Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Series preview: Nats at Phillies

Tuesday, 7:05 p.m. -- RHP Livan Hernandez (3-2, 3.23) vs. LHP Cole Hamels (3-1, 3.13)
TV: MASN Radio: WJFK-106.7 FM

Wednesday, 7:05 p.m. -- RHP Jason Marquis (3-0, 2.62) vs. RHP Vance Worley (1-0, 0.00)
TV: MASN Radio: WJFK-106.7 FM

Thursday, 7:05 p.m. -- LHP John Lannan (2-3, 3.78) vs. RHP Roy Halladay (4-1, 2.14)
TV: MASN Radio: WJFK-106.7 FM, WFED-1500 AM

Things are humming along nicely up in Philadelphia, as most expected, to begin the season. The Phillies are 18-9 and tied with the Marlins for first place in the NL East, and they're doing it with pitching, to the surprise of no one.

Their 3.07 team ERA ranks third in the majors (behind only the A's and Padres). Their vaunted rotation has certainly been good (3.30 ERA) but their unheralded bullpen has been even better (2.54 ERA) despite the losses of closer Brad Lidge and replacement Jose Contreras to injuries. Ryan Madson and Antonio Bastardo have each recorded saves in the interim, each posting ERAs of 0.82.

The Nationals do catch a break in this series and get to face rookie right-hander Vance Worley, who has been thrust into the No. 5 starter's role after Joe Blanton went down with an elbow injury. Of course, they'll also have to face Cole Hamels (9-3, 2.73 career vs. Nats) and Roy Halladay (4-0, 0.84 vs. Nats the last two seasons).

Offensively, the Phillies are getting by without Chase Utley and Jayson Werth -- who, oh yeah, makes his return to Citizens Bank Park tonight -- thanks in large part to Placido Polanco (.385 with 19 RBI) and Ryan Howard (six homers, 28 RBI). There are, however, some lineup holes, starting with Raul Ibanez, who is finally showing his age (.154 average, .209 slugging percentage).

Nats' best vs. Hamels -- Adam LaRoche (4-for-12, 2B, HR, RBI, K), Ian Desmond (4-for-11, 2 2B, HR, 2 RBI, BB, 3 K), Rick Ankiel (2-for-5, 2B, HR, RBI, K), Ivan Rodriguez (3-for-6, 2B, RBI).
Nats' worst vs. Hamels -- Michael Morse (1-for-9, 5 K), Jerry Hairston (2-for-14, 2B, HR, RBI, K), Alex Cora (1-for-4, 2 RBI, K).
Nats' best vs. Worley -- Ian Desmond (1-for-1).
Nats' worst vs. Worley -- Rick Ankiel (0-for-2, K), Danny Espinosa (0-for-1).
Nats' best vs. Halladay -- Ivan Rodriguez (14-for-39, 3 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 8 K), Matt Stairs (10-for-27, 2B, HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K), Laynce Nix (3-for-7, 2B, RBI).
Nats' worst vs. Halladay -- Jerry Hairston (2-for-25, 2 BB, 7 K), Alex Cora (3-for-26, HR, 2 RBI, BB, 3 K), Ian Desmond (2-for-12, 2 BB, 4 K).

Phillies' best vs. Hernandez -- Placido Polanco (19-for-52, 2B, HR, RBI, 3 BB, 4 K), Ben Francisco (4-for-12, HR, 2 RBI), Brian Schneider (3-for-7).
Phillies' worst vs. Hernandez -- Ryan Howard (5-for-27, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 4 BB, 8 K), Jimmy Rollins (14-for-64, 2 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 6 K), Pete Orr (1-for-5, RBI).
Phillies' best vs. Marquis -- Ryan Howard (7-for-19, HR, 4 RBI, 5 BB, 3 K), Carlos Ruiz (3-for-8, BB, K), Wilson Valdez (2-for-2, RBI, BB).
Phillies' worst vs. Marquis -- Brian Schneider (1-for-24, RBI, BB, 5 K), Jimmy Rollins (6-for-41, 2B, 2 RBI, 6 BB, 5 K), Jimmy Rollins (1-for-9, BB, K).
Phillies' best vs. Lannan -- Raul Ibanez (10-for-18, 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 2 RBI, BB, 4 K), Placido Polanco (5-for-10, 2 RBI, BB), Shane Victorino (9-for-29, 2B, RBI, 3 BB).
Phillies' worst vs. Lannan -- Wilson Valdez (2-for-15, BB, K), Ryan Howard (5-for-29, 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, BB, 12 K).


Steve M. said...

Nats' best vs. Halladay -- Matt Stairs (10-for-27, 2B, HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K)

Mark, seriously after what we saw with the game on the line in Washington a few weeks ago where Stairs became known as "STARES" strike 1, strike 2, strike 3 and didn't take his bat off of his shoulders.

I still get nightmares about this!

Doc said...

Maybe the Phillies bandbox park will do something for our hitters, the way it does it for their hitters.

I hope Riggleman, gives Clip and Stor a break, and shows the Phillies HRod at some point. They're not invincible---they just seem like that.

Manassas Nats Fan said...

I wished for 3 pit pf 4 against the Giants. THe starters the last rotation were great. Would love to see all 5 do it again.

I am afraid our ERA will go up this round.

Stranded_in_Philly said...

No reason to put too much emphasis on an early season road trip when our All Star is out and most of the lineup is slumping, but it sure would be impressive to see the Nats split the road trip overall... or better

Anonymous said...

just wanted to throw out there, since bryce harper got his vision corrected he is 15-30 with 5 homeruns. Future is looking pretty good.

Wally said...

Mark - any word on whether Strasburg is throwing off a mound yet?

How about an update on the extended ST guys?

Doc said...

@ Anonymous,10:39. Thanks for the update on Prince Oppo Boppo.

He's planning his return from exile as I write. It may not, however, be as early as June as he had originally planned.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

just wanted to throw out there, since bryce harper got his vision corrected he is 15-30 with 5 homeruns. Future is looking pretty good.

Future is "looking" pretty good. LOL.

Steve M. said...

When I looked at the schedule early season that Philly/Brewers/Cardinals stretch in mid-April looked tough and then this road trip of Philly/Marlins/Braves/Marlins is the "Beasts of the East". 12 games with no time off. Anything 5 and 7 or better in this next 12 would be huge.

Looking at my calendar now I am penciling Ryan Zimmerman for a June 14th return against the Cardinals. Good luck with your surgery today Zim!!!!

I was still hoping Stairs was going to have a hamstring pull in order to get Bernadina back here as last night's combo worked real well and Riggleman needs a deeper bench right now to win playing small ball. He needs guys who can bunt and run and steal a base. Still hoping up the wrong tree for Detwiler to make this the best bullpen in the MLB.

Please Mr. Rizzo, swallow your pride and give Riggleman some more help for this stretch.

NatsPac said...

Know it would buck the trend, but I would like to see Pudge catch Livan tonight. Just a feeling we would have a better chance getting the Nats off to a good start on this road trip. Have Ramos catch Marquis (maybe) and then of course Lannan (as usual). It all starts with pitching and if having Pudge's experience behind the plate for Livo gives him an edge, we should take it.

PAY TO PLAY said...

A future middle infielder Steve Lombardozzi is having a real good start to the season in Harrisburg. He is a switch hitter and could be a real good role player for the Nats in the future.

Anonymous said...

How would we feel if the Nats escaped with a 4 - 5 road trip after these 9 games? How would we feel if it was 5 - 4?


Knoxville Nat said...

PTP, doesn't Lombardozzi project as a starter at one of our middle infield positions instead of a role player?

And to Anon 11:46, if we go 4-5 or better on this trip I don't know about others but I'd be feeling pretty good.

Go Nats!

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Unterp, it depends. If they go 4-5, but the Phils beat their brains in twice, and they blow three saves to the Marlins, that wouldn't be so good.

Anonymous said...

Lombardozzi projects as your next switch-hitting utility man. Hopefully a younger, better Hairston / Cora. Probably a Bixler type. Lombardozzi like Espinosa must adjust to switch-hitting against ML pitching. He will likely need another year in Syracuse at least.

As for a second-baseman to go with Espinosa at shortstop? Kobernus and Hague seem to be the most likely candidates currently in the minors. There is a 30 year old who, at times, looks almost like he is ready for major league pitching after years in the Expos/Nats system and that is Seth Bynum in Syracuse. There's also a "dark horse" named Stephen King who was just promoted to Harrisburg. He has talent and is still young enough to be considered a true prospect. The '06 3rd round
pick might be worth watching.

In the end this is exactly why Rizzo wanted the ChiSox to send him Beckham for Dunn. I can't see how he would change his thinking given how Desmond has been hitting and fielding. Still, that also diminishes Desmond's value in the trade market while raising Espinosa's?

As far as who is coming back from X-ST? According to Nats Prospects Justin Bloxom (1B/DH Beaver Award winner) is on his way to Woodbridge as a result of King's promotion and Aubrey being sent to the DL.

Next guys on tap for the majors? Has to be Maya who has begun to completely dominate AAA hitters. This makes a canny, propitious trade of Jason Marquis for a Matt Capps like return even more likely and even palatable! Right now the worst and the defacto #5 (Yes, Mark and its NOT Gorzelanny) is Lannan. Lannan is who you would look to trade but every time he pitches is value diminishes. He's a player best dealt in the offseason when his value increases again.

Meanwhile, the draft is coming. up. Zimmerman's injury makes an interesting conundrum for Rizzo. If Anthony Rendon is available when the Nats pick does he go for it? Or does he stick with acquiring high-end close to major league ready pitching. It'll be interesting to see I expect.

JD said...

Knoxville Nat,

I think that the experts are split on Lombardozzi; some think he will make a good ML infielder others see him as a role player; I think the jury is still out.

Anonymous said...

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

I get your drift...


JD said...

Anon @ 12:40,

No need to worry; no way Rendon makes it to no.6. he is 1 or 2 on everyone's board. The consensus is that the Nats will get a college pitcher and there are a bushel full available who are all projected as top of the rotation guys. The more interesting pick is the no. 23. Most teams choose a safe easy to sign player when they have 2 1st round picks; I hope the Nats go all out and take advantage of the deep class with someone over slot.

Anonymous said...

Riggleman needs to start using H-Rod more. He can't just sit on him to hold a spot for Gaudin ... typical Riggleman move there ...

Anonymous said...

Most teams choose a safe easy to sign player when they have 2 1st round picks; I hope the Nats go all out and take advantage of the deep class with someone over slot.

No need to worry JD. I think Rizzo has convinced the Lerner's on the higher return for less outlay approach of using the draft to stock up with high-end talent at relatively low cost.

Rizzo's not going to pull any punches with his 3 picks in the top 70.

JD said...

Anon @ 12:52,

I don't think Riggleman trusts Hrod enough to bring him in late in the game with a small lead (I don't blame him; you have to earn the trust); look for Hrod to come in late in the game but when we are behind by a run or 2; Coffee and Broderick will probably be the long mop up relievers for now.

Wally said...

JD - re: draft, I hope that Rizzo gets off his craving for college pitching, and just goes best player available. Bundy or Bubba Starling are huge talents and it is highly likely that one of them fall to Nats at 6. I would hate to see a Barnes or Jungmann or someone like that taken over them just because they are college pitchers 'closer' to the majors.

Grandstander said...

Offtopic, but does anyone know a good bar for watching Nats games? Preferably in VA. I'm getting pretty sick of being relegated to the shitty tv in the corner that I can barely see.

JD said...

I looked up Bryce Harper just to see where he stacks up in the league overall.

3rd in slugging, 4th in OBP, 4th in OPS and 10th in BA. The players above him are all a good 4 or 5 years older.

It's pretty clear that he's moving up a level in the next 2-3 weeks; as I recall Marrero and Burgess dominated at the A level but it took them a full year before they started putting up solid numbers at high A; neither of these 2 are in Harper's class but it is a fairly decent step up.

It wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if Harper scuffles a bit before putting up his usual big numbers.This is clearly the best prospect this organization has had since Vladimir Guerrero; pretty exciting.

Tim said...

Detwiler and Maya will be up in July/Aug when the powers that be need to limit the innings for JZimm. They will be ready to come up and stay with the big club. I see Marquis being traded by the deadline, becuase next year's rotation will be excellent. If we extend Marquis' contract, then Lannan may be gone or the #5 starter.

JD said...


Bundy is a high school pitcher; we went that route with AJ Cole last year. I don't know if we want to wait 4 years for a no. 1 pick. Starling is very interesting but he does have a football commitment so this may be dicey.

Hultzen and Jungmann both look like top of the rotation stud pitchers to me. Having that to go with Stras and Zimm wouldn't bother me at all.

JD said...


If we extend Marquis I will assume that Bowden is running the team again. I am not at all sure why Lannan is taking such a beating here; he's pitched very well this year.

BinM said...

Lombardozzi is one of those players who doesn't jump out at you statistically over a short period of time. But if you watch him consistently, you realize that he does everything very smoothly. Solid fielder, soft hands, hits for occaisional gap power, can steal a few bases.

Wally said...

JD - I am just saying that they need to go best player, whether it is HS or college. I worry that Rizzo's love for the college player is related to time to majors, kind of a moral hazard situation. I would rather wait 4 years for a guy who is materially better than the guy we get in 2 years.

Jacob Turner, Shelby Miller, Zach Wheeler - these are among the best pitching prospects in the game. Bundy gets talked about that way.

masnstinks said...

How about eye exams and contact lenses for everyone!

Anonymous said...

Wally, Rizzo showed last year that he is not scared to go HS guys buy drafting BOTH AJ Cole and Robbie Ray who were both signability issues but he got it done. I don't follow your logic...

I think Rizzo will go hard with the first 2 picks (1 college/1 high school maybe) and then get a signable/projectable college player with the supplemental pick.

A DC Wonk said...

JD noted about Harper:

"3rd in slugging, 4th in OBP, 4th in OPS and 10th in BA. The players above him are all a good 4 or 5 years older."

Hey, JD, I just posted similar stuff in the last thread.

Here's more:

Overall: Bryce Harper is up to .355 (with a .697 SA)
His last 10 games he's batting .500 (!) -- which is 16 for 32, with just five singles -- because he also has 6 doubles and 5 HR's, for a SA of 1.756 (Oh, and 8 walks too -- giving him an OBP of 1.156 during the last 10 games and .600 overall for the season).

Overall for the seaons:

BA with bases empty: .297
BA with runners on: .410

In the league:

11th in BA, 5th on OBP, 3rd in SA
1 off the lead in HR's, 5th in RBI's, 6th in BB's

(and the two guys ahead of him in SLGA are five and seven years older than him)

(and is there any slower server in the US than MILB.com?)

Anonymous said...

BinM, Lombardozzi kind of reminds me of a Marco Scutaro or David Eckstein type of player (in a good way). He doesn't do any one thign exceptionally but he does the little things well and works his butt off. He is the type of guy I love to watch play.

Anonymous said...

DC Wonk, you can add 2 more hits to raise Harper's average to .358. They played a 10:30 game and he went 2 for 5 with an RBI a run scored and a stolen base., which was his 5th of the season.

sjm308 said...

Sometimes the posters here confuse me. Went to 2 of the 4 Giants games and did not see a spot where Riggs made a bad move in any of the games. He did pitch HRod in a tight game and got good to better than good results. We are not hitting and Riggs tried to shuffle things up, we are pitching well and Riggs kept his starters in a lot longer then he did last year. I just don't get the complaints but that is what is great about baseball, people differ.
As for Rizzo, look at the last 2 drafts people. He has been able to sign HS kids who were committed to college to above slot contracts. I believe the Lerners have paid more in these last two drafts then any other team and why would it change now? Kimball will be up soon, and so will Maya Ballester and Detwiller. Its looking good and I am not sure which of the 5 pitchers we have now I would trade. If we are hanging around the wild card in July (3 games or closer) it would be tough to let Marquis go if he continues what he is doing right now. I am not sure Lannan has the value of a Marquis, but like a previous poster noted, he has pitched well this year. What would it hurt if we kept them all? as long as we are hovering around .500.
Sad, but I am still thinking about our 20-15 start last year and how that ended. Just have to believe its a different team with different expectations.

By the way, how is that Dunn thing working out. What was the stat last year? How many winning teams has he played with?

Go Nats!!

Carl in 309 said...

Some follow-on comments:

While I appreciate the logic (though not the presumption) that we would trade Marquis by the deadline this year, I wonder about the wisdom of bailing on a guy that if retained might be the only true veteran pitcher on the team (I make no assumptions about how many more decades Livo can pitch). Is there not a logic to holding a Marquis to tutor and mentor a crop of mostly under 25 starters? Frankly if the guy's got his groove back, why not keep him (and I know his second half splits have been less than stellar)?

Conceding that what I know about the practice of filling the minor leagues with draftees could be poured in a thimble with space left over, I'll state my bias, especially for pitchers, on draftees from the college ranks. Appreciating that Rizzo had done quite well with talent from pre-college, I'd rather spend the Lerners' money on guys who've proven they can throw the ball with more consistency than the high school varsity season. It just seems a better investment in money and time.

Finally, I happened to look at our great Dunn's numbers late last night (before his game was over)--less than a hand's worth of homers and a batting average that would put him among the bottom of our current Nats' starters. He has had emergency surgery and he is in the "better" league, but I'm not missing him--especially after every hot smash down near 1st base.

Anonymous said...

@SJM308, let's just start with Riggleman batting Ankiel second because he wants to and he may see fast balls? The only reason Riggleman is winning is because the starting pitching is vastly improved ... starting with Marquis's come back and ending Gorzelanny being the pitcher he was with the Cubbies to start last season. Yes, those two make that huge amount of a difference.

As for more evidence against Riggleman the manager? The guy picks pitchers to pitch because "he felt like it"? But he managed to win? Again, we need context here ... Frank Robinson was fired ostensibly because he was too "old school" to use advanced stats now available?

From the FJB (which should be changed to FJR) web site:


But FJB, you say, by walking Whiteside, Riggleman gained the platoon advantage! Alas, as bad as Whiteside has been against righties, here's his career line against lefties: .167 / .219 / .267. No, that's not a misprint. Jim Riggleman intentionally walked a .167 hitter in a situation where only a hit would get a run home. And in case you were wondering, Huff has basically no platoon split. He hit .296 / .378 / .506 against lefties last season. And I could pull John Lannan's relatively small platoon splits, but my head is starting to hurt.

Riggleman is so wrong here, that you almost think maybe he got confused and thought he was walking Aubrey Huff to get to Eli Whiteside. Now THAT would have been a justifiable move.

Finally, after all that, we find out during the post-game press conference that Riggleman would have pulled Lannan, except that Lannan might have gotten the win(!) if he got out of the jam and if the Nationals managed to score a run in the bottom of the seventh and if the bullpen managed to hold that lead:

The right thing probably to do was just bring (Tyler) Clippard in to face Whiteside," Riggleman said. "Every now and then, you make a decision for your starting pitcher. If I pull John there, he's got a no-decision or a loss. If I let him try to work through it, he's got a no-decision or a win. It didn't work. The right decision to make was to just bring Clippard in, and whether Clip gets him or not, that's the way we go with that. I should have done that. That's one that's on me.

I'm just speechless. Maybe I shouldn't be. Managers manage to the stats all the time. Pretty much every manager in the league puts a higher premium on getting saves for their anointed closer than winning baseball games. But to admit openly that he believed that changing pitchers would have given the Nationals the best chance to win, but that he instead chose to hurt his team's chances of winning in favor of the infinitesimal chance that John Lannan would pick up a stat that even the BBWA Cy Young voters don't think matters anymore?

BOTTOM line: Riggleman may know about advanced stats but he manages like Frank Robinson ... except he isn't even close to being as good at judging talent, players, etc ... But then, Robinson was an MVP in both leagues and is a hall of famer. He ought to know who to pick if he decides to ignore statistics. And Riggleman?

Riggleman's rampant cronyism and unbelievable deference to AAAA veterans while eschewing winning games is mind boggling and frustrating. He needs to be fired.

Anonymous said...

Is there not a logic to holding a Marquis to tutor and mentor a crop of mostly under 25 starters?

How many veterans do you need? Just one really. Gorzelanny is a veteran who has been pitching since 2007. As is Livo. Maya may not have pitched in the majors but he has years of experience as Cuba's top ace.

Marquis is on the last year of a 2 year contract. He is going to be 33. He is pitching like the ace of the staff right now. He's even hit 94 on the gun. Buy low, sell high. And if you still think the Nats need a better veteran I'm sure they will be out trying to sign another pitcher at Zach Grienke's level. In fact they might just sign Grienke when he becomes available.

masnstinks said...

Riggleman is not the god of baseball managing and he is also not a clown. He is a smart baseball man who has his own style of managing. You might not like it - but he truly believes that you must use all 25 guys as much as possible. He also believes in late- innings defensive replacements. That's how he rolls - sometimes he hits a homerun, sometimes he strikes out. There are hundreds of major and minor judgement calls in every game.He is not the best or the worst, but he does seem to have a way with developing players, he seems to be a high -character guy - conducts himself well, the players, other coaches, umps,etc. seem to respect him. We could do worse. Look around the majors - how much better could we do with the team we have on the field right now? Are there baseball geniuses just sitting out there waiting for our phone call?

Anonymous said...

Are there baseball geniuses just sitting out there waiting for our phone call?

There are guys managing in the minors who may be better ... and why not check out Manny Acta's record? And how is Randy St. Clair's pitching staff doing in Florida right now? McCatty was promoted from Syracuse to replace St. Clair. I can see that happening with the current Chief's manager.

I'm sorry but no matter how you slice it ... Riggleman is not one even average. Look at his record managing teams? Even teams with talent.
Yes, its true everyone makes errors in judgement and mistakes. Limiting them is how you win at the major league level. Not exacerbating them starting just with lineups rife with cronyism based on deference to AAAA veterans who have very little left in the tank as opposed to trying to win games.

Winning games appears to be too low on Riggleman's priority list. He is paid close to $1,000,000 to win games. Most of his players make that and a lot more to achieve the same goal: win games. In my book that's a hell of a lot of money ... especially in this economy.

Riggleman's job is not to play celebrity golf with veterans its to win games. He is too busy trying to win popularity contests with veterans to accomplish that.

Anonymous said...

"I'm just speechless."

Would that it were so.

FS said...

I would rather have our lineup face an Oswalt or a Lee than a rookie. We might struggle against the top class pitching but that will be the true test of our lineup. Facing a rookie (prospect or not), our lineup usually has more problems than against an ace.

Feel Wood said...

You know that MASN commercial where Riggleman says "Sometimes you believe in the stat. Sometimes you believe in the player."? The next line got left on the cutting room floor: "And I'll be damned if I can figure out which is which."

SonnyG10 said...

I agree with masnstinks on Jim Riggleman. In fact, I think Riggleman is even better than that. I think all you Riggleman bashers just don't know a good manager when you see one.

sjm308 said...

I would guess that there are good arguments against Riggs but for some silly reason, I like him. He seems to stand up for his players, we have very few issues off the field,and the clubhouse seems to be a place where the players actually all get along. While the many Anons seem to have all the "facts" and stats, I honestly don't mind that he seems to manage from his heart. Now numbers don't lie and he has not had great success but he is holding one of 30 jobs that I am sure are precious to many. I see no reason to even think about getting rid of him this season unless we take a huge fall in the next few months.

Did one of the Anons actually mention Manny Acta? My goodness, the turmoil over getting rid of him was incredible and now you want him back? My guess is whoever is our skipper will be blamed fairly or unfairly for every mistake made. Tough job if you can get it. Have to think that people here would be bashing Walter Alston, Casey Stengel and Tommy LaSorda and Joe Torre,if they were running the Nationals. Just for the record, my favorite manager ---- Bucky Harris!

Go Nats!

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