Friday Round Up: #DCisReady

The 1895 Washington Senators 43-85 in the National League. via Cool Old Photos (Click for link) but H/T to @GhostsofDC

The 1895 Washington Senators 43-85 in the National League. via Cool Old Photos (Click for link) but H/T to @GhostsofDC

The Walking Dread: With any luck, this tweet from Chelsea Janes bodes well for the Nationals walking wounded:

-or, lightly running, as the case may be. But too bad, I wrote all of this out before I saw this tweet, so I’m going to continue with my “how ugly could this get?” post.
The worst news first: Anthony Rendon went from sitting out for a few days to having no timetable. That’s really scary.  CL strains (of any kind) can get ugly quick, even if they are mild. As HarperGordeck from Natsbaseball blog points out, the prospect of Kevin Frandsen at third for a month, or longer, is laughably scary.

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Spring Training Question 4: Can Tanner Roark Fit In the Starting Rotation?

@aNatsFan gets Roark on the mound.

@aNatsFan gets Roark on the mound.

So you may have heard in December that the Nationals have the best starting pitching rotation in baseball, or darn close to it. You may have heard more recently that the Nationals made that rotation even better with the addition of free agent Max Scherzer.

The rotation was already stacked. Ranked by fWAR across both leagues, The Nats featured Jordan Zimmermann (#10) and Stephen Strasburg (#13), two top 20 pitchers overall. Gio Gonzalez didn’t pitch enough innings to be a qualified starter (thanks shoulder issues), but still posted a 3.1 fWAR and would have slotted him around 30th overall. Doug Fister was technically the worst of the bunch, at 54th overall and a 1.3 fWAR, but I don’t think you’d find a Nats fan who’d complain about him (or wouldn’t agree that fWAR may be cheating him a bit based on how its calculated).  The rotation, as a whole, finished first overall in fWAR – and then they added the 7th best pitcher by fWAR to that.

A pitching rotation we thought was the the X-men turned out to be the Justice League, and now it is a Justice League with three Supermen (probably from alternate timelines), a Batman and a Wonder Woman (and you’re a damn fool if you’re snickering at Wonder Woman. She’s awesome).

And then there is Green Arrow, personified in this case as Tanner Roark. Resourceful, not super powered, but still one of the better Justice League alum: We all remember the time that the Arrow saved all his super powered bretheren (yeah, yeah, yeah: Batman doesn’t have super powers: But anyone who can go toe to toe with Superman and win counts). But is there room for Arrow on a Justice League of heavy weights like-

Sorry, I totally got side tracked. Point being: One of the questions that will resolve in spring training is whether there is room for 3+ WAR pitcher on a rotation of Ubermenches? The deck is stacked way against him, but let’s go through the possibilities anyway.

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Nats Spring Training Question #5: Is the 25 Man Roster Already Set?

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As far as I can figure, the 2015 Nationals will head into Spring Training with at least 23 of their 25 slots filled and ready to go. A luxury to be sure, and not one that will repeat itself anytime soon. Over the next few seasons, at least a handful of free agents will be leaving each year, many from key positions. For example, the 2016 Nationals could be starting the season without Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister, Ian Desmond and Denard Span: And that’s just me thinking of starters off the top of my head. Each year after next, similar names may be on the way out the door, each requiring a spring training for new players to become acquainted with the team, young players trying to play their way on, and a parade of healthy competition for starting spots.
But the future is the future, and today is today: And today, the Nats won’t have to think too hard about a lot of the spots on the team. Each MLB club is allotted a 25 man roster to play day-to-day with, and an expanded 40 man roster where the additional 15 players are in the minor leagues, but available for call up at a moment’s notice.
Seriously, I just went through the roster and I’m not sure there is anywhere for anyone to break into the top 25. There, legitimately, may be no camp battles in 2015. So let’s count them up.

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Get To Know A Series: Cincinnati Reds

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Washington Nationals (23-20) vs. Cincinnati Reds (19-23)

2014 Head to Head Record: 0-0
2013 Head to Head Record: 4-3 Washington

Monday May 19, 7:05p ($1 Hot Dog Night Y’all!) 

Stephen Strasburg (3.48 ERA, 2.34 FIP, 11.6 K/9) v. Mike Leake (3.09 ERA, 4.02 FIP, 5.25 K/9)

Tuesday May 20, 7:05p

Doug Fister (4.76 ERA 6.51 FIP 6.35 K/9) v. Johnny Cueto (1.25 ERA, 2.98 FIP, 9.5 K/9)

Wednesday May 21, 4:05p

Tanner Roark (3.65 ERA, 3.68 FIP, 7.30 K/9) v. Alfredo Simon (2.45 ERA, 4.61 FIP 5.26 K/9)

The Nats and Reds have been similar ships sailing a similar course over the last three years. The two teams were outs away from meeting each other in the NLCS in 2012, took steps back in 2013 (although the Reds made a wild card spot) and are currently floating around injured early in the year. The Reds and Nats are currently down a star pitcher (Mat Latos and Gio Gonzalez) and several bats at least for this series. No Jay Bruce or Joey Votto, just like there will be no Bryce, Ryan and Adam.

The Reds however have had the worse end of it, 4 game back of the Nats and under .500. They were outscored 20-4 this Saturday and Sunday in Philadelphia, and are prone to giving up chunks of runs when they lose. a 6-1 loss to San Diego las week, as well as an 11-2 loss last Saturday to Colorado. The series presents a key opportunity for the Nats to beat a middling, not awful, team and establish they can muddle through these injuries better than other teams can.

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Get To Know A Series: San Diego Padres

Padres 

Washington Nationals (12-10) vs. San Diego Padres (10-12)

2014 Head to Head Record: (0 – 0)
2013 Head to Head Record: Nationals 5 – 2  

Thursday, April 24 7:05 p.m.
Jordan Zimmermann (3.92 ERA, 3.85 FIP, 10.02 K/9) vs. Eric Stults (4.35 ERA, 5.40 FIP, 3.92 K/9)

Friday, April 25 7:05 p.m.
Stephen Strasburg (5.33 ERA, 2.59 FIP, 14.00 K/9) vs. Robbie Erlin (4.15 ERA, 2.51 FIP, 8.83 K/9)

Saturday, April 26 1:05 p.m.
Tanner Roark (3.80 ERA, 4.00 FIP, 6.85 K/9) vs. Andrew Cashner (2.10 ERA, 2.85 FIP, 8.13 K/9)
 
Sunday, April 27 1:35 p.m. (Jordan Zimmermann Bobblehead Day)
Taylor Jordan (6.23 ERA, 4.37 FIP, 7.06 K/9) vs. Ian Kennedy ( 3.60 ERA, 2.83 FIP, 8.4 K/9)  
 
After getting swept, salvaging a game from the Angels in a dramatic 9th inning come back, the Nats welcome the lowly San Diego Padres to town after having dropped two of three to the Brewers. Always the bridesmades, San Diego is in a tough division to make any headway and there isn’t a lot of hope their sub-.500 record will improve much. Decent starting pitching, not a great bullpen and a really bad offense. This is San Diego baseball.
 
How the Nats Win: The Padres have just scored 60 runs. Good for DFL in MLB. They have, however, only given up 70 runs, putting them just behind Atlanta and Oakland and St. Louis, tied with Milwaukee in that regard. They are a nearly .500 team because they pitching keeps them in games. The difference between road and home splits, however, is telling.
Petco park is beatiful, but its also a canyon. In 13 games at home they’ve given up 34 runs. In just 9 games on the road, they’ve given up 36. The pitching and defense starts come undone at the seams a bit when they are not in their massive stadium.
 
As such, given the pitching mismatches, the Nats are set up to take the first two games of the series. Shooting for three, and beating either Cashner or Kennedy is what this team should be expected to do. The Nats pitching, even if it hasn’t lived up to the idealized standards of the home town crowd, ought to be enough to hold down one of the weakest teams in the league offensively. If Zimmermann and Strasburg don’t dominate this lineup in games 1 and 2, be annnoyed. Be very annoyed.
 
The back half of the series is going to come down to the Nats getting a little lucky, and having some of the at bats against better pitching we’d hope to see. Getting Cashner or Kennedy out of the game early is the only hope for either Saturday or Sunday because I don’t expect Tanner Roark (who I’m willing to admit might surprise me) or Taylor Jordan (who I do not think will surprise me at all) to go toe to toe with the other two pitchers.
 
Three Padres to Watch For: The afformention Andrew Cashner is a legit starting pitcher who throws primarily fastball, slider and change up. The two-seamer and four seamer are both in that 93-94 MPH range, with huge drops to Slider (83.5 MPH) and change (84.7 MPH). If you arrange the Padres by offensive production, you see backup outfielder Chris Denorfia is at the top of the list. Filling in for the injured Carlos Quentin, Denorfia has put up a .367 wOBA (.328/.349/.492 if you’re a slash line person) in 21 games and 64 plate apperances. Lastly Jedd Gyrko (pronounced Jerk-O…not kidding) who finished 6th in the NL Rookie of the year vote in 2013 has had a brutal start to the season. He’s currently hitting .135/.226/.216 (I can’t even remember the last time I saw a guy with a smaller SLG than OBP) and .203 wOBA. He’s rated as a -7.4 Offensively right now. There is an excellent chance that this is bad luck (He has a BABIP of .176). I’m going to be watching him to see if there is actually something to the player who just signed a five year extension with San Diego, or if the MLB has caught up with with the second year player.

Get To Know A Nat 2014: Tanner Roark (Not Roark)

@aNatsFan gets Roark on the mound.

@aNatsFan gets Roark on the mound.

NAME: Tanner B. Roark
DOB:
 October 5, 2 1986
Nicknames: I would suggest Johnny B. Good cuz he has that unknown middle initial.  Also, there is the question of the pronunciation of his last name.
Twitter: None that I’ve found, but his sports agents at MCA Agency basically favorite anything good you say about him.
From:  Wilmington, IL
Position: Currently 4th Starter (but that may change)  Hand: Righty
With the Nats Since: Traded from Texas in 2010 as part of deal for Christian Guzman. Debut August 6, 2013

Just Who Is This Guy: Interesting question. When he first appeared on the scene he was Tanner Roark (pronounced like “Rourke.”) A few weeks into his fairly impressive debut, Roark let it be known that his name was actually Roark (pronounced Row-ark). Haven’t really found a concrete story about why he finally told folks how to say his name (I remember something about his grandma) but that’s my enduring impression of just who this guy is.

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Nationals Fans Should Be Thankful For Dr. Frank Jobe and Tommy John Surgery

Dr. Frank Jobe

Dr. Frank Jobe in 1990. (Getty Images). Click for source article

We here at Nationals101 are very happy to be getting some quality work from our newest contributor, Matthew Shalbrack. Matt is brand new to the Washington D.C. area and a huge baseball fan. A former MiLB intern for the Tennessee Smokies where he wrote, photographed and picked up Chicago Cubs No. 1 prospect Javier Baez up at the airport. Follow him on Twitter: @hamsterjockey

On March 6, 2014, Dr. Frank Jobe, the orthopedic surgeon who performed the first surgery known as Tommy John, passed away at 88 years old in California.

The surgery, the first of its kind, was performed in 1974 on then-Dodgers pitcher Tommy John and has been practiced on hundreds of baseball players since then, allowing them the possibility of continuing their careers. John’s injury, a ruptured ligament in his throwing elbow, was replaced with a tendon from his right wrist to repair his elbow. With the success of the surgery, John continued his career for 14 more seasons and amassed another 164 wins.

Tommy John Baseball Card

So I’m sure you’re thinking, “Why should I, a Nationals fan, care about Dr. Frank Jobe and Tommy John surgery?”

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