Jayson Werth, Don’t Ever Count Him Out!

Jayson Werth was the offensive star of Sunday’s come-from-behind win with a 2 run HR and a RBI double.  Werth finished the game at a .209 Batting Average and distancing himself from that late season lowpoint .184 BA on August 16th.  That’s a rise of 25 pts in exactly 2 weeks.  Can Jayson Werth keep this going?  If he does, he will raise his OBP over .300 and get back to respectability.

This wouldn’t be the first time analysts and fans have counted Jayson out.  At 36 1/4 years of age, you factor in Jayson’s early season DL stint to recover from shoulder surgery and then the broken wrist as reasons to think he can’t come back and help this team.  Then you see his tired legs and watching him in between pitches when you’re at the ballpark stretching his legs, and the thoughts are he’s a liability.  If you can remember those defensive mishaps on August 21st in which neither were ruled errors, you wonder if he can play league average leftfield again, and it looks like he can. His arm even appears to have improved.

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Strasburg’s Back to the future. His success could be the Nats success.

Stephen Strasburg left today’s game after 4 innings with back tightness and headed to the trainer’s room.  Strasburg had been the Nationals 2nd half Ace of Aces this season, and in fact had not allowed more than 2 runs in any start since May 23rd.  Strasburg led the Nats coming into today for the 2nd half with a 1.73 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 10.67 : 1

Matt Williams in his post-game report discussed Strasburg’s injury, “He had some discomfort in his upper back, so it was a little bit of a recurrence of earlier in the year. The velocity came down today, so we got him out of there.  He certainly had more pitching to do, but the last thing we want to do is change mechanics. We can’t go there.”

What we will have to wonder about for the next 4 days is whether or not Strasburg will be able to make his next start, and if he does if he will be effective.  Strasburg admitted that in his last start he started feeling some back pain and the training staff did a great job of getting him right. He’s already been on the DL this season for this same back injury as well as gutting through poor starts.

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In-game 8/30/15 Strasburg goes for #Nats

Stephen Strasburg has been the Nats ace in the 2nd half, and he gets the start today to finish out the rubber game of this series against the Marlins.

The Marlins pitch the lefty Brad Hand, and the Nats know him well. Here is how the Nats do against him RZ .750 BA, Tony 2Bags .455 BA, Espi .455 BA, Harp .300 with a HR, Werth .267 BA .389 OBP, Desi .250 BA .400 OBP.

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It took 10 days for the Nats to gain ground in the standings. Progress!

It seems like forever since the last time the Mets would lose on the same day the Nats would win and that last happened on August 19 when the Mets lost in Baltimore and the Nats beat the Rockies.

On Saturday night, the lead in the NL East had been cut to 5.5 games.  The Mets haven’t lost 2 games in a row since they were swept by the Pirates on Aug 14-16 and lost 3 in a row.   The Mets low point of the season was their 7 game losing streak from June 17-24 of 2015.

Screen Grab from MASN Sports

Screen Grab from MASN Sports

The Nats just have to keep winning.  As the pressure mounts on the Mets, let’s see how they cope with it.   There is no substitution for the Nats taking care of their own business, and on Labor Day Sept 7th the Mets travel to DC to play the Nats for a 3 day series.  It’s time for the Nats to go on a tear and a long winning streak.  It’s the only way to make up the ground necessary with only 35 games remaining.

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In-Game 8-29-15 Bryce Harper vs. Tom Koehler again

This will be the 3rd time the Nats have faced Tom Koehler this season as the Nats send Jordan Zimmermann to the mound.  This will be JZ’s 21st career start vs. the Marlins and he has a career 3.28 ERA against them.

You have to wonder if Bryce Harper circled this date on his calendar.  Bryce has 5 career HRs against Koehler which include 3 HRs on 5-6-15 and 1 on 7-29-15 and 1 on this exact date 2 years ago.  Of Bryce’s 86 career HRs, he’s hit 5.81% of them off of Koehler, and you can do some fun math on how that % could change today.  In case you’re wondering, Bryce’s 2nd favorite pitcher is Sean O’Sullivan who he has hit 3 career HRs against.

Photo Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Harper HR off of Koehler 5/6/15 Photo Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s review how all the Nats previously have hit Koehler in career stats:

Ramos .400 BA,  Harper 7-21 .333 BA with a 2.792 2015 OPS and that’s not a typo, Matt den Dekker .333, Werth .333 BA with a 1.164 OPS, Escobar .308, RZ .294, Desi .250 with a .786 OPS, Rendon .111 BA & .429 OBP

Espi 0-9 with 4 K’s, MAT 0-4, CRob 0-1

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Does anyone know what is wrong with the 2nd half version of Max Scherzer?

When Max Scherzer was penciled in as the starter in the 1st half, you felt comfortable that he would not give up more than 2 runs in his start, and the Nats would have a great chance to win.  In the 2nd half, the sentiment has changed based on the 2nd half results.

Scherzer finishes his August with a 6.43 ERA and his 2nd half ERA stands at 5.09.  It would appear that small sample sizes can be deceiving, and conclusions are hard to come by with certainty but to say Scherzer got bit by the HR bug again with 2 HRs tonight.

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In-Game: Scherzer vs Marlins. New Look lineup version #108 Trea Turner gets the start!

How many different line-ups has Matt Williams had to pencil in and scratch through in this injury crazed season?  I’m actually feeling sorry for this guy as I thought he was about to shed a tear in his post-game presser.  Matt Williams sure has his shortcomings, but he got only 2 chances this season to play his January 14th projected line-up this season which we saw debuted on August 25th.

Tonight in the 1st game of this late August series against the Miami Marlins, MW will send Max Scherzer on several days of extra rest to the mound against lefty Adam Conley.  Conley was drafted by the Marlins in the 2nd round  of the 2011 amateur draft. He was called up in June for the bullpen and now has started 4 games with mixed results. He’s a 4-seam fastball pitcher which he throws as his main pitch and works in changeups as his second most used pitch and then an occasional slider.  His fastball sits around 91 but he has a reachback fastball that will amp up to 95mph.  His changeup is very hittable and that averages 84mph.

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18 Game Set Analysis

Good for Joe Ross.  A bright spot in a disappointing season.

The Nats have now completed 126 games. That’s seven of the nine 18-game sets in the season. They’ve had two really bad sets this year – they went 7-11 to open the season. And they went 7-11 in the first full 18-gamer after the ASG, including being swept at Citi Field by their main rival for the NL East crown this year, the Mets. After the first 18 games, Dan Uggla’s now legendary blast in Atlanta turned the season around and started a 12-6 bounceback stretch. After the completion of the 6th 18-game set, the loss to Colorado on August 7 in the first game of the series at Nats Park, they were 2 1/2 games behind the Mets. So they needed a similar quick turnaround to start the last third of the season.

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Strasburg, Joe “Cool” Ross, JZim, Scherzer, Gio is how we rate best to worst in the 2nd half for starters!

Joe “Cool” Ross pitched another gem on Thursday night.  A 1 hitter on a bunt single with no earned runs.  Ross dropped his ERA to 3.24.  Now only Scherzer (2.79 ERA) ranks ahead of Ross in ERA in the starting rotation followed by JZim at 3.54.  Gio is at 4.11, and  Strasburg is at 4.14 and it would be no surprise to see Strasburg move below 3.99 after his next start as Strasburg looks like a different pitcher in the 2nd half.

Strasburg leads the Nats in 2nd half ERA at 1.73 and Scherzer is the worst in the 2nd half at 5.08.  Sample sizes aren’t large for either but Scherzer will start his 8th game in the 2nd half and he just hasn’t been the same, but we will see how a few extra days of rest affects Scherzer in his Friday night start.

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The Nats Clubhouse looks like a MASH unit. Span to the DL, MAT with knee, Esco with hand.

Three injuries were reported in 1 game, and two happened during the game.

First it was Esco getting a HBP on his hand with bases loaded, and Yunel left the game and was replaced by Danny Espinosa at 2nd as Rendon shifted to 3rd base.  Then MAT in the 7th inning crashed into the wall and hobbled off the field via the bullpen with help from Jayson Werth and a trainer.

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