Friday Roundup: Late Sunday #Nats Edition

Thank you for accepting my delayed round up. In appreciation of that, here is a Bryce Harper Home Run.

#NatsClubHouseSocial: Tuesday night, the Washington Nationals social media team invited a handful of highly visible, highly social, highly interactive Nationals fans for a presentation regarding the new bells, whistles, and giveaways at the park this year. It was preceded by a free happy hour with appetizers, and personalized jerseys custom made for the invited fans featuring their surname, the #15 (for 2015) and the exclusive 10 year DC patch.

If you don’t know already, I was one of those lucky, unworthy, happy people. I instantly felt nervous about my Matt Williams post from that morning, but too late to go back! (Also, no one asked me to write anything about this event or anything else, just so you know.)

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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!

Nats 2014 Mid-Season Review Part I: The Standings and Pitching Are Better Than You Think

The Washington Nationals have played precisely half of the games they are scheduled to play in the 2014 campaign. Since we, as a species, tend to like the easily divisible, I present unto you the longstanding tradition of a “mid season” review of the Washington Nationals – 2014 edition.

Standings: The Washington Nationals (43-38) are currently tied atop the NL East with a half game behind the Atlanta Braves (44-38) 5 games above .500. (They were tied after 81 game each, Atlanta’s just played one more already). This is certainly a step up from last year when Washington (41-40) trailed Atlanta (47-34) by 6 games. It also isn’t nearly as good as Washington (48-33) leading Atlanta (42-39) by 6 games.

Indeed, while both teams are maybe playing not quite as well as they had expected, it might be the first time Nats and Braves fans are seeing the “race” they were supposed to the last few years. There is no doubt that the 2013 Nats stumbled out of the gate and the Braves managed to stay hot (enough) all year, much the way the 2012 Nats blew it out of the box and never looked back. This year, neither team has run away with the division.

Atlanta owns the season series thus far (3-7), which only highlights their struggles against teams in the other 71 games. The problem for the Braves is that the Nationals are getting healthier (about to, finally, field their Opening Day line up since the middle of the game on Opening Day), and the Braves, really, are not.  Nine of those last 80 games for the Braves are against Washington, The other 71 are not.

The Marlins (4.0 GB), Mets (6.0 GB) and Phillies (7.0 GB) don’t appear to be in this race for the long haul.

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Get To Know A National 2014: Xavier Cedeño

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Name: Xavier Cedeño
Nickname(s): None that I could find
DOB: August 26, 1986
Twitter?:  None that I could find
From: Guayanilla, Puerto Rico
Position: Relief Pitcher
Hand: Left
With the Nats Since: Selected off waivers by the Nationals from the Houston Astros on April 23, 2013.

Just Who Is This Guy?: Xavier Cedeño is a left-handed relief pitcher who made his Major League debut with the Houston Astros on September 16, 2011 at the age of 25. In his first relief appearance, he pitched 1/3 of an inning and gave up a hit.

According to the Brooks Baseball page on Cedeño , he has a four-pitch arsenal that ranges from the low 90s (fourseam fastball and cutter) to mid-80s (changeup) and a low-80s curveball.

What Happened in 2013: After being claimed off of waivers in April, Cedeño was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse where he pitched until he was called up for a brief stint in June 2013 (two appearances) before he was sent back down to Syracuse again. When rosters expanded in August, he was brought back up and made nine more appearances out of the bullpen, giving him 11 total appearances on the season for the Nationals. Cedeño pitched a total of six innings, giving up five hits and one earned run. He struck out six batters and only walked one. It’s interesting that while he was with Houston, Cedeño  pitched 6.1 innings and got shelled to the tune of a 11.37 ERA in only five games, but was lights out for the Nationals.

Coming from the American League to the National League, mixed with some fine-tuning in the Minors really seems like it turned Cedeño’s season around. With Syracuse, he appeared in 39 games, going 2-0 with a 1.31 ERA in 34.1 innings and even notched four saves. He only allowed 23 hits, 11 runs (five earned) and had an 11.8 K/9 ratio. This could be one of those cases where the player has all the tools necessary to succeed, but just needs a change of scenery in order to achieve that success. It’s definitely a small sample size to work with, but it’s worth watching for the rest of this season.

What’s happening in 2014 so far?: Cedeño has spent the majority of his time in Syracuse again this season, but has one appearance with the Nationals on April 21, 2014. In that game, it only took him 15 pitches to go 1.1 innings but gave up two hits along the way. As of June 6, Cedeño has picked up where he left off last season, owning a 1.38 ERA in 13 innings. He has 16 strikeouts, has only issued three walks and given up seven hits with Syracuse.

If he can keep turning it around in the minors and accomplish the same success in the Majors once he gets called back up, he has the chance to be a valuable asset to an already strong Nationals bullpen.

New Podcast: S3E2: Tanner Roark: MacGyver of Pitching

Frank is joined by Stuart Wallace (@TClippardsSpecs) of District Sports Page to discuss the current state of the Nationals, including Denard Span’s resurgance, Doug Fister’s dominance, the hills of Las Vegas, Why injuries happen to pitchers, Belgian vs. IPA beers and just how the hell does Tanner Roark do what he does!?!

Get To Know A Nat 2014: Jerry Blevins

JB in a homemade Nats uni, posted to his Twitter account.

JB in a homemade Nats uni, posted to his Twitter account.

Name:  Jerry Richard Blevins
Nickname(s): Houdini
DOB: September 6, 1983
Twitter?: @JerryBlevins_13
From: Johnson City, Tennessee
Position: Relief Pitcher Bullpen Role: All-Around Lefty-Reliever
Hand: Lefty
With the Nats Since: Dec. 11, 2013 (acquired via trade with Oakland Athletics)

Just Who Is This Guy?: Jerry Blevins is a tall, left-handed reliever who, up until the December trade, had spent the past seven seasons with the Oakland Athletics. Blevins made his major league debut on Sept. 16, 2007, when he pitched a scoreless inning in relief during an 11-9 loss against the Texas Rangers. He has a career record of 13-6 with a 3.30 ERA in 281 games at the Major League level.

Blevins pitching repertoire features a sinker, curveball, cutter and a changeup – all of which he can throw anywhere in the zone for strikes. Not known for having blazing fast pitches, Blevins tends to work hitters down in the zone in order to induce more ground ball outs. His best season came in 2012 where he went 5-1 with a 2.48 ERA in 63 games. Blevins struck out 54 and limited lefties to a .182 batting average against him.

One fun fact about Blevins is that he and fellow bullpen pitcher, Craig Stammen, were college classmates and teammates at the University of Dayton.

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Get To Know A Nat 2014: Ross Detwiler

Ross Detwiler on the mound, captured by @AshburnNatsFan

Ross Detwiler on the mound, captured by @AshburnNatsFan

Name: Ross Emery Detwiler
Nickname(s): Det, The National Det, One of The Other Guys, #CopsIsOn
DOB: March 6, 1986
Twitter@NationalDet
From: Wentzville, Missouri
Position: Starting Pitcher Bullpen  Rotation Order: Fighting for 5th Spot Long Relief 
Hand: Lefty, but bats right-handed
With the Nats Since: Drafted and Debuted for the Nationals in 2007

Just who is this guy?: If you don’t know much of anything about the Nats back of the rotation lefty, you might want to start with our 2013 preview.

What Happened in 2013?: Last year, Ross Detwiler was going to easily be the best 5th starter in baseball, and the kind of guy that would be a #1 or #2 on a really bad pitching staff. But a strained oblique in May, followed by a pinched nerve (that never really got right) robbed Det of most of his starts in 2013. The Nats had many more problems swinging the bats last year than they did throwing the ball, but missing Detwiler from July on was not fun for anyone.

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