Results tagged ‘ Zach Duke ’

The Zen of Dan Haren

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One of the fun aspects of Spring Training is getting to know the new players in camp. A baseball clubhouse is a mix of all types of personalities, and meshing them together can be a delicate balance. So as the new guys settle in, certain characteristics begin to emerge, like the introspective, self-awareness of new starter Dan Haren.

Haren absolutely baffled the Astros through two innings Tuesday, before allowing a walk and a pair of singles in a longer third frame, which would yield Houston’s lone run in a 7-1 Nationals victory. When asked about whether it may actually have been good for him to struggle a bit, Haren at first conceded that might indeed be true, the situation allowing him to get work throwing out of the stretch, and pitching a longer inning.

Haren has shown a keen self-awareness this spring.

Haren has shown a keen self-awareness this spring.

Then he paused, and broke down the barrier of clichés that so often comprise an athlete’s postgame comments.

“In Spring Training, if you do (well), you feel great,” he said. “If you feel bad, you’re just working on stuff. That’s what everyone says.”

He paused for the laughter of the reporter pool, before deadpanning his final thought.

“So yeah, I was just working on stuff in the third inning.”

That refreshing honesty, as well as a spot-on analysis of the way that athletes can sometimes revert to platitudes gives Nationals fans an early look at what to expect from the cerebral Haren this season.

Throwing only a single curveball and “two or three” split-fingered pitches, Haren has nonetheless dominated so far this spring, even while really only touching 60 percent of his repertoire. That’s good news for the 32-year-old, who says he feels completely healthy.

The Nationals also got three strong innings from Zach Duke on Tuesday, who allowed a single hit while holding the Astros scoreless to earn the victory. Rafael Soriano, Tyler Clippard and Jeremy Accardo – three of the four Nats in camp with a 30-save MLB season to their name (along with Drew Storen) – each pitched a scoreless inning of relief.

It’s off to Clearwater Wednesday for a marquee pitching showdown, featuring Stephen Strasburg against Roy Halladay and the Phillies. Check out the lineup, plus a complete list of Spring Training results to date.

Nationals Lineup:

1. Span CF

2. Lombardozzi 2B

3. Rendon SS

4. Moore DH

5. Brown RF

6. Marrero 1B

7. Rivero LF

8. Skole 3B

9. Solano C

P. Strasburg

Results:

2/23 @ New York (NL) – L, 5-3

2/24 vs. Miami – T, 2-2

2/25 @ New York (NL) – W, 6-4

2/26 @ Atlanta – L, 9-5

2/27 vs. Miami – L, 5-1

2/28 vs. New York (NL) – T, 4-4

3/1 @ Atlanta – W, 6-5

3/2 @ St. Louis – W, 6-2

3/3 vs. St. Louis – W, 7-6

3/5 vs. Houston – W, 7-1

Overall Record: 5-3-2

Rounding Out The Rotation

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The Nationals officially signed veteran right-handed pitcher Dan Haren to a one-year contract on Friday, after he passed his physical. Haren brings a solid presence and track record to the Washington rotation, giving the Nationals the fifth starter they were looking for heading into the Winter Meetings. But to call the 32 year-old Haren a “fifth starter” does not do his resume justice.

The addition of Haren gives the Nationals an even stronger rotation.

The addition of Haren gives the Nationals an even stronger rotation.

The right-hander eclipsed 216 innings in seven straight seasons prior to 2012, and carries a 119-97 career record with a 3.66 ERA. The three-time All-Star has won at least twelve games in each of his eight full seasons as a Major Leaguer, and has terrific peripheral numbers, carrying a career strikeout-to-walk rate of 4.02, averaging 189 K’s per season over that span.

Haren throws a two-seam and four-seam fastball, as well as a cutter, a splitter, a spike curveball and a changeup. His ability to mix speeds with accuracy (as evidenced by his low walk rate) helps keep hitters off-balance and makes him a highly unpredictable pitcher.

The Pepperdine product was originally selected in the second round of the 2001 First-year Player Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. After breaking in with St. Louis, Haren was traded as part of the Mark Mulder deal to Oakland, where he came into his own as the ace of the Athletics staff from 2005-07. He was dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks prior to the ’08 season as part of a blockbuster trade that included both Carlos Gonzalez and Brett Anderson. He was then dealt mid-season in 2010 to the Los Angeles Angels, with whom he pitched through the 2012 season.

Duke gives the Nationals veteran depth in the bullpen.

Duke provides veteran bullpen depth in Washington.

It has been a while since Haren has been to the postseason (2006 with the A’s), but he has had success, going 2-0 with a 3.26 ERA (7 ER/19.1 IP) in seven career playoff appearances (two starts). Regardless, his wealth of regular season experience brings exactly what the Nationals were looking for in their final addition to the rotation entering the offseason.

The Nationals also announced on Monday that they have come to terms one a one-year Major League deal with pitcher Zach Duke. Duke started the 2012 season on a Minor League contract with Triple-A Syracuse, where he opened eyes with a 15-5 record and 3.51 ERA in 26 starts. That solid season earned the lefty a September call-up and he was added to the 40-man roster for the stretch run.

Duke pitched very well in his limited duties, going 1-0 with a 1.32 ERA (2 ER/13.2 IP), striking out 10 while walking four over eight relief appearances. He gives the Nationals a solid long relief option out of the ‘pen, and has the starting experience to possibly compete for a job in the rotation, or at the very least fill in as a spot starter. The 29 year-old was an All-Star with the Pirates back in 2009 and has twice notched double-digit win totals at the Major League level.

What to Watch For: 9/3

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Chicago Cubs (51-82) vs. Washington Nationals (81-52)

RHP Jeff Samardzija (8-12, 4.03) vs. LHP Ross Detwiler (8-6, 3.32)

After taking three of four from the Cardinals to open the homestand, the Nationals host the Chicago Cubs for a four-game set beginning this afternoon in D.C.  Washington hands the ball to Ross Detwiler in hopes for a better showing against Jeff Samardzija, who handed the club its first loss of the season back in April.

NATIONALS LINEUP

1. Werth RF

2. Harper CF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Morse LF

6. Desmond SS

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Detwiler LHP

WELCOME TO D.C.

The Nationals today selected right-handed pitcher Christian Garcia and left-handed pitcher Zach Duke from Triple-A Syracuse. Additionally, the Nationals transferred right-handed pitcher Henry Rodriguez to the 60-Day Disabled List. Garcia converted all 21 save opportunities with a 2-1 mark and 0.86 ERA in 45 relief appearances this season with Syracuse and Double-A Harrisburg. In 27 appearances with the Chiefs, Garcia went 1-1 with 14 saves, a 0.56 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 32.1 innings pitched. The 27-year-old Garcia went 22-20 with 22 saves and a 3.22 ERA in 124 games/56 starts during seven seasons in the minor leagues, posting 10.1 strikeouts per 9.0 innings (414 K/369.0 IP) during that stretch.

Duke went 15-5 with a 3.51 ERA in 26 starts this season with Syracuse. His 15 wins lead all International League pitchers and matched the highest single-season win total by a Nationals farmhand (Brad Peacock, 15 wins for Syracuse in 2011). The 29-year-old went 4-0 with a 2.16 ERA over his final six starts with the Chiefs, posting 29 strikeouts and just five walks in 41.2 innings pitched. In seven big-league seasons, Duke is 48-74 with a 4.56 ERA in 181 games/168 starts with Pittsburgh (2005-10) and Arizona (2011). In 2009, he won a career-high 11 games and represented the Pirates at the All-Star Game in St. Louis.

GOOD WOOD

While tallying a 4-1 record the last five games, Washington has averaged 7.8 runs per contest. In the same five-game span, the Nationals are hitting .339 (62-for-183) with five doubles, a triple, nine home runs and 13 walks. Those five-game numbers include a .429 (18-for-42) mark with RISP.

SERIES NOTES

The Nationals are 23-25 in eight seasons against the Cubs. The Cubs have hit 11 more home runs (50-39) than the Nationals in the series. However, the Nationals are 11-7 in one-run games against CHI, including a 6-3 mark at in D.C. Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano’s magical 2006 season with the Nationals included a franchise-record 46 home runs. Davey Johnson hit .306 (15-for-49) for the Cubs in 24 games in 1978 and he played his last game in a big league uniform at Wrigley Field on September 28 of that year vs. the Mets.

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