Saturday, April 14, 2012

"Why stop now?"

Associated Press photo
Davey Johnson congratulates Edwin Jackson at the conclusion of his 2-hitter.
Edwin Jackson had just issued a four-pitch walk to Chris Heisey to open the top of the eighth, and inside the Nationals dugout manager Davey Johnson insisted was a nervous wreck.

Wait a minute. Jackson had just retired 16 consecutive batters before issuing that walk. And the Nationals held a comfortable, 4-1 lead on the Reds. Why on earth would Johnson say he hadn't been that nervous in years?

"Well, I mean, when I'm seeing a gem, and we need it, and I'm seeing lights-out [stuff], it makes me nervous," the manager said. "I don't usually get nervous, but when you see something like that ... from a manager's standpoint, it's kind of like: You don't want anything to go wrong."

So Johnson sent Steve McCatty to the mound and instructed his pitching coach to check on Jackson. The goal: Find out whether the right-hander really had it in him to go the distance.

The ensuing conversation, as retold by McCatty...

McCatty: "How are you doing?"

Jackson: "I'm fine."

McCatty: "Well, do you want this?"

Jackson: "Yes."

McCatty: "Well, if you want it, tell me you want it."

Jackson: "I want it."

Not that McCatty or Johnson really needed confirmation from the 28-year-old hurler. They could see what everyone among the crowd of 35,489 at Nationals Park could see: Jackson was pitching perhaps the game of his life, and he wasn't going to let anyone else finish it for him.

Yes, this is a guy who has a major-league no-hitter on his resume. That 2010 outing for the Diamondbacks, though, was something of a fluke when you consider he walked eight batters and plunked another despite never surrendering a base hit. He also needed a staggering 149 pitches to complete his nine innings.

This performance was far more efficient, and Jackson was far more dominating in shutting down the Reds over the course of 2 hours and 33 minutes. He allowed just two hits (both in the top of the second), issued only that one walk in the top of the eighth, struck out nine and recorded out No. 27 on only his 92nd pitch of the afternoon.

"I mean, I have a couple complete games, but they might be 110, 115 [pitches]," he said. "To be under 100 and go a complete game, it definitely feels good."

On the five previous occasions in which he went nine full innings, Jackson threw anywhere from 101 to 149 pitches. Thus, he obliterated that previous low with his efficient performance today.

And in doing so, he authored the latest in a growing string of fabulous pitching performances for what -- statistically speaking -- has been baseball's best rotation so far in 2012. Through nine games, Nationals starters have combined to post a 1.75 ERA with a microscopic 0.81 WHIP and 54 strikeouts in 56 2/3 innings.

They've been even better during this most recent turn through the rotation. Over the last five games, Nationals starters have allowed two total runs in 34 innings.

Pitchers often joke about the friendly competition between teammates, as each starter tries to outdo the other. But there's some real truth to the notion.

"Oh, for sure," Jackson said. "I mean, no one wants to be the weakest link."

Guess that means the onus is now on Ross Detwiler when he takes the mound for tomorrow's series finale, needing to put forth yet another quality start to keep this run going, send the Nationals to their sixth straight win and maintain their position atop the NL East.

"That's pressure, man," the young left-hander said with a smile. "Gotta keep it going. Why stop now?"


baseballswami said...

I know we didn't start with the Phillies or anything, but the Cubs have hit against other teams, the Mets are doing well and the Reds have been favored to take the central. Not too shabby. Not too shabby at all. I am also betting that since these guys are all ultra-competitive, they will compete not just with each other, but starters vs bullpen. Let the games begin!

bdrube said...

Davy was nervous? I can see that. I was nervous in the stands after that walk. How often do great starts get marred by a bad fade?

Great story, Mark.

MicheleS said...

That was just a beautiful game to watch today. I was skeptical of EJax and thought he might be the weak link (see 1st start and spring training), but today was just a gem. He stepped up big and gave the pen a rest. Everything was clicking today. The offense came through went it mattered and got some runs on the board and the defense held up (thank god ALR is at first, the rest of the infielders need to by his dinner every night for the rest of the season!)

GO EJax! He was PFB today!

Jim Kurtzke said...

Great day at the park. Perfect weather. Enthusiastic crowd. Dominant pitching. Winning baseball. Who could ask for more?

upperdeck4 said...

Like Gio on Thursday, EJax was throwing harder at the end of the game than earlier, with command. It was just a superb performance and it was great to be there with the fans getting into it. There was no need for any of the cues; the fans knew when to get loud.

Anonymous said...

From watching on tv - it sounds like the fans are super loud. Did it seem that way at the park?

JaneB said...

From the SI article about this game (thanks for the link to it, Scoot from Burke):

Jackson struck out nine, including six of the last eight Reds.
"I even asked the umpire one time, `Man, are we that bad or is he that good?' And he said, `Hey, he was that good,"' said Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker , whose team has lost five of its past six games, scoring a total of 10 runs in that span.
"Everything was moving, everything was sharp," Baker added. "Everything looked like a fastball - and then it would be a breaking ball in the dirt. He made us look badly today."

So sweet!

sjm308 said...

People forget that the Reds are a reallh good offensive team and so far, we have just completely shut them down. I realize each game depends on the starter for that day but I wonder if we have honestly gotten in their heads. Key inning in my opinion is Detwiler's first. If he throws strikes and gets ahead of the hitters I think we will be fine.

No matter what, we have won our first 3 series.
That useless % probability of making the playoffs has jumped us from 6th to 4th. People are starting to pay attention.

Go Nats!!

Scot, thanks for that link to the SI article

dan dering said...

Great article, great game EJax! Just think, I haven't been this excited about DC baseball since Ted Williams "Whole New Ballgame" in '69! Go Nats!

SweetBlues said...

The crowd was verrrry enthusiastic! AND, paying attention.

NatsLady said...

Notice how we shut down Votto. Walks and singles from JZ, nada today from EJax. That is key. Boy, it's pouring in Colorado. In the day, they would have stopped the game long since.

Farid @ Pocatello ID said...

I understand that the team knows more about baseball than I do but ....

I hope the team doesn't waste this incredible pitching by having a so-so offense, especially without Morse for the next couple of months.

I'd gladly give up two more prospects for a mid-30's type slugging left fielder who could fill in until Morse gets back--assuming he gets back--in June.

If the Nats could somehow stay near the top of the division until Storen & Morse gets back, they'd have to be considered the favorite to at least take a Wild Card berth.

I'm beginning to think I'd rather the team keep LaRoche for another season at least at first and leave Morse in left. His defense is amazing.

I can live with Morse, Werth & Harper in the outfield.

SweetBlues said...

Late to post.... But, wow, what a game! What a feeling! The fans stayed & were pumped!! I'm saying... WOW!! you could feeeeel folks BELIEVING in the Nationals... And, the line atthe box office for tix AFTER the game...PRICELESS.

Anonymous said...

Notice how we shut down Votto. Walks and singles from JZ, nada today from EJax. That is key. Boy, it's pouring in Colorado. In the day, they would have stopped the game long since.

Natslady, I think this was the plan all along. He's the "elder statesman" as one article put it. Its tough when you see rotation mates younger than you doing a lot better ... the might have made him the #4 starter but he could just as easily be a #1/#2. The guy they worry least about when it comes to this is Wang. He takes the cake for self-motivation and working relentlessly to get better. If he pitches this year as a starter that will be an amazing feat. It really could get better.

NatsLady said...

Parra just did an ice-skating spin missing a routine foul ball.
Announcer called it, said "This will not be easy in the elements."
Finally, a rain delay because that is NOT baseball. Wouldn't mind some of that rain here (after the homestand, of course).

OK, let's finish off the Reds, feast on the Astros, and don't be afeered of dem Fish.

JohnDC said...

This last run through the starting rotation is the most dominant stretch I can remember seeing from a starting staff. Two runs in five games from the starters, weren't there, like, three 2-hitters in there, too? Just phenomenal. And the bullpen's so deep, losing our closer is a situation, not a crisis. Pass the Koolaid!

Candide said...

Anonymous said...From watching on tv - it sounds like the fans are super loud. Did it seem that way at the park?

In the late innings, whenever EJax got to 2 strikes on a batter, it got loud, but not crazy loud - at least it wasn't crazy loud in section 219. He got standing ovations at the end of the 7th and 8th innings, as well as his last AB in the 8th. Everyone was already on their feet at the end of the 9th.

Gonat said...

Houston Astros came back to win over the Marlins on another Heath Bell meltdown.

Anonymous said...

I'd gladly give up two more prospects for a mid-30's type slugging left fielder who could fill in until Morse gets back--assuming he gets back--in June.

I think that's Xavier Nady. Plus they are going to start seeing if Tyler Moore can play left field. He's hit 4 home runs and a double already with an above .300 average and 10 RBI's.

Rizzo isn't going to make that deal unless its for someone who can help the team now and in the future. That's the mantra they've used with one exception: Werth. Now, this could change if the Nats have a big lead in the division come the trading deadline. But by then Morse should be back?

Let's keep the prospects and stop panicking about the hitting. Its still early.

sm13 said...

Candide - I was in 219,too, and I thought it was plenty loud. How about the volume when Ejax hit the foul ball after faking the bunt. As my daughter said "I never heard people cheer a foul ball before". I thought the atmosphere was electric - maybe 2nd to Stras's first start. Standing ovations for Werth and multiple times for Ejax, and how about the greeting for Ankiel? And, I'm hoarse myself.

SFNats said...

Welcome to K Street

bdrube said...

@Candide - agreed...the crowd was enthusiastic, but not yet up to the RFK, June 2005 level. Give them a little more time. :)

Gonat said...

bdrube - most enthusiastic crowd ever was the Strasburg debut game in June 2010.

FS said...

the best start of his life? I don't agree. He might not have been as much in control as today, but throwing a no-hitter is kinda big deal (so is allowing 8 walks and throwing about 150 pitches while doing so). anyways great game to be at. everything was pretty good, no defensive miscues, some early runs, with stellar pitching.

sjm308 said...

Agree with Anon 10:01
Keep our prospects, stop worrying about the hitting. We are in first place, five games above .500. If we play .500 ball the rest of the way, that is 86 wins and if we do just a little better than that we are looking at the playoffs. This thing is not broken. Zimm will hit, Morse will be back and I think Werth and LaRoche will revert to their norm which is not too shabby.

I am one who liked the Werth deal from the begining. He is overpaid but that is not his fault. He brought something to this team that started last year and is growing even more this year. Between he and Davey we have an attitude of winning that was never here before. Hate to say it but the best thing that might have happened is Riggs quitting. This will probably get shot down by many but I honestly feel Werth will be here past his original deal. He might not be starting by the end of his contract, but I think he will settle in and be a huge part of our run of many playoff/World Series situations.

sjm308 said...

Loudest game for me was the Strasburg debut. Got even this old man on his feet for those last 3 strikeouts!!

Steady Eddie said...

I was down in 130 with Red Carpet tix and it was plenty loud and enthusiastic -- standing ovation central for EJax after each shutdown inning and especially after each at bat.

I may not be as expert on baseball as some of the posters here, but I did make the call on team chemistry with EJax in the third post of the game thread. (I was actually too limited in my projections...)

These guys -- and especially the way their mix reinforces each other's determination -- are the real deal.

Gonat said...

Rizzo is moving Tyler Moore back to LF. He may be the future LF callup

Steady Eddie said...

sjm308 -- I am with you, buddy!

Werth was the temperamental catalyst in the clubhouse last year -- when he was saying somewhat cryptically (at the time) something to the effect of "its obvious what's going on here", it's now clear he was talking about Riggleman's cluelessness about team psychology and how to create a winning mentality.

whatsanattau said...

Gosh I always hate it when I miss the opportunity to make fun of others in real time. I suppose somewhere in the comment trail from today it was mentioned that Edwin Jackson does not suck? That he was not a bad acquisition. And that while a number of people could not drop it before he was not only not bad ... he was AWESOME!!!

bdrube said...

@Gonat - agreed, but during June '05 it was still possible to get the stadium to literally start ROCKING. :)

Steady Eddie said...

Gonat at 11:17 -- works for me. I saw TMoore crush one way up the batter's eye at Viera that would have gone way up the grass at Nats Park. If they can teach him how to play a tolerable LF, and he does well, they could let him start occasionally after the Beast gets back by giving ALR a rest against southpaws. Then what a bat and defensive replacement to bring in ALR as a PH against RH relievers.

This team could have the makings of a gen-u-wine playoff contender, especially with that team up north aging before our eyes.

Erik said...

SJM-Definitely agree about not trading prospects right now...not sure we have anybody that would net us anything much anyways. I do think we need more offense, though. I know we are 7-2, but we have also played 5 1-run games already, so any extra offense could make a huge difference in W-L over the course of a full season. Hopefully we can find that in-house, but if not, I think we have to trade from our surplus of pitching to get another bat. Guys like Stammen and Mattheus or even Lannan/Gorzo could end up going for a king's ransom later this summer. I would HATE to lose any of our pitchers, but if this has a chance to be a special season, they have to pull the trigger. Hopefully Harper is the bat I am talking about and still think he will be (Mid-June). Nothing will happen until at least June, so I guess it is kind of stupid to even speculate right now. Let's see where we're at on June 1st.

shine 99 said...

I've been a lurker for a long time on this blog, but sjm I could not agree with you more about werth. granted he looks terrible at the plate sometimes, but I don't know if the nats have ever had anyone more determined to win. Werth every penny.

jeeves said...

Re offensive. Zimm has been one of the weakest offensive players so far and we know that's not going to continue. When he gets it together the whole dynamic of the lineup will change.
This terrific run by starting pitchers started with Detwiler. Hopefully, he can keep it going. (not suggesting there were no other good starts in the first four games, but the only two poor starts came then.)

Candide said...

Yeah, I laughed myself silly when Jackson hit that foul ball and people started cheering... Ah, the joy of baseball...

NatsLady said...

Got internet after a full day without it. Who knows when it will disappear again, so better post now! Go, Nats. Welcome to K Street. Very strange because, y'know, I live on K Street. Really. Lovin' it!

Candide said...

By the way, sm13, the loudest I've ever heard at Nats Park was the night Zimm hit that walkoff dinger to beat the Phils and Brad Lidge.

NatsLady said...

It was pretty loud when Desi sat 'em down, too.
The quietest game I've ever been at was the Miss Iowa game. You would have thought it was a blowout instead of an excellent pitching performance. Most people just wandering around the concourses, soaking in the lovely evening and consuming the edibles and drinkables...

NatsLady said...

Nats hitting 3.78 Runs per game, league average = 3.99.

Nats pitching 2.11 Runs per game, league average = (same) 3.99.

Team ERA = 1.82. League average = 3.59.

So, offense is slightly below average. Don't panic because Oh,that PITCHING!!!!

NL pitching stats

natsfan1a said...

I was in 408, and I've never seen it so crowded. It was pretty much full up there. Unfortunately, there were also lots of people coming and going in the middle of at-bats, and we were on the aisle. Oh well. There was a fun group of 20-somethings filling out our row, and a number of them clearly followed the team closely and knew the players. The young lady in the nearest seat shared a high five with me at the end of the game. (We were pumped. :-)) One of the young ladies exclaimed "We won the [McCatty Word] game!" Then she looked at me and apologized profusely, although I didn't have a problem with it. (We older gals aren't supposed to know such words, let alone use them. You should hear what I say to my tv set, girly.) It *was* funny cheering the EJ foul.

sm13 said...

Candide - I was in 219,too, and I thought it was plenty loud. How about the volume when Ejax hit the foul ball after faking the bunt. As my daughter said "I never heard people cheer a foul ball before". I thought the atmosphere was electric - maybe 2nd to Stras's first start. Standing ovations for Werth and multiple times for Ejax, and how about the greeting for Ankiel? And, I'm hoarse myself.
April 14, 2012 10:18 PM

MicheleS said...

So just woke up and put on sportscenter (I know.. a woman who watches sporscenter - who knew!)..

K Street has become official. They had a big graphic on the screen talking about our pitchers was title "K Street".

Does this mean it has jumped the shark as well?

natsfan1a said...

Probably so, MicheleS.

Also, Public Service Announcement for those who might not have read the game thread. There's a very cute pic of a cub reporter at the start of it. :-)

Dryw said...

And, Jeeves, when you say "the only two poor performances" you actually mean "the only two less-than-stellar performances." In only three games have the Nats given up more than 2 total runs (starters and relievers combined, and I'm pretty sure none of our starters have come out before the fifth yet. So it's not like we had two games where the starters just completely melted down or the Nats were blown out. Just two performances that weren't quite good enough for big ol' curly Ws!

Gonat said...

MLB Network doing a segment right now on the Nats!!!!!

MicheleS said...

Gonat.. Just saw it. Kristina's face during the gatorade bath was priceless!

NatsJack in DC said...

Coudn't be anymore giddy about all this. Only problem has been my sciatica blowing up on me which limits the amount of walking I can do. So I haven' been able to roam the ball park as much as I like.

Thanks for stopping by yesterday MicheleS. It'always great to put a face to names of all us NI die hards. I'll be in 233, front row today.

Checked Stub Hub and you can pick up a decent ticket to the Marlins/Astros game today for $6.00.
So the glitter is wearing off rapidly down there.

Anonymous said...

Dryw said...
"...and I'm pretty sure none of our starters have come out before the fifth yet."

You might want to look into that.

NatsJack in DC said...

My favorite part of the game yesterday occurred in an exchange with a 30 yo Bats fan from New Jersey who sat next to me. After already calling out a Flores hit the pitch before it happened the previous inning, when LaRoche was up with men on first and second and the count 2-1, he said"a walk would be great here". I said "nahh, how about a gapper between right an center driving in both runs".

Next pitch, wallahh......gapper driving in 2 runs. He looked at me in total dsbelief and I and said "It's a gift".

natsfan1a said...

Looked for you at the Scoreboard Pavilion before the game, NatsJack, but didn't see you. We didn't arrive at the park until 2 and needed to coordinate with some baseball buddies and trade in vouchers for a future game once we got in.

sjm308 said...

I have been looking at/studying box scores since 1950. Its an illness to be sure but another reason I hope newspapers never go out of business. I just like having them in my hand.

Anyway, this was probably a waste of 30 min. but I thought I would put the numbers up for ex-nationals to see how Rizzo and Co. have done.

I realize this will be critized as "too early" or not significant but it was fun.

Lets start with Mr Byrd who many here wanted in CF. He is hitting a robust .071
Others - N. Morgan - .144
Dunn - .192
J. Carroll - .148
B. Schneider - .000
E.Chavez - .125
A. Kearns - .167
A. Kennedy - .125
A.Crow era of 6.75
Ballestar 5.68
Here are the good
Rauch - era of 0.00
Milone 1-1 era of 2.57
MacDougal era of 2.70
Ayala - era of 0.00
Willingham - .444 with 4 HR (i think)
Komatsu - .286 (really sorry we lost him)
Maxwell - .250
J. Hairston - .333

I am sure I missed a bunch and this proves nothing but I think you could say we had more hits than misses on our dfa's/ cuts and trades.

Thanks for playing. Red hat on for a 6th straight day! Going for an entire week!!

Go Nats!!

dan roberts said...

With this pitching staff, when we get Morse and Harper we'll be unstoppable!

natsfan1a said...

Me, too, sjm. I just love sitting with a morning cup of coffee and perusing the box scores (and the standings - btw, the number 1 team in the bigs right now is the Dodgers; number 2 is a tie between the Nats and the Rangers. I know it's a long season and all, but dang it was nice seeing the Nats flag flying above the other four division flags at the park yesterday).

Speaking of ex-Nats, was reading the sports section this a.m. and noticed that Jerome Williams is with the Anaheim Angels.

natsfan1a said...

(Yeah, I know, they're called pennants, but it felt weird typing "Nats" and "pennant" in the same sentence. Guess I'll have to get used to it, like the crowds. :-))

NatsBrat said...

Intriguing cat, this EJax:

Turned down, or his agent Borass advised otherwise, $30mm for 3 years;

has been a frequently traded talent for the length of his 8-9 year career;

has thrown a no-hitter, with 8 walks;

doesn't ice his arm after pitching a game;

for most of his career throws better ball from the stretch than the wind up;

and throws heat in the 9th inning like it's the 1st!

On top of all that, and maybe most importantly, he comes across as a genuinely quality person.

Hey Ejax, I hope you stay a Nats for a while!

Andrew said...

NatsJack in DC said...
Coudn't be anymore giddy about all this. Only problem has been my sciatica blowing up on me which limits the amount of walking I can do. So I haven' been able to roam the ball park as much as I like.

Thanks for stopping by yesterday MicheleS. It'always great to put a face to names of all us NI die hards. I'll be in 233, front row today.

Checked Stub Hub and you can pick up a decent ticket to the Marlins/Astros game today for $6.00.
So the glitter is wearing off rapidly down there.

April 15, 2012 8:30 AM

Sorry to hear about your sciatica. MarkFD and I were hoping you would sit with us in 115. We will get you on your next trip.

Funny about the Marlins. I guess seen it, done it. $6 BuyItNow

We had dugout view of Edwin's masterpiece. His 2 seam, off-speed pitches, breakers and change-up were getting swing & miss all day.

On the replay from TV, just amazing the movement he had on his ball. His fastball was 91 to 94 and his 93 to 94 4-seamer wasn't fooling anyone but it was setting up his other pitches.

This seems to be the formula for the 2012 Nats rotation.

Steady Eddie said...

Another fact to emphasize NatsLady's point about our offense being only slightly below MLB average (yeah, yeah, I know, small sample size , but it's what the season has actually been so far) -- in our only two losses, we have scored three runs in each.

A DC Wonk said...

Nats Pitching

- First in team ERA (an eye-popping 1.82 that is a full 1/2 run better than the second best team)
- First in batting avg against (.170)
- First in WHIP (0.95 !)
- First (tied) in K's


Nats Batting
- 4th in batting avg
- 2nd (!) in OBA
- 1st (tied) in BB's
- 9th runs
- 12th SLG

So, we're getting guys on, not scoring them like we should, but pitching is kicking butt.

The story this year continues: tremendously awesome pitching with "good enough" hitting.

JaneB said...

MichelleS, I saw it too! K Street.Goon Squad next.
(canceling the bottom of the 9th, Beast Mode and hitterish soooooon!)

A DC Wonk said...

Hey all, a heads up -- I got on StubHub on Thursday and got 4 $9 tix for sec 310 for tommorrow's game. I'll be posting again, hoping to see some folks. (Sec308 ought to be nearby, eh? ;-) )

The Fox said...

FS said...

the best start of his life? I don't agree.

First FS I like your posts and I'm not call you out on this.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion however I have to agree with Mark.

EJAX faced 30 batters and threw 92 pitches which is only slightly higher than 3 pitches per batter. Since he struck-out 9 batters he had to throw at least 3 pitches to each of them. This meant the Reds were scared to get behind in the count, none of them really could see the pitch.

ESPN rates performances for the year. EJAX rated an 87 out of a possible 100. Only Matt Cain's CG 1 hitter 0 BB, 11 K, and 106 pitches ranks higher.

On the list of the top 20 Gio's 7 innings, 2 hits, 0 BB, 7 K, 97 pitches gets an 80 and ranks 10th.

Two other games the Nat's have been involved in make the list both against the Cubs. However the pitchers were Ryan Dempster rated 78 at 11 which the Nats won, and Jeff Samardzija rated 76 tied at 15 which is one of the Nats 2 loses.

The only reason I bring this up is as a Nat's fan this year we have seen some incredibly well pitched games. This is baseball and there should be some return to the mean here at some point.

Hopefully it won't stop today because I'll be at the game. Enjoy what your watching it truly is a thing of beauty.

Manassas Nats' Fan said...

I am going to the game today. Will buy my tcket at the window. Wonder how many walk ups there will be today.

sm13 said...

Anyone notice that we're 3.5 games up on Philly. Darn that feels good!

sjm308 said...

We will be there!! Look for an old crusty man, with his 32 year old son,with hopefully a Red Nats hat( if the red hat is on, we won today!) and some nationals shirt depending on the weather - I do not wear gamejerseys or whatever you call the shirts with names and numbers on the back. I do have a nice collection of Senator/nationals shirts and one of those will be on. I might warn you that there might be some deranged anon lurking with a beer to pour so be careful. I am jealous of $9 for a seat in what normally sells for 20 something. Nice job!!

By the way, how did that booing of Werth go?? Just wondering? Just to keep piling on, I am wondering who he is booing since its his "right" to boo. Maybe the Presidents race, maybe Clint, maybe he drank some kool-aid and is now in the NatsPack jumping around trying to start a wave.

Go Nats!!

Steady Eddie said...

Fox -- while no one can reasonably expect the degree of pitching domination we've had overthe last5 games/wins to continue to that degree, whatever "reversion" there may be will only be in the general direction of the mean. It will not be TO the mean because this pitching staff --rotation AND bullpen -- is arguably overall the best in baseball, and is anything but average. These guys' "means" is something most teams can only dream of having.

And for the remaining Rizzo detractors, the job Rizzo has done in almost literally totally remaking this bullpen in the past two years is nothing short of phenomenal.

Can you think of how scary this pitching staff will be when we get Wang and Storen back?

MicheleS said...

SO you think some Nats fans don't like Eckstein, I just was looking at a Reds Blog and they would like to roast their hitting coach over an open flame and are calling for Sean Casey (MLB analyst) to be his replacement! Someone always has it worse than us!

sm13 said...

I agree, with Steady Eddie that Rizzo should get full credit for putting this pitching staff together. He has fully executed "the plan" we heard about for so long. We also need to give proper credit to the job Davey is doing. The players love and respect him and they are motivated to perform at the highest level.

Go Nats! Sweeeeep!

The Fox said...


I saw that Jerome Williams was with the Angels too. He last pitched with the Nats in 2007 and was 0-5, 7.20 ERA, then went back to the minors for 2008,2009 in 2010 I don't know where he was? 2011 he pitched well for the Angels 4-0, 3.68 ERA in only 44 innings I think a September call-up.

It just goes to show you never know with pitchers.

Its strange, I did not think almost any of the player the Nats had on some of those horrible team had any ML talent. I guess its hard to tell when the team is so bad.

JaneB said...

Eddie, for us to get Wang back, we give up Det -- probably to the 'pen, but not in the rotation anymore. I'm not sure I want that (not that it matters at all). I'm liking Det.

ExposedinDC said...

Trying real hard not to be over confident in the Nats chances this season,but with this pitching it is really hard....simply unbelievable !!!

Steady Eddie said...

JaneB -- I don't at all disagree with you about how great Det has become. But Wang was looking absolutely deadly with the velocity, command, and movement on his sinker in that last game against the Yanks. I guess it's a great problem to have because you don't want to give up any of the six as starters.

Despite everything Davey's been saying, when those six are healthy you want all of them starting. I know it's not going to happen but a part of me says we should be thinking outside the box and use a six man rotation because After all, back in the ancient days of the 1960s, teams went with four man rotations. Where is it written you have to stop at five? (The fact that that would stretch Stras into Sept and maybe the playoffs is only just gravy.)

The Fox said...

Steady Eddie,

You are correct!

Still pitching performance like EJAX yesterday are a rare exception and need to be noted.

EJAX has been a .500 pitcher for his career and he has been a full time starter for the last 5 years so he has a history.

EJAX does have way above average talent and that is probably underestimating him. However, I usually go into the season expecting players to play near their norms, keeps me from being too disappointing.

Now pitchers are the strangest animals in baseball and a good thrower can learn to be pitchers and things can change overnight. I hope this is what we are seeing with EJAX, I just want to temper it a bit.

As for Strass, Zimm, and Gio, Although they don't have the track record yet you can tell they are pitchers not throwers and health and performance under pressure are my greatest concern for them.

Wang is in the background he has a good history too. He has pitched under pressure and health and defense are my concern.

I have been very positive with the pitching staff Rizzo has put together. I though they would be good maybe even very good but not the best pitching staff in baseball. I'm all about pitching and defense and I think it is 2/3 of the game, maybe more now that steroids has been reduced. But there is a chance that the Nats are on a hot streak to start the season.

In the game they lost to the Cubs that Samardzija pitched I saw people on this board complain about this team when really the credit had to go to Samardzija. This pitching staff if healthy is going to keep them in most games, we should however expect to lose some of them.

A DC Wonk said...

Despite everything Davey's been saying, when those six are healthy you want all of them starting.

Well . . . when Stras is shut down, we'll need that 6th pitcher, whoever he will be at that time.

Joe Seamhead said...

7-2, in first place? Pinch me! Wow. I also am having a difficult time keeping my excitement in check, but I just don't see any signs that the pitching is any kind of a fluke. We could sure afford for Zimm's bat to come alive and though I was more then a little suspect of Nady, he gets a pass for a while after the homer Friday night. BTW- Friday night was an example of why I think Davey Johnson will be the NL manager of the year. He chewed Dusty Baker up and spit him out. I can't get to the park again until Tuesday night so you all that can raise a ruckus, will you! GYFNG!!!

More notes on Nats allumni:
Milone didn't fair too good against Seattle last night. Lost.
Maxwell is 1-4, a 2 run HR with the Astros.

natsfan1a said...

Fox, I just found this on Williams (from a Wiki):

Puerto Rico/Taiwan

Williams played winter baseball for the Indios de Mayaguez in Puerto Rico in 2008–09. He played for the Uni-President Lions of CPBL in Taiwan during 2010.

A DC Wonk said...

sjm308 said...

We will be there!! Look for an old crusty man, with his 32 year old son,with hopefully a Red Nats hat( if the red hat is on, we won today!)

Last time I looked for you (last year) there were a couple of old crusty men! ;-) I yelled out "who's section 308", and I was looked at as if I were a football fan in the wrong stadium, and somebody said "you are in section 308".

What row, approximately, will you be?

Our seats are first row, sec 310, and I'll be with cute Mrs Wonk and 2 teenage girls (who will probably be spending half the game wandering around the stadium). I have a significant beard, and probably wearing my blue Nats hat.

Yeah -- my first time with stubhub. I was surprised -- $22 tix for $9 on a game that folks were pretty sure Stras would pitch. Stubhub has much better searching capabilities than regular tix, too. (So, for example, I specifically wanted slightly 3rd base side, so I could see Strasburg better, etc.)

A DC Wonk said...

sjm308 -- I meant to add: if that's you in your avatar, that'll increase the chances I'll find you.

Looking forward!

Muddy Ruel said...

The Five Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

The Fox said...


Thanks for the info. I usually use Baseball-reference and when that fails which put both majors and minors together.

I like the layout of baseball-reference better and they have a minor site too but I'm a little lazy.

Got to get ready for the game. Let's hope Detwiler is PFB today.

UnkyD said...

Muddy Ruel said...
The Five Horsemen of the Apocalypse?
April 15, 2012 10:42 AM
K Street; The Zombie Dragons! (you can't kill these flamethrowers...)

Sorry, friends.... I'm too much a fan of "B" horror/sci fi to let this die quietly...

Again...just imagine the t-shirt.....

natsfan1a said...

You're welcome, Fox. I like Baseball-reference, too, but wasn't turning up anything there with a quick look-see.

(Unk, my younger brother once gave me an awesome gift, an encyclopedia of psychotronic films. I gather that it's since been updated.)

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