Results tagged ‘ Jayson Werth ’
By Bill Ladson
PHILADELPHIA — Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth had arguably the biggest hit in Friday’s 9-1 victory over the Phillies.
In the first inning, Washington already had a 1-0 lead when Werth swung at a pitch from right-hander Jeremy Hellickson and doubled to left-center, scoring Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Daniel Murphy. Werth ended up going 2-for-5. Maybe it helped that Werth was given a day off on Thursday against the Braves.
“Jay looked like a young man today,” manager Dusty Baker said. “Yesterday, he said he treated his body with massages. Whatever he did yesterday, it worked today.”
Werth wasn’t so sure if the day-off helped him have a productive day against Philadelphia.
“I felt pretty good,” Werth said. “Dusty is trying to keep everybody fresh in April. I’ll take off-days when I can get them, especially early in the season. As the season goes on, there are going to be fewer and fewer off days.”
By Bill Ladson
This past season, many experts expected the Nationals to run away with the National League East title, and then win their first World Series title. But that didn’t happen. Not only didn’t they reach the postseason, the Nationals finished in second place. Here’s a look at the Nats’ 2015 Major League roster: Who stays, who goes and who has something to prove?
They’ll be back
OF Matt den Dekker: The Nationals need another lefty off the bench next to Clint Robinson. Once he returned from Triple-A Syracuse on Aug. 28, den Dekker was more consistent at the plate, hitting .320. It helped that he changed his swing. He now has a right leg kick that allows him to recognize a lot of pitches.
LHP Gio Gonzalez: He will be the first to say that he has to throw less pitches in the games he starts. Next year could be his final year with the Nationals. He has a lot to prove in 2016.
OF Bryce Harper: What more can you say about the man they call Bam-Bam? He slugged his way into the Nationals’ record books. He set season records in on-base percentage, OPS, home runs for a left-handed hitter and slugging percentage.
C Jose Lobaton: His season wasn’t as good as it was last year. At times — like Wilson Ramos — he would have problems catching throws from the outfield. However, pitchers still enjoyed throwing to him.
3B/2B Anthony Rendon: He was the club’s Most Valuable Player in 2014. This past season, he was arguably the most fragile player. He played in only 80 games because of a knee sprain and quad sprain. Rendon spent most of his time at second base. If the Nationals trade Yunel Escobar, Rendon will be back at third.
RHP Tanner Roark: Unlike Ross Detwiler, Roark was a team player after losing his job in the rotation because of the signing of Max Scherzer. If the team needed a long man – no problem, he was the guy. Setup man? No worries. If the Nationals needed an emergency starter, Roark came through. Roark deserves to be back in the rotation.
1B Clint Robinson: This 30-year old was clearly the team’s Rookie of the Year. He always came up with big hits and was a pretty good defensive first baseman.
RHP Stephen Strasburg: He was injury prone for most of the first half of the season. Once Strasburg came back from his oblique injury, it was like watching the rookie who blew away the Pirates during his Major League debut in 2010. It will be interesting to see if the Nationals sign him to a long-term deal. He is a free agent after the 2016 season.
RHP Max Scherzer: He proved that he was worth the seven-year, $210 million contract. Two no-hitters, four complete games, 14 victories and 276 strikeouts made him the ace of the rotation.
RF Jayson Werth: The unofficial captain of the Nationals, Werth had to go on the disabled list twice because of shoulder and wrist injuries. It will be interesting to see where he fits in the lineup. If the Nationals are unable to acquire a leadoff hitter, look for Werth to hit at the top of the lineup.
He’s ready, but …
OF Michael Taylor: No lie, one Major League scout compared Taylor’s defense to Willie Mays. Taylor is a good one out there and will win a Gold Glove soon. What about his bat? There are days he can look awful, especially when he is at the top of the order. Put him near the bottom of the order with runners on base, he has a high batting average.
LHP Felipe Rivero: By the end of the season, he was the only jewel in the bullpen. Former manager Matt Williams used him as a closer after the team suspended Jonathan Papelbon. Will Rivero be the closer next year? It’s anyone’s guess at this point.
RHP Joe Ross: Doug Fister lost his starting job because of Ross. He gave the Nationals quality innings, but he was shut down late in the season because his arm was tired.
SS Trea Turner: Turner looks like a 15-year-old kid, but he plays like a veteran. He is going to be one heck of a hitter and defender when it’s all said and done. Turner will be the starting shortstop in 2016.
Something to prove
RHP A.J. Cole: He wasn’t given much a chance to prove himself. When he did pitch, Cole was hit hard. Hard to tell what his future is with the team at this point. Entering this past season, Cole was the second-best prospect in the Nationals organization, according to MLB.com. Now, he ranks sixth.
LHP Matt Grace Another guy from the farm system, Grace couldn’t keep the ball down during his first stint with the team. When he came back late in year, he was much better. He will be given every chance to make the 2016 team out of Spring Training.
INF Wilmer Difo: He had a nice season in the Minor Leagues, but when he was promoted to the Major Leagues, Difo wasn’t given much of a chance until the second-to-last day of the season against the Mets. In that game, Difo broke his hand and most likely will miss the Arizona Fall League season.
RHP Taylor Jordan: Once a candidate for the rotation, Jordan had several stints with the team. His future seems to be as a reliever.
RHP Rafael Martin: He is hard to figure out. One day, Martin can get hitters out. Other days, he throws batting practice.
C Pedro Severino: He catching skills are as advertised. He even has speed on the bases and behind the dish. One cannot judge his offense on one at-bat. It would not be a surprise if he was given every chance to make the team out of Spring Training.
RHP Blake Treinen: People from the front office to the players have bragged about his 98-mph sinker. That sinker had trouble staying down, and left-handed hitters hit Treinen hard. It will interesting to see what he does to improve his pitching repertoire when Spring Training starts.
Sammy Solis: Read Martin.
Possible trade chips
RHP Drew Storen: He was arguably having his best season of his career until the Nationals traded for Jonathan Papelbon to become the closer. After Papelbon joined the team, Storen had a 6.75 ERA and broke his thumb after he allowed the game-winning homer to Yoenis Cespedes in September. A change of scenery may do Storen some good.
3B Yunel Escobar: He could be a man without a position for the Nationals. The team would like to have Rendon back at third base. While Escobar had a great year with the bat, he was below average with the glove.
2B Danny Espinosa: He had a productive season coming off the bench and still was a solid defender. It was a year where he played all four infield positions and left field. He could become Ben Zobrist of the National League if he wants it. But he’ll respond by saying he’s not a bench player.
OF/1B Tyler Moore: When he plays often, Moore can provide power. He is almost useless when he comes off the bench. He is up for arbitration for the first time.
Wilson Ramos: Give him credit, he has caught three no-hitters during his career and he stayed healthy throughout the season. Privately, some people in the organization worried about his game-calling skills and he had problems catching throws from the outfield. To make matters worse, he had his worst season as a hitter.
All but gone
SS Ian Desmond: The Nationals offered him a lucrative deal last year, but he turned it down and will become a free agent after the World Series. Desmond is coming off his worst season and it will be interesting to see who much he gets in the open market.
RHP Doug Fister: The Nationals gave him a short leash to get his act together on the mound. When he didn’t get the job done as a starter, he was put in the bullpen as a long man. Fister said he would like to become a starter again, but that will not happen with the Nationals.
RHP Casey Janssen: He was supposed to replace Tyler Clippard as the setup man, but he was hit hard during the second half of the season. Janssen has a $7 million option left in his contract, but that is not expected to be picked up.
Jonathan Papelbon He was supposed to make the bullpen even better, but he didn’t get many save opportunities and then was suspended the final four games of the seasons for having a run-in with Harper. General manager Mike Rizzo would be considered a genius if he can acquire anything good for him. Papelbon is past his prime.
LHP Matt Thornton: He is 39 years old and he still has fire in his stomach to play another year. He wasn’t bad with the Nationals, but it’s doubtful he will play another season with them.
2B Dan Uggla: For a guy who wanted to play every day, Uggla wasn’t bad as a reserve. Who can forget the big home run he hit against the Braves on April 28?
RHP Jordan Zimmermann: Both the Nationals and Zimmermann tried to get a deal done, without much success. He is clearly the best starting pitcher in Nationals history, but he will take his services elsewhere.
RHP Aaron Barrett: He got off to a slow start and then needed Tommy John surgery. He probably will not be a factor in 2017 because he’ll be recovering from the procedure.
RHP David Carpenter It looked like the Nationals have found their eighth-inning setup guy, but he hurt his shoulder before the All-Star break and never returned to action.
OF Reed Johnson He wasn’t given much of a chance to play because of a torn tendon in his foot and a broken rib. Reed plans to play another year and realizes that he may have to sign a Minor League deal in order to join a team.
OF Nate McLouth: He didn’t play an inning because of shoulder problems. He would later have a cleanup procedure in the shoulder. He will become a free agent and will not return to the Nationals.
CF Denard Span: The Nats had to use four people at the leadoff spot because Span missed a lot of time because of back tightness, abdominal and hip problems. Span is a free agent and most likely will not be back with the team.
RHP Craig Stammen: He was the MVPM which means Most Valuable Player Missing. Stammen missed most of the season because of a forearm injury. He can pitch the middle innings and be a valuable setup guy. While he was gone, the Nats had serious problems replacing him.
1B Ryan Zimmerman: He played less than 100 games for the second straight year because of foot and oblique problems. He plans to change his workout routine this offseason. When he’s healthy, he can carry a team for a while.
By Bill Ladson
WASHINGTON — With 24 games to go in the regular season, the Nationals find themselves six games behind the Mets in the National League East race.
On Tuesday, Washington blew a six-run lead and lost a heartbreaker to New York, 8-7, and Jayson Werth realizes that time is running out. He knows his team has to win almost every game if it wants to win the division crown for the second year in a row.
“Well, it’s going to be tough,” Werth said. “We have to win tomorrow. I come from the school of never say die. It’s not over ‘til it’s over. We’re not out ‘til we’re out. But this one is tough to swallow.”
To keep that postseason dream alive, the Nationals must win Wednesday’s game against the Mets.
“I mean, you know the guys at this point really well,” Werth said. “You’ve spent a lot of time with them. It’s a resilient group, resilient bunch. Obviously this is a tough one. This is probably the toughest loss … I’m not going to say in my career, but it’s right up there. So we’re going to have to find a way. We’re going to have to fight back. It’s going to be a long, hard road for us. There’s a lot of games left in the season and like I said It’s not over ‘til it’s over.”
By Bill Ladson
SAN FRANCISCO — Since the All-Star break, the Nationals are 10-17 and hitting .224 with a .295 on-base percentage.
Manager Matt Williams decided to make a few changes to the lineup Friday, sitting left fielder Jayson Werth, second baseman Anthony Rendon and catcher Wilson Ramos and replaced them with Clint Robinson, Danny Espinosa and Jose Lobaton, respectively.
Williams said he wanted some lefties in the lineup to face right-hander Matt Cain. The moves are not permanent. Werth and Rendon could be back in the lineup Saturday against San Francisco. Ramos most likely will not start that day because Lobaton is Gio Gonzalez’s personal catcher.
Werth and Rendon have been rusty since coming off the disabled list. Werth is 8-for-56 with a homer and six RBIs since July 28th, while Rendon is 15-for-67 [.224] with a homer and two RBIs since July 25.
“Jayson is still coming back from a wrist injury. It’s probably going to be a process from now until the end of the season,” Williams said. “That being said, Anthony has been heavy on his legs, too, and he is coming off a quad injury. We have to find him days [off], too.”
Ramos has been healthy all season, but he has not performed well with the bat and behind the plate. In fact, Lobaton is considered a better catcher because of his pitch framing and game calling.
To Williams, Ramos is not swinging at the right pitches. Williams gave Thursday’s game as an example of how badly Ramos has been going at the plate.
“We had the bases loaded [in the first inning],” Williams said. “He got ahead, 1-0, and then swung at the one he didn’t want to hit. He grounded out. It’s a little bit of that. His pitch selection [at the plate] could be a little better. He is fighting himself in pitcher’s counts.”
WASHINGTON — It looks like center fielder Denard Span will be back with the Nationals sooner than expected. Span, who is on the disabled list because of a torn rectus abdominis muscle, could be back on the field by late April. Originally, he thought he would return to action sometime in May.
Early Monday afternoon, Span was doing hard sprints on the outfield grass. He already played two Minor League games –defense only—and will play a simulated game on Tuesday at Nationals Park. He is expected to swing the bat that day. Span then will return to the team’s Spring Training complex in Viera, Fla., later this week and continue to his rehab assignment.
“I feel pretty good,” Span said. “I still have a lot of work to do. I have to get in real game situations as far as hitting, stealing bases, going first to third. Starting next week, we are going to start doing that stuff. If I continue to get well, I think I will be back before May.”
Being in the best of shape is one of the reasons Span is optimistic that he can come back earlier than expected.
“I’ve taken pride in my work ethic. So I’m sure that’s why I’m in the position I’m in now,” Span said. “I’ve taken the rehab process very seriously. I haven’t cut any corners. So that is the big reasons I’m feeling pretty good.”
Outfielder Jayson Werth was hoping that he could play in the Opening Day game against the Mets on Monday, but after deciding not to play in a Minor League game at 9:00a.m on Sunday, he decided not to rush back. Werth still needs more at-bats and he has mild discomfort in his right shoulder.
Werth is still shooting to play his first Major League game of the season on April 13 against the Red Sox. He is on the disabled list because of shoulder surgery he had in his right AC joint in January.
Werth is expected to be in a rehab assignment once the Minor League season starts April 9th.
“We talked about playing today, but I’m not quite ready,” Werth said. “But we are coming along. It’s definitely progressing. I’ve been playing in the Minor Leagues [during Spring Training]. I wanted to be here today. I have a couple of more hurdles to cross before I’m ready to go.”
By Andrew Simon
WASHINGTON — Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche stepped in against Mets right-hander Dillon Gee in the first inning of Thursday’s game in New York, took one curveball for a strike, then fouled off another.
That situation means danger for a hitter. Through Friday’s action, all Major Leaguers had combined to bat .165/.194/.240 after falling behind 0-2.
But Gee came back with a fastball up and away, and LaRoche smacked it over the left-center field wall for a two-run homer. It was the veteran’s 17th homer of the season, and as pointed out by Beyond the Box Score, it was his 11th in a two-strike count to tie him with the Astros’ Chris Carter for the Major League lead. Among all big leaguers with at least 10 big flies this year, LaRoche leads the way with 64.7 percent coming with two strikes.
“I don’t have an answer for that,” LaRoche said when informed of the stat. “I don’t know if maybe in those counts you’re not trying to do too much — you’re just trying to make solid contact and in turn end up putting a better swing on the ball.”
Of course, 2014 represents a small sample of LaRoche’s 11-year career, and plenty of fluctuations can occur in splits such as these.
LaRoche guessed that his recent two-strike power would be at odds with the rest of his career, and indeed, he hasn’t shown a consistent pattern in that regard. Of the 165 players to hit at least 100 homers since LaRoche’s rookie year of 2004, he ranks only 66th by hitting 30.8 percent of his long balls in two-strike counts (teammate Jayson Werth ranks third, at 41.1 percent).
Nats manager Matt Williams cited LaRoche’s experience and understanding of pitchers as reasons he might be more comfortable hitting in those situations, but LaRoche believes it’s something that “comes and goes” rather than improving over time.
“When you’re feeling good at the plate and when things are rolling, you really don’t care if there’s no strikes or two strikes,” he said. “It doesn’t bother you to work a count and potentially get to a two-strike count. And when you’re not feeling good, not seeing the ball well, you try to stay out of those two-strike counts.”
There is no doubt that the better the count, the better off a hitter is. For example, Major Leaguers have a .796 OPS after getting ahead 1-0 this year, compared with .593 after falling behind 0-1. They slug .262 with two strikes but .548 with none.
Furthermore, many hitters might shorten their swings when on the verge of a strikeout, in an effort to put the ball in play. But LaRoche theorized that in some cases that actually could help produce a home run.
“You’d think without two strikes, you’d have a little more powerful swing,” he said. “But again, baseball’s a lot like golf. The harder you try to swing, the ball doesn’t go as far. It’s kind of funny how that works. You think you’re putting a nice, easy swing on the ball, and then it just kind of jumps sometimes.”
Williams added that advantageous counts, such as 2-0 or 3-1, can lead a hitter to become anxious and swing too hard. But when LaRoche gets behind, as he did against Gee, “he simply puts the head of the bat on it.”
“He doesn’t panic when he gets to two strikes,” Williams said. “He’s done it a time or two.”
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By Andrew Simon
WASHINGTON — Trailing the Mets 2-1 in the sixth inning on Tuesday night, the Nationals got a leadoff double from Jayson Werth before Adam LaRoche slapped a single to left field. Werth, getting the wave from third base coach Bob Henley, steamed around to try to score the tying run but was beaten by left fielder Eric Campbell’s nearly perfect one-hop throw.
In a game filled with missed opportunities, this was one that stood out. Instead of having runners at the corners with no outs, the Nats were left with a runner at first with one out. Two batters later, the inning was over, and Washington never scored another run.
So did Henley err by sending Werth in that situation? After the game, both Werth and manager Matt Williams defended the decision, for two main reasons.
1) The Mets’ defense was shifted against the left-handed LaRoche, putting three infielders to the right side of second base, with no shortstop in position to hold Werth close to the bag. Therefore, Werth was able to take a good lead, and was about halfway to third base when the ball reached the outfield grass.
“I thought Jayson had a good jump,” Williams said. “He knows they’re not playing behind him. He knows they’re swung over. The shortstop is to his left, and there’s nobody there.”
Plus, neither Henley nor Werth probably figured that Campbell — making his second Major League start in the outfield — would throw an on-target seed to the plate. But he did.
“It would take a perfect throw, and that’s what happened,” Werth said.
2) Back on July 20 at Nationals Park, the Nats took a walk-off victory against the Brewers when Henley waved around Anthony Rendon from first on Werth’s double down the left field line, prompting Werth to refer to the third base coach as “Old No Stop Sign Henley.”
From the first day of Spring Training, Williams has wanted a team that goes for it on the basepaths, and the approach has worked. The Nats entered Tuesday second in the Majors in FanGraphs’ baserunning metric and fifth in the one calculated by Baseball Prospectus.
“That’s the way we play,” Williams said. “We’re aggressive. We have been all year and we can’t stop now.”
Werth agreed that the club will “stay aggressive on the bases.”
“That’s part of our game,” he said. “That’s part of who we are. So sometimes it works out for us, sometimes it doesn’t.”
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By Andrew Simon
WASHINGTON — Third base coach is one of those mostly thankless jobs that tends to draws notice only in the form of blame when something goes wrong.
“That’s part of it,” the Nationals’ Bob Henley said. “I don’t worry about that.”
Henley’s willingness to take a risk helped the Nationals pull out a dramatic 5-4 over the Brewers on Sunday at Nationals Park, as he waved home Anthony Rendon for the walk-off run in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Washington had Rendon — who offers decent if unspectacular speed — at first base with two outs when Jayson Werth ripped Rob Wooten’s pitch for a line drive down the left field line. Stationed past third base on contact, Henley began moving toward home plate, turning around and backpedaling so he could watch left fielder Khris Davis’ pursuit into the left field corner. Henley got perhaps a third of the way between the base and the plate, and by that time, the decision was completely in his hands.
“He’s the one watching the play,” Rendon said. “Once I turn and go to third base, the play’s behind me, so I have to trust him.”
All kinds of factors must be considered, including the game situation, the speed of the runner and the arm of the fielder.
When Davis reached the ball on the warning track, Rendon was about halfway to third. At that point, Henley said, he had made up his mind.
“With two outs, you know [Rendon’s] going to be running on contact, and as soon as it was hit, I was thinking about sending him,” Henley said. “As soon as it went to the wall, I knew I was. Great hitting, great baserunning — it really has nothing to do with me at all. I send everybody.”
“Old No Stop Sign Henley,” as Werth referred to him, began waving his arm — the universal third base coach signal for “Go” — when Davis double-clutched and Rendon got about 5-to-7 steps from the bag.
“We knew we were going to have a play at the plate, and either we were or we weren’t [going to score], but we were going to send him,” Henley said.
What could have and perhaps should have been a close play turned out to be no play at all. With Davis slow to get off a throw and then airmailing his cutoff man, the Brewers never even got the ball to the plate.
“We’ve got to try to win the game there,” manager Matt Williams said. “If ‘Hen’ stops him there, then we’re banking on another base hit. We’ve got to take a chance there.”
This time, the chance paid off, not that Henley wanted any credit for it.
“We’re trying to win ball games, and the boys did an unbelievable job to win,” he said. “I just try to stay out of their way.”
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By Andrew Simon
WASHINGTON — Saturday was the Nationals’ fifth game since Bryce Harper’s return made their starting lineup whole again, and the offense broke out with a season-best performance in a 13-0 drubbing of the Cubs.
Matt Williams’ lineup card demonstrated the depth at his disposal, with the trio of Harper, Desmond and Ramos — capable of anchoring a batting order — filling the three slots ahead of pitcher Gio Gonzalez. The Cubs had to scramble for pitching after trading scheduled starter Jeff Samardzija on Friday night, and the Nats’ bats took advantage with season highs of 13 runs and 19 hits.
“It’s not easy to pitch to this lineup,” said Ramos, who went 2-for-5 with a double. “The leadoff guy, the eight guy, everybody can hit the ball well, so right now it’s hard for them to face us.”
Here’s a look at some numbers that stand out from the win:
- At 13-0, this was the biggest shutout victory of the season by any team. In terms of Nationals history (since 2005), it was by far their biggest winning margin in a shutout. Previously, Washington’s biggest shutout victory was by 10 runs.
- The Nats had scored in double digits only three previous times this season, with a high of 11. Two of those games came in April, and the last was May 31 against the Rangers.
- Ten Nationals recorded at least one hit on Saturday, including all eight starting position players, pitcher Gio Gonzalez and substitute Kevin Frandsen. Seven players recorded an RBI.
- The Nats’ eight doubles was a club record (since ’05). The last time it happened in franchise history was Sept. 18, 1998, when the Expos had eight against the Phillies. Two of the two-baggers in that contest came from third base coach Bob Henley and TV analyst F.P. Santangelo.
- The Nats batted around twice and had another frame in which they sent eight hitters to the plate. The only time they went down in order was in the eighth.
- Anthony Rendon stroked a career-high three doubles and has 21 for the season. In his last 31 games, he’s hitting .341/.396/.603.
- In his last 16 games of June, Jayson Werth hit .145/.264/.177 with two extra-base hits (both doubles), four RBI and 16 strikeouts. In his first four games of July, he’s 9-for-14 with five doubles, two homers, eight RBI and two strikeouts.
- Ryan Zimmerman went 4-for-5 on Saturday, his second four-hit game of the season, with the other coming April 3 against the Mets. Before this season, he had eight such games, but none since July 28, 2011. Zimmerman is batting .357 (15-for-42) with six doubles, a homer and eight RBI over his last 11 games.
- Since coming off the DL for the second time this year, Ramos is 9-for-26 (.346) with a double and a home run.
Follow Andrew Simon on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.
By Bill Ladson
WASHINGTON — Entering Tuesday’s action against the Rockies, Nationals outfielder Jayson Weryth was in a 7-for-52 slump and saw his batting average dip to .266.
So after Monday night’s 7-3 victory over the Rockies, Werth and hitting coach Rick Schu looked over video tape to figure out what’s wrong with Werth at the plate. The two came to the conclusion that Werth needed stand more upright in order to see the ball better.
The new stance paid off for Werth on Tuesday night. He went 2-for-3 with three RBIs in a 7-1 victory over Colorado.
“I had a pretty good mindset going into the game,” Werth said. “We made a minor adjustment, just shortened things up,”
In the first inning, with runners on first and second and no outs, Werth doubled down the left-field line, scoring Denard Span and Anthony Rendon. A few minutes before the RBI double, Werth hit a ball hard that went foul, and he had a feeling that his swing was back on track.
“I barreled it — way foul. I don’t remember the last time I did that,” Werth said. “I felt pretty confident after that. I put together a pretty good game. Hopefully, that will be the one to keep me going.”
Three innings later, Werth knocked in his third run of the game, doubling to right-center field, scoring Rendon.
“I’ve been able to barrel those balls to right-center and sometimes hit home runs on pitches like that,” Werth said. “That was a little more telling than the first hit. I feel good. … It was nice to come through for the guys tonight.”