Results tagged ‘ Nationals ’

Nats’ Williams decides to make lineup changes

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.”

Nats’ Weidemaier to be bench coach in Mexican League

SAN FRANCISCO — After the 2015 baseball season come to an end in October, Nationals defensive coordinator Mark Weidemaier will continue working on the baseball field, this time in the Mexico Pacific Winter League for Mazatlan Vernados. The team is managed by Miguel Ojeda.

Weidemaier, who is in his second season with the Nationals, has enjoyed 28 years in Latin America having scouted or coached Winter Ball from 1985 to 2013 in the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Mexico and Puerto Rico.

Nats’ Fister not looking into future as free agent

By Bill Ladson
LOS ANGELES — Nationals right-hander Doug Fister made his first relief appearance of the season in an 8-3 victory over the Dodgers on Monday night.

Fister pitched the ninth inning and allowed a three-run homer to Carl Crawford. In fairness, Fister should have been out of the inning, but shortstop Ian Desmond made a throwing error that forced Fister to get an extra out.

Fister felt a sense of relief after he made his first appearance out of the bullpen. He was taken out of the rotation last week in favor of Joe Ross because Fister had problems keeping the ball down. In fact, he allowed 13 homers this year.

“The first one is over. I haven’t done it for a while. So I wasn’t real sure what it takes with all the little details,” Fister said. “It went smoothly, being able to warm up and being ready. I felt good last night. I feel like I’m back on track of where I need to be. Yeah, Crawford got to it. It was a decent pitch. But I have to tip my cap to him.”

Fister plans to keep a positive attitude about his new role, work hard in the bullpen and in games. He said being negative doesn’t solve anything.

“It doesn’t do anybody any good if I’m negative,” Fister said. “If I’m hiding in the corner, that doesn’t help anybody else. We are a team here. The ultimate goal is to win the World Series.”

Fister will be a free agent after the season, but hasn’t thought about how his role in the bullpen will affect him on the open market. Fister is not expected to be back with Washington next year.

“I figure that will take care of itself,” Fister said. “If I can get back on track and pitch well, where I fall is where I fall in the free-agent market. There is nothing I can do to change it, but pitch better.”

Nats sign Campana to Minor League deal

By Bill Ladson

LOS ANGELES — The Nationals signed outfielder Tony Campana to a Minor League deal, a baseball source confirmed to MLB.com.

Campana, 29, is recovering from Tommy John surgery and will report to Viera Fla., the team’s Spring Training facility.

When healthy, Campana can provide speed off the bench. He had a career high 30 stolen bases for the Cubs in 2012. Besides the Cubs, Campana spent time with the Angels, Diamondbacks and White Sox.

Lobaton injured, stays in game

By Bill Ladson

LOS ANGELES — In the first inning of Monday’s 8-3 victory over the Dodgers, Nationals catcher Jose Lobaton injured his hand because of a back swing from Dodgers shortstop Jimmy Rollins.

Nationals manager Matt Williams and Athletic trainers Lee Kuntz came to Lobaton’s aid, but Lobaton stayed in the game. Lobaton ended up going 0-for-3.

“[Rollins] clipped Lobby’s finger nail and pulled some of it off,” Williams said. “It was unintentional, a freak random thing. … That’s a painful thing.”

Desmond showing more consistency at plate

By Bill Ladson
LOS ANGELES — After Monday’s 8-3 victory over the Dodgers, one would have never known that Ian Desmond had a game to remember. All he kept talking about were the eight shutout innings Gio Gonzalez threw and the important win the Nationals needed to stay close with the Mets in the National League East.

But Desmond was the hitting hero, going 3-for-4 with two homers and three RBIs. In fact, since July 20, Desmond is 23-for-73 (.315) with seven home runs and 16 RBIs. According to manager Matt Williams, Desmond is seeing the breaking pitch much better. For example, Desmond was able to hit a curveball in the second inning for a home run off Dodgers left-hander Brett Anderson.

“He is not drifting toward the pitcher,” Williams said about Desmond. “He is seeing [the ball] fine. His hands are lightning quick. If he could sit down a little bit [in the batter’s box], he sees the pitches longer. It allows him to get in the strike zone lately. He is swinging well.”

Although Desmond is having the worst year of his career, he never lost the respect of his teammates.

“I played with Ian for a long time,” first baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. “He is going to continue to grind it out, play hard. That’s why he has earned the respect he has around here. I don’t think anyone is pulling for him more than the guys in this clubhouse.”

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].”

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.”

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.”

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