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The Nats Have Not One, but Three Closers

It always happens. And it happens in every sport, every year. A team finds a way to win and goes on an epic run for a championship and the rest of the league starts to copy their formula for success. The Kansas City Royals found a way to make it to the World Series two years ago and win the whole thing last year despite poor projections. Their secret? Crazy good defense, run like crazy to put pressure on the defense, make contact, and shorten the game with a lights-out bullpen.

With the moves the Washington Nationals made in the off season, it looks like the Nationals are no different as they copy the Royals in hopes of post-season success. Contact? The Nats picked up Ben Revere and Daniel Murphy to help out with that. Running? Davey Lopes and his base-running expertise to the rescue! Defense? Well, they are still working on that one. I am looking at you, Murphy and Jayson Werth. But the last piece may come from a good chunk of homegrown talent. It looks as though the Nats may have three shutdown relievers to shorten the game. Continue reading…

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Why Batting Average with Runners in Scoring Position is Meaningless

As baseball fans, we are prone to let our perception define the reality. With the Nats 6-1 on the season after Wednesday night’s victory over the Braves, I’d wager a fair number of Nats fans figure the team is performing just fine offensively. Similarly, with last year’s underwhelming finish, a survey of Nats fans would probably reveal we all thought they couldn’t score.

And yet, at just 26 runs over the first 7 games this year, the 3.7 runs per game is nothing compared to the 2015 Nats who finished third in the NL with 703 runs (4.3 runs per game).

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What Happened to Danny Espinosa’s Bearded Headshot?

Last season, Danny Espinosa’s fu manchu mustache graced the jumbotron at Nationals Park and the jumbotrons of stadiums far, far away. This season, his lumberjack beard did the same for four wonderful games. The ridiculous amount of facial hair he boasted was the stuff of fairytales. If, of course, your fairytale includes hyperactive hair follicles.

This debacle, though, gave Espinosa a Beast to his Belle — a Sid to his Buzz Lightyear, a Jeff Kent to his Barry Bonds. Espi’s legendary beard was reported missing from his scoreboard picture during Monday’s game. After much prodding and outrage by fans, it was GM Mike Rizzo who revealed himself as the culprit.

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Checking in on the Nats’ Early-Season Velocities

With Gio Gonzalez’s long-awaited debut in Tuesday night’s dramatic win over the Braves complete, all five of the Nationals’ starters have made their 2016 season debut on the mound. It’s far too early to read too much into one start (or two starts in the case of Max Scherzer) from a statistical standpoint. No one should conclude that Gonzalez is going to post a 0.00 ERA after one start, for example. While it’s too early to extrapolate most pitching statistics out over a full season, it’s not too early to take a closer look at each pitcher’s velocity.

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The Next Step for Joe Ross

Joe Ross, by all accounts, had an excellent start to his season Sunday. Against a Marlins lineup with no shortage of fearsome hitters, Ross put up a stellar line: 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 5 K. Two of those hits, one of the walks, and the run all came in the first inning, but after he settled down, the Marlins had little success against him.

But under the surface, a problem Ross struggled with in 2015 bubbled: facing lefties.

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Bryce Harper and the Marlins: A Lopsided History

Bryce Harper is one of the best hitters in baseball. This is a well established fact. And as is the case with most great hitters, Harper is a threat to any pitching staff he faces. But one team in particular has consistently struggled against him: the Miami Marlins.

Over the course of this career, Harper has owned the Marlins. This is not a surprise, given that Harper’s best seasons have coincided against some terrible Marlin teams, not to mention that Miami and Washington are frequent opponents by virtue of being National League East rivals.

Still, the numbers are pretty mind boggling. Continue reading…

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Werth, Zimmerman Brave the Cold to Hang with D.C. Kids

Before their scheduled 4:05 game on Saturday was postponed, a few Nationals braved the unseasonably frigid weather and went out and about around the District contributing to the community. Jayson Werth threw out the first pitch at Mclean Little League opening day (where his sons play) and Ryan Zimmerman attended the grand opening of Ryan Zimmerman Field. Continue reading…