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!

Get To Know A Nat 2014: Zach Walters

Name: Zachary Butler Walters
Nickname(s): ZeWeezy
DOB: September 5, 1989
Twitter?: @Zwalters02
From: Cheyenne, Wyoming
Position: Infielder/Outfielder
Hand: Bats: Switch / Throws: Right
With the Nats Since: Acquired via trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks on July 30, 2011 for RHP Jason Marquis. 

Just Who Is This Guy?: Zach Walters is one of the Washington Nationals highly touted prospects and is rated No. 10 overall by MLB.com for 2014. He’s a versatile, switch hitter with some pop that can play multiple positions.

In the end, Walters may not be an every day starter, but he definitely is rosterable because of his hit potential and versatility.

What Happened in 2013: Walters made his MLB debut on Sept. 6, 2013 versus the Miami Marlins, going 1-for-1 with a pinch-hit single. Walters’ pinch-hit in the sixth inning broke up Jose Fernandez’s no-hit bid. Pretty clutch if you ask me. He appeared in eight games with the Nationals and had a triple slash line of .375/.444/.625. He scored two runs, had three hits (one of which was a triple), drove in a run and drew a walk. Walters made appearances at shortstop and third base for the Nationals in 2013.

During his time in the minors, Walters honed his skills at Triple-A Syracuse. With the Chiefs, he played in 134 games, with the majority of his games coming at shortstop (104). Walters had a low batting average, .253 but a high slugging percentage, .517 last season in the minors. He had 123 total hits, 32 of which were doubles, five triples and 29 home runs. I repeat, he had 29 home runs last season. He drove in 77 RBI and scored 69 runs. He also struck out a whopping 134 times.

Defensively, woof. He made 31 errors at shortstop and seven errors at third base. At least he had more extra base hits than he did errors!

What’s happening in 2014 so far?: Given all the injuries that the Nationals have had thus far in 2014, Walters actually has had some playing time with the big league club. On April 15, 2014, Walters hit his first big league home run against the Miami Marlins. It was a solo shot in the ninth inning, but he was still able to showcase some of that power. In an assortment of 27 games with the Nationals so far, Walters is batting a mere .182 with three homers, four RBI, five runs and six hits. He’s also walked three times and struck out 14 times. Walters has spent time at third base, shortstop and in left field and has yet to make an error at the big league level.

With Triple-A Syracuse again this season, Walters has appeared in 34 games and has a .288/.331/.629 triple slash line. He has hit 10 home runs, driven in 31 runs and has scored 21 runs so far this season. Walters has 38 total hits, nine of which are doubles and three triples. His strikeout totals are lower (37) and he has taken more walks this season so far (seven total in 2014 through 34 games, 20 total in 2013 through 134 games).

His defensive numbers in the minors have gotten much better, too. He’s only committed seven errors so far (three at second base and four at shortstop). Walters has played in 16 games at second base, two games at third base, 10 games at shortstop and five games in left field. Gotta love that versatility.

My take is that unless there is another injury that happens to the Nationals this season and hopefully there’s not, Walters will spend most of his time in Triple-A working on all aspects of his game. He’ll probably get the call once the minor league season is over and the MLB rosters expand. When he does come up, I hope that he continues to “Let It Go” and asks everyone, “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

*Note* All stats are as of June 22.

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!?!

Nationals (Almost) Quarterly Report

Quick Reminder: District Sports page has added their EndNF post, and you should go read it. You’ll also want to read our Get to Know NF post, The Nats Blog’s follow up post, a post from Patrick Reddington on Federal Baseball, and Matt’s Bats post as well.

With just over 20% of the games done, and the Nats on the road to the West Coast, I figured it was a good time to do a little spot checking as to how the Nats are doing so far this year. On the surface, they’re tied for first place with a record of 19-15, so that seems good. Still, there are bumps and problems and the team isn’t perfect, so any nervous fan can find something to nitpick about. Indeed. Let’s start with this little stunner. The Nats record through 34 games the last three years:

2012: 21-13 (When they won the NL East)
2013: 19-15 (When they missed the playoffs entirely)
2014: 19-15

Whoa, we need a sarcastic tweet to sum up how to feel about the fact the Nats are doing no better than last year’s “dog” of a team:

Yep. It’s true. Pack your bags kids, this show is over!

Of course it isn’t. Let’s just take a little deeper look here. How about Runs Scored vs. Runs Allowed?
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Get To Know A Series: Los Angeles Dodgers

Dodgers_Logo

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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