Monday, March 11, 2013

Nats making their mark in WBC

USA Today Sports Images
Gio Gonzalez will start for Team USA on Tuesday night in Miami.
Whether the World Baseball Classic is drawing more than a cursory glance from the American viewing public is debatable, but give the quadrennial tournament credit for producing some pretty compelling baseball over the last few days.

From Italy's surprise advancement to the second round to the Canada-Mexico brawl to Team USA's dramatic victory over the Canadians in yesterday's winner-take-all game in Phoenix, the WBC hasn't lacked for drama so far.

It has lacked to date in being influenced much by members of the Nationals -- Ross Detwiler did pitch well in relief Saturday night and Roger Bernadina has helped keep the Netherlands alive -- but that's about to change because Gio Gonzalez will be front-and-center tomorrow night. By virtue of the United States' win yesterday, Gonzalez will now leave Nats camp, make the short drive home to Miami and start tomorrow's second-round opener against Puerto Rico.

This promises to be a major event for Gonzalez, who grew up 15 minutes from Marlins Park and surely will have a large cheering section of family and friends in attendance. And it will offer the left-hander his first opportunity to pitch in a competitive ballgame since his disappointing start in Game 5 of the NLDS and an offseason in which his name was linked to a clinic under investigation for distributing performance enhancing drugs to ballplayers.

Gonzalez has been fired up to pitch in the WBC since he was first added to the roster shortly before the start of spring training. And after watching Team USA from afar during the first round -- he remained in Viera because he knew he wouldn't be pitching until Round 2 -- he'll eagerly anticipate joining the rest of his American teammates at last.

It will be interesting to see, though, if Gonzalez can hold his obvious excitement in check once he takes the mound tomorrow night. The 21-game winner was one of several Nationals players who might have been too amped up during their first trip to the postseason in October. They've all spoken this spring about the lessons they learned from that experience. Now we'll find out if Gonzalez is able to make the necessary adjustment.

This will be only the fourth time Gonzalez has faced hitters this spring, his previous three starts coming in Grapefruit League play and totaling only eight innings of work. WBC rules permit starters to throw as many as 80 pitches in second-round games, though you have to assume Gonzalez will be on a slightly shorter leash tomorrow considering he's yet to throw more than three innings at a time.

If he's looking for inspiration, Gonzalez need only watch Detwiler's four-inning relief appearance Saturday night against Italy. The fellow Nationals lefty both dominated and kept himself under control, pitching with ease and not appearing to overextend himself in early-March as many pitching coaches and GMs fear guys participating in the WBC might.

Detwiler's fastball consistently registered 91-92 mph, a couple of ticks below his typical velocity during the regular season, but he still was highly effective, keeping the ball down in the zone and inducing a bunch of grounders.

How Detwiler figures into the rest of the WBC remains to be seen. He would typically be scheduled to pitch again on Thursday, which would be Team USA's next game if it wins tomorrow. (A loss would send the Americans into the loser's bracket and an elimination game on Wednesday.)

And then there's the other Nationals big leaguer still alive in this tournament (at least, alive as I write this). Bernadina and his honkball-playing mates from the Netherlands face a do-or-die game this morning against Cuba in Tokyo. The winner joins Japan in reaching the WBC final four in San Francisco this weekend; the loser is eliminated.

A USA-Netherlands semifinal, with Gio Gonzalez and Ross Detwiler going head-to-head with Roger Bernadina? That would be yet another compelling storyline to what has already proven to be an entertaining WBC.

52 comments:

We are the Nationals said...

And Eury Perez and his DR mates advance to the second round

Positively Half St. said...

But Adrian Nieto and Spain? Not so much. All I saw of his action was butchering a pop-up behind the plate, unfortunately.

baseballswami said...

Eury Perez made a big splash last night with a highlight reel catch. In other news, Roger Bernadina got hit on the wrist with a pitch and is not playing. Det was outstanding in his appearance. Hope Gio is not too amped up, playing in his home town.

MicheleS said...

John C you captured my thoughts on WSOB topic and expressed them way better than I ever could, so Thanks!

John C said...
"As for "WS or bust" I'll just say this: nouveau Yankee fans have the "WS or bust" mentality. It's made their seasons a joyless affair. Even when they win, it's more of a relief than happiness. Here's hoping that Nats fans never catch that malady."

MicheleS said...

Bummer to hear that Shark isn't playing today, I hope his wrist is okay.

Whoever is the catcher tomorrow night, they better take Gio Whispering lessons from Suzuki. Mark's point of Gio being amped up is something to be watched.

MicheleS said...

And good news, James Wagner has a report that the Shark's wrist is okay and he is only sitting out as a pre-cautionary measure.

NatsLady said...

Odober (our boy from Potomac) just stole 2B.

baseballswami said...

Ex- Nat sighting-- Shairon Martis pitching.

Gonat said...

Bernadina's replacement Sams missed 2 plays in a row that Bernadina would have made.

baseballswami said...

Gonat- just thinking the very same thing.

NatsLady said...

Uh-oh, an injury! Cancel the tournament.

NatsLady said...

Swami, here is Davey on lefties.

The departures of Bray, Ohman and Mann leave Fernando Abad as the only left-handed reliever in big league camp still in competition for the final spot in the Nationals' bullpen. Duke is slotted as the left-handed long reliever, but the Nats are still looking for one more reliever - preferably a lefty - to round out their 'pen.
"It's no secret I would prefer to have more of a left-handed presence in our bullpen," Johnson said.


http://www.masnsports.com/nationals_pastime/2013/03/bray-ohman-among-four-nats-sent-to-minor-league-camp.html

NatsLady said...

As far as I can see, they didn't put Perez' catch up as a "highlight". There is a "summary" of the game with his catch, it's at about 1:20 into this video.

Eury Perez' game-saving catch

http://web.worldbaseballclassic.com/wbc/2013/video/play.jsp?content_id=25706365&topic_id=31426364&tcid=vpp_copy_25706365&v=3

Tcostant said...

I love the WBC, here are some randon thoughts:

- Gio Gonzalez should have been with his team, I don't like this crap that just because he wasn't gonna pitch he doesn't need to be there. If you part of the team, be there.

- Gio should have started for the US yesterday. I know it wasn't his day, but Gio and the U.S. WBC officials knew that Italy was full of lefty hitters and should habe realized that Gio was a better choice for that game. Gio knew early enough that he was going to the WBC that could have made his pitching schedule land on yesterday.

- Great work by MLB channel. I watched the Mexico - Canada brawl live and they had a great reply of Mexico 3B making a jester to his pitcher to drill the next guy for a bunt. They also did a great job explaining the tiebreakers showing it wasn't so bush league.

- Japan is fun to watch. Just when you think they are small ball, they go and hit six homers.

- Det was great, in the two inning I saw (my Tivo didn't record the last two). He is gonna have a great year.

- If you watch nothing else, DVR the "World Baseball Today" show, he does a great job with highlights and watch all the "pools" mean.

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

Curly W sighting in Tokyo, 8th inning...

natsfan1a said...

I had the same issue with my DVR on Saturday night. Hope to have better luck tomorrow night (bracketing is good).

natsfan1a said...

Oh, and yay for old school radio broadcast today (meaning that I can listen via an actual radio and not my computer, thus avoiding the dreaded cat/keyboard effect).

NatsLady said...

Grades updated as of 3/10.

Looking for lefties

http://ladyandthenats.blogspot.com/2013/02/lefties-for-hire-as-of-3102013.html

Also, in case you missed it, I posted on the minor-leaguers in the WBC. (I'm letting Mark take care of Gio and Det... :)

know your Nats in the WBC

http://ladyandthenats.blogspot.com/2013/03/nats-in-wbc.html

NatsLady said...

Andrelton Simmons just tied it up with a 2-run HR in the 6th. Too bad we're going to be facing that guy all year.

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

Major-league AB from Andrelton Simmons there to get the Netherlands off the deck yet again against Cuba; the infamous two-run hanging slider makes it 6-6 after 8.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Looking forward to todays Nats/Braves game and the arrival of Swift Eagle and Joe Seamhead.

Also looking forward to watching Stras and harassing Frank Wren as we usually do.

NatsLady said...

For those of you not on Twitter, pretty good lineup for today. RZ still DH.

William Ladson ‏@washingnats
Here is the #Nats lineup for Monday against the #Braves.
https://twitter.com/washingnats/status/311105609753841664/photo/1

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

Sigh.

NatsLady said...

Jonathan Bernhardt ‏@jonbernhardt
Victor Mesa leaves a reliever in for 72 pitches in an elimination game against MLB hitters and we're supposed to take this guy seriously?

Steady Eddie said...

Tcostant -- agree completely on Det. I watched all four innings and the most striking (no pun intended; OK, maybe partly intended) was the way his throwing motion was so fluid and easy, nothing herky-jerky or strained or overthrowing about it.

I would have thought it was a classic kind of "no sweat" Spring Training mode except he had such good command and nice movement on his pitches that he looked as good as in Game 4 last October.

VERY encouraging. And as some others have written, I hope Gio takes his cue from Det's approach and doesn't get all overhyped tomorrow night.

NatsLady said...

Det was very cool. He got eight (8) ground outs to 1 flyout, so he needs good infield D. Fortunately--he should have it.

NatsLady said...

Here is some good news. Who was asking about who to follow on Twitter for Nats stuff? Ladson posts all the time (I think it's part of his job).

William Ladson ‏@washingnats
#Nats RHP Christian Garcia looks to play catch by March 17th. He said the pain in his forearm is gone. #MLB

natsfan1a said...

That's awfully nice of you, seeing as how it's his blog and all. :-)

NatsLady said...

(I'm letting Mark take care of Gio and Det... :)

natsfan1a said...

In addition to what's been mentioned here, in the innings that I did see, I was impressed with Det's poise (yeah, it's not the WS but there seemed to be a large crowd that was really into it).

NatsLady said...

1a--yup. He's the pro!

CB said...

While he's down that way, he can pick up some more PEDs.

NatsLady said...

Fangraphs (finally) came out with their top 100 prospects. Nats have 4 (Rendon, Goodwin, Giolito and Cole). If you look at the bottom you can see how many top prospects each team has in their system.

fangraphs top 100

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/fangraphs-top-100-prospects-2/

Joe Seamhead said...

NatsJack, we won't be in FL until tomorrow and I'll track you down in sec.111 on Weds.Thanks, looking forward to it. (We'll be around Viera/ Cocoa Beach until next Tuesday.)

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

If Bernadina had been running for Jones this game would be over.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Big 9th inning drama in the WBC with Cuba and the Netherlands Kingdom!

NatsLady said...

We'll find out how bad Bernadina's wrist is, because, The Netherlands is going to San Fancisco!!!!!!

ehay2k said...

CB, that incorrectly implies he ever had any PEDs in the first place. To date, there is no evidence that Gio or anyone in his family received any illegal or banned substances. You can bet MLB would not have put him in the WBC if they had any suspicions to the contrary.

ehay2k said...

CB, that incorrectly implies he ever had any PEDs in the first place. To date, there is no evidence that Gio or anyone in his family received any illegal or banned substances. You can bet MLB would not have put him in the WBC if they had any suspicions to the contrary.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

ehay2k, don't feed the trolls.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Bernadina's replacement got that walk-off RBI. Made up for his poor defense.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Good line up today. No Syracuse/Harrisburg guys or Goon Squad (except for Tracy) personnel in the starting line up.

Section 222 said...

Mark, I think you don't give enough credit to Det's contribution. Has any other US pitcher pitched 4 scoreless innings? Nope. Dickey gave up 4, Vogelsong 2, and Holland 2. Det was pretty much flawless. Gio will be lucky to match him.

Double elimination is a pretty cool way to do this tournament. Every team gets a real shot, and has to have more than just a few good starters. Playing games essentially just for seeding is a little odd though.

natsfan1a said...

All right - another Nat lives to fight another day! :-)

NatsLady said...

We'll find out how bad Bernadina's wrist is, because, The Netherlands is going to San Fancisco!!!!!!
March 11, 2013 10:00 AM

Section 222 said...

It's worth noting that when MLB network showed highlights after Saturday's game vs. Italy at the beginning of the broadcast of Sunday's game, they focused on Vogelsong's 2 run, 6 hit effort over 5 innings, rather than Det's excellent long relief work. It's also worth nothing that unlike the late innings of spring training games, the late innings of WBC games are not played by scrubs and AA guys. There's playoff tension in some of these games, but of course, we already know that Det can handle that. Can Gio?

Faraz Shaikh said...

So Cuba is out? They looked really strong earlier in the series. I thought they would be favorites to win besides USA and Japan.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

http://www.firstcoastnews.com/video/2218290749001/1/Baseball-Player-Injured-Throwing-Out-Gum

It was the A's Michael Taylor who was injured throwing out his bubblegum not the Nats Michael Taylor.

EmDash said...

Per James Wagner, on Twitter: sounds like H-Rod's a pretty good bet to make the team as long as he's healthy. Maybe not a surprise, but it makes me a little nervous...

NatsLady said...

WTOP Sports ‏@WTOPSports
Davey Johnson says the next round of cuts will take place after the split squad affair on Wednesday. #Nats

Tcostant said...

Faraz Shaikh said...
So Cuba is out?

Me: Yes they are out. Cuba's manager made a big mistake after an early lost to the Netherlands stating that they weren't that good and should have scored four or five more funs. Netherlands beat Cuba twice!

NatsLady said...

Boz is chatting. I thought it was Tuesday, but I guess it's Monday this week.

http://live.washingtonpost.com/ask-boswell-130311.html#Caps'-disappoin

Tcostant said...

Boswell usually chats on Mondays.

NCNatsie said...

Tcostant said "...Cuba's manager made a big mistake..."

It's a tradition going back to at least 1961.

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