File photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
It's raining in D.C., and there's a chance of rain today at Space Coast Stadium.
Ross Detwiler, who was very sharp out of the bullpen last week, gets a chance to start today against the Braves. Pay attention to Detwiler's altered mechanics -- he's striding more in a straight line toward the plate instead of throwing across his body -- and pay attention to the radar gun on his fastball.
This is technically Livan Hernandez's slot in the rotation, as it lines up perfectly for the March 31 opener against these same Braves. Livo was due to throw a simulated game this morning, just to get his work in.
It's raining here in Washington, and there's also some rain in the forecast in Viera, but hopefully it will hold off enough to get the game in. And since it's on TV for a change, I'll try to post some thoughts of my own along the way. Enjoy the game...
BRAVES at NATIONALS
Where: Space Coast Stadium, Viera
Gametime: 1:05 p.m.
TV/Radio: MASN, MLB Network, 106.7-FM
Weather: Chance of storms, 77 degrees, Wind 16 mph RF to LF
STARTING LINEUPS1:25 p.m. -- I was about to say Ross Detwiler's off to a really strong start, but then he walked Jason Heyward and served up a double to Alex Gonzalez. Fantastic relay, however, from Danny Espinosa to nail Heyward at the plate. Detwiler would have gotten out of the inning if not for Ian Desmond's first error of the spring, which allowed the day's first run to score. So the Braves are up 1-0 in the middle of the second, though Detwiler has looked pretty sharp so far. Velocity in the 91-92 mph range.
CF Nyjer Morgan
SS Ian Desmond
RF Jayson Werth
DH Rick Ankiel
C Wilson Ramos
LF Laynce Nix
2B Danny Espinosa
1B Michael Aubrey
3B Alex Cora
(P Ross Detwiler)
LF Martin Prado
CF Jordan Schafer
3B Chipper Jones
2B Dan Uggla
RF Jason Heyward
SS Alex Gonzalez
1B Freddie Freeman
C David Ross
P Tommy Hanson
1:48 p.m. -- The makeup of the Nationals' projected rotation may not allow for Detwiler to crack the Opening Day roster. But I'll tell you what: Ross is doing everything he can to make this decision difficult on Mike Rizzo and Co. He has looked fantastic so far through three innings, striking out five (including four in a row). He dialed up his fastball to 93 mph to end the third, another encouraging sign. Offensively, not much happening through the game's first three innings against Tommy Hanson. Braves still lead 1-0 as they head to the fourth, with J.D. Martin coming on to replace Detwiler.
2:18 p.m. -- Pretty uneventful day at the plate so far for the Nats, who have been shut out for five innings by Hanson and Cristhian Martinez, a right-hander who has been getting some tremendous movement on his 2-seamer. The crosswind may be helping that pitch out. So is the plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt's strike zone. Whatever the case, the Braves hold a 2-0 lead in the sixth.
2:48 p.m. -- Bryce Harper in the game now. Worked the count in the bottom of the seventh, then rapped a sharp, sinking line drive to left that was caught. From what we've seen of him so far this spring, Harper definitely looks to go the other way a lot. And he hits the ball pretty hard that way. More evidence of his supreme baseball talent. Still needs to refine his game. A lot. But you can see that he's got the full package.
3:22 p.m. -- Well, not exactly a scintillating performance from the Nats today. Kind of hard to be scintillating when you only collect two hits and get shut out, 5-0. Really, though, the biggest thing to take away from this game is Ross Detwiler. Kind of difficult to make any substantive evaluations about the lineup when several regulars (Zimmerman, LaRoche, Morse/Bernadina) weren't playing. Curious what everyone thought of F.P. Santangelo in his debut broadcast. It seemed like he really did his homework on various members of the roster, though there were moments when you could tell he didn't really know certain guys' backgrounds. Wasn't the most enthusiastic color man, either, but again that could have to do with this being his first game. I would imagine he'll get more comfortable over the course of the spring. All in all, I thought it was a satisfactory debut.