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.

Starting Pitching: Continue reading

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 Series: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

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Washington Nationals (11-8) vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (8-10)

2014 Head to Head Record: (0-0)
2013 Head to Head Record: Didn’t play.

Monday, April 21 7:05p.m.
Tanner Roark (5.29 ERA, 4.66 FIP, 6.88 K/9) vs. Garrett Richards (2.84 ERA, 2.75 FIP, 8.53 K/9)

Tuesday, April 22 7:05 p.m. ($5 Beer Night)
Taylor Jordan (5.94 ERA, 3.67 FIP, 6.48 K/9) vs. Tyler Skaggs (3.43 ERA, 3.83 FIP, 4.71 K/9)

Wednesday, April 23 7:05 p.m.
Gio Gonzalez (2.88 ERA, 3.27 FIP, 8.64 K/9) vs. Jered Weaver (4.74 ERA, 5.42 FIP, 7.30 K/9)

Ah yes, the first interleague matchup of the 2014 season features the potent Angels offense against the Nationals pitchers who know how to strike batters out. So far in 2014, the Angels have scored 96 runs and have an overall team slash line of .246/.310/.450. The Angels pitching staff does strike a lot of batters out (8.66/9 innings so far). Overall, they have a team ERA of 4.42 and a 4.29 FIP and don’t give up a lot of home runs – giving up 22 total home runs and only having a 1.2 HR/9 ratio.

Leading the way offensively for the Angels is sensational outfielder Mike Trout. He leads the team in home runs (5), is tied for first with 13 RBIs and has a .319/.380/.639 slash line. The Angels best pitcher so far this season has been Garrett Richards. So far, Richards is 2-0 and has struck out 18 batters in 19 innings. 

How the Nats Win: Pitching will be key for the Nationals in this series. The Angels have a ton of players who are capable of turning a game around with just one swing of the bat. If the Nationals pitching can keep the Angels batters off balance and off the basepaths (especially Mike Trout), the Nationals have a great shot at winning the only series against the Angels this season.

Offensively, the Nationals need to take advantage of the Angels bullpen late in the game. If the Nationals find themselves down, they’ll need to be patient at the plate by waiting for their pitches to come to them. Playing small ball against this Angels defense might be more beneficial in the long run than trying to swing for the fences.

Three Angels to Watch For: Mike Trout is by far the No. 1 player in Major League Baseball this season. Maybe you’ve heard of him? Trout was the 2012 AL Rookie of the Year and runner up for MVP in both 2012 and 2013.This kid is a bonafide S-T-U-D who makes baseball fans, like me, swoon over him. He has the potential to hit 30 home runs, drive in 100 RBIs and steal 40 bases. He’s so much fun to watch and will wow you with his defense – here’s a highlight video from last season showing Trout at his best, which is all the time. The second Angel to watch, Albert Pujols, could become the 26th place in Major League history to hit at least 500 home runs. Currently, Pujols sits at 498, allowing Nationals fans the chance to witness history. Finally, the last Angels player to watch for is second baseman Howie (Howard) Kendrick. Kendrick, a wizard on the infield also has some pop in his bat. On 4/18, Kendrick hit a pair of two-run home runs that helped the Angels beat the Detroit Tigers. Although they were the first two home runs of his season, Kendrick has hit 73 career home runs with an average of 13 dingers a season. He can come up with a clutch hit at any time and needs to be pitched to carefully.

Get To Know A Nat 2014: Kevin Frandsen

Kevin Frandsen

Name:  Kevin Vincent Frandsen
Nickname(s): Pig Pen (Ed: Because I’ve been listening to this song, I’ve been calling him ” I’m the Frand “)
DOB: May 24, 1982
Twitter?:  @KevinFrandsen
From: San Jose, California
Position: Bench Utility Player (Infield, Outfield and Emergency Catcher)
Hand: Right
With the Nats Since: Signed a one-year major league contact with the Nationals on March 26, 2014.

Just Who Is This Guy?: One word describes Kevin Frandsen and that word is versatility. Throughout his eight-year MLB career, Frandsen has played in 411 games with four different teams (San Francisco Giants Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Philadelphia Phillies and now the Nationals). Versatility is a great word to describe him because he knows his role on the team, meaning, he knows that he is a fill-in player and does whatever he can for the team. He’s doesn’t play the game just to boost his own stats; he just wants to get the “W” (or in this case, the Curly W) at the end of the day.

Throughout his career, Frandsen has played second base (115 games), third base (108 games), first base (44 games), shortstop (32 games), and the corner outfield positions (13 games in left field and three games in right field). In his eight seasons, he has a career .973 fielding percentage and a career 0.3 WAR. At the plate, Frandsen has a career slash line of .261/.318/.360 with 14 home runs, 94 RBIs, and seven stolen bases.

Overall, Frandsen doesn’t add much pop, drive in a lot of runs, or steal bases. He does, however, hit for decent average and doesn’t strike out much. He can play virtually anywhere on the diamond, and provides excellent leadership in the clubhouse, especially in a clubhouse with as many young players as the Nationals have. He’s a gritty player who goes out there each game just trying to do something for the team. Frandsen isn’t going up to the plate swinging hard, trying to smash a homer; he’s going up there to try and get on base and give someone else in the lineup an opportunity to drive him in. He is the definition of a team player and I love what he brings to this team because of it.
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Get to Know a Nat 2014: Matt Williams

 
Elsa Getty Images. lLick for source story

Elsa Getty Images. Click for source story

Nickname(s)Carson Crusher, Matt the Bat, The Big Marine
DOB: November 28, 1965
Twitter?: None
From: Bishop, California
Position: Manager  Position during playing career: Third Base
Hand: Right
With the Nats since: November 1, 2013
 
Just who is this guy?: Matt Williams is the new skipper for the Nationals this season, but before his coaching (1st base and 3rd base coach for the Diamondbacks in 2010 and 2011) and managerial days, he was a third baseman with the San Francisco Giants, Cleveland Indians and Arizona Diamondbacks.

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