Wednesday, August 1, 2012

An off-night for inconsistent Strasburg

US Presswire photo
Jesus Flores tries to calm Stephen Strasburg down during a frustrating start.
Stephen Strasburg wasn't thinking about the after-effects of Tommy John surgery as he slogged his way through a ragged, four-inning start Tuesday night in an 8-0 loss to the Phillies. He paid no attention to his right elbow as he served up a two-run homer to the little-known Kevin Frandsen in the top of the second, nor did it cross his mind as he watched Jimmy Rollins sprint around the bases for an inside-the-park home run in the top of the fourth.

And after matching his career high with six earned runs allowed during the third-shortest start of his 38 big-league appearances, Strasburg wasn't going to accept any links to the ligament replacement procedure he underwent in Sept. 2010.

"I'm not blaming it on having Tommy John," he said. "It happens to everybody. I'm just going to forget about it and make the adjustments. It has nothing to do with coming off Tommy John. That's over two years now."

Maybe so. Maybe this was just an off-night for the young Nationals ace. Off-nights, though, are nothing out of the ordinary for pitchers coming back from that major arm surgery, even two years after the fact. Actually, they're quite common.
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peric said...

Looks like Stras is getting close to empty ... but so might the other phenom Bryce Harper.

Anonymous said...

Harper and Trout in the same sentence is becoming a cruel joke. I seriously doubt Harper ever has even 1 season like Trout is having this year. He needs to get sent!!! He hasn't hit more than 2 or 3 balls hard in 2 months now.

DWS said...

I agree peric, Bryce could use time away from the spotlight but where does he get it? I think Trout's big year is weighing also. Give him time. Hrod needs his time as well. F+I, what team do you support? Criticism is useful if it's what?

peric said...

When Trout was Harper's age he hit .220, and had a .281 OBP in the majors so they sent him down.

Harper is still doing far better by comparison.

But I think he still needs the break he didn't get at the All Star break. And maybe a few more days. I suspect the 15 days plus rehab might just do the trick. Give him some time in Syracuse doing rehab which should be beneficial.

peric said...

F+I, what team do you support? Criticism is useful if it's what?

O-R-I-' H-O-L-E-S like Billy Ripken.

DWS said...

Hint to F+I constructive.

Anonymous said...

I root for the Nationals over the O's now because they are my hometown team, but still love the Orioles. Peric...I guess if a new franchise came to the area with a better team and better prospects for you to salivate over you would be right on their bandwagon just like the Nats, huh. Don't lie, you know you would!!! Being a fair-weather fan works both ways!!!

Bote Man said...

Strasburg looked like a rich man's Livan Hernandez: 10 times the money, 1/5 the body mass, and about the same results.

So glad Rizzo took that Caribbean cruise these past several days, we really don't need help off the bench, or at catcher, or in the fading bullpen, or...

Hey, look! The Braves won. What? Me worry??

Gonat said...

A lot of negativity. One loss amongst many. 60 games left. Sure, Stras didn't pitch well.

Bigger issues as I see it is DeRosa given an opportunity and laid and egg and Danny back in a deep funk at the plate once more. Even with the Nats scoring over the weekend, Danny wasn't hitting and the book on him is that he hits Cliff Lee well. Bryce Harper's offense is slowly slipping as that batting average is now in the .250's.

Gonat said...

From Amanda Comak:

But perhaps more concerning for the Nationals and Harper is the slump he's been in at the plate since the second half began. Since the All-Star break, Harper is hitting .171 with just three extra-base hits. He was 0-for-4 against Cliff Lee on Tuesday.

NatsLady said...

Didn't see the game until the 9th, heard some on the radio. Don't know why Davey left Henry in for the 2nd inning. (1) If he wanted Henry to have a (semi) good result, leave it be after the 8th when he got out of the jam. (2) I can't recall if Henry ever successfully pitched two innings, not last year as a setup man or this year. Maybe once, but most of the time even if he was PFB for one inning he collapsed the second. That was a Davey overreach.

Disappointed in Storen, he let both inherited runners score. If he is going to be in the "stopper" role rather than the closer role, he needs to be able to come in and shut them down. Now, this is entirely forgivable in a 6-0 game, so not trying to be negative. But I would have liked a popup, a strikeout and a fist pump.

Face it, this was an efficient loss. You lost on a day when--

- Strass not good
- Cliff Lee very good
- Two main regulars out

(I did see the inside-the-park HR. Where was Bernadina????)

If it had been 8-5 with ALR and RZ in there it would have been aggravating. This was not aggravating. 17-9 for July is not a bad month, let's go August!

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

NatsLady, Bernadina was patrolling left-center on the Rollins fly turned into an inside HR. Bernadina didn't move at first but even if he was Bullet Bob Hayes and headed immediately to RF, I'm not certain he could have helped although he wouldn't be questioned if he made a better effort to get there to backup. Baseball 101.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Well, according to the usual suspects, I see the Nats have dropped hopelessly out of the pennant race again. Seems to happen once a week or so.

I believe I'll just enjoy the games as they happen and see how it all turns out.

Gonat said...

NatsLady, I partially disagree on Storen. He came into the game with runners on 2nd and 3rd and 1 out with the infield back and conceding the run from 3rd on a groundout and that's exactly what happened as Ruiz grounded to 2nd for the 2nd out and the run scored.

The next batter was Nix and he hit the hot smash up the middle. Yes, not the result you want.

Henry again caused his own issues with a walk and it could've been worse for Henry if Lombo didn't make a great diving play to get the 1st out in the 9th.

Gonat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gonat said...

Edwin Jackson tonight vs Worley. Zim said he will be back tonight. I hope he is right.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

NatsLady, I don't think Storen has a defined role except comeback role.

Don't expect stopper stuff at this time from him. I also wonder why Henry came out for a 2nd inning. Again, Henry failed the challenge.

Gonat said...

Ghost Of Steve M. said...
I also wonder why Henry came out for a 2nd inning. Again, Henry failed the challenge.

August 01, 2012 7:20 AM

That's the truth. It was 2 uninspiring innings after the 1st batter (Nix) strikeout in the 8th he walked Mayberry on 3 pitches after starting him 1-2. If the Phillies weren't so far ahead you know Mayberry would have stolen 2nd and scored on the Dominic Brown single. Instead Henry got out of the 8th with 2 runners stranded and no runs.

In the 9th, Pierre hit that weak liner to Lombo that he couldn't time his jump on. Again, Pierre wasn't going to steal 2nd but it didn't matter as Henry walked Utley. Howard hits that hard grounder that Lombo made a great diving play to rob him of an RBI single.

Yes, things in normal circumstances could have looked a lot worse for Henry.

Tim said...

Juan Pierre was the undoing of Strasburg: there was a curveball that should've been Strike 3 to Pierre but instead Pierre later reaches, and Stras is still thinking about the umpire when Pierre takes off... twice.

Maturity. He's still young and hopefully, this was a tough lesson learned.

Off topic, is Henry out of options? It's really not working out. He's needs some time to work on things... mechanical... mental... Whatever.

Gonat said...

Tim, yes, Henry is out of options.

baseballswami said...

NatsJack- thanks, and I will be doing the same. I looked at our record yesterday, our July, and realized that I have not been enjoying this ride nearly enough. If we want this team to be good in the years to come then it can't be easy now. Tough is how you learn. Humiliation is a motivating factor. So far, they have bounced back remarkably from bad games, series, weeks. 60 more to go is a lot.

Gonat said...

Tim, and for anyone wondering whether or not Pierre in the 3rd was struckout as MASN didn't show pitchtrack, it was definitely strike 3, blown call.

Tim said...

Ghost of SteveM.... "Bullet Bob Hayes"... funny.

I was wondering where our CF was, too. If Berenie was shading toward left-center that would explain it, but I still was surprised I didn't see him on the picture AT ALL. Harper looked injured. I'll bet he sits today.

I'm hoping RZimm and ALR are back tonight and last night's game was a wake-up call. The Phillies are a proud franchise and will be playing very tough from here on out.

Tim said...

Gonat... Yep, blown call, but still Stras has to compose himself, show some poise and grit, and pitch his game, no matter what the umpire calls. I'm sure you agree.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Tim, agreed. That Pierre blown pitch was a 0-2 pitch making it 1-2. Stras still had him set-up for a K.

The undoing as I saw it was the 4th inning single to Cliff Lee. Dead red 94mph center cut meatball. Any power header would've sent it 420.

That was the dagger.

MicheleS said...

Thanks for the rational comments. I was at the game and it was not an inspiring night to say the least.

I really appreciated Marks comments about Stras/JZ pre/post break ERA's. He is definitely hitting a wall for his command. His velocity seemed to have dipped a little as well. And people still are arguing (talking heads) about not shutting him down. I think everyone really needs to take a look at what he has done over the last few starts and not just the hype.

The Ump was definitely inconsistent to say the least.

Not going to use some of the inappropriate adjectives, but Stras does need to work on his mound presence/focus. Those runners were running all over the place on him. And from JFlo's comments, after one mistake, Stras tries to be perfect.


Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Tim, it's Olympic time. Got to give props to the sprinters. Usain Bolt though would have reached that ball before JRoll got to 2nd.

Faraz Shaikh said...

oh man, I thought we had a comeback in us after I checked the score at 6-0.

no fireworks from Danny this time against Lee. At least one bomb would have lessened the pain of loss.

Gonat said...

Tim, absolutely Stras has to compose himself with these blown calls.

On Cliff Lee, he throws strike 1 at the knees which is called a ball and then takes something off of his fastball (94) and throws it down the center of the plate missing Flores glove by 6 inches.

That was horrendous. The score was 3-0 at that the time and there were 2 outs. Then Cliff Lee steals 2nd. The batter after Lee was Rollins who hit the 2 run Inside-The-Park-HR.

Gonat said...

The hilight from last night was 3 scoreless innings from Gorzo. That was nice to see. Just 2 hits and no walks.

Thought I would balance the morning negativity was some positivity.

natsfan1a said...

Carrying forward as we turn the page on July:

Didn't see the middle innings and haven't yet watched the recording, so can't comment on play throughout. That said, what I did see was, uh, not stellar.

As some have noted, the Phillies got a wake-up call of sorts yesterday and, as Cholly was quoted as saying, they've got nothing to lose. The Nats had a couple of key guys out and it definitely wasn't Stephen's day. (That said, maybe we could lose the name-calling. He's not a messiah and he's not a [sexist epithet]. He's just human, and coming back from surgery.)

Eh, what the heck. Let's blame the FO for coming out with that email about, um, tickets for October ballgames. Late October ballgames. Ix-nay on the layoff-pay talk, guys. ;-)

John C., just a general observation: one reason I stay away from armchair GM stuff and predictions generally is that imo sometimes for fans it becomes more about being right (see also, knowing it all) than about wanting to see the team do well. I don't want to go there.

Laddie Blah Blah said...

Two games against two losing teams, with your top of the rotation guys going in each. So the bad guys get 18 runs on 5 HRs and who knows how many hits.

Both Gio and Stras picked consecutive starts to have their worst games of the year. Ditto Matheus Sunday. And both Zim and ALR sat today. Danny has had 6 Ks in 9 PAs over those 2 games, and Harp's bat has been very quiet since the Mets' series.

This may be as bad as it gets. And they won one of those two games. I'll take it.

Section 222 said...

A bad night for JZnn is 6 innings and 4 runs. A bad night for Stras is 4 innings and 6 runs. There's the difference between the first and second full years back from TJ.

I was glad to see Gorzo pitch well yesterday. It's really good to have a guy like that, or like Stammen for just these circumstances. Would have been much worse to have to use more of the bullpen for 5 innings of relief in a game it was pretty clear we were going to lose.

By popular demand, well maybe not, but you're getting it anyway, here's the link to our National Anthem performance yesterday. I'm the baritone on the left.

Tonight I'll be back in the park as a plain old fan to cheer the team on from my usual perch in section 314. It was very cool to watch batting practice from up close though -- Harper takes some vicious cuts.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Laddie, I'm most concerned with Espi. He was swinging long again all weekend.

Time for Davey to work his magic with Espi and Harp.

baseballswami said...

I think most of us have fallen way too much in love with staying in first place, making the playoffs, going to the world series. That would be nice, wouldn't it? It seems that everything has become about that, and is based on fear of not staying in first, fear of what Atlanta is doing, fear of not winning the division.This team was predicted to contend in 2013, we have had devastating injuries, exciting young players have stepped in time after time to keep this team at the top with the best record in baseball on July 31st. This has already been an astounding season. Games like the one on Sunday, to me, are typical of the nats. Their development is far from finished -- streaky offense, pitching that is brilliant - or not, rookies being rookies. This team is developing an identity this year that I hope is showing us what the next few years will bring. They are talented, young, they hustle, they never give up, they are team oriented and unselfish. This is what I want to watch for a long time. They have given me so much joy so far this year. It might still happen, it might not. I am not going to let that fear of it not happening THIS YEAR color the rest of the season for me.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...



sjm308 said...

Alright - a new day and we are still in first place 20 games above .500. Fire Rizzo?, no playoffs? Maybe I should start re-reading Peric because as I remember, he was never that gloom & doom.

Thanks 222, I am guessing you are the bass of the group? Loved the old Flanagan's in Bethesda (and pRAA, that was owned by a guy named Walsh).

Having a terrible time at the game, I decided to analyze my seats. Red Carpet is great in that you can ask for other areas and instead of 308 I asked for behind the plate and got 311. I have been in 308 for a couple years after moving from left field and really like that sight-line down first base. My thoughts on 311 are that it is steeper (can that be true?) more people and more rows than 308 and less knee room. I also have aisle seats in 308 so it was difficult to make the many beer runs necessary during this not so good game since we were smack in the middle. Newcastle stand is just a little closer but would not be a game changer. Bottom line is 308 is my preferred choice.

Looking for Jackson to get us back to 21 games over, save Rizzo's job and get the earth back on its axis all in one night. Also wondering when the Braves might just lose one stupid game so I can take a deep breath.

Go Nats!!

baseballswami said...

Section222 - I am an professional musician and I know lots of barbershop people. That was awesome! Kudos to you and your group.

sjm308 said...

Swami - excellent post & I think I had started to fall into that "fear"factor. When we were dismal, which was not too long ago, I rationalized that I was able to watch major league baseball in my home town and enjoyed the actual play. Baseball is still a game where the ground out to short or 2nd must be handled almost perfectly to get a good runner at first and we take that for granted. Last night I got to see my first inside the park homerun live (at least I think it was my first, as Peric has pointed out, I am old). I was hoping for 85-87 wins and now will be disappointed if we don't reach the playoffs but I need to get back to just appreciating the game and this team a little more.

Go Nats!

baseballswami said...

Examples -- Bryce is 19 and needs to get a full season under his belt no matter what his batting average turns out to be at the end. We don't need him to take us to the promised land this year - we need him to learn. Strassie is in his first almost-full season after TJ - we need him to continue to develop and learn, not be so desperate to take us to the post-season that he isn't doing the right things to learn how to be a pitcher. So far I think, mostly, the right decisions are being made by the powers that be - decisions based on the future, but it has got to be tempting to be short- term. Tempting but maybe not the most constructive.

SCNatsFan said...

Didin't see the game but when a team is tied for the best record in baseball - as we were - they get a night off without everyone jumping ship.

bluejeener said...

I have been stuck in Upstate NY for most of the summer (family illness) and getting most of my game info from gamecast and twitter. But I get most of my Nationals information from Mark and all of the posters here. Thanks. And, great job, 222, thanks for sharing.

ps- my koolaid is tasting a tiny bit sour, should I add something or just throw it out and replace it with cold water?

natsfan1a said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JD said...


Thank you for the perspective. You are dead on right. Last night was the 1st time this year I got really aggravated and that includes the blown game to the Braves. I was aggravated because I was following the blog and reading real ignorant comments - I won't do this again.

Brother Juniper said...

Something I've always wondered about:

At the trade deadline (and the deadline for signing amateur free agents), what is the moment that seals a last minute deal? When both sides say OK? When they call MLB? Is there a MLB official on the conference call to verify the deal has been done before the deadline?

natsfan1a said...

Typo correction:

Gotta get old man Chipper off the twitta for that. Yo. :-)

Also wondering when the Braves might just lose one stupid game so I can take a deep breath.

JD said...

Re Harper and Strasburg.

Harper - In a perfect world Harper would be winding down his 2nd full season in the minors having made adjustments and improvements and getting ready for a September call-up. Injuries forced Rizzo to change his plans so instead we are seeing Harper go through the learning process in the majors in front of our eyes and sometimes this necessarily involves failure - the game is not that easy where you can come in at 19 and take over - patience.

Strasburg - most of his struggles are a product of inexperience as well. I later years he won't give up a home run to the 8th place hitter with 1st base open, he will pay attention to the base runners and he will be more focused when facing the opposing pitcher - patience.

natsfan1a said...

On a somewhat related note, how is the team with the better record determined for claims on a player who does not clear waivers? Is it based on the prior season's record or the current season's record? I'm thinking the former but couldn't find definitive info on that with a quick online search.

At the trade deadline (and the deadline for signing amateur free agents), what is the moment that seals a last minute deal? When both sides say OK? When they call MLB? Is there a MLB official on the conference call to verify the deal has been done before the deadline?

MicheleS said...

222, in case you didn't see my comment in game, you guys were great on the Anthem!

natsfan1a said...

Agreed on the anthem (wasn't at the game but watched the video).

pRAA said...

sjm308 said...
Loved the old Flanagan's in Bethesda (and pRAA, that was owned by a guy named Walsh).

I know. I used to frequent Flanagan's back in the day when an unknown named Martin O'Malley was one of the rotating cast of singers there.

Also wondering when the Braves might just lose one stupid game so I can take a deep breath.

If you ever look at the standings, many outlets have a column called "Last 10". (I think the Washington Post eliminated it around the same time that I eliminated my Washington Post subscription.) The "Last 10" column in this morning's standings reads Nationals 8-2, Braves 7-3. Sure doesn't seem like it, though.

JaneB said...

222! We were there last night and said, (as we only rarely do), "Okay, THOSE guys can come back!" Great job!

Last night, had I been able to log on from the Park (and with so many more fans, the FO has GOT to do better with bandwidth now, they really do. It was bad before, and beyond awful now), I would have written, "No Zimm, no ALR, no Desmond: that would have made me nervous last year. Now I still expect to win." I was wrong, of course, but I expected we would win all the way to the top of the 9th. Then I didn't.

I agree with some of you who are saying this is ONE GAME, and the violent swings of emotion are just nutty. ANd unproductive. We play till the beginning of October and see where we are then. And meanwhile, I'll root against the Braves. Because SHEESH, what has gotten into them???

Bluejeener, sorry about the family illness. The traditional Nats Insider in-game drink has been bourbon and maalox. I didn't need the maalox last night but a little bourbon might give the koolaid some kick.

Headed out of town myself for the next few nights. Will keep up with you all and Our First Place Nationals via the interwebz.

sjm308 said...

pRAA - thanks for that - isn't it amazing that one bad game can make you forget that we went 6-1 on that last away trip?

I also remember O'Malley and his band. Harp & Fiddle is a nice place with a great singer on Sunday nights (MaryAnne Redmond) but not as dingy as Flanagans

Go Nats

Laddie Blah Blah said...

"Laddie, I'm most concerned with Espi."

I agree. The loop was back in his swing from the left side, big time, hence the 4 Ks last Sunday. Of course, he has gotten rid of it before, so he can do it, again. Surely he knows what is happening. He has also shown a recent tendency to swing for the fences, again, and to chase those breaking balls to the inside, which are fooling him, once again.

sjm308 said...

I also noticed the swing for the fences from Espinosa. Do any of you think it's because Davey had him batting 3rd and we were behind from the 1st inning? I still marvel at what a great SS he is and his arm is a gun with almost every throw a strike. The double play in the 1st was started with a great play by Lombo but Danny's pivot was also solid as Pierre was right at the bag. I am not trying to start anything because I know Ian was a huge part of our success but how great is it to have two shortstops of that caliber?

Go Nats!!

Brother Juniper said...

Bryce Harper on his slump: “I’m trying to find some mellowness”

Aren't we all, Bryce, aren't we all?

The kid is certainly quotable.

SCNatsFan said...

Laddie, I disagree on Danny. The loop is part of his swing; if it was just a defect he could think about and fix then he wouldn't have been Mendoza like the first half of the year. You can't change muscle memory by just thinking it away.

JD said...

I am no expert but I think Espi's problem is pitch recognition. He has quick hands and excellent power to all fields. He took Kimbrall's 98 mph fastball over the left field wall which is not an easy thing to do.

I think most experienced pitchers know that you don't have to throw a strike or anything close to one to get Espi to chase; until he's able to recognize the off speed pitchers in the dirt and lay off them he will continue to strike out.

baseballswami said...

This is a team that has spent most of it's existence in last place and now has soared to being in first almost wire to wire. A couple of these guys have done it before, not many - maybe only Werth, and he has not been around to help. So we have rookies, who probably should still be in the minors but are here due to injuries, learning how to be major leaguers, in a pennant race, holding down first place. They just haven't been there before and are learning how to do it. 19 years old, really? Most of our players are in new territory. We fans have not been here before, either. I don't know how to do this and at times I am not very good at it. Being a fan of a last place team is pretty easy - no expectations. No wonder we panic and expect armageddon every time things crumple a little bit. No wonder the players falter sometimes - can you even imagine? They look like they are always having fun, but the weight has to be heavy at times. Maybe that day off allowed too much time to think.

Tcostant said...

To gems, Bryce looks to mellow and the Phils look for answers:

peric said...

I also noticed the swing for the fences from Espinosa. Do any of you think it's because Davey had him batting 3rd and we were behind from the 1st inning?

Of course. The thing to remember, as Rizzo said to Rally Carp and FP, these are all young players still getting their feet wet in the majors. Like it or not even with the winning its going to take time. Rizzo then went on to say he did that himself with Stras. He may be Jesus but he's still being trained in the temple.

I am actually more worried about these former prospects than I am the score. Harper lost at the plate? Lost at the plate? That is not like him at all. He needs a break. Yes, Stras does appear as if his starts are numbered now. But they have a plan in place for him ... I don't see that with Harper any longer. There's a lesson to remember Davey from Darryl Strawberry. Last year when Trout was 19 he seemed far worse and they sent him down to the minors.

That said, Atlanta is coming hard strong seeing the demise of the Phillies and wanting to send Chipper out with a ring. The Nats have a beast on their tail. They must learn to put the nail in the coffin of teams like the Phils and the Marlins as did the Nats for all the previous years. If they want to be contenders this year. Its up to them.

JD said...


I think that there was a plan for Harper and it was modified in midstream due to a string of injuries. He got of to a great start and it took Morse and Zim a long time to get going so sending him back was taken off the table.

I think that this was not the best outcome for his development and it may have in fact caused a slight regression; part of development for such a young player is that you want him to keep moving forward and mastering every level until there is only 1 level to master. You never want to go backwards.

At the end of the day it's not a tragedy and it won't stop Bryce from becoming a super star but we just need to understand that it's a tough process with many bumps on the road.

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