Thursday, May 23, 2013

Nats who's hot/who's not-5/23

Photo by USA Today
By Michael Huberman
CSNwashington.com

The Nationals got a much needed win in San Francisco on Wednesday to cap off their longest road trip of the season. Here’s a look at five players who were hot, and five players who were not over the past week.

HOT:

Stephen Strasburg, SP – 1-0/1.20 ERA/15 IP/11 SO/0.93 WHIP
Strasburg started his week off with a bang, beating his hometown Padres and going a career-high eight innings for the win. Then, after pitching seven strong innings of one-run ball against the Giants, Strasburg was in line for his third win before his bullpen blew the lead in the ninth. Either way, over his last 20 innings Strasburg has been dominant, giving up just two earned runs and striking out 18. He has a 2.00 ERA through 27.0 innings thus far this month.

Ryan Zimmerman, 3B – 7-24/2 HR/7 RBI/.414 OBP/.997 OPS
The rest of the team may be struggling to hit, but Zimmerman continues to produce at the plate. Zimmerman had himself a very good series against the Padres, going 5-for-14 with two home runs, six RBI, and two walks. After a slow start to the year Zimmerman has gotten into a groove offensively, and is now hitting .313/.421/.484 in May.

Adam LaRoche, 1B – 6-25/3 HR/7 RBI/3 BB/.961 OPS
Like Zimmerman, LaRoche was excellent against the Padres. In the Nationals’ wins on Thursday and Friday, LaRoche went 3-for-7 with three home runs, six RBI, and three runs scored. After a predictably slow start in April, LaRoche has been outstanding at the plate in May, putting up a .314/.395/.529 slash in 70 at-bats.

Jordan Zimmermann, SP – 0-1/1.13 ERA/8 IP/6 SO/0 BB
Even in defeat, Zimmermann manages to dominate. A tough-luck loser Saturday night in San Diego, Zimmermann has issued just three walks over his past 39 2/3 innings, and he’s averaging 6.5 strikeouts per game over his last four starts. He will look to carry over that success on Friday night in the Nats’ first matchup with the Phillies this season.

Chad Tracy, IF – 2-3/1 HR/1 RBI/1 R
Yes, it’s a very small sample size but Tracy’s game winning pinch-hit home run in the 10th inning Friday night in San Diego was huge for both hitter and team. Tracy’s homer was his first since May 14 of last season (also against San Diego) and helped the 32-year-old break out of a 1-for-10 slump. For the Nationals it was a crucial victory; closer Rafael Soriano had just blown the save and the team would go on to lose Saturday and Sunday.


NOT:

Dan Haren, SP – 0-1/12.60 ERA/5 IP/7 ER/9 H/2 HR
After giving up nine earned runs in 27 innings over his previous four starts, Haren struggled mightily on Sunday against the Padres, giving up three runs in the first inning and four more in the fifth en route to his fifth loss of the year. With the loss against the Padres, Haren moved to 1-4 with a 6.04 ERA and eight home runs allowed in five road starts this year.

Danny Espinosa, 2B – 1-18/0 XBH/0 RBI/9 SO/.056 OBP/.111 OPS
Experts, analysts, and fans alike have provided their two cents on how to handle Espinosa, but at this point what can be done? Since homering on his 26th birthday April 25 against the Reds, Espinosa is 12-for-79 (.152) with just one home run and a staggering 30 strikeouts.

Denard Span, OF – 7-31/1 XBH/2 BB/6 SO/.273 OBP
Span has never been known for his power, but so far his lack of extra-base hits has to be somewhat alarming. Through 43 games, Span has just nine extra-base hits (seven doubles, two triples) and so far he’s slugging a career-low .329. On the positive side, Span continues to play an excellent centerfield, and he’s provided a nice upgrade there this season.

Ryan Mattheus, RP – 0-0/45.00 ERA/1 IP/5 ER/2 BB
On the field Mattheus struggled mightily Sunday in San Diego, giving up five runs in just one inning of work. But off the field, Mattheus’ frustration over his outing ended up hurting both him and his team. Mattheus’ broke his right hand after he punched his locker, and was subsequently placed on the disabled list. Yunesky Maya, one of the pitchers who took Mattheus’ spot in the bullpen, gave up the game-winning home run Wednesday night to Pablo Sandoval. Ouch.

Zach Duke, RP – 0-1/10.80 ERA/3.1 IP/4 ER/7 H
Before his start Monday night against the Giants, Chase tweeted out that over his career Duke was 1-0 with a 1.08 ERA and 1.080 WHIP in 25 innings at AT&T Park. Unfortunately for the Nationals, Duke was unable to channel past dominance in the Bay Area, and was chased after only 3 1/3 innings of work. In five of his ten appearances this year, Duke has given up two or more earned runs.

42 comments:

SCNatsFan said...

Duke probably feels like his days are numbered. Then he looks over his shoulder and sees Maya and he realizes he'll be here for a little while longer.

Section 222 said...

Speaking of Duke, have they announced the pitching rotation for the weekend? Will Det be back on Sunday, or will will Davey skip Det/Duke and go with Stras on Sunday, Gio Monday, and bring back Det on Tuesday?

Dominats Vobiscum said...

Thought I saw somewhere that Strasburg will start on Sunday. Maybe it was Bob and F.P. who said it on air while they were setting up the weekend broadcast schedule. Strasburg vs Hamels on Sunday.

Tcostant said...

Not sure about that, I expect Maya to got back to triple A before Friday's game for a position player. Then bench is a player short and the pen has an offday to catch up on their rest. Davey already said that if Det can't go Sunday that Stras would go a 4 days rest, but they are hoping Det can go.

Section 222 said...

Stras on Sunday is on nationals.com too, though I suppose that doesn't quite qualify as a completely reliable source. But they don't yet have Monday or Tuesday's expected starters for the Nats up.

Too bad that Det is injured or they could skip our weakest starter (that would be Haren), the way the Tigers do to give Verlander more starts.

Section 222 said...

I don't think Maya fits into this decision at all. It's not like his outing in S.F. convinced anyone he should get the call over Duke.

SCNatsFan said...

Maybe if we refer to Haren as HarAn he can develop some LannEn like magic

Tcostant said...

I'm hoping the position player they bring up is Jeff Kobernus. He is not on the 40 man roster, but they can move Christian Garcia to the 60 day DL to make room. I hope they send Maya down, bring up Kobernus and give him some chances at 2B. I hope, I hope, I hope.

do1teach1 said...

To me it's fascinating that Harper has 12 homers, the most by a 20 year-old in his team's first 50 games of the season, matching a record set by Orlando Cepada in 1958.

The record was set in the Year of Cepada, and matched in the Year of Cicada.

To me that's very powerful and meaningful.

Sec. 3, My Natural Sofa said...

Cepada?
You aren't from the Midwest by any chance, are you D1T1?

baseballswami said...

I love Harper, but I think it's very sad that a team of major league baseball players, some of whom are very experienced veterans, can't generate any offense without a 20 year old. As for the hitting, I really don't think the stats tell the whole story. Before Adam was scalding hot, his plate approach and hitting looked better , but without results. There are outs and then there are embarrassing outs. I think some of our hitters have had some bad BABIP luck. Watch Tyler Moore - playing outfield when he is not an outfielder, not a starter even though he is very young -- he has scorched some balls, some to the warning track, some right at someone. But very hard hit.When you watch Espi that is not what you see. You see a bad approach, swinging at balls, missing by a mile on strikes, very weak infield grounders and weak pop outs. Lombo was mysteriously hitting the ball in the air every time which is far from effective for him. Now he has seemed to regain his form and is hitting the ball on the ground, making contact, finding a hole. So you may still see outs, but you see something that is progressing. Danny is the only hitter right now where you don't see progress or bad luck, he just looks lost. I do not profess to know what they should do, but I do know that when a student is not learning, you have to change the way you are teaching. If that doesn't work then the student may not be very teachable. We cannot continue without Jayson Werth, with such a low scoring team, with this huge hole in the lineup. I think if he starts batting 8, they might not even walk him to get to the pitcher.

Dominats Vobiscum said...

I don't think Garcia to the 60-day DL is gonna happen. When Davey was on the Junkies the other day he was talking like Garcia would be back soon.

bowdenball said...

baseballswami said...

"Watch Tyler Moore - playing outfield when he is not an outfielder, not a starter even though he is very young -- he has scorched some balls, some to the warning track, some right at someone. But very hard hit.When you watch Espi that is not what you see."


This isn't true. They have had comparably bad luck on balls in play: Espinosa at .202, Moore at .179. However, Moore's strikeout rate is MUCH higher than Espinosa's, 38% to 26%. Moore does have a slightly higher line drive rate, 12.5% to 9.9%, but generally speaking they've been about the same hitter except that Danny strikes out a lot less.

bowdenball said...

Also Moore is three months older than Espinosa, so I'm not sure why Moore gets the "even though he is very young" excuse but Espi does not.


If I didn't know any better, I'd think Nats fans have it out for Espinosa for some reason ;)

NatsLady said...

222, Verlander's starts are not looking that good, right now. The strategy of pumping up his starts puts a lot of innings on that arm.

bowdenball said...

Just to be clear I'm not defending Espinosa at the plate this year. I'm condemning both of them. Espinosa has been terrible, and Moore has been just as bad or worse. A 38% strikeout rate is truly horrifying. Strasburg and Zimmerman are better than that, and not by a little.

do1teach1 said...

Yes, Sec3, Indiana.

Eugene in Oregon said...

Swami @ 1:49 p.m.: I largely concur. Baseball includes a large element of randomness witness the Giants having the best batting average in the NL as Messrs. Blanco, Crawford, and Scutaro hit 30 or 40 points above their career averages. And, like you, I can't claim to be able to evaluate the technical elements of Danny Espinosa's swing. But as you say, he appears lost. Whether it's injury or approach or psyche or something else, he's a hole in the offensive line-up. The notion of a 'Mendoza line' -- however you draw it -- exists for a reason. I anticipate the logic behind to be applied soon, but I just hope management doesn't wait too long.

Section 222 said...

NL, this year, Verlander has had at least the standard four days rest every time. Same last year. (20 starts with four days rest, 11 with 5.) And he's done pretty well, I'd say, pitching over 200 innings every year since 2007.

All the Tigers do, I think, is when an off day permits it they keep Verlander on 4 days rest and skip or delay a start for their No. 5 pitcher, in this case Porcello. Now that his innings cap is gone, wouldn't you rather have Stras (or Znn) get a few extra starts this year and Haren a few less? I sure would.

But you've studied pitching stats more than I have. Is four days rest not enough for starters any more?

NatsLady said...

222, no idea. Just observing that there are a lot of miles on Verlander's arm and he's not doing so well lately. May or may not be related to his rest.

Section 222 said...

That sounds like the title of a recent guest blogger post on the MASN website -- "It's tough to predict whether Nats will rebound from struggles."

Pilchard said...

Both Moore and Espinosa have been terrible, and both should be sent down to work out the kinks. Neither gets any kind of hall pass.

IMO, if Rendon can play 2B or OF, he should come up. If healthy, Corey Brown should be promoted as well.

A DC Wonk said...

Responding to a number of posts is previous thread:

MicheleS said... (and 3on2out reiterated)

Wonk.. thanks for the updates on the Wonkling.. Those are the best


Thanks, all. There are fewer of them because (one year into this) she's a seasoned fan.

When I first met my wife and was teaching her about baseball, one of the things I told her was: you can tell a "real" fan if s/he thinks a 2-1 game was exciting.

Wonkling watched the whole game yesterday, and said she was exhausted afterwards.

She's a "real" fan in my book!

baseballswami said...

Very young should be corrected to mean less experienced --the number of major league starts would be much lower for Moore I would think. And I have seen him hit the cover off the ball a lot -- to the outfield and caught on a great play, scorched to the third baseman on it's way to the outfield. The ball is being hit hard -- unless it's a curve ball :(. Yes, there has been a lot of discussion about Espi -- no one is blind and it is frustrating. I was just trying to point out that you can see with your eyes whether or not someone is hitting the ball hard or is lost. I don't think Danny is being unfairly made the scapegoat at all - he is performing very badly as a starter , not a bench player, on a team that is struggling offensively and he is no longer a rookie. By the way - where can we find out how many major league AB's he has had? Is there some kind of magic number of ab's in the majors, or starts in the majors where things should start to click. Not if you are Bryce, of course, but for lesser mortals. The player who has a sign over his head that says "scapegoat" is Storen. In case you hadn't noticed, that run last night was charged to Gio, not Drew. Yes, he let an inherited run score - one. On a team with no margin for error once again. He is by no means the low man on the bullpen totem pole. But let him cover home when it looks like there will be no play possible at first, and every one is screaming that he screwed up. There is no margin of error for anyone in any way at this point on the Nats. Any little blip is glaring and costly and they are not getting away with anything. That pendulum has got to start swinging back to even soon.

A DC Wonk said...

Responding to a few more:

I love Bryce, but I'm just suggesting his wing in the HOF hasn't opened. Yet.

Of course. Permits and contracting is slow. But plans are already being drawn up ;-)

I've been thinking about Soriano whining about Harper's position (on the pull-up play) and the more I think about it the angrier I get.

Here's my (slight) criticism: it was the alligator arms right at the end. He was forgetting to pay attention to the fact that his feet were still on the grass (i.e., he wasn't at the warning track) and so there was no need to flinch. But I chalk that up to inexperience.

And, finally . . . my nomination for post of the day:

Sec. 3, My Natural Sofa said...

Joe, this just in:

Harper Walks On Water -- fans complain 'He should run that out'

Eugene in Oregon said...

Swami: I believe the conventional wisdom is that a ML player will demonstrate his 'true' self at somewhere after 1000-1200 ABs.

NatsLady said...

swami, there is a difference between scapegoating and looking at a guy's performance. I for one am not "scapegoating" Storen. Nevertheless, I feel at the current time, he is not doing the job he should/could be doing. The same could be said for Clippard a few weeks ago. Yes, in one-run games there is not much margin for error. But Storen wants that closer's job. Right now, I wouldn't give it to him.

Section 222 said...

By the way - where can we find out how many major league AB's he has had?

Baseball-Reference.com is the go to site for such inquiries.

Espi has 1577 major league plate appearances, 1411 at bats. Still young, yes, but he's no spring chicken at this point.

A DC Wonk said...

Last thread I gave about four reasons why RZim's criticism of Bryce's bunt was off base (pun intended).

Here's one more:

RZim was complaining that he was intentionally walked.

But . . . first base was already open.

Yeah, a guy on third with one out might have a higher probability of an intentional walk than a guy on at second . . . but still . . .

Bottom line: Nats had a runner on third with one out and their #4 and #5 batter coming up. The blame is hardly Bryce's (who was 0-5 before that at bat since the injury) that there was no run scored that inning.

(Bryce had already grounded out in that game, and in the 10th inning also grounded out. If he had done that in the 8th then, at best, the runner would have moved over. Just like what happened with the bunt anyways.)

NatsLady said...

222, I don't thing the wraps ARE completely off Stras. He will be watched for this season, like JZ was last year. He may pitch on Sunday, but I don't expect the Verlander treatment for him for the rest of the season just so Haren can be skipped--unless Haren is a lot worse than he has been. Davey might do that with JZ or Gio, but probably not with Stras.

bowdenball said...

Like I said swami, I agree with your criticisms of Danny- who could disagree? But your comparison giving Moore the benefit of the doubt based on the eye test of how hard he hits the ball seems unfairly generous. First, T-Mo too frequently doesn't hit the ball at all- 38% strikeouts is way too high for any major leaguer, and is more than 10% higher than Espinosa, whom you're ready to throw to the wolves. It doesn't matter how hard you hit the ball when you make contact if you have a 38% K rate and a 4% walk rate. Second, he plays positions where offense is mandatory. At Danny's position, offense is a bonus, although certainly you don't expect it to be THIS bad.

Like I said, I'm not defending Espinosa here. I'm saying both are unacceptable. Although given his position and defensive skills, Moore is probably the further of the two from an acceptable performance level.

Section 222 said...

NL, you're probably right about that, though Davey sure seems to be taking the wraps off so far. In 10 starts, Stras has already gone 7 innings 4 times and 8 innings once. he's also thrown 110 or more pitches 5 times.

jmnatsfan said...

Denard the only non-espi batter on the list of "Nots"? That's a stretch. He's been solid. Maybe not "hot," but solid.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

I've been traveling today and shocked by the Not Hot list. How is Espi on it after going 1-3 yesterday with a walk? ;)

Dominats Vobiscum said...

Julie Alexandria should be on the Hot list. I was lukewarm to her when she first arrived, but lately she's been bringin' it.

A DC Wonk said...

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

I've been traveling today and shocked by the Not Hot list. How is Espi on it after going 1-3 yesterday with a walk? ;)

Agreed -- over the last two days (yesterday and today) his OPB is .500!

peric said...

I'm hoping the position player they bring up is Jeff Kobernus. He is not on the 40 man roster, but they can move Christian Garcia to the 60 day DL to make room. I hope they send Maya down, bring up Kobernus and give him some chances at 2B. I hope, I hope, I hope.

They can't get their best potential hitter, Tyler Moore, enough reps as it is. He should be returned to AAA to play every day. Of course he would then replace Marerro OR they could continue to see if he could become a serviceable left-fielder.

THEN you might see Kobernus. But he would be on the bench with Lombo. Like Lombo he doesn't like to walk. Like Lombo he is a table-setter with almost no power. Some decent gap power at times but that's it.

They aren't going to do that until they make a decision about T-Mo. If T-Mo returns to AAA he is likely to be swapped for Chris Marerro who is also on the 40 man. There is absolutely no way Chris Marerro can go into the outfield ... unlike Moore. He was completely overwhelmed and overmatched when he attempted that in the low minors.

peric said...

IMO, if Rendon can play 2B or OF, he should come up. If healthy, Corey Brown should be promoted as well.

Yeah? And they tried that and y'all wouldn't even let the poor guy get his feet under him before yelling that he sucked!!! You all honestly don't deserve Rendon or any other prospect they way y'all behave!

Rendon hasn't even played an entire year as a minor leaguer or professional yet. Even Harper had a year in when he was called up. And he struggled mightily in the beginning.

Joe Seamhead said...

It kills me that somebody would even suggest to put a player in the outfield on a ML team, that has never played one inning in the outfield in the majors, minors, college, or to the best of my knowledge even in high school. Why do people think that just anybody can play the outfield?

Joe Seamhead said...

And peric is right,[this is killing me], but he's right about Marrero. The kid was drafted out of high school and had played third base, With Ryan Zimmerman entrenched, there was no way that he was going to play 3rd, so they spent a lost year trying to make him into an outfielder. It wasn't pretty.So they shifted him to first where he still makes too many errors. Did you all know Bowden drafted him as a power hitting home run guy? That hasn't worked out either. The only place Chris can play, barely, is first base. No, I don't sit ALR for Chris Marrero.

Joe Seamhead said...

And before anybody jumps on me about my post @6:29, I was referring to the suggestion to put Rendon in the OF.

Scott Margenau said...

Agree re: Julie to HOT list. Not only is she adorable, she does a great job reporting. The next Erin Andrews.

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