Category Archives: Nationals

Nats Save The Day From Going Full D.C. Sports

Please welcome back guest contributor Bryan Frantz to Mr. Irrelevant.

This was not a good day for D.C. sports. The Wizards lost to the Bobcats and put a serious damper on their chances of playing anybody but the Pacers or Heat in the playoffs, and the Capitals were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. It was almost a truly, one-for-the-ages miserable day when the Nationals got very close to losing a heartbreaker to the Marlins, but the local baseball team managed to put together something close to a miracle and salvage hope for the city’s sports teams.

The Nats game was eerily similar to the Wiz game. Both teams were playing at home. Both opponents have recently been somewhat of a laughingstock. Both games saw the home team face a large deficit early — Wiz were down 20 in the first half, Nats were down five after two innings. Both teams mounted an improbable comeback to take the lead. Both teams then watched that lead disappear.

After that, the two took opposite paths. The basketball game went to overtime, where the Wizards put up, somewhat incredibly, one point. Home team loses 94-88. The Caps were on the brink of being eliminated from the playoffs, a reality that was solidified a few minutes later when the Red Wings and Blue Jackets both earned points in their games.

Meanwhile, in the baseball game, Bryce Harper pulled himself out of his season-opening slump with a three-run monster of a home run that capped off a 10-pitch AB. Shortly thereafter, the Nats picked up a few more runs that put them in the lead, 6-5. But, because this is D.C., the home team had to make the game as difficult on itself as possible. Newly designated RP Ross Detwiler came on in the seventh to give up a leadoff solo shot to bring the game back to a tie, then Tyler Clippard gave up two walks and a double in the eighth to put the Nats behind again.

After the Wiz had just watched their impressive rally end in disappointment, the Nats seemed destined for a similar fate. But they’re the Nats. They certainly have had their share of “D.C. moments,” but they’ve had some success over recent years. (You could argue the Caps had more, but I would counter that the Nats have compiled more talent and have more promise, while the Caps just have Alex Ovechkin.)

And so Jayson Werth, as he’s done before, came up huge for the Nats. Down 7-6 in the bottom of the eighth, they had the bases loaded with one out and Werth at the plate. You know what’s coming. He crushed a fastball into the left field dugout of Nats Park to put the Nats ahead for good.

Werth, Harper, Anthony Rendon and the rest of the Natss managed to salvage what was almost a heartbreaking day for D.C. sports with a thrilling victory, against a division rival, no less. Once again, they’re providing Washington sports fans hope and entertainment for the months leading up to football season. Now, about football season …

Wilson Ramos Hurt His Hand, Which Doesn’t Hurt That Bad

Wilson-Ramos-Catching

Nats starting catcher and Opening Day cleanup hitter Wilson Ramos reportedly fractured his left hand today on a foul tip, which is a very Wilson Ramos thing to do. (He’s only played more than 78 games in a season just once.)

We don’t know how serious it is or how long he’ll be out, but here’s a quick crack at what it could mean:

*In 231 career games with the Nats, Ramos’ Baseball Reference WAR is 4.9. It’s 5.3 on Fangraphs.

*Assuming Ramos misses two months or about 40 games, that’s a dropoff of about 0.9 WAR, so long as we also assume his replacement plays at replacement level.

*The replacement is Jose Lobaton, who posted a 1.5/1.4 WAR last season in 100 games with Tampa.

Meaning, while it stinks to lose Ramos at all, this shouldn’t hurt the Nats too bad. Maybe a game or less in the standings. And oh yeah, they won in 10 today.

Also, I know very little about WAR specifically and fancy stats in general. We may be doomed.

Three Reasons The Nats Will Be Better In 2014

Please welcome back guest contributor Bryan Frantz to Mr. Irrelevant. Here he is on your 2014 Washington Nationals.

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It says a lot about the Nats’ expectations that an 86-win 2013 season was considered a bitter disappointment. Going into this season, the song remains the same: They’re projected to go to the playoffs, Bryce Harper is an MVP candidate and the starting rotation is spoiled with Cy Young candidates.

The optimism is slightly different in 2014, though: bottom-of-the-roster holes have been filled, a new manager takes over the talented team and the glaring injury problems seem to be resolved (knock on wood).

Without further ado, here are three reasons the Nats are poised to win at least 90 games this season. Tomorrow, we’ll list why they won’t.

1. New Additions

One of the biggest problems last season was bench support. GM Mike Rizzo addressed that by adding outfielder Nate McLouth and catcher Jose Lobaton, both of whom provide depth at positions where the team had significant injury problems. McLouth will back up Harper and Jayson Werth, who missed a combined 77 games. Lobaton, a switch-hitter acquired from the Rays, will back up Wilson Ramos, who has only played in 80 or more games once in four seasons.

The most significant addition comes in the form of Doug Fister. Fister, acquired in an early winter deal with the Tigers, takes over the No. 4 spot, left vacant by the departure of the wildly inconsistent Dan Haren.

Fister brings playoff experience and reliability, as well as consistency. Last season, he finished with a 3.67 ERA and, in 32 starts, lasted at least six innings 27 times. Conversely, Haren finished last season with a 4.67 ERA and pitched six or more innings just 18 times.

Fister would be a No. 2 on most teams and has the potential to make the Nationals’ rotation the best in the MLB. He does start the season on the DL, though.

2. Pitching Changes

Rizzo and new manager Matt Williams have made a few other changes to the pitching staff, moving Ross Detwiler to the bullpen and adding lefty reliever Jerry Blevins. The Detwiler move leaves the No. 5 spot available, and righties Tanner Roark and Taylor Jordan are the frontrunners. The Blevins move gives the bullpen its only left-hander other than Detwiler.

Roark, 27, made his major league debut last year and put up a 7-1 record with a 1.51 ERA. Jordan, 25, also made his debut last season, going 1-3 with a 3.66 ERA. Both have looked solid this spring and could provide an upgrade to the back of the rotation, which was unreliable last season.

Blevins has been solid for Oakland the past two seasons, and he’s been sharp this spring. He should help upgrade a bullpen that was inconsistent last season after a strong 2012.

3. Improving Young Core

Strasburg, 25, and Harper, 21, are the present and the future of the Nats. Despite notable improvement last year, they still suffered hiccups.

Strasburg’s win-loss record was unimpressive, though that can be attributed to a lack of run support. Harper was on an absolute tear until he literally hit a wall, then his season fell back to normal human level.

Spring has brought Nats fans a Strasburg slider and bulkier Harper, showing the work they put in during their longer-than-expected offseasons. All indications are they’ll be better than ever in 2014.

Jayson Werth ‘Could Do Algorithms’

Via Kilgore:

“Just because you can do something else doesn’t mean you can hit. If you can hit, you can do anything. Because it’s the hardest thing to do. There’s nothing harder. I can bake a cake. I could figure out a way to do algorithms. But a guy that knows how to do algorithms could never hit. It’s literally the hardest thing to do. If you can do the hardest thing, you can do anything else.”

Whoa.

GIF via The Big Lead

(GIF taken with love from FTW.)

Bryce Harper Got A New Car

We just bought a new family car, and our primary concern was if it had a third row. Something tells me Bryce Harper did not share that concern.

The team at Shoreline Motoring built this amazing ’69 Camaro for Bryce Harper. It is powered by a supercharged CTS-V stroker LSA engine. The full custom interior includes an integrated iPad mini and paddle shifters. It is built upon a full custom chassis with Wilwood brakes and center locking Forgeline FS3P wheels mounted to the Forgeline Flush-Loc center lock conversion kit.

Ooooh, an integrated iPad mini. Fancy. (via Nats Enquirer)

Reading The Tea Leaves On Desmond And Zimmermann

Ian Desmond got two years, $17.5 million, and Jordan Zimmermann got two years, $24 million. Both are eligible for free agency in 2015, meaning they’re in line for big-money deals after next season.

Boz is optimistic:

Harper over at Nats Baseball? Not so much. It’s a gamble, but so are $100-million-plus contracts.

DMV: The Nats’ New Lefty Reliever Seems Likable Enough

Nats acquire lefty RP Jerry Blevins for their Minor League POTY. [NJ]

Blevins responded by posting the perfect pic on Twitter. [FTW]

The deal makes good sense for the “win now” Nats. [Nats Baseball]

The Nats will try to extend Desmond and ZNN this winter. [NJ]

The O’s top 10 prospects list is led by Kevin Gausman. [BP ($)]

Brady Anderson is still out there being awesome. [For The Win]

Shanahan’s press conference was really something. [Bog, FTW]

John Madden thinks the RGIII shutdown is “baloney,” y’all. [Bog]

Cooley’s review of RGIII’s KC performance is not pretty. [Bog]

The owner of Momofuki is talking about buying the Skins. [Bog]

Well-written account of what FedEx is like now. [Shutdown Corner]

Ovi could be the first to score 50 in 50 in 20 years. [Caps Insider]

Deep, stat-heavy look at Ovi’s goal-scoring renaissance. [SportsNet]

John Wall named NBA’s fifth-best player under 25. [Bullets Forever]

Terps begin final ACC hoops season tonight at BC. [Testudo]

Mike Rizzo Just Robbed Detroit

The Nats traded Robbie Ray, Steve Lombardozzi and Ian Krol to the Tigers for Doug Fister. Or, as Fangraphs puts it:

The Nationals surrendered a non-elite pitching prospect who has pitched a half season at Double-A and probably won’t rank in anyone’s Top 100 next spring, plus a couple of role players who might or might not end up amounting to anything. And in return, they’re getting two years of a very good starting pitcher at far below market prices. This trade is nothing short of a bonanza for the Nationals.

A bonanza, you say? Why’s that? Nats Baseball answers the call:

Toss in the AL-> NL move and [Fister] should give you a season like Gio or ZNN did last year. That’s what Fister is, a Gio/ZNN like pitcher. A #2 who could pitch at times like a #1 or like a #3. Maybe since he’s 30 you lean more toward the #3 side than the #1 but he’s the Nats #4.

Mike Rizzo is an evil genius.