR in 25.2 IP
2015 Steamer Proj.: 1-1, 3.79 ERA, 3.74 FIP, 6.45 K/9, 2.14 BB/9, 0.1 fWAR in 20.0 IP

After a successful rookie season in 2013, Taylor Jordan began the year in the Nationals rotation before returning to Triple-A Syracuse in early May. The young right-hander underwent surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow in September, and began the process of working toward this spring. A groundball pitcher, the Merritt Island, Fla. native has induced a 56 percent groundball rate during his time in the Majors, peaking at 57.5 percent during his 2013 campaign, in which he posted a 3.66 ERA. Provided he’s healthy to start the season, Jordan should be ready to contribute in the role and the level the Nationals feel will be his best fit.

TAYLOR HILL

2014 Season Totals: 0-1, 9.00 ERA, 3.69 FIP, 5.00 K/9, 3.00 BB/9, 0.1 fWAR in 9.0 IP
2015 Steamer Proj.: 1-1, 3.88 ERA, 3.96 FIP, 5.69 K/9, 1.65 BB/9, 0.0 fWAR in 30.0 IP

A sixth-round pick in the 2011 draft out of Vanderbilt University, Taylor Hill made his Major League debut for the Nationals in June and earned his first big league start in September of last season. While Hill ran into some tough luck during his brief MLB stint, he produced an outstanding 2.81 ERA for Triple-A Syracuse in 144 innings. Hill provides great starting rotation depth for the Nationals.

A.J. COLE

2014 Season Totals: N/A
2015 Steamer Proj.: 0-0, 4.14 ERA, 4.05 FIP, 6.99 K/9, 2.73 BB/9, 0.0 fWAR in 1.0 IP

Ranked as the Nationals’ No. 2 prospect by MLB.com, A.J. Cole features a fastball that sits in the mid-90s as well as a solid changeup and curveball. After being selected as a fourth-round pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, Cole was included in the haul to acquire All-Star Gio Gonzalez from the Oakland Athletics in December 2011. But the Nationals have always been high on Cole, who was reacquired by the Nationals in January 2013 as the centerpiece of the Michael Morse trade. After a successful 2014 season between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse, in which he combined for a 3.16 ERA and 111 strikeouts over 134 innings, Cole enters Spring Training with a chance to contribute to the Nationals at some point during the 2015 season.

FELIPE RIVERO

2014 Season Totals: N/A
2015 Steamer Proj.: 0-0, 4.48 ERA, 4.48 FIP, 6.86 K/9, 3.96 BB/9, 0.0 fWAR in 1.0 IP

Acquired with Jose Lobaton and Drew Vettleson last spring for Nathan Karns, Felipe Rivero is a hard throwing southpaw who can hit 97 mph with his fastball. He complements that offering with a curveball and a change-up, both which show promise. The native of Venezuela struck out 8.4 batters per nine innings across three levels in 2014, ending his season with a stint in the Arizona Fall League. If Rivero improves his command, the 23-year-old projects as left-handed starter in the majors, but also has potential as a left-handed stopper in the bullpen.

SAMMY SOLIS

2014 Season Totals: N/A
2015 Steamer Proj.: 0-0, 4.06 ERA, 4.05 FIP, 7.16 K/9, 3.07 BB/9, 0.0 fWAR in 1.0 IP

A 6-foot-5 left-hander, Sammy Solis has pitched well when healthy. Solis has an impressive 3.33 ERA over the course of his Minor League career with 7.9 strikeouts per nine innings, and features a fastball that can touch 95 miles per hour to go with a solid change-up. A former second-round draft pick out of the University of San Diego, Solis has the chance to move through the Nationals’ system quickly.

Inside the Numbers: Starting Rotation

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by Mike Feigen

startersnldsWhen the Nationals take the field for Game 1 of the National League Division Series this Friday, whichever pitcher Matt Williams entrusts with the starting assignment will give the team a tremendous chance to win.

That’s what the eye test tells us.

Fans of the Nationals saw Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister, Tanner Roark and Gio Gonzalez win game after game — or at least help the club earn win after win — throughout the regular season. Those core members of the starting five owned a collective record of 69-42 (.622) and the Nationals went 94-55 (.631) when one of them received the ball.

However, wins and losses really don’t tell a precise story of how well a pitcher performed. Too many external factors come into play in each win and loss, such as run support, batted ball luck and bullpen performance.

Instead, we look at the types of things a pitcher can control, such as walks and strikeouts. In the case of the 2014 Nationals, no pitching staff did it better — in the history of baseball.

This season, Washington pitchers struck out 1,288 opposing batters and walked 352. That’s a ratio of 3.66-to-1, a better rate than any of the other 2,391 teams to play a full season of baseball since 1901.

In fact, only 60 other teams in history had even managed a 2.66-to-1 ratio, underscoring just how well the Nationals struck batters out and limited free passes.

But the 3.66-to-1 figure only scratches the surface.

When considering only starting pitchers, the Nationals’ figure leaps to an astounding 4.05-to-1. And when excluding the 13 spot starts posted throughout the year by Blake Treinen, Taylor Jordan and Taylor Hill — leaving just the core five of Zimmermann, Strasburg, Fister, Roark and Gonzalez — the limits of the statistical stratosphere are tested.

The final ratio? An incredible 4.30-to-1.

So, when the going gets tough and runners are on base in the postseason, Williams, pitching coach Steve McCatty and the rest of the Nationals have the numbers on their side to back up what we’ve seen in the regular season. Notching a timely strikeout instead of issuing an inopportune walk can make or break a team in October — and one team is better equipped to do it than any other.

 Name K BB K:BB ratio
Zimmermann 182 29 6.28
Strasburg 242 43 5.63
Fister 98 24 4.08
Roark 138 39 3.54
Gonzalez 162 56 2.89
TOTAL 822 191 4.30

Nationals recall RHP Ryan Mattheus, option RHP Taylor Jordan

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by Amanda Comak

062111-688 ryan mattheusHOUSTON — The Washington Nationals recalled right-handed reliever Ryan Mattheus from Triple-A Syracuse on Tuesday and optioned right-handed starter Taylor Jordan there.

Mattheus, 30, joins the Nationals after pitching in eight games for Triple-A Syracuse, working in both short relief as well as multi-inning appearances. In 10 innings of work, Mattheus has struck out eight batters and walked only three; he has allowed 11 hits and worked to a 5.40 ERA.

In four home games (6.2 IP) Mattheus has held opponents to a .227 batting average.

Acquired by the Nationals in 2009, Mattheus has pitched to a 3.77 ERA in parts of three Major League seasons, including posting a 2.84 mark in his first two seasons in the big leagues (101 games, 98.1 innings pitched).

Mattheus Spring Training was shortened a bit after he dealt with a bout of costochondritis, an inflammation of the cartilage that connects a rib to the sternum. Ultimately the Nationals felt the right-hander didn’t have as much time as they’d have liked to build up his strength and be ready to open the regular season on the Major League roster.

Jordan, 25, made five starts for the Nationals this season. He was 0-3 with a 5.61 ERA in 25.2 innings. In 14 career Major League games (77.1 IP), Jordan has a 4.31 ERA.

Daily Wrap: Jordan counters in fifth starter battle, Treinen draws raves, & more

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by Amanda Comak

JUPITER, Fla. — The Washington Nationals trekked to Jupiter, Fla., and battled the raindrops for most of Monday afternoon, but they squeezed in a 4-1 victory over the Miami Marlins and slashed their remaining number of Grapefruit League games to three.

Player of the Day: Taylor Jordan

The Washington Nationals defeat the New York Mets 5- 4Nate McLouth would be a worthy choice for this honor on Monday, the Nationals’ outfielder smacking an RBI-double to right field in his first at-bat, walking in his second and crushing a home run over the right field wall in his third.

But as Spring Training winds down, the competition for the No. 5 spot in the team’s rotation is one of the most compelling remaining decisions. And with that in mind, Taylor Jordan‘s 5.2-inning performance in which he allowed one run off five hits, with one walk and two strikeouts, is too hard to overlook.

Jordan and Tanner Roark appear to be the main contenders battling for the final spot in the Nationals’ rotation and manager Matt Williams admits the team is in a no-lose spot when it comes to making that decision.

“He’s made a case,” Williams said of Jordan, one day after similarly lauding Roark. “He’s pitched well the whole spring for us. It’s going to be a very difficult decision. They’re both pitching very well, and that’s a good thing… They both have unique ways of going about it… They both make a great case, and that’s a very nice problem to contemplate.”

“It’s (tough) because they both have pitched really well. What are you going to do? They both have answered the bell every time we’ve asked them to, so it’s been great.”

Jordan, who rocketed through the Nationals’ system in 2013 and pitched well in his first Major League call-up, said he’s stopped worrying about the competition and is focusing on being ready for the season, regardless of where his season begins.

“I’m just going to play it by ear,” Jordan said. “I’m happy to go to Triple-A. It’s still a bump up for me. I’ve never even been to Triple-A. Last year was just a blessing to be up in the big leagues. I don’t expect anything… Honestly I’m really pleased that I came back this strong after I broke my ankle this offseason. I’m extremely pleased that I’m as healthy as I am right now.”

Quote of the Day: Matt Williams on right-hander Blake Treinen, who was reassigned to Minor League camp on Monday morning but left having made an incredibly strong impression on the Nationals’ decision makers. He will be stretched out a bit in the Minor Leagues to keep the option of being a starting pitcher open.

474998153“He’s just an exceptional young man,” Williams said. “We let him know that he is our next wave, if you will. He proved everything that he had to prove to us this spring. We’re all certainly pleasantly surprised with his progress and the way he threw the baseball.

“His stuff plays at any point later in a game. It’s a bowling ball at 97 (mph). That’s all good. We have some depth, certainly, in the starting roles, so he may be able to help us in the bullpen, as well. And we asked him the question this morning – he likes the bullpen, as well.”

Notables:

Anthony Rendon, who has been sidelined by a chest cold the past few days, was put through a full infield workout this morning with Williams and Defensive Coordinator/Advance Coach Mark Weidemaier. Williams said Rendon is feeling better and “ideally” will be able to return to game action on Tuesday… The Nationals will play their final home game of the spring on Tuesday, welcoming the New York Mets to Space Coast Stadium for a 1:05 p.m. home finale. They will then visit Jupiter, to play the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday, and Port St. Lucie, to face the Mets once more on Thursday in their final game before heading north.

Daily Wrap: Strasburg named Opening Day starter, Detwiler talks bullpen, & more

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by Amanda Comak

VIERA, Fla. — The Washington Nationals fell to the Houston Astros, 2-0, on Wednesday night, despite a strong five-inning performance from Taylor Jordan and solid relief work from Ross Detwiler, Rafael Soriano and Tyler Clippard.

To the Daily Wrap…

News of the Day: Stephen Strasburg will be the Nationals’ Opening Day starter.

Stephen Strasburg was named the Nationals' Opening Day starter for the third straight year.

Stephen Strasburg was named the Nationals’ Opening Day starter for the third straight year.

Washington Nationals Manager Matt Williams announced Wednesday night that, for the third consecutive year, Stephen Strasburg will be the team’s Opening Day starter.

“He’s earned it,” Williams said after the team’s 2-0 loss to the Houston Astros. “He’ll toe that slab for us on Opening Day.”

This spring, Strasburg has allowed just one earned run in three starts while working on holding runners and incorporating a new pitch. He’ll make his fourth start of Spring Training on Thursday against the Detroit Tigers, and that start will line him up to be on turn for the Nationals’ March 31 opener at Citi Field against the New York Mets.

And while Strasburg was perhaps the expected choice, the uber-talented right-hander having done it the previous two years, Williams acknowledged that some of the other Nationals starters gave him pause before making the final decision. Jordan Zimmermann, a 19-game winner and an All-Star a season ago, was chief among them.

“We have a number of guys who could fill that position,” Williams said of the Opening Day honor. “But we spoke to Jordan and he’s good with pitching wherever and whenever. Opening Day is important, but the rest of the games are important, too.”

Quote of the Day: Ross Detwiler on taking a team-first attitude on his move to the bullpen.

Detwiler pitched a scoreless inning in relief on Wednesday night, the first step in his transition into the Nationals’ bullpen. Earlier in the day, the left-hander discussed the team’s decision with reporters, taking a team-first attitude to the move.

“I still view myself as a starter,” Detwiler said. “But I’m not going to go out there and hope somebody does bad or somebody gets hurt. We’re in it to win. And I think it’s going to hurt worse if we don’t win the whole thing this year.”

Video highlights:

Taylor Jordan strikes out five in five innings.

Ross Detwiler fans Jason Castro in the sixth.

Danny Espinosa makes a diving stop and shows off his throwing arm.

Notables:

Williams said Wednesday that right-hander Doug Fister, who pitched in a Minor League game on Monday, will return to the Major League rotation on Saturday against the Miami Marlins… Williams also said he expects the top of the Nationals’ rotation to feature Gio Gonzalez behind Strasburg and Zimmermann behind Gonzalez.

Daily Wrap: Detwiler to bullpen, Fister throws in Minor League game, & more

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by Amanda Comak

VIERA, Fla. — The Washington Nationals were rained out on Monday afternoon in Lakeland, Fla., washing away their game against the Detroit Tigers and giving them a little extra time as they head into the lone off day of Spring Training.

But despite the lack of a game there was still plenty of news to go around.

News of the Day: Ross Detwiler will open the 2014 season in the Nationals’ bullpen.

Ross Detwiler

Ross Detwiler

Nationals Manager Matt Williams said on Monday that left-hander Ross Detwiler will open the 2014 season as an integral member of the team’s bullpen. The decision, Williams said, was one based on what the Nationals felt was ultimately the best fit for the team this season, and Williams emphasized that Detwiler’s talents will give them a unique relief weapon.

“We feel like it’s a good move for our team,” Williams said. “He provides something special out of the bullpen for us. We talked to him. I don’t know if anybody would ever be really happy with something like that, but we don’t feel it’s a demotion of any sort. We just feel like we’re a better team with him coming out of our bullpen.

“He offers something that’s special — power lefty, mid-90s (mph) lefty. It doesn’t mean he won’t start at some point in the future, but we’ve asked him to get ready for the start of the season in the bullpen.”

The Nationals have been high on Detwiler’s talent since they selected him in the first round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, and his maturation as a starting pitcher was evident in his outstanding performance in Game 4 of the 2012 National League Division Series, as well as his outings early in 2013. But a back injury stole much of last season from Detwiler, and now the Nationals would like to utilize his talents in a way that will make him even more valuable.

In his career, Detwiler has excelled in relief, allowing just four earned runs in 32.1 innings and holding hitters to a .173 batting average against. His heavy sinker, complemented by his hard fastball, coming from a left-hander is exceptionally rare in the Major Leagues. The Nationals simply want to utilize that weapon when it is most favorable.

“He provides something special for us,” Williams said of Detwiler, noting his role in the bullpen will be “fluid.” “I just think it’s a luxury for our team to have a guy in the bullpen who can do (the) types of things (he can).

“I told him, this is something we feel is going to make our team better. We’re here to win games, and here to compete to play meaningful games in September and October, and he’s going to be a big part of that out of our bullpen. For me it’s not a tough decision — it’s a prudent one… There’s a lot of thought and a lot of talk among our staff and our organization in making that move. If I know Ross, he will take that bull by its horns and he will go with it and be really good.”

Williams listed Taylor Jordan, Tanner Roark and Chris Young as remaining competitors for the team’s No. 5 starter job.

Quote of the Day: Doug Fister after pitching two innings in a Minor League game

Fister, who had been previously sidelined with some elbow inflammation, faced hitters on Monday for the first time since March 2. He threw 30 pitches in a Minor League intrasquad game, with Wilson Ramos catching him, and came out feeling positive about his progress. 

“I’m still working out some kinks,” Fister said. “But it’s a lot better… It’s not as sharp as I want it to be, but for being, technically, my first outing in a while, I was fairly pleased with what I had going.”

Notables:

The Nationals will have their only off day of the spring on Tuesday, with players and staff given a day to recoup after several weeks of workouts and games in preparation for the long season… The Nationals will return to action on Wednesday night at home in Viera, Fla., against the Houston Astros. The game will be broadcast on MASN… MLB Network and MLB Network Radio will be on-site at Nationals camp this week, so be on the lookout for some interesting content in the coming days from those two outlets.

From the Desk of Mark D. Lerner: Checking in from Spring Training

Twitter: @Nationals | Facebook: Nationals | Instagram: @Nationals

Hello, everyone.

Let me start by stating that things could not be better here in Viera. The weather is wonderful, the workouts are crisp and the results have been encouraging. Yes, a team’s Grapefruit League winning percentage can, at times, be misleading, but winning games is always better than the alternative.

Ian Desmond is off to a strong start this spring.

Ian Desmond is off to a strong start this spring.

Seven wins, four losses and a tie. But what is most encouraging is how Manager Matt Williams has them playing the game. I love the aggressive base running. Taking an extra base. How fantastic was it to see Danny Espinosa score from second base on Saturday on a dribbler back to the pitcher? This brand of baseball really is infectious.

Fifteen home runs in 12 games. Only five allowed. That’s a good ratio.

Strong offensive starts from stalwarts like Ian Desmond (.286, 2 HR, 3 RBI), Adam LaRoche (2 HR, 4 RBI), Wilson Ramos (.474, HR, 10 RBI) and Ryan Zimmerman (.389, HR, 2 RBI) among others.

And many of our young players are making their marks. Zach Walters is hitting .615 with four extra-base hits and five RBI. He is as hot as anyone. Brian Goodwin and Michael A. Taylor have each made memorable catches in the outfield. Matt Skole hit .357 and four of his five hits went for extra bases before he was assigned to Minor League camp earlier this week so that he can get additional at-bats.

  • I have not even mentioned the pitching. There truly are too many to name, but I’ll risk mentioning three standouts: Taylor Jordan (team-leading 11 strikeouts), Jerry Blevins (3.2 hitless innings) and A.J. Cole (6.2 scoreless innings).

    Taylor Jordan has performed exceptionally well in his first Major League camp.

    Taylor Jordan has performed exceptionally well in his first Major League camp.

  • Forgive me if I think it is 2005 all over again watching Jamey Carroll and Luis Ayala perform admirably as they battle for roster spots. Jamey’s approach at the plate (.333 OBP), base running and defensive versatility are all a real plus. Meanwhile, Luis can throw a strike whenever he needs to. He has that same veteran savvy gene our friend Livan Hernandez had during his playing days.
  • And Matt Williams? What’s not to like? Crisp, precise and purposeful baseball usually yields wins. I love what Matt brings to our dugout and clubhouse. I especially like how our team has taken to his aggressive nature.
  • I was pleased to see President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo sign Michael Gonzalez to a Minor League deal last weekend. Gonzalez was a big part of our bullpen’s success in 2012 and there are very few southpaw relievers who can match his experience in tight situations. Welcome back Michael!
  • I just counted. Only three of the club’s 18 errors have been committed by players who were “regulars” in Washington last season. And one of those miscues was charged to Mr. Perfect, Denard Span! Remember, Denard did not commit an error last season. As I have said before, he should have won a Gold Glove!
  • I’d like to thank all of our fans in Central Florida, but especially those from our local area on the Space Coast (Viera, Melbourne and Rockledge). The crowds for the Cardinals and Yankees games in the last week were the two largest we have ever enjoyed hosting.
  • As for our fans from back home, I’ve had quite a few friends remark upon arrival in Viera about the significant pockets of Nationals fans on their flights from DC to Orlando. It’s hard to ignore all the smiles and Curly W shirts, sweaters and hats. It is great to see so many of our fans catching on to just how special Spring Training is.

Until next time …

Mark

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