Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Opportunity awaits

Following a brief respite yesterday -- just wondering, when's the last time a team's home opener was rained out and they actually needed to use that built-in off-day? -- the Nationals return to Citizens Bank Park tonight for game two of a three-game set with the Phillies.

This will already be the fifth game between these two clubs in nine days. While it's been obvious at times that the Phillies are a more-talented team, the disparity between the two actually hasn't been great as I might have thought. Throw out last week's Opening Day fiasco in D.C., and things have been fairly competitive otherwise.

The Phillies won last Wednesday's game 8-4 thanks to a big fifth inning off Jason Marquis (hmm, sound familiar?) but the Nats came back to win Thursday's finale 6-5 behind some stellar relief work. And then on Monday, the Nationals had every reason to spoil Philadelphia's home opener, only to squander an early 4-0 lead en route to a 7-4 loss.

Point is, the Nats easily could (and probably shoulder) be 2-2 against the two-time defending NL champs. And they've got a great opportunity to beat them again tonight.

Craig Stammen and Kyle Kendrick are on the mound in a rematch of last Thursday's game, in which the Nationals beat around Kendrick and scored five runs in four innings. The right-hander is beatable.

The Nationals also have an opportunity to take advantage of a depleted Phillies lineup. Jimmy Rollins almost certainly won't play tonight and could wind up on the disabled list with a strained calf (an injury suffered just moments before Monday's game). And Jayson Werth (who has just killed Nats pitching so far this season) also could be out of the lineup with a hip injury sustained Monday.

Talk about golden opportunities. The Nats aren't going to go into many more games this season against the Phillies feeling like they've got the upper hand. When these rare occasions do crop up, they've got to make the most of it.


Andrew said...

If Utley and Ryan Howard were out, that would be something to celebrate!

What's the word on Zim? Is he back today?

phil dunn said...

Everybody focuses on the Nats lousy pitching but the offense is lousy too. Only The Hammer and Pudge are hitting. Kennedy, Desmond, Harris, Traveras, Dunn, Morgan are batting under .200. They not only gave away Nick and his .430 OBP, they paid to get rid of him. Dukes' replacements in right field are batting a combined .120 with no power. No pitching, no offense--this is a very bad combination.

1stBaseCoach said...

(I am a huge Nats fan, but...) The only golden opportunity for the Nats tonight is to find a new way to lose a winnable game.

hleeo3 said...

I miss Nick Johnson but we got a decent pitching prospect as a adequate replacement. Not to mention Dunn OBP is like .468 right now and the entire team is seeing the ball pretty good. I am not too worried about Dunn, he is seeing the ball it is just a matter of hitting it and taking advantage of opportunities. So I don't see this as doom and gloom especially with only a weeks worth of stats. If we are 3-4 with such poor pitching and hitting, then I would LOVE to see how the Nats do when everything is clicking and Kyle Kendrick is a beatable pitcher. Stamman is showing signs of an adequate major league pitcher.

natsfan1a said...

Ohhh, so that's why they have those strangely timed (IMO) off days.

Steve M. said...

Luckily 7 games is a small sample to pick from so the offense will come around. Luckily the hits have been timely.

If you told me 3 weeks ago the Nats would be 3-4 into their 2nd series with the Phillies, I would have been thrilled.

Yes, the right field platoon stinks as we thought it would.

Nyjer Morgan is putting up Pirates type numbers which is troubling.

Dunn says he will put it together.

Desmond better start hitting or Guzy will be the starting SS again as Desmond's fielding hasn't been great either.

I am just hoping the team puts together some great offensive production too so just hoping 7 days isn't a determining factor for the guys who are struggling although Pudge hitting .421 has a nice ring to it!

Anonymous said...

"If we are 3-4 with such poor pitching and hitting, then I would LOVE to see how the Nats do when everything is clicking and Kyle Kendrick is a beatable pitcher."

Rizzo and staff appear to be following the current league wide "algorithm" or trend: youth, pitching and defense over offense. A cheaper way to be competitive and get into the playoffs.

It appears to be working? The pitching isn't 'weak'. Just the starting pitching. Only one quality start so far from the venerable LIvan Hernandez. That is not good ... still ... the defense looks improved even with Willingham in left, Dunn at first, and Desmond at shortstop. Relief pitching (especially Clippard) improved over last year.

The starting pitching will improve or the starters will be supplanted or replaced as the season moves deeper into the summer. That, I think, would include both Lannan and Marquis.

Trades could also improve the defense and offense. As both Bowden, on his show, and Rizzo on his blog point out; careful trades can take as much as 2 months to execute. If not more.

natsfan1a said...

Interesting item on nats320 re. FM radio possibilities for Nats games starting in May:

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