Thursday, April 19, 2012

For the Nats, the 8th is enough

Associated Press photo
Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche each drew key walks during the Nats' winning rally.
You'd be hard-pressed to find a ballclub willing to admit it tries to do nothing at the plate for seven innings before finally kicking into gear late, and you won't get the Nationals to admit such a ludicrous gameplan.

But don't undersell the idea. And don't for a minute believe the Nationals don't have a specific plan of attack to do some serious damage on opposing bullpens late in ballgames.

As Ryan Zimmerman put it: "Those are the at-bats that win or lose you games."

They proved that yet again tonight in rallying to beat the Astros, 3-2, scoring all three of their runs in the seventh and eighth innings after looking feeble at the plate against Houston starter Lucas Harrell.

In the process, they got Jordan Zimmermann off the hook for what seemed destined to be another hard-luck loss, instead letting their starter take his second no-decision in three tries this season.

Oh yeah, and they won for the eighth time in nine days. And are seven games over .500 for the first time since Aug. 18, 2005. And now lead the NL East by 2 1/2 games. And now own the best record in the NL at 10-3.

"There's still a lot of battles to go," manager Davey Johnson said. "We haven't won nothing. But we've proven we can play with anybody we go up against, at least so far."

And they've proven they can bide their time for most of the evening before seizing their best opportunities for victory. Tonight, that meant hanging around for six innings, watching as Zimmermann surrendered his lone run without letting the ball leave the infield, and then springing into action in the seventh.

The tying run came via a pair of doubles, one from Rick Ankiel and another from Roger Bernadina. But the Astros immediately got the run back in the top of the eighth when reliever Ryan Mattheus served up a two-out, RBI single to Jordan Schafer.

So the pressure was once again on the Nationals' lineup to come through against an opposing bullpen. Which they did with three walks, an opposite-field single and a sacrifice fly.

Heart-stopping rally? Perhaps not. But there was some purpose behind it. The Nationals, according to Zimmerman, have made a point this season to be more patient against opposing team's late relievers. The concept: Those pitchers usually have power arms, and they tend to try to get you to chase pitches out of the zone.

"Bullpens have swing-and-miss pitchers," Zimmerman said. "As you see them more and as you get more at-bats, you kind of start to lay off those at-bats. Those teams -- the Red Sox and the Yankees and the Cardinals and the teams that go to the playoffs every year -- it's hard to get those last nine outs against them, because they don't swing at balls. And I think we're starting to learn that and making them come to us a little more. So far this year, it's been good."

It's been more than good. The disparity between the Nationals' offensive production early in games vs. late in games is staggering. During innings 1-7, they're hitting a collective .236 with a .310 on-base percentage and a .324 slugging percentage. From the eighth inning on, they're hitting .286 with a .397 on-base percentage and a .402 slugging percentage.

Is it any wonder five of the Nationals' 10 wins to date have seen them take the lead in the eighth inning or beyond?

"I definitely think it builds confidence," said Jayson Werth, whose bases-loaded walk in the eighth brought home the tying run. "It's good for this team to do that, especially early in the season. We'll take the wins as we can get them right now, and hopefully they keep coming."

The at-bat that produced the game-winning run also featured something that hasn't been seen enough through the season's first two weeks: Good situational hitting.

With the bases still loaded and nobody out following Werth's walk, the Nationals were in a golden position to bring home the winning run. Ankiel failed to execute in his at-bat, slapping a groundball right at second baseman Jose Altuve, who threw to the plate for the forceout. But Wilson Ramos did exactly what he needed to do, lofting the first pitch he saw from right-hander Rhiner Cruz to center field, plenty deep to score Adam LaRoche with the go-ahead run.

Ramos was trying to put the ball into the air, though he actually was a little down on himself for not driving that pitch -- a fastball down the middle -- even farther into the night.

"I missed the pitch," he said. "That was a good pitch to hit a homer."

Maybe so, but the sac fly was still good enough to give the Nationals the lead. And that was good enough for Henry Rodriguez to retire the side in the ninth and preserve his team's fifth victory by one run already this season.

Who knew much of this was by design?

"I think we understand we're not going to win every 1-run game," Zimmerman said. "We'd like to have a couple of five or six-run wins every now and again. That would be nice, too. But it's good.

"I think it gives us all those pressure at-bats and how not to get out of the moment. Like the seventh, eighth and ninth innings these last couple games, we've done a great job of making the pitchers come to us and not getting out of our plan. It's definitely a good learning experience for down the road."


Grandstander said...

I grew up as a Yankees fan during the mid 90s and I've always attributed much of their success to having a solid group of core, young guys, with veterans mixed in, and a dominant bullpen. I also thought Joe Torre brought an NL style of ball to a league that wasn't equipped to handle it.

I feel very much the same about this club as I did back then. I feel the pitching, young core, and dominant bullpen are all there, and I feel like we have a very AL approach to NL baseball, with very little double switching, a pitching roster full of dominant fireballers, and a gameplan to take lots of pitches and go deep into bullpens.

I still have my reservations about how successful we can be, but I absolutely love the approach we're taking, bringing AL style baseball to the NL and just overwhelming teams with our pitching staff.

Andrew said...

Nice read Mark! I thought Ramos got that pitch when I heard it off the bat, oh well, just the game winning RBI!

By the way, the Giants just beat the Phillies in the 11th 1-0. Talk about no run support!

Kevin Rusch, Section406 said...

One thing I'll say about this -- I shouldn't quibble with success, but I'd like to see a little more NL-style managing. To wit - 1st and 2nd on, no out, LaRoche up. Have him show bunt the first pitch. (take it either way.) That'll throw their defense off and probably open up more possibilities for him later in the at-bat. Figuring a single there ties the game; showing bunt once puts their defense at a disadvantage for the rest of the at-bat.

Alan_A said...

Seems to me Davey's done pretty well in the NL, whatever his "style"...

Speaking of which - here's a research question. How often do Davey Johnson's teams come from behind at home to win in the bottom of the eighth? I spent a lot of time at Shea in the mid-80's and one of my most distinctive memories is of the number of times the Mets' lineup ground away at the opposing team, then broke through in the bottom of the eighth to take the lead. I'll have to break out my scorecards and see how often that actually happened in the games I saw. But it should be possible to check that objectively over the course of his seasons with the Mets and elsewhere. I always put it down to the strength of the Mets' lineup - there was no place there for pitchers to hide. But it could also be that he was using the same approach - having his batters go deep in counts against the bullpen and lay off pitches out of the zone. I wasn't scoring balls and strikes back then, but the data should be out there. Has anybody (sabr)metrically inclined had a look?

Nats in Athens said...

Davey is in a class by himself in managing and a good manager takes what he has and gets the most out of it which is what he has been doing. I've said it before and I'll say it again, the most important day in this team's history up to now is the day he was hired as manager.

Wally said...

Loving this start. Getting notes and emails from friends for the first time ever about the Nats, so we are making our way into people's attention.

Perhaps the Nats have a skill that let's them focus their ABs late in the game successfully. But I tend to think their record in 1 run games and come from behind wins so far is just the randomness of a small sample (I think it shows good attributes, don't get me wrong, but isn't a skill that can be repeated nightly).

I am more in line with this quote from Zim: "I think we understand we're not going to win every 1-run game," Zimmerman said. "We'd like to have a couple of five or six-run wins every now and again. That would be nice, too. But it's good.

Meaning, their pitching should remain upper level, but we need to score more runs if we want to be an elite team through the remainder of the year.

bdrube said...

@Wally - I have seen my first big sign that the Nats' profile is finally rising around town, namely Nats hats on the Metro during the morning and afternoon commutes. Used to be, about the only time I saw them was on the way to the ballpark.

Before you know it, you might actually be able to walk into a sports bar around here while the game in on and it will actually be on the television screens instead of you having to ask someone to change the channel. :)

MicheleS said...

I said this in a post yesterday.. Last year being down 1-0 or 2-1 in late innings this team would have rolled over and lost.

That is the good thing about this team. They are understanding that if you get into the other teams bullpen you can win. Not many teams have our relievers. Most teams have 3 or 4 guys who can give them respectable starts (yes even th Stros have some good young arms in their rotation), but most don't have middle relief. Games are won or lost in the bullpens.

Still it would be nice to have a laugher!


Wally said...

Btw, there were some reports yesterday that the Nats are talking to JZim about an extension. Makes perfect sense to me. Give him guaranteed money through the end of arbitration with two or three option years for the team. Lock him up through early 30's. Good deal for both sides.

NatsLady said...

Apparently Pudge did get an offer, but still decided to retire. Congrats and it was great having you here!

From ESPN:
Rodriguez spent the last two seasons with the Washington Nationals. He decided not to accept a contract offer from the Kansas City Royals, who were interested after Salvador Perez injured a knee and needed surgery.


Holden Baroque said...

Wally, something Rizzo mentioned during his on-air interview during the game might apply to a possible Znn extension. Just an aside, almost, but he mentioned "it is a two-way street," meaning they can offer extensions, but the player may choose not to take it. I wondered if that was what Jordan is doing--waiting to see what the market does for him.

Gonat said...

3 moves that seemed to work well for Davey:
Playing Bernadina, Ramos, Espinosa

I believe Bernadina's RBI was the 1st RBI for a starting LF yesterday (only took 13 games)

All 3 were keys to the success and Lombo came through in his PH appearance.

Wally said...

Sec 3 - could be. Whatever I read (maybe MLBTR?) had a quote from Zim or his agent saying that they were open to it, though (although I don't put a ton of stock into public comments like that).

It does seem hard to think he'd pass up a guaranteed $25m or so. Set him up for life, and take the injury concern off the table. Especially if he is balancing that against maybe $30m if he plays out each arbitration year, with all the risk that comes with it. The cost certainty, and especially the option years after they otherwise lose control, are the selling points.

By the way, it looks to me that the Moose is snapping out of his slump. That could be a big shot in the arm if he starts hitting like last year.

Bowdenball said...

Folks, we went 27-27 in one-run games and 12-8 in extra inning games last year. Let's give the overly simplified "last year we would have lost this game!" bit a rest. We had tough-minded players and a good bullpen last year, too.

baseballswami said...

You think we feel bad for Jordan? Cliff Lee went TEN scoreless last night and took the loss. Nats Phils could be 20 scoreless at this point.

Nats1924 said...

Laroche has been a pleasant surprise, but we need a thumper/Morse type hitter to bat 4th bad.

NatsLady said...

Swami, Lee didn't take the loss, Phils' bullpen (Bastardo) did. Here is what Lee said afterwards:


Lee's reaction was as placid as the Phillies' offense.

"You've got to give credit to Cain, who threw a heck of a game," he said. "The bullpen came in behind him and kept us from scoring. It was definitely a pitchers' duel. A classic pitchers' duel."

sjm308 said...

Damn, can't find the broom I gave my spousal equivalent for Christmas a few years ago (she probably put it with the ironing board and mop). Guess I will run out and get a new one for tonight.

I would love to see them extend JZimmnn and hope that gets done sooner than later but I do understand his wanting to see what the market will be like. Its great we have the 4 guys signed for several years as it is.

Anonymous said...

OMG I saw a cloud this morning! Rainout!

MicheleS said...

And reposting my comment to SJM:

SJM308: You bought your spousal equivalent a BROOM for Xmas? Did you get hit over the head with it?

bdrube said...

@baseballswami - precisely. This is the Year of the Pitcher, and it's better to have 'em than not have 'em WHATEVER the offense is doing.

MicheleS said...

Bowdenball. Your right about last year. I am just scarred from 2008/2009/2010. So maybe I should have said that instead.

A DC Wonk said...

I like RZ's comments. I remember last year when someone asked RZ if he was nervous at a particular at bat (when it was bases loaded and full count). RZ gave a great answer: "No way, in a situation like that all the pressure is on the pitcher, not the hitter. He's the one that has to get it over the plate."

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7 said...

MicheleS, SJM was being funny because he intimates he still has his spousal equivalent around.:)

Going to see the Fish Friday. This will be the first big test of where the team is at. The Fish cost us a winning season last year.

SonnyG10 said...

I'm really enjoying the winning streak we're on. I know it won't last, but maybe it will happen more often and longer than any losing streaks. We are playing with the big boys now.

Jimmy said...

In addition to the late patience, I think our bullpen being so deep might be getting in the heads of opposing bullpens. Knowing you have to keep up with this lights-out bunch is a lot of pressure to handle. I wonder if it's forcing other teams to press in the 8th and 9th a little, and our guys are just ready for it.

NatsLady said...

It's early days yet, but trying to get a "profile" of this team defensively: Nats (pitching and defense) have the most K's and fewest DP's in MLB. They also have a very high DER (defensive efficiency rating) which means they are getting lots of outs on balls-in-play.

Fewer DP's is a good thing (I think) because they either (1) don't have that many DP opportunities; or (2) with men on base pitchers K the guys.

I really like the way Davey is managing the bullpen because he's not managing to stats (saves) he's managing to games. Still, it's clear that Storen is really needed. I love Henry and "Load 'em up Lidge" but you are walking a tightrope with those two.

The opposing batting average is BELOW the Wandy line (.192). Just think about that. The Nats' pitching staff is turning the opponents into AAA hitters! They give up about league-averge BB, but a lot of those were to Votto, and a lot more will be to Matt Kemp next week, ya gotta figure.

sjm308 said...

MichelleS - she actually asks for these things. This year it was a step-ladder. When I use to tell my co-workers about these great gifts I was mocked but its all in fun!! This year she got me the Nationals Garden Gnome and we are seriously thinking about going to the minor league game where they are giving away a Harper Garden Gnome so we will have a set!!

Back to baseball - Natslady, is it just me or has Davey done some different things with the bullpen this year. I realize it's early but I seem to remember getting frustrated with him last year. Maybe its because that was honestly not his team and he has been able to work with this group since March. Anyway, I love the way we always seem to have 5 or 6 guys that are relatively fresh each game. Part of that is, of course, our lights out starting pitching but so far so good!!

Go Nats!! sweep, sweep, sweep, sweep

Doc said...

Great game, and great reporting Mark!

I think that Davey deserves a lot of credit for getting the hitters to take the opposing pitchers deep into counts. RZim summed it up perfectly.

It also seems that Davey has a way of instilling professional confidence in his players.

NatsLady said...

Someone said (maybe RZ) that the key is not swinging at balls [outside the zone]. Sounds like a trivial thing but it's not. Develop the eye and the patience and scout the tendencies of opposing pitchers and they will have to throw strikes, or they'll walk home the runs.

Adam Dunn had a good day yesterday, a hit, three walks, and three RBI, only one K, and brought his average up to .195.

ALERT to the Anon who doesn't like me posting so much: I'm tired from a long day yesterday working three jobs, my laundry and taxes are done... Gonna spend a quiet morning exercising my brain and my fingers.

NatsLady said...

sjm308-- You are correct. Davey made bullpen blunders last year when he first came on and he tangled with McCatty in the dugout a couple of times. Davey claimed he was "getting to know his staff." Whatever. That's in the past now.

Ignorant Observer said...

Davey seems to let the bullpen pitchers finish out innings more than I remember other managers in our past. It seems like there are fewer 1/3 and 2/3 inning outings than usual. Maybe it's just because they are doing better. Anyone know anything more about this?

NatsJack in Alexandria said...

Davey goes into each game with a plan and EVERY player in the dugout and the bullpen knows what the plan is and what their role will be for that day based on a variable of situations.

He definitely uses numbers to establish the plan but doesn't focus on them during the game.

He doesn't in game manage by numbers. He manages the plan.

All that bapib and uzr crap he leaves for the stat nerds.

A DC Wonk said...

I love Henry and "Load 'em up Lidge" but you are walking a tightrope with those two.

You know, I'm not so sure that with Henry we're walking a tightrope anymore. That surely was the case last year, but this year he's been lights out in 6 of 7 appearances.

Consider: his WHIP is a ridiculously low 0.789. Whereas he has allowed 4 walks, he's only allowed _one_ hit all year. (So, that actually works out to a sick .050 BA against!) In all, he's faced 25 batters: 1 hit 4 BBs, and 9 Ks.

A DC Wonk said...

All that bapib and uzr crap he leaves for the stat nerds.

Hold on -- Davey (masters degree in math, developer of baseball simulation software) was one of the original stat nerds!

Feel Wood said...

Damn, can't find the broom I gave my spousal equivalent for Christmas a few years ago (she probably put it with the ironing board and mop). Guess I will run out and get a new one for tonight.

Heh. That will be a good test of how well they enforce this rule:

Brooms, Poles, Staffs And Sticks
Brooms, poles, staffs or sticks of any kind are not permitted inside of Nationals Park. See GUEST CONDUCT POLICY (Prohibited items).

Perhaps if you tell them you need it to get the wave started they'll let you bring it in.

Theophilus said...

(Bowing in the direction of NatsJack) One notable difference in the use of the bullpen this year is that Johnson is getting seven innings out of the starters on a regular basis. Managers -- of whom Johnson is only one -- go into every game with hoped-for matchups in the later innings. However, no battle plan survives initial contact with the enemy. The crises begin when the starter implodes in the fifth or sixth inning and after that the planned-for matchups are in shambles. If you are already behind and you've got runners on second and third in the fifth inning and two out, there's a good chance you will have to burn a relief pitcher for one hitter.

On the one hand, getting 7+ from his starter, or even five solid from Detwiler, can make Johnson look like a genius. On the other hand, needing to rely on Lidge or Rodriguez to close makes every other pitching choice more critical, requiring more genius to pull it off.

Feel Wood said...

Washington Senators aka Texas Rangers 10-2
Washington Nationals 10-3

Washington. First in war. First in peace. And first in the American AND National Leagues.

A DC Wonk said...

Nice catch, Feel Wood!

Bowdenball said...


I hear you. We're all scarred pretty deeply from those years!

HHover said...

DC Wonk

I like what I've seen from HRod this year, but 6.1 IP is a ridiculously tiny sample size to start drawing conclusions from. His WHIP is half what it was last year; his BABIP this season is .083. Those numbers will go up.

I believe he has a higher ceiling than what we saw last year, but irrational exuberance this early in the season--he's a totally new pitcher!--is only going to lead to irrational despair later--omigod, what happened to that totally new pitcher?!

SpingfieldNatsFan1 said...

Off topic, but does anyone know what Matt Purke's status is? He was supposly staying in Florida after ST to build up arm strength but I haven't heard much since then. Thought I had heard something about a potential injury. Is there a timeline for him to report to the minors? Potomac right? Thanks for the info ahead of time.

The Ghost Of Steve M. said...

It's all good!

Scott from Burke said...

How long is Adam Laroche signed up for? With Rendon hitting until his injury and Zimmerman's reluctance to fire the ball and sidearm delivery, which I assume is because of prior injury and trepidation to creat a new one, I could see where Rendon takes over third and Zimmerman moves to first. Zim has quick hands and a good glove (that one reds game notwithstanding) but he clearly doesn't cut it loose like he did when he first started out and had gotten bailed out numerous times thanks to Laroche being a vacuum at first. Zim would probably be an oustanding first baseman. Steve Garvey started as a 3B but moved over to first, although he was never injured and his accuracy was awful. Zim has become Ozzie Smith, who made up for his lack of arm strength by getting rid of the ball as soon as it hit his glove. I'm not criticizing #11 all you Nats fans, I just see a guy who usually throws lollipops to first. If fe wasn't so adept at fielding bunts (and he is) teams would be trying that play with regularity.

Mark'd said...

Scott, the Nats have an option next year on LaRoche

HHover said...


The Nats have a team option on LaRoche for 2013 ($10m/$1m buyout). Whether they pick it up obviously depends on a lot of things (how ALR himself does this season, what happens with Morse and the rest of the OF), but it's hard to see it mattering one way or the other for the larger question you raise, about Zim's future.

Zim's defense this year has looked pretty good to me. He might leave 3B by the end of his contract, but certainly not this year or next.

NatsLady said...

Milone scheduled for tonight. He's 1-1 with 2.57 ERA.

Milone retired 16 of the first 17 batters he faced in Saturday's start vs. Seattle, before throwing 28 pitches in a three-run sixth inning, which proved to be his last. Overall, he allowed four runs on four hits with two walks and five strikeouts.

LaRoche has a $10Million team option for 2013 with a $1Million team buyout.

NatsLady said...

You can look at for the player, it shows all transactions and contracts, free agency dates, etc. Good resource.

NCNatsie said...

We're on pace to win 124.6 games this year. As Kenny Mayne used to say, that'd be a record.

Mark'd said...

@HHover " Zim's defense this year has looked pretty good to me."

"Good" is relative. Sure, he has some amazing Web Gems however throwing the ball is an essential aspect of being a 3rd baseman. If Dunn is manning 1st, Zim may have 5 throwing errors already.

Diz said...

Adding my two cents from being at the game last night. seems he is just getting smoked every time he takes the mound. He was extremely lucky to get out of the 8th with only one run. Everything was hit hard and the bunt foul that Zim caught was very lucky. You can say it was a good pitch, but the outcome was lucky. The Astros were squaring up everything he threw up there. I've seen him live a couple of times now and it doesn't look like he's fooling anyone. I wonder how long Davey keeps throwing him out there in tight games. He's just not very reliable right now.

I know the Nats are 10 - 3 and I'm as happy about it as anyone, but my glass half empty approach to this is that the teams we are not hitting and squeaking by in the late innings by a run are the the bottom of the NL (except maybe the Reds). The Stros and Cubs will be picking in the Top 5 of next year's draft and the Mets in the Top 10.

The schedule has been kind to the Nats to allow a hot start and kudos to them for taking advantage. I just hope they can keep it up against the "Nat Killers" (Miami) and when we go out to the West Coast and face the Dodgers.

By the way, those first two games are lining up at Stras vs Kershaw and Gio vs Billingsley. Wow! Headline matchups to be sure.

Scott from Burke said...

I met brett haber, a local sportscaster, this weekend. asked about prince fielder..he said no way, but that laroche was an offensive threat..i thought LAROCHE? after last year..he's worthless..WRONG..he has been quite the professioanl hitter this long as he keeps raking the corner infield should stay the way it is...but if you watch the games, including the throw zim made last night that got the double play at first, you see exactly what i see..zim lobs the ball over almost every time...i wonder if he feels any discomfort when he zips one over there..he wold never admit it, but...right now the problem is clearly two OF positions...need to get more out of your outfield then what they're getting right now...Morse would be nice, but he should NOT BE RUSHED BACK...thats lesson numero uno...patience with injuries..EJax tonight...another 7 inning 1-2 er game? the starting pitching is crazy good

natsfan1a said...

sjm, two words: whisk broom. One time back in the day at RFK, my Chicago baseball buddy and I were all excited about plans to take whisk brooms to our third in-person game of a series, in hopes of seeing a sweep. Then we realized that it was a four-game series. Dang. :-)

Scott from Burke said...

winter, not weekend

Steady Eddie said...

Scott -- while there some grounds for caution about RZim's, um, varied throwing techniques this year, I've gotta think that's more than counterbalanced by his incredible glove work. Think of the play he made earlier this week, about which Davey said unequivocally that Brooksie (whom he played with) would not have made, plus the first two outs of the 8th inning last night. Given that with BRob's legendary and justified rep it wouldn't really have diluted the praise for Davey to have said "only Brooksie also makes that play", I don't think you could take it as a given that Rendon or anyone else comes out on net ahead of RZim at 3d, at least unless and until he gets a lot wilder on the throws or stops making those snags.

A DC Wonk said...

I like what I've seen from HRod this year, but 6.1 IP is a ridiculously tiny sample size to start drawing conclusions from.

Of course it is. I'm just saying that in 6 of 7 games so far, he was far from any tightrope.

He will not maintain this level -- nobody could. But, as I've been saying since last year since they day I first saw him pitch in person, he has the capability of being the best reliever on the Nats.

When you can blend a 100 mph heater with a wicked 82-mph slider, and get them both over -- which he has done consistently thus far this year -- hitters might as well wave a white flag.

Yep -- 24-year-old MPHRod led the league in wild pitches last year. 25-year-old Nolan Ryan led the league in WPs, too.

But we haven't seen 24-year-old MPHRod this year at all. He's demonstrated, thus far, very consistent control. There's never a lock when it comes to young pitchers, but I'm _very_ optimistic about his future.

Scott from Burke said...

ignoring the reds game fiasco (1 error? ic ounted 3, maybe 4) his glove has been very very good...but if rendon has the same hands AND a strong arm, you gotta think about moving things around, perhaps next year..does Rendon play D like that? I have no idea...but relying on a 1B to keep scooping balls out is dangerous business...if a playoff berth or game is decided on one play i want a guy who throws the ball at the 1B's nose with a little hair on it, not a foot in front of his shoelaces

MicheleS said...

Scott.. I don't think we will see Rendon until Late 2013 or 2014 due to that fractured ankle.

HHover said...

DC Wonk

I agree with much of what you say, but it's awfully generous to describe the 2012 HRod as demonstrating "very consistent control" compared to his 2011 incarnation.

He's issued 4 walks in 6.1 IP, which as a ratio is very high, and not really that different from last year.

HHover said...

Sorry, I just don't see the need for all this anxiety about Zim's throwing at such an early pt in the season.

I can't recall every throw he's made, but some of the ones that had to be picked out of the dirt came because he was rushed or off balance after a diving catch, didn't they?

Scott from Burke said...

I was worried about his throws last year

A DC Wonk said...

He's issued 4 walks in 6.1 IP, which as a ratio is very high, and not really that different from last year.

But if only _one_ hit goes along with those four walks, we're golden. He's throwing 65% strikes (which is a smidge above MLB average, but far better than his 58% from last year).

What's most impressive is that he's not hittable. One of the sickest stats I've seen on him is that, thus far, only 18% of strikes thrown by him have been put into play (league average is 30%).

Nevertheless, perhaps I overspoke. What I meant by "very consistent" is that in 6 of his seven outings he's allowed no hits, and never more than one walk. I.e., he's had "pretty good control" but "consistently pretty good over time." If that makes sense.

Steady Eddie said...

Zim did seem by late August and September last year to sort of stabilize in his throw selection, very consciously doing overhand where he could and sidearm where he had to (e.g., charging slow rollers).

This year I have to admit there doesn't seem to be a consistent pattern. I'm not as worried about his occasionally bouncing throws as such because to have a good defensive team, you want a first baseman who can pick them -- it gets you more outs on great IF snags where they have no choice but to rush and/or do off-balance throws. But the fact that he hasn't settled into the consistent and good-working pattern he seemed to find late last year does make me wonder what's going on -- especially as I seem to recall Zim himself talking last year about how it was a good thing that he did find that pattern, and that he expected to maintain it.

Hopefully it's just a matter of him settling back into it, but it does bear watching.

Knoxville Nat said...


You need a dose of some positive thinking! While I agree that the Cubs, Mets and Astros might not be the toughest opponents (some pick the Reds to win their division)we will face, I take comfort in knowing that last year the Nats tended to play to the level of their competition. Go toe to toe with Philly or ATL? No problem. Struggle with the bottom feeders....darn right we did. A good winning team needs to beat up on the bottom teams in their league and in interleague play (get those birds up I-95)and stay competitive with the other playoff contenders. So I'm likeing this beating up the Nats are dishing out right now even if the games are only 1 run victories.


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