Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Game 14: Rockies at Nats

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Scott Olsen delivers tonight's first pitch.
The Nationals and Rockies will play a ballgame tonight, but Colorado's players and coaches will be excused if baseball isn't first and foremost on their minds.

Keli McGregor, president of the Rockies since 2001, died this morning in a hotel room in Salt Lake City, casting a pall over tonight's game at Nationals Park. A pregame tribute and moment of silence are planned to honor McGregor, 48, a former All-American tight end at Colorado State in the 1980s who played in the NFL with the Broncos, Colts and Seahawks.

Once the game gets underway, Scott Olsen will look to build off his strong season debut last week in Philadelphia and pitch the Nationals to their fifth win in six days. Left-hander Jorge de la Rosa starts for the Rockies.

Check back for updates throughout the game, and check the homepage for other news...

Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 66 degrees, Wind 4 mph out to CF
CF Nyjer Morgan
2B Cristian Guzman
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
C Ivan Rodriguez
RF Justin Maxwell
SS Ian Desmond
P Scott Olsen

LF Ryan Spilborghs
CF Dexter Fowler
1B Todd Helton
SS Troy Tulowitzki
RF Brad Hawpe
2B Melvin Mora
C Miguel Olivo
3B Ian Stewart
P Jorge de la Rosa

7:02 p.m. -- An emotional Rockies club just lined up along their dugout for a moment of silence in memory of Keli McGregor, followed by the national anthem. Clearly, this is going to be a difficult game for them to play tonight.

7:07 p.m. -- And we're underway with a ball from Scott Olsen to Ryan Spilborghs.

7:10 p.m. -- Real smooth first inning for Olsen. He started Spilborghs off with a couple of balls but then got down to business and retired the side. Inning ended with a grounder to the hole, a nice play by Ian Desmond and a nice scoop by Adam Dunn.

7:16 p.m. -- It was noted this afternoon that Nyjer Morgan had only struck out twice in 44 at-bats this season. So, naturally, what did Morgan just do to lead off the bottom of the first? Swung at a 2-2 pitch in the dirt from de la Rosa. Jinx.

7:25 p.m. -- Scott Olsen might be able to get away with some 88 mph fastballs. But not on a 3-1 count. And not to Troy Tulowitzki. And not on a platter in the heart of the strike zone. Tulo's solo homer into the left-field bullpen gives the Rockies a 1-0 lead in the top of the second.

7:32 p.m. -- Olsen had better start 1) getting ahead of hitters and 2) getting the ball down in the strike zone. He didn't do either in the second inning, and that led to two runs. In addition to the Tulowitzki homer, Olsen also issued a two-out walk to Miguel Olivo, then an RBI double to No. 8 hitter Ian Stewart and then a base hit to the opposing pitcher. So after throwing nine pitches in the first, he just threw 25 in the second. Rockies lead 2-0.

7:48 p.m. -- Nothing doing for the Nats in the bottom of the second, despite a leadoff walk by Dunn. They seem to be having trouble with de la Rosa's offspeed stuff.

8:15 p.m. -- Wow, I go down to the stands to shoot some photos for one inning and look what happens. What a disaster. Scott Olsen allows the first four batters to reach in the third and promptly gets yanked in favor of Tyler Walker. Not that Walker did any better. He allowed a bases-clearing double to de la Rosa (who's now 2-for-2 with three RBI), then a two-run homer to Spilborghs. So just like that, the Rockies own a commanding 10-0 lead (why does that score sound familiar?) and this one is all but over.

8:38 p.m. -- Since there's not much sense in offering up hard-core analysis of each at-bat in a 10-0 game, perhaps we're better off delving deeper into Scott Olsen's bizarre season to date. He didn't make the club out of spring training. He had an OK start at Syracuse. He rejoined the Nats in Philly last week and authored up a standout performance. And then he just gave up six runs and seven hits in two-plus innings to the Rockies. So what do we make of this? Was this the real Olsen tonight? Or was this an aberration and his last outing was the true sign of his progress? I think the answer probably lies somewhere in between the two extremes. He's by no means a great pitcher, but he's also by no means as awful as he was tonight. But is that good enough over the long run? I'm thinking probably not. Olsen's going to need to pitch much closer to his Philly outing moving forward if he wants to remain in the big leagues.

9:02 p.m. -- The comeback has begun. Ryan Zimmerman crushes a 3-2 pitch from de la Rosa to left for a two-run homer, making it 10-2 in the bottom of the fifth. Long way to go still before this one becomes competitive again.

9:39 p.m. -- If the Nats keep scoring two runs every inning (and don't give up any more) this game will be tied at the end of nine. It's now 10-4 after six.

9:45 p.m. -- Tonight's attendance: 15,037. Bet you those 3,500 or so fans who chose to come tonight instead of last night are regretting that decision.

10:15 p.m. -- There are a couple of guys in the center field bleachers wearing donkey masks and No. 44 jerseys that read "Dunnkey" on the back. Most interesting thing that's happened here in the last two hours. For those wondering, it's still 10-4 Rockies through eight.

10:34 p.m. -- That'll do it. Final score: Rockies 10, Nats 4. The good news: Jesse English, Brian Bruney, Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard combined to throw four scoreless innings of relief. The bad news: Scott Olsen and Tyler Walker had already given up 10. More good news: Cristian Guzman had four hits. More bad news: All four hits came after the Rockies had already scored 10 runs. One last bit of good news: Despite trailing 10-0 twice in the last three days, the Nats are still a .500 ballclub.


Tcostant said...

I'm going to see Steven Strasburg pitch tomorrow. Anyone who has been to a Harrisburg Senators home game; please post any helpful insights.

HabsProf said...

Hey Nats fans: Not only are the Nats not cellar-dwellers, they are actually closer to first place (1.5 games) than they are removed from last (2 games).

HabsProf said...

I did a little digging to see how the Nats RF-platoon system has been doing. I fully understand the meaning of the words "small sample size" when it comes to statistics - still, this stuff is fun, so I went ahead with it anyway.

So far, the line for the right-fielders is:

PA 53
AB 45
R 8
H 8
RBI 13
HR 3
3B 2
2B 0
BB 8
SO 15
BA 0.178
OBP 0.302
SLG 0.467
OPS 0.769

In pulling this together, I attempted to take into account player position switches. For example, in Sunday's game, Guzman started at short but later switched to right. He went 2 for 5 in Sunday's game, but 3 of his 5 at bats occurred while he was at short and the last 2 at bats were while he was in right field. Since his two hits on Sunday occurred during his first three ABs, Guzman contributed an 0 for 2 (with a SO) to the right-field position that day.

What leaps out at me is the low average, compensated for by power (3 homers and 2 triples out of 8 hits) and walks (a 0.124 increase from BA to OBP).

The other thing that leaps out are the RBIs. First, they collectively have more RBIs than Willingham (again, I am only counting the stats accumulated while they were actually in RF). Second, they are coming in bunches. While the RFs have contributed 13 RBIs, they've come in a grand total of 4 games (Harris contributed 2 in one game, 4 in an other, Tavares contributed 4 in one game, and Maxwell contributed 3 in one game).

I don't know if you guys found this interesting, but I thought I would share it.

NatinBeantown said...

That is excellent. Thanks for pulling it together.

Taking it one step further, you can multiply out to see some numbers for a 500 PA season pace:

75 H, 75 BB, 28 HR, 141 K

I'd agree that's a paltry amount of base hits and a lot of walks, but I think we'll see a lot of our RF platoon batting #7 or #8, so they might not see a lot of great pitches.

Section 222 said...

@HabsProf -- very interesting indeed. If they keep up this pace, I'll gladly eat my words of criticism for not having a plan B before cutting Dukes. Who wouldn't be happy with 37 HR, 162 RBIs, 99 walks and 25 triples? But they won't.

HabsProf said...

I doubt that anyone would call me great prognosticator if I predicted for the RFers that : 1) BA will rise and 2) walks and slugging (and accompanying RBIs) will decline. Still, if we get a 0.750 to 0.780 OPS and 50+ RBI out of the RF (and so far they've provided decent defense as well), I don't think we can complain too much. That is not major league average, but it is still better than what Dukes gave us last year (though much worse than what Dukes gave in 2008).

It also has the advantage of keeping our bench warm and involved.

Section 222 said...

I agree that keeping the bench involved has some value. I'd rather see a big bat out there on an every day basis, but a grab bag of guys who want to play and can deliver on a semi-regular basis isn't all that bad. NatsinBeantown's calculation for 500 AB might make more sense than mine, which was based on the stats for 13 games being stretched out to 162 games. I fear though that we won't get anything like this kind of production from Harris/Taveras/Guzman/Morse/Maxwell.

HabsProf said...

As a general rule, when forecasting in the future, it is always more accurate to do things in the aggregate. Thus, it is much easier to predict total hits than HR, 3B, or 2B. It is easier to predict final OPS than it is to predict BA, OBP, or SLG, walks or any other "sub" level number. I wouldn't try to predict anything much beyond overall OPS (my guess: 0.720 to 0.750, hoping for 0.750 to 0.780) and RBI (my guess: 35 to 50, hoping for 50+).

Anonymous said...

Would have been nice if M. Rizzo had succeeded in pulling off a trade for BJ Upton. They do have a great prospect in Desmond Jennings that he was blocking. But now with the way he is playing it is unlikely that is going to happen.

Big Oil said...

Habs --

Cool data, thanks for sharing.

I thought I'd follow up on the Stammen article from earlier today concerning his "inner Livo". Game data really seems to back that up. Compare below the release point, velocity, vertical and horizontal movement charts side by side in your browser (my suggestion would be to open two tabs, scroll to the same point on each page, then click back and forth):

4/14/10 vs. Phillies:


4/19/10 vs. Rockies:


Note the release point against the Rox seems to be more over the top, which creates less tail or horizontal movement on the ball. Stammen would seem to locate better without the additional movement (makes sense, right?)

Finally, his overall velocity is down from the start on 4/14; my guess is that his more relaxed approach (a la Livo) led to more consistent release points and location without the overthrowing present earlier in the season.

Big Oil said...


Big Oil said...

HTML fail. Sorry for the numerous posts - I thought I previewed one.

Anonymous8 said...

When Olsen can't fool lefties, you know you have a problem.

Anonymous8 said...

DeLaRosa (the pitcher) is 2 for 2 with 3 RBIs so far. What does that tell you about how this game is going?

Nervous Nats Fan said...

Mark, please stay in the press box. It's in everyone's best interest. Thanks.

Also, do you think Riggleman will make Tyler Walker throw 80 pitches tonight to atone for giving up all of Olsen's runners and four of his own?

Mark Zuckerman said...

Nervous Nats Fan: Hey, I gotta go where I gotta go. Besides, if I hadn't left the press box, I wouldn't have gotten a sweet photo of Scott Olsen handing the ball to Jim Riggleman.

But yes, I think we'll be seeing plenty of Tyler Walker tonight. Are you familiar with the phrase: "Taking one for the team?"

Arlington BigFish said...

So which is worse -- a pitcher who's consistently bad (say, Daniel Cabrera) or one who's consistently inconsistent (Olsen)? Their reliablity quotient would seem to be about the same. You could assume Cabrera would always be terrible, & you can't assume anything about Olsen.

Nervous Nats Fan said...

Not sure that his arm falling off mid-pitch would be particularly good for the team, but I guess Walker was limited to *only* 54 pitches. (I know they all used to be starters, but their schedules were a lot different then...)

Doc said...

MarkMeister is it a coincidence that every time that you leave the press box, the pitching falls apart? I think not. Hey the pictures are great,just the same. Maybe try a long-range lens, or take the pictures in disguise, or maybe take a secret route to the picture place, and pretend that you're eating a hotdog--with the camera hidden in the bun.

Brian R. said...

Why did Nyjer Morgan get pulled out of the game?

Mark Zuckerman said...

B.R.: Appears it was only because of the lopsided score and a desire to give Morgan a rest and Taveras some playing time.

greg said...

bj upton is not the one blocking desmond jennings. jennings is slotted to replace crawford when crawford's contract expires after this season. the rays will not be able to afford to resign him. one more reason not to let upton go.

Brian R. said...

Thanks much, Mark! I live in Houston and don't have MLB.tv, so the game threads on the fan forum (WNFF) and this blog are my means of "watching."

Slidell said...

This is something I've noticed before--- Whenever there's a solemn moment of silence on some occasion, such as last night for the Rockies President, the music continues to blare on the concourse. For gosh sakes, isn't there an "Off" switch somewhere?

Post a Comment