Friday, May 18, 2012

Uncomfortable Nats upended by Bucs

US Presswire photo
Jose Tabata takes out Danny Espinosa at second base during the seventh inning.
Something about the Nationals Thursday night looked, well, uncomfortable.

Whether it was Jordan Zimmermann struggling to establish a rhythm on the mound or locate his fastball, or whether it was a lineup full of hitters who were hogtied by right-hander James McDonald, there was something of an uneasy feeling to this 5-3 loss to the Pirates.

"Well," manager Davey Johnson said as he sat down for his postgame news conference, "that was a tough one."

Tough, because for more than five innings the Nationals had no business sharing this field with their opponents, then nearly stormed all the way back before faltering late when presented a chance to complete the comeback.

Tough, because Zimmermann slogged his way through his roughest outing of the season, his first non-quality start in eight tries. The right-hander's mistakes were obvious: He served up three home runs in six innings, one to light-hitting catcher Rod Barajas, two to uber-talented center fielder Andrew McCutchen.

"I didn't feel very good at all," Zimmermann said. "I was flying open, and I wasn't able to locate my fastball at all. The breaking stuff was good, but when you can't locate your fastball, you're going to be in trouble and it's going to be a long game."

The first two homers -- McCutchen's solo shot in the first, Barajas' two-run blast in the fourth -- came on poorly located fastballs. The third, though, came on a first-pitch slider to McCutchen ... who still sent it flying over the left-field fence for his 10th home run in 23 career games against the Nationals.

"I'm hoping he was sitting first-pitch slider," third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "Because if he's not sitting one, it seemed even more impressive. He's one of those special players that can do everything. He's fun to watch. I just wish we didn't have to watch him so much when we play him."

The Nationals can thank Major League Baseball's schedulers for limiting this series to only two games, because there's no telling how much more damage McCutchen would have inflicted if given the opportunity to face the Nationals pitching staff again. In five games over the last 10 days against them, the All-Star center fielder went 10-for-17 with four homers, six RBI and three walks. Oh, he also robbed Adam LaRoche of extra bases Thursday night with a fifth-inning, highlight-reel catch against the fence.

"I mean, we certainly haven't figured out how to pitch him," said manager Davey Johnson, who admitted he contemplated intentionally walking McCutchen. "He's got to be hitting about five or six hundred off us. He looks awful comfortable in there."

Zimmermann had to battle throughout his six innings of work, needing a season-high 107 pitches just to reach that point.

"He was rushing. He was falling," Johnson said. "That's the worst I've seen him with his command early in a ballgame."

Not that it would have mattered much had Zimmermann been lights-out early on, because the Nationals weren't going to touch McDonald no matter what. The unheralded right-hander broke out a devastating curveball and baffled Johnson's lineup, striking out eight of the first nine batters he faced.

By the time Bryce Harper stepped to the plate with one out of the fifth, McDonald had yet to put a man on base. That run at perfection ended when the 19-year-old drew a walk, but it wasn't until Jesus Flores led off the sixth with a double that McDonald's no-hit bid was finally quashed.

"You know, that curveball, we just weren't getting on it for whatever reason," LaRoche said. "Couldn't figure it out until late. And by the time we did there in that one inning, he was out of the game. Too little, too late."

That one inning was the bottom of the sixth, during which Zimmerman laced a two-out, two-run single and LaRoche recorded only the 10th triple of his career. All of this brought the Nationals to within a run, but they couldn't push across one more despite several late opportunities.

With runners on second and third and one out in the seventh, rookie Steve Lombardozzi tapped a comebacker to the mound and Desmond struck out swinging at a 3-2 slider from reliever Juan Cruz.

Two innings later, Desmond again had an opportunity to drive in the tying run when he dug in against Pittsburgh closer Joel Hanrahan with two on and two out. Again, Desmond struck out, his fourth K of the game.

"I was looking heater all the way and I just missed 'em," Desmond said. "I missed a lot of balls tonight, fouled them off. I don't remember a time in my life I've ever fouled off 20 pitches in a game. But just wasn't getting the barrel there."

A fitting analysis of a frustrating ballgame for the Nationals.


jeeves said...

Talk about frustrating. Nobody gets, from fans on this site, more negative ink than Desi. A couple of postings ago I mentioned that Desi's offensive stats were distinctly better than any other Nat not named LaRoche. Only Furcal and Castro are doing better at shortstop in the NL. I've decided there is some sort of cloaking devise on my postings that kicks in at the 49th parallel because a few postings later, jd says how mediocre Desi's stats are. In fact, now that I'm on a rant, I find any communication among the posters on the site seems to be among the negatons and a cligue that has been established over the last year or so.
I'm one of a very few who has been around blogging Nats baseball since the getgo, (unless people have changed their identity), but posting here, for me, is like one hand clapping.
And Mark, I really enjoy your coverage. Will continue to tune in, just not waste my time commenting. I'm sure my contributions will be missed. That, by the way, was a joke.

baseballswami said...

Aw, come on, Jeeves. Everyone' opinion adds to the fun. Most of the desi hate is long gone. Go nats? Can I get a go nats?

Anonymous said...


Your comments do not fall on deaf ears...but often straight-forward posts like yours do not sufficiently raise the hackles of the regulars. Another reality of the popularity of this site is that not everyone reads everything. I know I posted a comment a day or two ago about my belief that Flores was going to produce and was actually a more complete package than Ramos. Twenty posts later someone posted almost the identical thought and I am sure they were sure they were the first to do so.

We hear you clapping. Do not despair!

320R2S15 said...

chill out jeeves. we do this for the fun of it all, and yes some stuff comes off as sorta dark sided, but the fun is in the passion. i've left sites because the members were over the top with their insults and attacks, but this one is mild, informative and entertaining. there are some verry well schooled posters on here and they help me with information every day.

I don't think Desmond is a top shelf shortstop yet, in fact I would have shipped him out after his poor year in 2011. but, I was probably wrong. I watched him verry closely last night and not only do I now believe he can be a solid pro, I believe he is an asset much in the same way jdub is. charactor is something that is discounted in the game today and Desmond has it in spades.

Manassas Nats' Fan said...

Even after striking out three times earlier in the game, I just assumed Desi was going to have walk off home not a swing at a ball way outside to end the game.

Two years ago I would assume he would strike out to end the game, now I expect good things.

That is profreww.

Manassas Nats' Fan said...

Make that progress. I hit the wrong key, just like swinging and missing at my keyboard.

Anonymous said...

Contrasting Desmond's offensive numbers to other NL shortstops is obviously a valid comparison, and no doubt that casts him in a favorable light. We should appreciate what we have, a relatively young, powerful, exciting major league shortstop (in the post-steroid era).

On the other hand, he has been woefully miscast as a leadoff hitter. I don't have a comparison right in front of me, but I would imagine his .291 OBP is among the lowest for major leage leadoff hitters (correct me if I'm wrong and that is a good percentage for lead off hitters!).

And that is the crux of the negative views of Desmond. Thanks to his power, he would be a solid number 5 hitter, and a pretty darn good 6 through 8 hitter in the NL. As a leadoff hitter, there is a lot to be desired, and his penchant for making outs (lots and lots of outs) directly affects the Nats ability to score runs consistently.

That really is more of a team criticism then a Desmond criticism (it isn't Desmond's fault he is miscast as the leadoff hitter, it is an unfortunate necessity), but some of that negativity bleeds onto Desmond out of frustration.

Also, just a general comment, which I apologize for because I really do not like to post about non-baseball related topics on a baseball blog site... there are positive and negative posters on this blog... which mirrors the general population. Trying to change those with negative outlooks by browbeating them like they were children is a losing proposistion. The best way to change folks is by example. Stay positive, and it will rub off on others... not everyone, but it will make an impact. Getting frustrated over other folks' constant negativity just means they are rubbing off on you, and you are following THEIR example!

m20832 said...

If DJ doesn't know how to pitch to McCutchen, let's hope there's a strategy to pitch to Adam Jones. Or it's going to be a miserable weekend.

Maybe the Nats should just have walked McCutchen. A walk is better than a run, especially if there aren't any good batters following him. Maybe that's the strategy for Jones also? I've seen Jones win too many games with homers this year.


ehay2k said...

I am not a Desi hater, but I have criticized his penchant for errors and that he swings too much at the first pitch, especially for a leadoff guy. Those are valid criticisms.

To his credit, he has reduced his errors, and this year he has taken more pitches. (I am still not convinced he has a good - or any - plan at the plate.) Seems like something a hitting coach would help with.

And no, I will not stop ripping on Eck, because he is not effective in making better hitters out of our guys. McCutcheon hit a good slider out of the park last night. We only seem to hit pitches that the pitcher misses. I notice that our best hitter, ALR, spent the bulk of last year with a different hitting coach while he was rehabbing. Maybe we need to find THAT coach?

natsfan1a said...

awww, come on, jeeves. Of course your comments would be missed. Don't know about others, but I don't always read comments in real-time, and sometimes I don't read long threads of comments at all if I'm pressed for time. In fact, there are several threads up here right now that I've not yet read. Additionally, sometimes people will comment on Mark's post before reading the other comments first.

On topic, I was wondering about pitching to McCutcheon, too. Impressive player, but I'm glad we're done watching him vs. the Nats for this season.

NatsLady said...

There are some Clip worriers around, so I'm posting what I posted elsewhere, and let me know your thoughts.

First, although Clip had shoulder troubles and difficulty adjusting to Storen’s absence in April, that is no longer the case in my observation. Second, what was the one ding on him last year? The home runs.

Look at his GB (ground-ball) percent this year, half what it was last year, and not one home run, despite the lack of “dominance.” I’m telling you, as a long long long time Clip-watcher, he is reinventing himself, ala Mariano Rivera, and Davey is watching while he does it. I said last year, and I haven’t changed my opinion, Clip is looking at the HOF if he can prolong his career.

Remember, part of his past effectiveness came from deception and surprise. Well, this is his fifth year in the NL, is it any shock that experienced hitters (and coaches) have caught on to his act to some degree. They’ve seen the jerky motion, they’ve seen him come in with the high heat–how many times???

That GB percent is key, he’s never had it in all his years. Also look at his FIP, which is an entirely respectable 2.32, suggesting he has been the victim of some bad luck. (His BAPIP and FIP from last year reveal he benefited from good luck, and might not be sustained.) You’re right, using the eye test, he’s a different pitcher. And that’s a good thing.

What is the downside of this change of approach?

(1) More contact — not only singles, but epic battles with guys who foul off pitches, raising his pitch count;
(2) More pitches/walks — this is troubling because he is missing his spots and also because the more pitches you throw in an at-bat the more likely you get to 3-2 counts and eventually walk someone. I’m guessing that he’ll fix this.

He had his chances, but he didn’t give up a home run to McCutchen. Or Joey Votto. Can't remember if he faced Matt Kemp...

PFB Balls of Fire said...

I agree with many on the Desi issue, I think many of the periodic Desi bashers tend to forget just how offensively-challenged most ML shortstops are. But even if he gets his BA north of .300, he just doesn't draw enough walks to be a lead-off hitter.

Any of you stat-folks out there aware of any analysis on the relative value of hits. vs. walks when comparing BA and OBP? In other words, if someone hits a lot, particularly with some power, can it make up a small amount for the lack of ability to take walks?

I think everyone would take a player that hit .300/.350/.400 over one that hit .270/.350/.400, but what about .300/.320/.400 vs. .270/.340/.380?

I'm not sure this post is coherent.

LoveDaNats said...

Desi has improved. How many people, a la Moneyball, would take a guy with better stats over another, sight unseen? Character is not measurable but makes a difference in a clubhouse. I know I don't know firsthand but just hearing stories of how Desi is raising his brother and the fact that he's always the guy signing balls for the kids reeks of character. He's a hard worker and I'm really pulling for him and am joyful for each sign of improvement I see.
@jeeves.....don't leave. It can be intimidating posting especially when you are not a stats wonk on baseball. For the most part, people are kind, although there are those few who like to call you out.

joemktg said...

Hot/cold, on/off, comfortable/uncomfortable. They're 9-11 over last 20 games. With starters in and out of the lineup (as well as Storen), expecting more of the same, regardless of who is leading off and who is at SS. This, of course, assumes the SPs continue at the same pace.

fast eddie said...

I agree with Howl31: Desi is not a lead-off hitter. Give me Davey's job and I bench Espi and put Lombo in the lead-off spot. Desi hits 7th.

The Real Feel Wood. Accept no substitutes. said...

NatsNut said...
i'm definitely not one to talk, but I think Zimmerman could stand to lose a pound or two. he's looking juuuust a little thick-ish and really lumbered to 2B on that hit.

If you've ever seen any footage of him from warmups when he's just wearing the T shirt, you'd notice he's got a bit of a gut going now. Either the fiancee is a hell of a good cook, or with the big contract he's eating in nicer restaurants. He needs to get with Flores and do whatever Jesus did to slim down. And while he's at it, he should bring Ramos along with him. Wilson was way too bulky even before he tore his ACL, and now with the forced inactivity from that he's in danger of his weight getting seriously out of hand. And the problem with Zim and Ramos getting fat is that they don't have the natural grace of a Livo to pull it off even though they're carrying too many pounds.

natsfan1a said...
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natsfan1a said...
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natsfan1a said...

After reading a few comments on Nats-related pieces over on WaPo, I must give a tip of the cap to the commenters here. Over there, one person was bemoaning Carpenter's influence on Ron Darling (ummm, Darling worked with Proctor, not Carp), and another wished for "suddleness" from him (my guess would be "subtlety"). Dang. We're each entitled to our opinion, of course, but incorporating real words and actual facts when expressing it can be a plus. :-)

hiramhover said...

Great PFB

Stats like wOBA (weighted on base average) and wRC+ (weighted runs created, adjusted so 100 is league average) do what you're asking.

Among 13 qualfying NL SS this year, Desi ranks 4th in wRC+ and 5th in wOBA.

So not quite as good as what jeeves said, tho maybe that was based on stats from a few days ago.

The problem with Desi, as others have said, is that he's not a true lead off hitter--but then, he doesn't write the line-up cards. That said, his approach in that last AB last night seemed pretty dismal to me--he was swinging for the fences at 2 FB down the middle, and then struck out swinging on a slider away.

MicheleS said...

99% of the time, I am pollyana with the rose colored glasses. I give myself 1% to gripe.

So here is my comment (not necessarily a gripe) about last night. Why does is seam like JZ and SS (and probably Det) get spooked so bad when the ump is calling a crappy game? I think that was JZ's biggest problem last night. The ump was squeezing him and he just got out of wack. Granted, I would have IBB McCutcheon all night (same with Votto). Is this a time for McCatty to go visit the mound with the pretense of talking to JZ and then giving the Ump a piece of his mind?

I also think we are going to miss Werth in the lineup more than we expected. Yes, I know he looks awkward, but his ability to take pitches and be a threat is something that will be missed.

And they better not pitch to Adam Jones or as previously posted, this is going to be a MISERABLE weekend. (and I would like to eat some crow about not wanting any of the O's players. I would take Mr Jones, Mr Wieters, and probably the closer. Not sure about anyone else because I don't pay attention to them.)

Eugene in Oregon said...

F&I: Referring back to a previous thread, thanks for the link to those numbers on the Nats not getting runners home from third with fewer than two outs. They do indeed demonstrate that the Nats are among the worst -- although not the worst -- in getting runners home in that situation.

NatsNut said...

I wasn't a Desi-hater, but last year I admit I was completely stumped why he got so much love from Riggleman and writers and such, when all I ever seemed to see was him striking out or throwing the ball into the camera well (and then Riggleman saying, "nobody else gets to that ball"). It was so frustrating to watch.

But now, thinking of those days, he has really improved a lot.

SFNats said...

Fear and Ignorance said (on the previous thread)...

"They are who we thought they were." This is an 84-85 win team. I am guessing they will fall back to about .500 in a few weeks and if they can get some hitting could battle for the 5th playoff spot. Not feeling too confident right now. This division will come down to the Braves and Phillies I am afraid. Right now, I would also say the Marlins are probably a bit better as well, but at least the Nats have a chance because of Stras and Gio.


Maybe. I think any of us would have been happy with 84-85 wins before the season starts. As it stands, the Nats could play .500 ball for the rest of the season and end up a little better than that -- around 90 wins. I don't think anyone expected them to keep playing at a .600 clip after a hot start, but playing .500 the rest of the way doesn't seem too farfetched.

Especially when you consider that they've compiled a 23-15 record while missing their big HR hitter and closer for the whole season so far. Their all-star-caliber RF for much of the season. And Zim and Espi haven't really started hitting yet. Now, we can expect some regression in the pitching, since they were putting up unreal numbers for the first month. But it's still one of the best pitching staffs in baseball. All to say, you can definitely see .500 the rest of the way, which would put them at 89-90 wins.

NatsLady said...

SFNats==>right on. And don't forget they are a streaky team. So that hopeful .500 going forward will include some runs of losses and some runs of wins.

Also, the Padres just split with the Dodgers, and the Pirates have had good pitching all year. People always seem shocked with the Nats lose to a poor-mediocre team--hey, the "lowly Twins" just swept the Tigers, who were a "lock" to win the AL Central.

That said, Desi's last at-bat was pretty bad.

JamesFan said...

Why in the world do we continue to pitch anything over the plate to McCutchen? When a guy is this hot, make him go for pitches out of the zone or he gets a walk. Last night was not a fluke. He has been doing this to us all season.

Before opening day, I thought that this is the year to find out if Desi or Espi are long-term solutions for the middle infield. Desi is making his case--strong defense and very solid hitting. Danny is far more suspect--defense excellent but his hitting is not there; too many strikeouts and low BA.

It would help this site to have the ability to endorse a comment with a click or reply to the comment.

whatsanattau said...

What, are you telling me not everyone reads my comments? In that case let me go on to say that I am the smartest, wittiest, wisest, commenter I know. (ok, I'm the only commenter I know). And, I was the first to say anything prescient, and the only one to say the Nats would be good this year, and .... Oh, what's the use....nobody reading anyway.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

MicheleS said...
99% of the time, I am pollyana with the rose colored glasses. I give myself 1% to gripe.

So here is my comment (not necessarily a gripe) about last night. Why does is seam like JZ and SS (and probably Det) get spooked so bad when the ump is calling a crappy game? I think that was JZ's biggest problem last night. The ump was squeezing him and he just got out of wack.

I was coming on to make the same observation. 3 of the last 4 pitchers got out of rhythm but like I said with Detwiler, his inside pitches were balls.

Last night as noted, McDonald on the very 1st batter got the strike 3 with 1/2 the ball on the black on a 3-2 pitch. The very next inning, JZim had to labor through additional pitches because he didn't get those same strikes and some that were clearly strikes. All the credit to McDonald, but JZim deserved the same respect. The batter before Barajas homered was walked because the ump didn't give JZim a strike.

Worse than that was the glove placement by Jesus Flores. JZim you saw pounding the mitt. If Flores knows he isn't getting the call on the black, move the mitt in. The 1st HR to McCutcheon was a pitch that JZim threw right to Flores mitt. Did Flores do any pre-game prep on McCutcheon?

JZim said after the game he was flying open and wasn't locating his fastball. He started flying open out of clear frustration. It was like he was trying to make the game end quicker.

Flores also had a similar thing going with Strasburg. Calling the pitch is one thing as the pitcher can wave you off, calling pitch location is totally on the catcher.

Very disappointed what I saw on Tuesday and Thursday. These are 2 Ace pitchers.

sm13 said...

Thank you Jamesfan. That was the consensus in sec 310 last night. Why pitch to McCutch when Alvarez is not giving him any protection. I don't know if that's on JZimm or McCatty, but someone needs to ackowledge the mistake and avoid repeating it. We really should be ashamed of not taking both games ftom Pitt this week.

Theophilus T. S. said...
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fast eddie said...

OK, OK--you got our attention. We're reading your comments. Now, say something prescient.

Theophilus T. S. said...

I think the gentleman said something about "profreww," before amending his remark. "Profreww" would approximate the sound I was expecting to make if I had to keep watching them -- and I mean all of them, not just Desi -- swing and miss all night long. If the principal elements of baseball are, "throw the ball, catch the ball, hit the ball," then these guys often appear seem to have completely lost touch with at least a third of the game.

I'm in no way willing to give Eckstein a reprieve on the basis of a couple of recent 6-7 run "outbursts." If Nady can hit an occasional HR then the "regulars" ought to be able to put a ball in the air w/ a runner on third and less than two outs. They are 19th in the major leagues in SFs/game (.21). I'm surprised it (the ranking) is that high. They are dead last among all thirty teams in Ks per game. Given the number of close ball games in which they've been involved it's a miracle their record isn't upside down.

Don't make the mistake of ascribing this ineptitude to Morse, Zimmerman being out. Pittsburgh started four guys batting below the Mendoza line, scored five times. Zimmerman is one of the worst "roll the eyes" at the umpire" offenders. Hit the damn ball. Somewhere. Anywhere. Something interesting might happen.

natsfan1a said...

That was funny, whatsa. :-)

The Real Feel Wood. Accept no substitutes. said...

Flores also had a similar thing going with Strasburg. Calling the pitch is one thing as the pitcher can wave you off, calling pitch location is totally on the catcher.

The catcher gives a sign showing pitch type and location. If the pitcher doesn't like either one of those, he can shake it off. And he can keep shaking it off if the catcher keeps coming back with the same location and a different pitch until the catcher figures it out and changes the location to what the pitcher wants. Ultimately, both pitch type and location are on the pitcher. If he doesn't like what the catcher is suggesting, he can change it. He's the one throwing the ball.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

sm13 said...
Thank you Jamesfan. That was the consensus in sec 310 last night. Why pitch to McCutch when Alvarez is not giving him any protection. I don't know if that's on JZimm or McCatty, but someone needs to ackowledge the mistake and avoid repeating it. We really should be ashamed of not taking both games ftom Pitt this week.

Agree with all comments. That is part of how they handled Votto for a few games and should have done the same with McClutch'n.

A RH pitcher like JZim should have thrown 2 pitches: Sliders set up to go outside the strike zone and let him chase, and then pounding 2 seamers inside in his weak zone high and tight and low and tight. If you walk him with bases empty, fine.

Bad strategy on him all night. That is the easiest team next to the Padres to beat. Only guy who can beat you is McClutch'n.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Ann, really? The pitch is called outside on McCutcheon in the middle instead of further out and low. JZim can't walk over and move his mitt. He trusts his catcher on setting up.

NatsLady said...

Kerry Wood is retiring. Somehow, this makes me very sad.


Ghost Of Steve M. said...

When a pitcher starts disrespecting a catcher, you have issues. Before the game even starts in their pre-prep to their game prep they need to be on the same page. Strasburg and JZim rarely call off their catchers in respect.

People always wondered why JFlo wasn't getting more starts. I have to wonder if the starters don't like his prep.

May be another reason that Rizzo has scouts looking for a catcher. Hate to say it, lets get Pudge out of retirement. I would rather have a catcher batting .210 and call a great game. Pudge knows Stras, JZim, Det and Wang. Just needs to catch up on Gio and EJax.

SFNats said...

Wow -- the CUbs bullpen has been a mess and there was speculation that Wood could end up closing. Poor guy. He had a rough career for someone who had all the talent in the world coming in.

It's a lesson the Nats seemed to have learned. There is no point in ruining a good, young pitcher for a one-time run at the postseason. Now, it had been 100 years for the Cubs, but still. They drove Wood and Prior into the ground to "go for it now" instead of bringing them along slowly and building for the long-term.

MicheleS said...

Growing up a Cubs fan, Woods retiring makes me sad.

NatsLady said...

Ghost, I was wondering about that, too. Okay, you are developing Ramos, but when Ramos was struggling defensively I kept hearing the pitchers really liked him. Now, if he was not catching their pitches in the dirt, what's to like--so he must have been calling good games and locating pitches where they were comfortable.

Pudge isn't coming back. Sorry. He retired with great fanfare, and that's the end of it.

The Real Feel Wood. Accept no substitutes. said...

Ann, really? The pitch is called outside on McCutcheon in the middle instead of further out and low. JZim can't walk over and move his mitt. He trusts his catcher on setting up.

If the catcher for whatever reason doesn't set up exactly right, the pitcher can still throw to the spot he wants to hit. The catcher's mitt is not a fixed target. He's free to move the mitt. It's not crossing up the catcher to throw the pitch he called but not at the spot he's set up. (Throwing a different pitch than was called is a different story. Obviously it's a pitcher fail if a curve ball was called but he comes in with a fastball.)

It's a combined operation, after all. Credit and blame for hitting or missing a spot can go to the pitcher or the catcher or to both, depending on the circumstances of each particular pitch. But you can't pin all the blame for bad pitch location on Flores - which is what you appear to be doing. Ultimately, it is the pitcher's responsibility since he's the one throwing the pitch. If the catcher is consistently setting up wrong, then the pitcher needs to get him out to the mound and straighten it out. There's no limit on the number of mound conferences they can have. They can even do it before every single pitch, as we saw the Pirates do last night. If the pitcher and catcher can't get themselves on the same page, that's on the pitcher, not the catcher.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...
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Manassas Nats' Fan said...

IN the month of May the team stats are kind of interesting.

In Hitting the Nats are 5th in average. 9th in runs, Seconds in homers. and 16th in strike outs.

Pitching they are 8th in ERA, 15th in home runs allowed,4thn in BB, 2nd in strike outs.

It appears that the hitters have come along fine. It is the pitchers who are living off their April greatness, and really have come back to the middle of the pack. Maybe we all need to pay more attention to the pitchers.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

NatsLady said...
Ghost, I was wondering about that, too. Okay, you are developing Ramos, but when Ramos was struggling defensively I kept hearing the pitchers really liked him. Now, if he was not catching their pitches in the dirt, what's to like--so he must have been calling good games and locating pitches where they were comfortable.

Pudge isn't coming back. Sorry. He retired with great fanfare, and that's the end of it.
May 18, 2012 10:39 AM

Maybe Mark Z. can chime in on this, I don't think Davey believes in set pitcher/catcher relationships like some teams have.

The pitchers love RayMo for his play calling and prep work. Sure, Wilson and HenRod never got on the same page. You could see multiple call offs by Henry plus a few crossups. Stras to Ramos and JZim to Ramos were excellent. Gio always compliments his catcher and did it again after Wednesday's game with Flores. I don't think much bothers Gio.

On Det, Flores kept setting up on the outside fo the black on the inside and Det brought it there and they weren't getting the call. Bring the mitt back in and go back there but where you will get the strike call. That is Det's money pitch to RH batters.

I am sure you are correct on Pudge that he will stay retired plus his hitting into doubleplays made me cringe but this team is built on pitching and probably the reason Leon was brought up as he is a defensive minded catcher.

To watch Stras and then JZim get so far out of rhythm is not a good thing. Hope McCatty can get back on top of that. Whether you know it or not, this team is going to miss Wilson Ramos as he is that good.

whatsanattau said...

cr@p, I got nothing....

whatsanattau said...

oh wait, going to see EJAX wax the birds tonight. Hope Nick is in the lineup for the O's. Is it ok to give an opposing player a standing ovation?

natsfan1a said...

I believe fan protocol permits us to applaud him when he's first announced, but not after that. The standing O part is up to the individual fan's discretion, I think. :-)

SonnyG10 said...

Speaking from experience (both as an actual pitcher and from observations) all pitchers, no matter how good or bad will have days where they have control problems. On days like that it doesn't matter where the catcher sets up or places his mit. Contrary, on days when pitchers have their good control, it still doesn't matter where the catcher sets up or puts his mit. The pitcher is perfectly capable of using another targer, such as the catcher's shoulders or knee caps, or even hitting a location estimated between two objects such as the catcher's shoulder and the batters body. If I can locate a pitched ball in that manner, I know a major league pitcher can do it when they're on. OTOH, a good catcher set-up is preferable, given a choice.

Theophilus T. S. said...

"Handling pitchers" is another area where what you hear in the post-game interviews doesn't always merge w/ reality. Notwithstanding continuing kudos for Pudge's "handling," we read recently that pitchers complained about him calling for too many fastballs because of his (personal) interest in keeping his %CS up high. Conclusion: Pudge as a mentor to a young pitching staff was over-rated.

All of the Nats pitchers have been saying nice things about all of their catchers. There has been relatively little disputatious-ness over what to throw. (Z-mann's and Detwiler's recent starts all about not being able to put the pitch in the spot where it was intended to go. Giving Barajas a hanging 81-mph slider is not on the catcher.) Gio seems like a genuinely nice guy, go along, get along, and would probably say nice things about the work of Paul LoDuca, Josh Bard, Robert Fick and Matt LeCroy, so he may not be the best example. But no one in authority has given me any reason to call out either Ramos or Flores on the way they call the game.

Theophilus T. S. said...

When I say, "No one in authority" has given me cause to question pitch-calling, I really mean
"anyone in a position to know." We're never going to see a WaPo article that says, "The game plan was to bust McCutchen in on the fists but Flores forgot what they had decided and kept asking for pitches on the corner that drifted back over the middle and McCutchen was able to air-mail to the Anacostia River." Ain't on my bucket list but there is no reasonable possibility it will ever happen.

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