Anthony+Rendon+Pittsburgh+Pirates+v+Washington+VZLhzjwGktSl

The Implications Of Losing Anthony Rendon

 

On Wednesday, a full three weeks since returning from the disabled list, Washington Nationals infielder Anthony Rendon capped a three game stretch when he went 7-for-12. The stretch, although limited, raised Rendon’s average from a meek .230 to .290. It wasn’t terribly surprising, as Rendon has always been seen as an elite player. Raising his batting average was likely just a matter of getting his timing back.

However, Rendon is now DL bound again, with no clear timetable on when he’ll be ready to return. His injury puts the Nationals in a delicate place. They have the middle infield depth to mask his loss, but absolutely cannot absorb injuries beyond what they’ve already sustained. Continue reading…

MAT

Michael Taylor Is Evolving

On June 2nd, the Washington Nationals played a double-header. Michael Taylor went a combined 2-for-8, striking out six times. The games dropped his overall line to .223/.281/.393 and bumped his strikeout rate to an even 40%. He was exactly as advertised: A free swinger with power, but a .281 on-base percentage isn’t exactly passable at the major league level.

I’ve done some research, and it doesn’t seem that anything notable happened the night of June 2nd. No comets with mystical powers passed the earth, nor did any planets align. It rained a bit, so it’s possible (though unlikely) there was a lightning strike to initiate some crazy body-switching magic.

But some way or another, Michael Taylor woke up a new man on June 3rd.

Continue reading…

Ian+Desmond+Atlanta+Braves+v+Washington+Nationals+St2yrSSx7SVl

Fister, Offense Power Nats Past Braves In Sweep

Things are starting to click for the Washington Nationals (40-33).

They polished off a sweep of the Atlanta Braves (35-38) with the help of a rolling offense behind a gem of a start by Doug Fister. The 7-0 win was the Nats’ sixth in a row, tying their season-high winning streak. If the pitchers keep dominating and the hitters keep producing like they have over the past six games, this all-star team could be in the midst of a very exciting run. Continue reading…

United States pitcher Erick Fedde (33) winds up during the second inning of an exhibition baseball game against Cuba in Cary, N.C., Monday, July 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Federal Reserve: Examining Nats’ Short-Season Rosters

Over the last year, the coverage on the Federal Reserve has typically focused on prospects on the Washington Nationals’ full-season affiliates, and for a reason. Full-season players not only are closer to the majors, but also typically have more experience than their short season counterparts and offer more certainty by playing over a larger sample size.

This year, though, the Short-Season A Auburn Doubledays and the Gulf Coast League (GCL) Nationals deserve a closer look, thanks to an infusion of recent draft picks and intriguing prospects on both rosters. Continue reading…

desi walkoff

Desmond Walkoff Lifts Nats to Fifth Straight

As they often do, an early pitcher’s duel turned into a dramatic battle of the bullpens. After a fast-paced start to the game, a tumultuous ninth and exciting extras ended in the Washington Nationals’ (39-33) favor, as Ian Desmond hit a sac fly to left field that gave the Nats a walkoff win over the Atlanta Braves (35-37), 2-1 in 11 innings. With the win and Mets loss, the Nationals now lead the NL East by 3.5 games after five straight wins.

Zimmermann Cruises With Some Help

It had not been the best season for Jordan Zimmermann to date, as he entered Wednesday with a 3.75 ERA on the year. But he mowed through a paper-thin Braves lineup, going eight scoreless innings and allowing six hits and no walks. The sterling outing dropped his ERA a third of a run to 3.42 and pushed the Nationals’ rotation’s scoreless streak to 34.1 innings, a new Nationals record.

On the opposite mound, Zimmermann was matched pitch-for-pitch by Shelby Miller, who allowed just one run in seven innings and retired the first 10 Nats. But a Bryce Harper RBI single in the seventh was all the Nats would need in the game’s first nine innings.

The one knock on Zimmermann’s line was his low strikeout total, which came in at just three. A few of the balls he let into play were decently hard hit, especially as the game wore on. But fortunately for Zimmermann, Denard Span borrowed the winged sandals from Hermes for the night. He was everywhere, making a sliding catch on a shallow popup and a leaping one on a ball drilled to the wall. He even delivered an excellent throw on the sacrifice fly that tied the game, getting Joey Terdoslavich at second to perhaps prevent the Braves from taking the lead.

Storen Blows It

Drew Storen has been among baseball’s best closers this season, by any standard. He entered the night with an even 2.00 ERA, an even better 1.70 FIP, a monstrous 34.0% strikeout rate and a miniscule 4.7% walk rate. On top of that, he had blown just one save all season, converting his last 17 in a row and ranking third in the NL with 21 total. But a pair of singles, including one on a weak grounder up the first base side, and a throw to third put men on second and third with nobody out.

An intentional walk loaded the bases and made Span’s double play (with a cutoff throw from Danny Espinosa) possible after Kelly Johnson’s sac fly. With a man on third and two outs, Andrelton Simmons grounded out to second to end the threat. Fortunately for the Nats, Storen’s run would be the only one they would cede.

Desmond Delivers

Desmond, like all of the Nationals, was playing with a heavy heart today. Bench coach Randy Knorr’s wife Kimberly passed away Tuesday, and Knorr was not with the team. His jersey was hanging in the dugout, and Desmond wore Knorr’s number 53 on his helmet as an emblem of the closeness between the two.

So it was only fitting that Desmond would be the hero. After Harper doubled, Wilson Ramos was intentionally walked and Clint Robinson drew an unintentional one to load the bases with one out. Desmond lined the first pitch from David Aardsma to left, where ex-Nat Eury Perez made the catch but was far too deep to have a chance at home.

Stephen+Strasburg+Atlanta+Braves+v+Washington+_V7f9orQryNl

Strasburg Blanks Braves In Return From DL

Thunder boomed, rain poured, lightning cracked, and two hours and 12 minutes later an electrified Washington Nationals (38-35) lineup shook down the Atlanta Braves (35-36) for a 3-1 win. Stephen Strasburg played a large part in stifling the Braves in his first start since May 29, and Drew Storen added further drama to the already theatrical evening. Continue reading…

Untitled 7

Nats Cap A Crazy Week With A Series Sweep Over The Pirates

Over the past seven days, the Washington Nationals have treated fans to a series of record breaking performances. Last Sunday, Max Scherzer flirted with a no-hitter en route to striking out a team-record 16 batters against the Milwaukee Brewers. Two nights later, the club combined for a team-record 23 hits in a 16-4 route of the Tampa Bay Rays. Yesterday, Scherzer made history by recording the second-ever Nationals no-hitter. Today the Nats capped off an eventful week by setting two records; their longest consecutive amount of innings pitched without a run (24) and their most runs ever scored in the first inning (9) en route to a 9-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Tomorrow, they will rest. Continue reading…

scherzer

A Father’s Day Love Letter to Family and Baseball

Baseball is tradition in my family.

My father played baseball throughout high school and into college. My mother would sneak away from her two sisters to watch baseball games with her father, all while keeping score. My brother and I both played competitive baseball through high school before taking our talents to slow pitch softball.

Traditionally baseball is a game between fathers and sons (as evidenced by the myriad of baseball movies focused on that relationship) which is one of the things that made yesterday’s Max Scherzer no-hitter all the more special. Max’s parents Brad and Jan decided to make the trek to DC for Father’s Day weekend to see him pitch in person for just the second time in a Nationals uniform and they sure picked the right game. Getting to see your son throw his first no hitter must’ve been the thrill of a lifetime and the best possible gift Brad could’ve received.

For me however, the game was bittersweet.

Continue reading…

scherzernohitter

Watching Scherzer’s No-Hitter Was A Special, Stressful, And Unforgettable Experience

I sat glued to my seat on Saturday afternoon at Nationals Park. It was a sweltering day in DC, but that had little to do with the reason I was almost literally stuck in my chair. Max Scherzer was on the mound, and that’s all I needed to be excited.

After an outing that was nearly a no-hitter just six games earlier, Scherzer took the mound to assert his dominance over another National League team. He faced a Pirates team in the midst of an incredibly hot streak, but Scherzer hadn’t heard the news.

After his six-pitch first inning, I sat in my seat, next to my friends, and thought, “oh, this could be one of those nights again.” I didn’t dare speak those words, on the off chance I was ejected from my seat unceremoniously for the blasphemous thoughts I had turned into words. As the game wore on, I realized that everyone sitting around me was fully aware of what was happening on the mound and on the scoreboard. Jovial conversations among friends turned into long, nervous silences.

In the third, Michael A. Taylor made a play at the wall that probably didn’t save a home run off the bat of Jordy Mercer, but it absolutely saved an extra base hit. I stood. I cheered. I thought, “this is the play that you need if you’re going to see history.” I was excited, and I was wrong.

Continue reading…