Monday, September 26, 2011

Henry's sheer dominance

US Presswire photo
Henry Rodriguez was electric during the seventh inning yesterday.
On a day full of electric moments at Nationals Park, Henry Rodriguez provided what might well have been the biggest jolt of all.

Rodriguez's sheer dominance of the Braves in the top of the seventh had the ballpark buzzing throughout and the had just about everyone in the Nationals' clubhouse in awe, even an hour later.

"I've never seen anything like it," closer Drew Storen said. "It was unfair. That's a tough act to follow. One-oh-one every pitch? You've got to tip your cap. We gave him a standing O in the bullpen, and I don't think anybody's doing that for anyone else."

Truth be told, Storen was exaggerating a bit about Rodriguez thrown 101 mph every pitch. But not that much.

Here are all of Rodriguez's 11 pitches in the inning, with velocity and result...

BATTER: JASON HEYWARD
1: 99 mph, strike looking
2: 99 mph, strike looking
3: 85 mph, ball
4: 100 mph, strikeout swinging

BATTER: DAVID ROSS
5: 100 mph, strike swinging
6: 101 mph, strike swinging
7: 101 mph, strikeout on fouled bunt attempt

BATTER: JACK WILSON
8: 100 mph, ball
9: 101 mph, strike swinging
10: 101 mph, strike looking
11: 88 mph, strikeout looking

That's an 11-pitch inning, nine of them strikes, seven of them reaching triple digits (all consecutive). Wow.

"Lights out," shortstop Ian Desmond said. "I think the same thing that everybody else thought: When you get a catcher to bunt on you 0-2, with nobody on base, that's a pretty good sign that your stuff is working that day."

Indeed, perhaps the most incredible pitch of the inning was Rodriguez's 0-2 fastball to Ross, a backup catcher at the plate with one out in the seventh inning, his team trailing 1-0 and nobody on base. And he tried to bunt?

"I was surprised," Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos said. "Because 0-2 ... I guess I'm surprised because no men on base. I don't know what he's doing in that situation."

What he was doing was waving a metaphorical white flag.

As incredible as the final pitch to Ross was, there was just as much excitement in the clubhouse over Rodriguez's final pitch of the inning: an 88-mph slider that left Wilson frozen in his tracks.

"It was like a Nintendo pitch," Storen said. "Create a player, and max him out."

Rodriguez has simultaneously been the most enthralling and most aggravating pitcher on the Nationals staff this season. He's got 70 strikeouts in only 64 2/3 innings, but he's also got 45 walks and a staggering 14 wild pitches (tops in the NL even though he's the only reliever on the leader board).

Performances like they saw yesterday, though, are why the Nationals acquired Rodriguez (along with Corey Brown) from the Athletics last winter for Josh Willingham. And they aren't about to give up on a guy who for one magical inning can dominate a playoff contender and leave everybody in the ballpark with jaws dropped.

The Nats can only hope Rodriguez finds a level of consistency next season that would allow him to join Tyler Clippard and Storen as a truly dominant bullpen trio.

"It makes us feel really good," Clippard said, "and the other teams really scared."

57 comments:

Neganon said...

Another politically correct article by Mark. He needs to quit writing good stuff about the Nats and start pointing out every little failure.

Steve M. said...

Does anyone have any intel on what David Ross said from the Braves clubhouse? What the heck was he thinking?????

In context, Heyward is struggling, Ross stinks and so does Jack Wilson but you take it as you get it and with the heaters MPHrod was throwing was an amazing inning and only thing close to that was Jordan Zimmerman's 9 strike/3 K immaculate inning he had this season.

Exposremains said...

Mark,

It doesn't change the facts but at that time the score was 1-0.

Mark Zuckerman said...

Exposremains: You're right. Morse's 2-run homer came in the bottom of the seventh, after Henry had pitched. Actually, that makes Henry's dominance all the more impressive, since it did it protecting a 1-run lead.

JaneB said...

I am now sold on MPHrod. If that is what we can get when he has command of the fastball, We Win. And I'd love to hear how Charlie and Dave called it!

GYFNG!

FisherDeBerry said...

Stammen has shown promise (not HRod promise, mind you) in his limited time out of the pen in September. Do folks think it's time to give up on the hope that he'd be more than a AAAA starter and make him a reliever?

NatStat said...

@ Neganon:

You're kidding, right? That was a balanced article on Mark's part.

If you're not being facetious, then I suggest that you get back on your Prozac, or whatever else would stabilize your jaded outlook.

A DC Wonk said...

I've been singing HRod's praises for months. For all those who've been criticizing him, I kept saying that power guys like that take longer to get control, that he has a wicked slider, and that HRod is still 24.

Can HRod be anywhere consistent? The jury is still out, we don't know. But many of us have known the potential was there -- as we've seen flashes of it all season.

It was nice to see him put it all together for one strong inning. It will be awesome if he can throw these kinds of innings with more and more frequency.

And that's why Davey kept throwing him out there all year, much to the consternation of many here. Davey saw HRod's potential, and wanted HRod to "get it."

And it was really awesome seeing the combination of HRod/Clip/Store finish off a shut out! May we see a lot of that next year!

Neganon said...

NatStat said...
"@ Neganon:

You're kidding, right? That was a balanced article on Mark's part."

I'm guessing you didn't detect the heavy sarcasm as alluded to by the posting name.

NatsNut said...

Hey, what's going on with Sean Burnett? It seems like he hasn't pitched in ages.

Big Cat said...

Bring it HRod!...bring it baby!!

SSSSHHHHH BOOM!!!!!!!!!!

seabiscuit piccata said...

Neganon is correct, politically, morally, and baseballically. The real problem is that the Lerners are too cheap to pay for more critical journalists on these blogs.

sm13 said...

Davey Johnson has brought Henry to this point. Put him out in critical situations and let him learn. He's 24 years old and has an amazing physical gift. But, half of being a reliever is 90% mental (as Yogi might have said) and the mental part can only be absorbed when you're in live, stressful game situations. Bring Davey back and give Henry the keys to the 7th inning in 12 and beyond.

Now, lets fry the fish for 3 games!!

NatsLady said...

NatsNut, I think Davey has seen what he needs to see on Sean Burnett in terms of next year's bullpen. Might get him these last few days to rest Clip and Store.

On McCutcheon, he is fantastic, but he is to the Pirates what Ryan Zimmerman is to us, and there is no way the Pirates are trading him, short of Stras, Harper, Clip, Storen and... and... and...

There is a bundle of talent in Henry, I've always said so. Not sure about making him into a starter, though, as some have proposed. You can't throw that hard for 6 or 7 innings, can you???

Steve M. said...

DC Wonk, you said the word that counts in sports, consistent.

If HenRod can be 'near' that good 3 out of 4 times, he will be a decent reliever, 4 out of 5 times, a very good reliever and 5 out of 6 times, would be among the best in the game.

Todd Boss said...

Here's the pitch f/x on HRod's night.

http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/pfx.php?month=9&day=25&year=2011&game=gid_2011_09_25_atlmlb_wasmlb_1%2F&pitchSel=469159&prevGame=gid_2011_09_25_atlmlb_wasmlb_1%2F&prevDate=925

9 fastballs, 8 for strikes. 100.11 average, peak of exactly 101. And the last curve was probably the sickest pitch of them all.

HabsProf said...

JaneB,
You said you wanted to hear how Henry's 7th was called. Here are the calls for the 3 strikeouts.
http://mlb.mlb.com/team/player.jsp?player_id=469159

greg said...

watching from the stadium, it was pretty impressive, regardless if it was heyward/ross/wilson or jones/uggla/freeman. i'm not sure the result would have been much different with either threesome.

Theophilus said...

Relievers being the volatile commodity they are, they typically don't fetch great value in trades. Rizzo got Ramos only because the Twins had Mauer -- and don't you think they wish they hadn't done that? I think Rizzo got HRodriguez hoping to flip him for something later on. This last week makes me believe they'll hold onto him for a while. He certainly isn't at the point where another team will look at him as next year's closer. I'm not wild (no pun intended) about him but at least they don't have to depend on him if he reverts.

Big Cat said...

I am one who was critical of Davey. I was thinking he had lost the fire in his belly. But everything seems to be coming together right now. The youngsters seem to be blooming. I know Septembers can be deceiving, but I would think if Davey want to come back, by all means bring him back. What do you think of that Mick?

Theophilus said...

Stammen would be my sixth choice for the bullpen among those currently on the roster. (After Storen, Clippard, HRod, Burnett and Gorzelany.) He would be a RH long guy, which none of the above is, and give them an extra starter in case of an emergency without any roster shenanigans.

Big Cat said...

Just saw HRods inning on the website. Did you see his curveball for the last K? Are you kiddin me....88mph....and wicked.

baseballswami said...

I actually thought the 88 was more impressive and shocking than all the other pitches.

Paul said...

Stammen as the long man would mean that Balestar would be the odd man out. Not that I am totally opposed to that, but you would be losing a little something in terms of pure 'stuff'.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Big Cat, that's what Ramos meant when he told him "You pitch like that, and *nobody* hits you."


I think now you have to find out if this is real. We're past Daniel Cabrera comparisons, I think, and hopefully they use what they learned with Joel Hanrahan.

J. Wilson, Atlanta said...

baseballswami said...
I actually thought the 88 was more impressive and shocking than all the other pitches.


YOU thought so? What do you think that looked like to me??

Anonymous said...

Here's a problem with the stats: When did he get all those walks and wild pitches? In other words, has he improved during recent outings. If someone could break down his outing into halves and compare, then we'd know more. I haven't been keeping close track, but my sense is he's gotten a lot better lately. Know why? McCatty--maybe the best pitching coach around. And by the way, Randy Knorr has been in the dugout the last few days. He's the guy who straightened Detweiler out. I wonder if he told Mac what to say to Detweiler when he walked out there during the meltdown. Maybe it was, "Remember the bus ride back from Rochester?" That would have done it.

Big Cat said...

if you have watched HRod a lot, you know that he doesn't have to try and spot his curve. Even when he hangs it, the batter normally is fooled cause they have to look fastball. I know you guys think I'm crazy, but I would like to see the Nats try him as a starter. He has 3 dominant pitches and might just blossum as a starter

jd said...

Steve M.

You were wandering why we haven't see more of Lombardozzi? I think Davie felt that it was more important to get Desmond and Espinosa on the right track and guess what? I think he was right.

I also agree with Zimmerman's assertion that the next step (to about 90 wins) will be the hardest yet.

Re. Lannan; he is good enough at $2.75 mil but I don't think he's good enough at $5 mil.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

The Nationals are trending up on Boswell's chat this morning
"The questions this a.m. are actually 'trending' to Nats over Skins. Hard to believe before Skins-Boys. Is the enthusiasm all weekend at Nats Park at tip off that something's changing for the Nats, as it did for the Caps a few years ago?"

Section 222 said...

I think that last pitch from H-Rod was a slider. His curve is normally in the low 80s. Still, it was a beautiful thing to behold, and the crowd went nuts when it was called a strike.

If he can do this night in and night out next year, our bullpen could be legendary. I do hope that DJ or whoever is the manager can figure out how not to burn out the top relievers. Atlanta's pen has been dominant, but it definitely showing the signs of overuse. If we're actually in a pennant (or wild card) race next year, they'll need to be fresh in September (and October. :-)

Anonymous said...

The Nationals are trending up on Boswell's chat this morning
"The questions this a.m. are actually 'trending' to Nats over Skins. Hard to believe before Skins-Boys. Is the enthusiasm all weekend at Nats Park at tip off that something's changing for the Nats, as it did for the Caps a few years ago?"


All this means is that people don't think of noted Gibbsologist Tom Boswell as a football writer. The day after a Redskins win or loss, Redskins fans will vent into any open ear, be it a footbal writer or the janitor who speaks no English at all. But before the game they are more likely to vent towards those who know football. Boswell is and always will be considered a baseball writer, not a football writer.

N. Cognito said...

HRod is now a Cy Young candidate...until the next time he blows up. And then just about everyone here will want him run out of town on the next train.

For HRod and most of the Nats' young players, it's simply way too early to know how they're going to progress as major leaguers.

StatsGuy said...

Sec 3, I think you're right. I cheered for the Senators/Twins to break out, but they had too many holes in the linup. I cheered for the Senators/Rangers to break out but they also had too many holes. Sure, the Nats could use a better leadoff hitter or another pitcher, but they've been built piece by piece in the right direction. I put my money on "over" at the beginning of the season, and I don't think I'll have to sweat it out again in the future.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Section 222 said...
I think that last pitch from H-Rod was a slider. His curve is normally in the low 80s.


Looked like a slider grip, too (I stopped it to look).

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

StatsGuy, if you mean my 2:11 post, the quote is from Boswell.

greg said...

that 88mph slider is so effective because the FB was dominating at 100-101. this is why it's so rare to have a guy like mariano who essentially pitches with one pitch. having two dissimilar pitches you can throw for strikes makes it hard to sit on one.

and when your best pitch is 100ish, that 90ish breaking ball or changeup (see: strasburg, steven) is just pure evil.

baseballswami said...

Sec 3 - several people have mentioned to me that this feels like the Caps of a few years ago right before everything started to pop. My thought for today after reading some of these posts: Steve McCatty is a wizard - we talk,( argue?) so much about the manager, we even debate the merits of Eckstein as hitting ( watching pitches go by) coach - but McCatty is just an obvious star - our pitching was way over expectations earlier in the year, there was definitely an "adjustment period" after Johnson came in and now you are seeing good pitching again.I think you can actually see the respect that the pitchers have for him and the nice way he has with them.The other person mentioned above is Randy Knorr who has been working his way from Potomac a few years ago right up the line. We are seeing the quality of play that he has been a part of in the minor leagues and the obvious good influence he has been on them. Sometimes the real work is done by the guy behind the curtain and not the one out in front. I hope we keep McCatty, if not he will have his pick of other jobs and I hope Randy Knorr continues to rise in the organization - although it is nice to have him in Syracuse.

Anonymous said...

If there are two anons in a town, there has to be three blogs, so there's one they both don't like.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Swami-maybe.
I think it was Whitey Herzog who said, after losing Bruce Sutter, "I just got 20 games dumber."

Or words to that effect.


capcha = "ditiveni" -- Must be about time for the Latin leagues to start.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Speaking of diti veni, aren't we due for a new post?

greg said...

stolen verbatim from boswell's chat today. very valid point:

==========

HOWEVER, here is the big point about the Nats that was been missed all year: The Nats are EIGHTH out of 30 teams in MLB in team ERA! And it is not a fluke. In a couple of years, the Nats, under Rizzo, have gone from one of the most pathetic junk-balling staffs you'll ever see to 12-deep in power arms. Here's the proof.

In '08, the Nats had TWO pitchers whose fastball averaged more than 92.0 m.p.h. __Hanarahan (95) and the wild man Colome (95). This year, they had a dozen.

Henry Rodriguez 98, Strasburg 96, Storen 95, Balester 94, Mattheus 94, Severino 94, Kimabll 93, Zimmermann 93.4, Coffey 93, Peacock 93, Clippard 93, Detwiler 92.

That's a complete transformation. Burnett and Wang are both 91. Stammen and Lannan 90. Marquis was 89, Milone 88 and Livo 84 (!!!).

In '06, when the Lerners bought the team, only Gary Majeski threw more than 91.7. The best fastball among starters was Ramon Ortiz at 90.6. No wonder they looked pathetic. They were.

On Sunday, Rodriguez (come on, just call him H-Rod) threw several pitches 101 and one Braves hitter GAVE UP. On an 0-2 pitch, he tried to BUNT! And fouled it off. An admission that "I can't touch this guy. A two-strike bunt is my only chance." Strasburg touches 99, Storen 98, Mattheus, Peacock and Detwiler have clicked 96. Z'mann sits at 93-94-95 in the early innings.

This is an entirely different team because it has gone from one of the worst pitching staffs in recent decades to a top-10 staff __in a year without Strasburg__ through the top-to-bottom rebuilding of Rizzo and his scouts.

Remember '05, the 81-81 team. Best fastball by a starter, John Patterson (91.1) and Chad Cordero, Fireman of the Year, was 89.4. It's w hole new world.

Traveler8 said...

While I think the long run prospects for Henry may still not be set, yesterday and his past few outings made it clear what the scouts saw in him. Hope the control stays there - if so, what a weapon.

Mark'd said...

Steve McCatty has a more aggressive approach to go after the batters. If Rizzo can get him another stud, this team moves ahead of Atlanta next year as I think Atlanta will decline.

The time is here as a few pointed out the team can bring back around 20 of the 25 with very little machinations. It would be good to see some continuity.

jd said...

Mark'd

Why do you think Atlanta is declining?

They will bring back: Hanson, Jurgens, Beechy, Minor, Tehran and Hudson as well as O'flaherty, Kimbrel and Venters. And Heyward is ure to bounce back.

If Fredi Gonzalez doesn't kill his young pitchers I don't see a decline. Why do you?

jd said...

Mark'd,

On the other hand Philly may start showing it's age, they may lose Oswalt to FA and if one of the big 3 goes down there's some vulnerability there. Having said that they will certainly enter next season as prohibitive favorites.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

jd--even if they lose Rollins?

jd said...

I hate to sound a cautionary note with all the enthusiasm from everyone but keep in mind that September is not a representative month in evaluating teams and players and for all intents and purposes the Nats were roughly a 75 win team which is an excellent step forward but still short a ways from the promised land.

jd said...

sec3,

IMO as long as they have Halliday, Lee and Hamels and as long as none of them shows any sign of aging they have to be the favorites.

Coincidentally; it's not just Rollins. I see marked decline in Utley and Ibanez and Victorino, Howard, Ruiz, Polanco are all over 30.

September Dreams of April said...

Good points, jd. Injuries affect all teams, but they can particularly affect lineups in September. Playoff-bound teams in particular are more likely to rest guys with dings and aches. That certainly has been true with Philly.

The Nats success next year will depend a lot on who gets hurt. It will also depend on whether Morse, who had a career year this year, will be able to sustain it, and whether any of our oh-so-promising young arms will suffer from sophomore slump.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

jd, that was basically the theme of Boswell's column--but he's feeling a little more optimistic for next year than that. Only a little, maybe, but he's enjoying it. And why not?

Mark'd said...

The Phillies will still win 90. Adding Pence was genius. Atlanta's main
parts of their rotation has health issues. Not sure if Heyward will rebound and Chipper returns.

N. Cognito said...

In my book, a better record, but still a 3rd place finish, is the top of reasonable expectations for the Nats next year.

A DC Wonk said...

September Dreams of April said...

Good points, jd. Injuries affect all teams, but they can particularly affect lineups in September. Playoff-bound teams in particular are more likely to rest guys with dings and aches. That certainly has been true with Philly.


Right -- but not with Atlanta -- who is fighting like to close out their playoff spot.

(Tangent: some may recall a little "contretemp" last week when I said that I was rooting for the Cards to beat the Mets, not because I wanted the Nats to finish in 3rd, but because I wanted the Braves games to be as meaningful as possible. This is exactly what I meant. Some may downplay the Nats wins over Phillie -- but they can't do that on our wins over the Braves).

A DC Wonk said...

Anonymous said...

Here's a problem with the stats: When did he get all those walks and wild pitches? In other words, has he improved during recent outings


That's a good question. And, frankly, he doesn't seem have have really improved much until, or mostly, the last month.

July 13.1 IP, 12 H 10 K, 10 BB, 4 WP, 1.650 WHIP
Aug 15.1 IP, 15 H 18 K, 12 BB, 3 WP, 1.761 WHIP
Sep 11.1 IP, 7 H 14 K, 4 BB, 1 WP, 0.971 WHIP

So, of course, the obvious question: is September a fluke month, or a sign of maturation and experience?

The Giants rotation said...

Pitching, pitching, pitching is all very nice, but it helps to have some offense, too.


IMO as long as they have Halliday, Lee and Hamels and as long as none of them shows any sign of aging they have to be the favorites.

N. cognito said...

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