Podcast! 2015 Nats Season Preview with @NoahFrankWTOP

EDIT: I fixed the audio so it is properly mixed.

Noah Frank joins our show to talk about where the Nats are right now and how they look for 2015. On the show: the 25 man roster, the rash of injuries suffered by the team, how good is the Nationals rotation, is this bullpen sustainable, Strasburg, Harper, a little Matt Williams, an NL East preview, a rest of the MLB preview, and plenty more. Enjoy!

Get To Know Some Nats: Outfielders

Every year, we put together player profiles for the Nationals players likely to make the 25 man roster. This way you’ll have a better idea of just who is taking the field. Except for a few notable exceptions, the Washington Nationals of 2015 will be the same team you’ve been watching for a few years. So we’re going to forego lengthy profiles of stuff you already know, and focus on capsules for a few players at a time. A quicker, more forward focused view for the savvy fan.

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Left Fielder Jayson Werth.

2014 Nats 101 Profile | Fangraphs |

Preview: Nationals fans have watched Jayson Werth morph into the third act of his career with a certain amount of grace and panache. He might not be  a 25 HR threat anymore, but he might still be a 20 HR threat: and he’s managed to keep getting on base at nearly a .400 OBP clip. Fewer strikeouts, more walks: Anyone who watches Werth knows his signature at the plate is patience now. Maybe a bit too much patience for those wishing the game would speed up a bit- but alas, the bearded one does what he will.

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Get To Know A Series: Los Angeles Dodgers

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Editors note: Read the next installment of the #ENDNF series, go to the Nats Blog and read the follow up piece written by Joe Drugan.

Washington Nationals (18-14) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (18-15)

2014 Head to Head Record: (1-0)
2013 Head to Head Record: (1-5)

Monday, May 5 7:05p.m.

Nationals 4, Dodgers 0

W: Barrett (2-0)
L: Greinke (5-1) 

Tuesday, May 6 7:05 p.m.

Blake Treinen (1.35 ERA, 1.92 FIP, 9.45 K/9) vs. Clayton Kershaw (1.35 ERA, 1.47 FIP, 9.45 K/9)

Wednesday, May 7 1:05 p.m.

Stephen Strasburg (3.60 ERA, 2.57 FIP, 13.05 K/9) vs. Dan Haren (2.39 ERA, 2.64 FIP, 8.12 K/9)

In a battle between teams on opposite coasts, the pitching dominant Nationals take on the hitting and pitching heavy Dodgers, who seem to have all of the moneys to buy all of the players. On paper, the Dodgers team looks like something that you would draft in a fantasy baseball league or try and trade for in a video game. But injuries have proved to be the Dodgers’ Achilles heel, something they share in common with the Nationals this season.

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New Podcast! S2E8 Andy Feffer is the Dan Haren of the Front Office

Season 2 Episode 8

Frank does an episode with Jared (@SCviaDC) and Stu (@TClippardsSpecs) discussing the Nationals at large in a slightly modified format.  We answer your Twitter questions, talk about what went wrong and right with the Nats so far, Danny Espinosa, whether Andy Feffer was a good thing or bad, as well as a hodge podge of other things.  It’s a near-end of the season primer on what things look like with 6 games left to go, and you’ll want to say you were in on the ground floor!  Give a listen!

Review-Preview: Fish-Sandwhich, Har-Vey’s Bet-Ter and The Return of PeteF@*!!Kozma

@Natsaholic sends a sneaky photo of how close he is to @WashingNats

@Natsaholic went to the Mets series this weekend.  He tweeted  a sneaky photo of how close he is to MLB Beat writer, Bill Ladson aka @WashingNats

There are a million places to go get a recap and preview of every game, but here at Nationals 101 we prefer to take a slightly bigger slice of the pie.  The Review-Preview will take place between series and give a quick recap of the previous series (including anything we think you can learn from the series) and what you can look forward to in the next series coming up.

Normally a 3-3 road trip is a cause to celebrate.  When expectations are high (and the talent you play allegedly low) it comes away feeling a little flat.  Still, in the span the Nats split their 6 games, the Braves managed only two wins, which gives them a game up…in April, with 140+ games left to play.  So while all games are weighted equal, it is still the case that the overwhelming majority of games haven’t been counted yet. 

The Nats took the first series from the Marlins two games to one.  They blew out the Fish in the opener 10-2, dropped the second game with three starters missing 8-2, but bounced back in the finale to take the series with a 6-1 score.

The Nats dropped their opener against the Mets as Matt Harvey out-pitched Stephen Strasburg (and just about everyone else I’ve seen this year), losing 7-1.  The second day also featured seriously shaky starting pitching, with Gio Gonzalez having a meltdown in the fourth inning to lose a three run lead.  Still, the bats were alive with four home runs (two from Bryce Harper) and they won a game on offense 7-6.  Sunday’s game featured the debut of top prospect Anthony Rendon much to the delight of many a fan looking forward to his debut.  Unfortunately and 0-4 and error later for Rendon seemed like piling on after the Nats dropped the finale in a sloppy 2-0 loss.

So What Happened?  For the most part, the same thing that’s been happening all Month.  The Nationals have been winning games handily, or losing them because of sloppy play.  Dan Haren has yet to do anything to convince anyone he’s going to be a good pitcher, and Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez seem to be taking too many pitches to get anyone out at all.  Even when three errors don’t directly cost runs (as on Sunday) that makes Jordan Zimmermann throw more pitches than he needs to.  Letting the Mets of the hook by swinging at a 3-0 pitch with the bases loaded and no outs (ahem Jayson Werth) also cuts a huge break to a guy like Dillon Gee who had been averaging more than 8 runs a game before the start Sunday.

Our constant refrain of “It’s Only April” isn’t actually meant to excuse the sloppy play of the Nationals, or some how make you feel like a lunatic for thinking the Nats are playing poorly.  The Nats are indeed playing very poorly at times so far this month.  The reason to keep in mind that it is April is to remind you they have plenty of time to play well (and they will play well). 

It’s a trick of the mind:  When the Nats have played less than 20 games, those 7 or 8 bad games are a big percentage of the pie.  It’s important to remember that the pie isn’t 20 games big though-it’s 162 games big.  What’s 20 bad games out 162?  or 30? or 40?  or even 50?  Not a lot, that’s what.

I think a lot of fans who are the most worried tuned into the team sometime after the Capitals bounced out of the playoffs, or even later.  August maybe?  July?  It’s easier to stomach losses when you are already watching an established winner-particularly with no serious expectations on them (externally, anyway).  It’s much tougher to come into the season at the begnning season with triple the expectations and have to learn, from the start, just what a winning season looks like top to bottom.

“It’s Only April” doesn’t make you feel better in the moment, it only illuminates that it is only one moment in many.  In July, April will not matter nearly as much as you thought it did.

Lost In The Shuffle

  • The Nats haven’t had to do a lot of “over coming” so far this year.  They won games they were tied late in the game for, they’ve held on to leads despite furious comebacks-but the 7-6 Mets win on Saturday was the first time they actually battled back to win a game from behind.  (Note: I’m not counting the two times they were down 1-0 to the White Sox after the first inning).  I’m likely adding narrative to where there isn’t actually one, but it looked like the Nats had some fight in them for the first time this year.  Last year, I didn’t count them out of any game-up until Saturday, I had been a few times.
  • Bryce Harper had the flu and went 3-4 in Miami.  Seriously.
  • Miami beat the Reds, and took them to 14 innings the next day. Also the Braves lost twice to the Pirates.  Hopefully fans can stop worrying about who loses to who and who beats who in April and taking it as a harbinger of the whole season…soon.  My head would appreciate it.
  • Ryan Zimmerman had a tender calf in game one of the Marlins series before being pulled.  Thanks to how rules work, you can retroactively put someone on DL so long as they haven’t played since they were pulled and his 15 day stint started Thursday instead of Sunday when they announced it.  Wilson Ramos also is on the DL, though he’s a week in already.
  • Steve Lombardozzi filled in admirably this week, going 7 for 21 in 6 starts against the Braves, Marlins and Mets.  He did get owned by Matt Harvey going 0-4, just like most everyone else did on the Nats Friday night.
  • 0-4 and an error for Anthony Rendon.  Not an auspicious start, and it might be something Davey has stuck in his craw when it’s time to decide if he stays up or goes down.  That said, just as if he went 4-4 and helped turn two double plays-it would still only be one game out of about 12 he’ll play before the Nats have to figure that out.  Plenty of time for him to make his case either way.

St. Louis Cardinals

Let go of your anger and don’t expect and easy revenge match for the Nationals.  The Cardinals are a no joke team.  They post the same 10-8 record as the Washington Nationals, and also look up at division rivals they know they can catch and beat.  The Cards have also beaten teams handily when they win, and lost games inexplicably when they haven’t.  

Many fans will be familiar with the virtues the Cards boast:  Yadier Molina is a hitter nearly impossibly to strike out, and Carlos Beltran is a 30+ HR guy.

The Nats will send Dan Haren to the mound Monday night.  He might need to seriously get a good game in if he doesn’t want everyone in DC to completely hate him.  The Cardinals will send Shelby Miller to the mound for his first apperance against the Nationals ever.  He’s more or less a three pitch pitcher (Fastball, Curveball Change-up) but he has thrown a few cut fastballs this year as well.  He’ll be a riddle the Nats will want to solve quickly given the limited data they will have on the newcomer.

The Nats then send their best pitcher thus far, Ross Detwiler to face former Cy Young candidate Adam Wainwright.  The Nats have done well against Wainwright, particularly at Nats Park (1-2, 7.24 ERA and 2.2ish WHIP), but he’s still a dangerous pitcher when he’s on.  Given the uncertainty around him on the mound, the Nats need to get after Wainwright and make the most of Detwiler if he has another great start.

The Wed afternoon finale will feature Stephen Strasburg  and  Jamie Garcia.  Garcia is a solid pitcher, averaging about 3.5 runs given up per game and 1.3 hits per inning pitched.  The Nats clobbered him last year for 6 runs on 9 hits in 5.1 innings pitched.  

What To Hope For

Not to look ahead, but the NL Central leading Reds come in after the Cards for a four game tilt over the long “revenge” week this seems to have shaped up to be.  The Nats will likely be looking to show they can beat good teams and get some of these error/pitching monkeys off their back.  Over 7 games, 5 wins at home seems to be what the Nationals should feel like they should get.  Four is acceptable, 6 or 7 would be special.  With the Reds being just as tough ast the Cardinals (maybe tougher) the Nats would do well to get 2 of 3 from the Redbirds, heading into the extended weekend series looking to win 3 out of 4.

Review-Preview: Nats Obliterate Marlins, Move on To Cincy to play Reds

Smoooooooth Gio2

This is from @Section138. Please visit Gavin’s blog often and follow him on Twitter. He also has been making cool Nats shirts since before making cool Nats shirts was cool.

 

There are a million places to go get a recap and preview of every game, but here at Nationals 101 we prefer to take a slightly bigger slice of the pie.  The Review-Preview will take place between series and give a quick recap of the previous series (including anything we think you can learn from the series) and what you can look forward to in the next series coming up.

NOTE:  Due to some awful car trouble that ate up all of Friday, I didn’t finish the Preview part.  Given last night’s debacle it’s probably best to skip this editions “preview” section and just do a review.  Next week we will review the Reds series and Preview the White Sox series.  

REVIEW Miami Marlins Series

Quick Take:  The Nationals came into Opening Day with the reputation as one of the best teams in the league, and the Marlins came into the series as possibly a AAA team playing in the big leagues.  Nothing either team did changed anyone’s mind as to either of those mindsets.

The Nationals swept the Marlins and remain the only unbeaten team in baseball (a dubious distinction, but a distinction none the less) by beating the Marlins 2-0, 3-0, and 6-1.

So What Happened?  Simply put, the Nationals pitching over powered the Marlins in every contest, holding the lowly Fish to just one run over three games.  That’s the first time that’s happened since the late 70’s over an opening series by the way.  How good was the Nationals pitching?  Let’s look at the starters combined and bullpen combined stat lines:

Starters:  3-0, .47 ERA 19IP, 13H, 1R, 1ER, 4BB, 9K

Bullpen: 0.00 ERA, 8IP, 0R, 0ER, 2BB, 9K, 2 Saves

The numbers are slightly more impressive for the Gio and Strasburg given that Jordan Zimmermann gave up the sole run and 8 hits.  Only 3 of the hits went for extra bases (2 doubles and a Home Run) and the defense was stellar (committing just one error)  in keeping these guys out of the run column.

The bats started a little quiet over all, but got louder as the series went on.  Scoring the first two games was more about timely hitting-Bryce Harper stole the show in game one with two Home Runs in his first two at bats.  Gio hit a solo homer, followed by two more insurance runs later in the game.  The Nats finally took the top off in game three, gettings 6 runs-scoring two in the first and adding four more between a Werthquake and Harper’s third bomb in three games.

Lost In the Shuffle:

Adam LaRoche and Danny Espinosa are struggling at the plate right now, but it’s only three games in (and Danny isn’t striking out as much).

The only really feared player for the Marlins, Giancarlo Stanton, was held to 1 for 9 with 2 walks and 4 strikeouts.  He also did not put in a very good effort into getting to first base on a play, and just turned around and stomped off to the dugout after his strikeouts.  He’s the lone star on an awful team and rumor is that he’s not happy about the fire sale the Marlins put on this year.  He could be quitting on this team as early as game 3 of the season, which bodes even better for the Nationals

Rafael Soriano is very impressive in person.  His delivery is insanely smooth, he never looked troubled on the mound, and he just threw strike after strike.  Also, for the #haters, Henry Rodriguez found the strike zone no problem in his one outting, and Drew Storen also looked just fine in his first appearance this year.  Indeed, the bullpen could be lights out this year-as predicted by many.

Conclusion:  Exactly what was supposed to happen between these two teams happened. You don’t want to overrate beating up the Marlins, but the point is they did beat up the Marlins.  Houston won this weekend against a much better team, so don’t downplay getting the job done.  Often the Marlins have been awful and played the Nationals tough. This time, the Nats put the foot to the pedal and really didn’t let up.

A Collection of Unscientific Nationals Prediction Like Things

We Kid Because We...Love?

We Kid Because We…Love?

All week we’ve been talking about how predictions work and how you can, pretty accurately, take a stab at just how well a team might do (if, of course, you can figure out how many runs they’ll score/give up).

What follows flies completely in the face of al of that.  While I don’t think I can get away with talking about predictions all week and not stick my own neck out there, I can forewarn you that this is a totally unscientific, gut-checking style of prediction.  There are no stone-cold lead pipe locks, bold predictions when we get back from commercial.  These really are just a bunch of thoughts I have for the season this year.

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