Friday night’s game could have ended with another bullpen let down, but the Washington Nationals (76-71) pulled through, completing a walk-off, extra innings win over the Miami Marlins (64-84). With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the 10th, Jayson Werth hustled home on a sacrifice fly by Jose Lobaton to score the winning run and secure a 5-4 victory.
Before this season, the Federal Reserve delivered its own Top-10 Prospect List for the Washington Nationals. Since July’s mid-season update, there have been some interesting developments among the top-10—including Joe Ross’ graduation to the majors, late-season surges from a few players, and surprising seasons from those who failed to crack the list. To explain what it means for 2016, I have sorted the original list into four categories—staying in, in the running, dropping, and who to watch.
On a warm September night, the Washington Nationals turned to starter-turned-reliever-turned-starter-again Tanner Roark to face off against the surprisingly hot Miami Marlins. Winners of four straight, the Nationals came into this game down 7.5 games in the NL East to the New York Metropolitans, with their chance of making the playoffs a whopping 1% according to Baseball Prospectus – so you’re saying there’s a chance! But the Nats (75-71) wasted away some of their precious few decimal points, falling to the Marlins (64-83), 6-4.
Tanner Roark Fizzles Quickly
After a short stint in Potomac, Roark has returned to the role vacated by the recently shut-down Joe Ross, a role in which Roark won 15 games back in 2014. The 3.49 ERA having 2014 starter has struggled to find the same performance in his nine starts thus far this season – the constant Ross Detwiler-style yo-yo between starting and relieving probably has something to do with that – as he has racked up a 5.66 ERA as a starter this season.
It was an inauspicious start last night to say the least, as the Fish’s table-setters went 6-11 against him with four singles and two home runs – scoring five of their six runs putting the game well out of reach. Roark will have a couple more starts this season to try and reestablish some of his lost value if he has any hopes of earning a spot in the 2016 rotation.
Williams Actually Wins a Challenge
Last season, manager Matt Williams was actually one of the most successful managers in all of baseball at using the new “managerial challenge” – finishing with the 4th best percentage (64% – 20 of 31) of all MLB teams. This year things have not been so rosy for the reigning NL Manager of the Year, coming into Thursday night’s game Williams has only managed to win 37% of his challenges (9 of 24).
There have been some doozies of calls that seem apparently clear to the admittedly biased Nats fans that have not gone the Nationals way according to the replay crew based in New York. Tonight was a rare win in a season of disappointments.
After Bryce Harper’s Texas League single to left “Bearded Wonder” Jayson Werth hit a hard single into right as Harper took a hard turn and headed towards third – it would take a perfect throw to get him out. Marcell Ozuna did just that and he unleashed a bullet one-hop throw that arrive a millisecond before Harper did as Martin Prado slapped the tag onto Harper’s left shoulder: out. Williams picked then to bust out his 25th challenge of the year and after a lengthy review New York had decreed that Harper was safe at third base! A rare challenge win that moved Williams’ challenge record to 10 of 25, moving him all the way up to sixth worst of all managers in 2015.
The victory was not to be as the home team began their last (and longest) homestand of the season with a 6-4 loss against the Marlins. After their bats looked lifeless throughout most of the game the Nationals came alive in the 8th inning and strung together three hits and two walks against three different pitchers tightening the gap to just two runs. Michel A. Taylor had a chance to bring the boys all the way back but it was not to be as Marlins closer AJ Ramos struck him out on just three pitches on his way to a four out save.
Friday night should be fun under the lights of Nationals Park, as Max Scherzer looks to build on his last start against the Marlins where he threw an absolute Rembrandt: 8 innings of scoreless ball just one week ago. He will be facing off against Marlins ace Jose Fernandez who has only had one start since coming back from a “right biceps injury” that kept him out for over a month – after only returning from Tommy John surgery in early July. With the Nationals playoff hopes on life-support enjoy the baseball that you have left and hopefully we will see some more appearances from players like Wilmer Difo and Trea Turner as they look to get comfortable at the major league level in advance of the 2016 season.
For a brief moment the Washington Nationals’ (75-70) Wednesday night game against the Philadelphia Phillies (54-91) looked like it would actually be competitive. Sadly for Phillies fans it wasn’t meant to be. After breaking a 2-2 tie in the top of the fifth the Nats never looked back en route to a 12-2 rout and a three game sweep of the hapless Phils.
Most importantly. the Miami Marlins were able to finish off a beautiful 6-0 win against the New York Mets, keeping the Nats alive 7 ½ games out of the lead in the NL East. Never say die. A 1% chance of reaching the postseason is still a chance… Continue reading…
The Washington Nationals (74-70) added another win in Philadelphia on Tuesday night. Although it will most likely be too little too late (barring an asteroid hitting Citi Field), there were certainly some positives to be taken away from a game in which the Nats beat the Philadelphia Phillies (56-90) 4-0. Continue reading…
Two in a row! Winning streak! Don’t look at the standings!
Jordan Zimmermann had a poor outing, ceding six runs to an anemic Philadelphia Phillies offense. But Jayson Werth‘s five RBI helped the Washington Nationals keep pace, and despite a blown save, the Nats (73-70) hung on to beat the Phillies (56-89) in 11 innings, 8-7.
On August 21, the Washington Nationals purchased shortstop Trea Turner’s contract from Triple-A Syracuse. At the time it looked like the decision to promote him to the majors was a effectively two-fold strategy that not only gave the Nationals—who still had some playoff aspirations at the time—a dynamic reserve option, but allowed them to give their shortstop of the future some work before he took over the position in 2016.
It’s been a rough stretch for the Nats, and there are many, many reasons for that. We will discuss the bullpen disaster, Matt Williams, the state of the season, impending free agency, and the rest of the pressing topics around DC baseball.
By looking more like the first half version of himself, Max Scherzer led the Washington Nationals (72-70) to victory on Sunday. With a 5-0 win over the Miami Marlins (61-82), the Nationals avoided a sweep. Continue reading…
Sometimes you’ve got to know when to let go.
Drew Storen gave up a decisive two-run home run to Yoenis Cespedes on the second pitch of his outing, as the Washington Nationals (71-68) blew a late lead for the third straight game to all but sink their playoff hopes, suffering a sweep at the hands of the New York Mets (78-61), falling in the finale, 5-3.
Storen’s Struggles Continue
In a series marked by abysmal performances by Nationals relievers, no one had more trouble than Storen. Entering with the bases loaded in a 7-3 game Tuesday, Storen gave up a bases-clearing double to Cespedes before walking the next three batters to force in the tying run. His struggles continued Wednesday, as Cespedes took him deep and scored the eventual game-winning runs.
As many observed on Twitter, it is possible that tonight was the final meaningful game Storen will pitch in a Nationals uniform. The Washington Post’s Thomas Boswell said the erstwhile closer “must” be dealt in the offseason, and a change of scenery would likely do both sides a great deal of good. Boswell notes that Storen is one of the game’s “very best people,” but accurately observes that he will be recalled only for his failures: Blown saves in Game 5 of the 2012 NLDS, Game 2 of the 2014 NLDS, and perceived thin skin that has seen him run up a 6.75 ERA since the acquisition of Jonathan Papelbon demoted him from the closer’s role.
Of course, Storen was not the only reliever to put in a poor showing in this series: Felipe Rivero walked all three batters he faced, Blake Treinen gave up four runs while getting three outs, and even Papelbon gave up two runs in three innings. But the games will be seen as momentary lapses for them, while they mark the denouement of Storen’s Nationals tenure.
Storen was picked 10th overall in the 2009 MLB Draft, but it was Stephen Strasburg who went first overall. He returned to the mound after missing a start with a back injury, and flashed the form that made him the NL strikeouts leader last season. After Travis d’Arnaud lifted a 96 MPH fastball for a solo home run in the second, Strasburg retired the next 12 Mets he faced and 17 of the next 19, striking out 12 along the way. His curveball looked as good as it has in his career, inducing hapless swings and freezing unsuspecting batters.
But the end came quickly for him, as Kelly Johnson led off the eight with a solo homer to tie the game at two. After another strikeout, Curtis Granderson singled on his 103rd pitch, prompting manager Matt Williams to call for Storen. You know how that went, but it should not diminish one of the best starts of Strasburg’s career: 7.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 13 K.
Herculean Harper Does It All, But Not Enough
The Nationals may be going down in spectacular fashion, but that does not change the fact that they boast the league’s best player in Bryce Harper. His team scored three runs Wednesday, and he was the man crossing home plate all three times, having blasted a pair of solo home runs (his 35th and 36th) and roped a double.
Harper’s two round-trippers put him just one back of Colorado’s Nolan Arenado for the NL lead, and the 3-for-4 night buoyed his already gaudy season batting line, which now sits at .336/.467/.657. Cespedes is gaining some undeserved MVP chatter for producing Harper’s line minutes 110 points of OBP for just one month, but Wednesday night, Harper reminded everyone who the best player in the Nationals League is.