Look: I’m sick of talking about the bullpen, you are sick of reading about the bullpen, but we really don’t have a choice. The Nationals have an elite offense (even more so if they get healthy) and an elite rotation, but have been treading water for the last couple months because of a ‘pen that cannot keep runs off the board. Fortunately, the stiffest competition has a bullpen that is nearly as useless, leading to a massive lead in the division all the same. The resulting popular rhetoric has been “the Nats have time” and “why rush into a move, maybe they can figure things out before the last week of July.” I am here to challenge that notion with some thoughts on the hidden costs of the 2017 Nationals bullpen.
It’s no secret that the Hagerstown Suns are among the most talented teams in minor league baseball. Led by their prospect-studded offense, the Nationals’ Single-A affiliate has jumped out to a South Atlantic League leading 46-34 record, producing a league-high 7 All-Stars. Among those All-stars was Fort Worth native and former Oklahoma Sooner Sheldon Neuse. It’s hard to stand out on a star powered team like the Suns, and Neuse found himself quickly overshadowed by his teammates following a slow April. However following his disappointing start, the third baseman has been able to make adjustments and put together a solid season on both sides of the ball that has caught attention across the league.
Continue Reading What to Expect When You’re Expecting Sheldon Neuse
Once again, Anthony Rendon does not get the recognition he deserves. He is arguably the best third baseman in the league. He does everything well — hitting, fielding, throwing, baserunning. Part of the problem is there is no player less likely to self-promote than Two Bags. In the epic 23-5 drubbing of the Mets, he went 6-for-6 with three homers and 10 RBI, but in the post-game interview, he praised the pitching, flat out denying Dan Kolko any self-praise whatsoever. Joe Ross failed to complete 5 innings that day, giving up 5 ER on 7 hits and two home runs. His interviews have become him dodging any questions from MASN Dan that have anything to do with patting himself on the back. Getting snubbed from the All-Star Game probably matters less to Rendon than any other player. He simply is not the baseball rat that Bryce Harper, Max Scherzer, Daniel Murphy, Stephen Strasburg, or Ryan Zimmerman is. Since Anthony in unwilling to do it, this space at The Nats Blog will do it for him.
Everyone is hurt, the bullpen sucks, and Gio Gonzalez wasn’t named an All-Star. The Nationals were in a bit of a skid until Max Scherzer hurled a gem on Sunday night, and things weren’t looking so pretty. Trea Turner’s wrist is broken, Jayson Werth is still out, and the bullpen is a revolving door of awfulness. And yet the Nationals have continued to play some consistent baseball. So who’s been the saving grace throughout all these injuries? Not Scherzer or any of the big boppers in the lineup, but Brian Goodwin.
Continue Reading Brian Goodwin, the Saving Grace
With 5 All-Stars so far (#VoteRendon), this year’s version of the Nats is Dolly-Parton-like top heavy. The top 6 Nats all have 2 WAR or higher. There are 2 Nats in the top 10 in baseball in both hitting (Anthony Rendon and Bryce Harper) and pitching (Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg). Injuries and the craptastic bullpen have sucked a lot of joy out of this season. Yet the calamities that have befallen the team have allowed a few of scrubs to show their worth.
I have very distressing news: Matt Wieters has gone missing. I know his name has been in the lineup; I know it looks like he has been crouching behind the plate. But can you really be sure behind all that catcher’s gear it’s actually him? Because, for the last two months, there has been very little evidence in the box score to prove the presence of Wieters.
While this Nationals season has had lots of ups and downs, the one consistent has been the ongoing Ryan Zimmerman Resurgence. Though Ryan started raking on Opening Day and has not let up since, the narrative around his success has changed over time.
Ah, the 2017 All-Star weekend: when you’ll watch the likes of Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge try to destroy the Marlins’ hideous statue in left center with homers before baseball fans everywhere can finally enjoy watching the game’s best players without the exhibition deciding home field advantage.
But you, wise and curious Nationals fan, want to know exactly who will be suiting up to play in front of the league’s most consistent fan base. Herein lies this week’s looming question: Which curly-w-clad gentlemen will head to Miami for the Midsummer Classic? The starters will be revealed on the evening of 2 June, with the following all but guaranteed, and thus, not altogether interesting to discuss.
With a nine-game lead, a potent offense, one of the best pitchers in baseball, a stout rotation following him (Tanner and Ross’ struggles notwithstanding) it’s a fun summer to be a Nationals fan. As we laugh at every Mets goof, gaffe, and idiotic mistake after idiotic mistake, we are ignoring the looming specter of the real challenger in the NL East: The Atlanta Braves.
Get ready for that annoying chop played 64 times an inning. The Freeze is cool now, pun intended, but get ready to hate him too. The Braves have many of their pieces in place already, and have more coming…a lot more.
It’s Sunday afternoon under a bright June sun. Bryce Harper is jogging towards the right field bullpen fence as a fly ball from Scooter Gennett sails 391feet over his head into the Nationals pen with one out in the top of the second inning.
On the mound, Tanner Roark, just a few months removed from his performance as a national baseball hero in the World Baseball Classic, is rubbing up a fresh baseball as the Reds diminutive second baseman is rounding the bases, probably wondering what went wrong. Again.