August 8, lineups vs. the Rockies

by Jacob Emert

In the seventh inning of last night’s game, it looked like the Nationals were going to gain one game on the Mets, who at the time were trailing the Rays. Fast-forward about 30 minutes and the script was completely flipped, with the Nationals blowing a three-run lead in the eighth and the Mets coming from behind to win.

<< LAST NIGHT’S GAME STORY >>

Below are the lineups for tonight’s game, accompanied by each player’s walk and strikeout percentages (K% / BB%).

Washington Nationals (56-52)

Anthony Rendon – 3B (14.6/11.5)

Danny Espinosa – 2B (23.1/7.9)

Bryce Harper – RF (20.1/18.8)

Ryan Zimmerman – 1B (18.8/8.0)

Clint Robinson – LF (14.0/10.0)

Ian Desmond – SS (29.3/5.6)

Wilson Ramos – C (19.3/3.9)

Michael Taylor – CF (32.0/5.9)

Stephen Strasburg – RHP (5-5, 5.16 ERA)

Colorado Rockies (46-61)

Charlie Blackmon – CF (18.6/7.0)

Jose Reyes – SS (13.2/9.2)

Carlos Gonzalez – RF (24.4/10.3)

Nolan Arenado – 3B (19.0/7.1)

Ben Paulsen – 1B (25.0/4.2)

D.J. LaMahieu – 2B (20.0/11.8)

Nick Hundley – C (19.7/4.9)

Brandon Barnes – LF (20.5/12.8)

Eddie Butler – RHP (3-8, 5.45 ERA)

An unlikely loss for Nats, Storen

By Andrew Simon

WASHINGTON — There’s no getting around the fact that the Nationals’ latest loss, to the Rockies on Friday night, stung more than most. Needing a win to remain within 1 1/2 games of the Mets in the NL East, the Nats held a 4-1 lead through seven innings, only to see the dependable Drew Storen surrender a go-ahead grand slam to Carlos Gonzalez in a 5-4 defeat.

Just how unlikely was the loss under the circumstances?

Before Friday, the Nats were 46-3 when leading after seven innings, while the Rockies were 5-47 when trailing through seven. And since 2012, Washington was 283-21 (.931) when carrying a lead into the eighth.

According to FanGraphs, the Nationals’ win expectancy when the eighth inning began was 94.1 percent. When Storen got Charlie Blackmon to fly out for the second out with a runner on first, it ticked up to 96.2 percent. And even after Nolan Arenado’s weakly hit infield single loaded the bases for Gonzalez, it remained at a strong 89.8 percent.

Of course, it’s important to note that win expectancy is based on what has happened in certain situations throughout baseball history and doesn’t consider the quality of players and teams involved. With Storen taking the mound with a 1.52 ERA and 14-game scoreless streak, the Nats’ odds probably were even better.

“When he comes in, it’s typically 1-2-3,” second baseman Danny Espinosa said of Storen, who had allowed one home run all season. “It’s awesome. He’s been unbelievable for us this year.”

Storen entered Friday with a win probability added (WPA) of 2.74 this season, third-best among MLB relievers, according to FanGraphs. WPA tracks changes in win expectancy from play to play and credits players with increasing their team’s chances, or charges them with hurting it.

When Storen threw Gonzalez an inside fastball that caught too much of the plate before rocketing over the right field wall, it dropped the Nats’ win expectancy from 89.8 to 26.8 percent in the span of a few seconds. That massive swing left Storen with a WPA of -0.663 for his one inning of work.

That’s the second-lowest mark by a Nats pitcher this season, behind Casey Janssen’s -0.686 in a loss to the Reds on May 30. It’s also the second lowest of Storen’s regular-season career, following a -0.959 he put up against the Phillies as a rookie on Sept. 19, 2010, when current teammate Jayson Werth reached him for a walk-off homer as part of a four-run outburst.

“Just had a couple guys get on base for various reasons and I make one bad pitch, have a fastball come over the plate to a really good hitter,” Storen said of Friday’s loss. “It’s the nature of the business.”

Nats’ Fister willing to be team player, work in bullpen

By Bill Ladson
WASHINGTON — Nationals right-hander Doug Fister acknowledged that he wasn’t pleased to learn that he was taken out of the rotation in favor of right-hander Joe Ross.

Washington needed to make a move because Stephen Strasburg is returning to the rotation Saturday against the Rockies and Ross has been one of the team’s best starters.

“It’s honesty. It’s honestly with him and letting him know what we’re thinking and what we want to do for the remainder of the season,” Manager Matt Williams said. “It’s not easy, but he [handled] it with professionalism and told us that he’s ready to go whenever we need him. He is about winning baseball games and providing what he can to our team.”

Fister, who led the led the Nationals with 16 victories last year, has had it rough in 2015, going 4-7 with 4.60 ERA in 15 starts. He last pitched Monday against the D-Backs, throwing six innings and allowing five runs and three home runs. A finesse pitcher, Fister had problems keeping the ball down this year. He dealt with forearm tightness that put him on the disabled list in May, but he said he is healthy now.

“Early on in the year I had some trouble staying healthy,” Fister said. “I had some hiccups coming back from it. It’s what it is. We got to put that behind us and go out to play ball.”

Fister will now be on a bullpen schedule and it will be interesting to see how well he can work on his pitching mechanics.

“There is no schedule when it comes to the bullpen,” Fister said. “That does make it a little more interesting when it comes to that. I just have to stay on top of it and be able to talk to Cat [pitching coach Steve McCatty].”

August 7, lineups vs. the Rockies

by Jacob Emert 

Last night, Joe Ross led the Nationals to a statement win, one they hope will end the recent tumble. Wilson Ramos and Ian Desmond both had big hits, and they will both be key for the Nationals down the stretch.

The big news of the night came after the game, when Matt Williams announced Joe Ross will stay in the rotation, and Doug Fister will move to the bullpen. 

Below are tonight’s lineups for the series opener against the Rockies, accompanied by each starter’s second-half slash line (average/on-base/slugging).

Washington Nationals (56-51)

Yunel Escobar – 3B (.282/.383/.493)

Danny Espinosa – 2B (.195/.214/.220)

Bryce Harper – RF (.313/.452/.507)

Ryan Zimmerman – 1B (.242/.316/.515)

Jayson Werth – LF (.147/.167/.206)

Ian Desmond – SS (.250/.311/.515)

Wilson Ramos – C (.167/.180/.229)

Michael Taylor – CF (.234/.268/.403)

Jordan Zimmermann – RHP (8-7, 3.54 ERA)

Colorado Rockies (45-61)

Charlie Blackmon – CF (.306/.363/.500)

Jose Reyes – SS (.254/.324/.302)

Nolan Arenado – 3B (.181/.250/.347)

Carlos Gonzalez – RF (.375/.446/.859)

D.J. LaMahieu – 2B (.371/.457/.486)

Ben Paulsen – 1B (.333/.363/.500)

Nick Hundley – C (.278/.316/.500)

Kyle Parker – LF (.222/.316/.500)

Jorge De La Rosa – LHP (7-4, 4.87 ERA)

August 6, lineups for Diamondbacks at Nationals

by Jacob Emert

Last night was bad. The Nationals scored two runs in the first inning but went scoreless until the ninth, when the game was already way out of hand. The bullpen blew the lead in the sixth, and the game was so far gone that Tyler Moore was called upon to pitch. 

Here are tonight’s lineups for game four of the series, which the Nationals need to win to split the four-game set. Next to each player is their BABIP, or Batting Average on Balls In Play. 

Washington Nationals (55-51)

 Yunel Escobar – 3B (.354)

Anthony Rendon – 2B (.322)

Bryce Harper – RF (.368)

Clint Robinson – 1B (.297)

Jayson Werth – LF (.238)

Ian Desmond – SS (.285)

Wilson Ramos – C (.270)

Michael Taylor – CF (.337)

Joe Ross – RHP (2-3, 3.00 ERA)

Arizona Diamondbacks (52-54)

 Eder Inciarte – CF (.322)

Cliff Pennington – SS (.288)

David Peralta – LF (.340)

Jake Lamb – 3B (.373)

Aaron Hill – 2B (.234)

Jarrod Saltalamacchia – 1B (.250)

Yasmany Tomas – RF (.381)

Oscar Hernandez – C (.429)

Jeremy Hellickson – RHP (7-7, 4.95 ERA)

 

Nats’ Gonzalez throws too many pitches

WASHINGTON – In Wednesday’s 11-4 loss to the D-Backs, Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez threw 95 pitches in five-plus innings. He allowed two runs, walked one and struck out seven. The fourth inning was the only time he had an easy inning.

Gonzalez was at a loss for words after game, but knew he had to go deep in the game to save the bullpen and that didn’t happen.

“Right now, I have to focus on my job and pitch more than five innings,” Gonzalez said. “I felt great. I can’t do anything about [the D-Backs] contact. Every ball they hit, they were putting it in play. That’s just basically it.”

Struggling Desmond gets 5th day off

by Jacob Emert

WASHINGTON – For six games in late July, it seemed as if Ian Desmond had finally broken through his season of struggles.

In 19 at-bats, Desmond knocked 10 hits — four for home runs — while striking out five times. Since, his numbers have regressed back. He’s 5-for-35 with zero home runs and 17 strikeouts since July 26.

On Wednesday, in the 106th game of the year, Desmond was left out of manager Matt Williams’ lineup for just the fifth time.

“It’s a day off for Desi,” Williams said. “He doesn’t get many of them. So, it gives Danny (Espinosa) an opportunity to get back in the lineup. As we’ve spoken about for the past few days anyway, we have to get him in there.”

Espinosa has been a large portion of this team’s success, filling in with significant production at several positions throughout the season.

Williams didn’t give reason to believe that Desmond will be out of the lineup for more than a day, and when he does return the key for his success is clear.

“For him, anytime he has success, he’s swinging at strikes,” Desmond said. “If he’s not swinging at strikes, then he or anybody else doesn’t have a whole lot of success. Again, he’s played just about every day, and at certain points during the season we’re going to want to give him some time off and today’s an opportunity to do that.”

August 5, lineups for Diamondbacks at Nationals

by Jacob Emert

Max Scherzer’s six innings of three-run ball on Tuesday were enough to give the Nationals a chance down the stretch, and a late rally led by Jayson Werth and Wilson Ramos capitalized on it. Jonathan Papelbon notched his second save as a National, and Washington remained one game back in the NL East.

<<LAST NIGHT’S GAME STORY>>

Here is tonight’s preview for game three of the series, which features two of the NL’s best starters since the All-Star break. Below are the starting lineups, accompanied by each starter’s wRC+, or weighted runs created with the player’s home environment factored in. 100 is average for all position players, so the higher above 100 the player is, the more runs he has created. A number below 100 means that player is below league average in this regard.

Washington Nationals (55-50)

Yunel Escobar – 3B (121)

Anthony Rendon – 2B (105)

Bryce Harper – RF (205; No. 1 in MLB)

Ryan Zimmerman – 1B (75)

Jayson Werth – LF (58)

Danny Espinosa – SS (100)

Jose Lobaton – C (70)

Michael Taylor – CF (77)

Gio Gonzalez – LHP (8-4, 3.75 ERA)

Arizona Diamondbacks (51-54)

Ender Inciarte – LF (88)

A.J. Pollock – CF (122)

Paul Goldschmidt – 1B (173)

Welington Castillo – C (118)

Aaron Hill – 3B (64)

Yasmany Tomas – RF (104)

Chris Owings – 2B (53)

Nick Ahmed – SS (70)

Rubby De La Rosa – RHP (8-5, 4.59 ERA)

 

 

 

Nats’ Scherzer looking for perfection

By Bill Ladson
WASHINGTON – Even though he picked up a win and a no-decision in his last two starts, Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer is a perfectionist. 

After Tuesday’s 5-4 victory against the D-Backs, Scherzer was not pleased that he allowed a combined six walks in those starts.Prior to June 30, Scherzer never walked more than two batters in a game. He even went five consecutive games without walking a batter.

Scherzer believes he is not attacking hitters early in the count or throwing putaway pitches.

“That’s something I’ve been good at this whole year,” Scherzer said. “I’m constantly throwing first-pitch strikes, working ahead of the count. I’m always on the offensive. [Lately], it feels like I’m falling behind in the count just enough that it’s leading me into bad counts, which leads to walks. It’s nothing mechanical. I have to dial it in mentally.”

August 4, lineups for Diamondbacks at Nationals

by Jacob Emert

The Nationals fell into a big hole last night, and, despite a valiant 9th-inning rally, they were never able to climb out of it. They’ve dropped four games in a row and sit 1.0 games behind the Mets in the NL East.

Here are tonight’s lineups for game two of the series, accompanied by each player’s offensive Wins Above Replacement (other than pitchers), according to FanGraphs.com.

Washington Nationals (54-50)

Yunel Escobar – 3B (1.4)

Anthony Rendon – 2B (0.3)

Bryce Harper – RF (6.4)

Ryan Zimmerman – 1B (-0.5)

Jayson Werth – LF (-0.9)

Ian Desmond – SS (-0.5)

Wilson Ramos – C (0.3)

Michael Taylor – CF (1.6)

Max Scherzer – RHP (5.0)

Arizona Diamondbacks (51-53)

Ender Inciarte – RF (0.9)

A.J. Pollock – CF (4.4)

Paul Goldschmidt – 1B (5.2)

David Peralta – LF (2.5)

Jake Lamb – 3B (1.9)

Jarrod Saltalamacchia – C  (-0.2)

Chris Owings – 2B (-0.8)

Nick Ahmed – SS (1.4)

Patrick Corbin – LHP (0.3)

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