Archive for the 'Nationals' Category

Gonzalez Comes up Big for Nats

Friday, August 10th, 2018

Gio Gonzalez has had difficulty winning the big game. He came up big yesterday against the Atlanta Braves tossing seven innings of one run ball in the Nationals 6-3 win over the Braves. This was the final game of the four game series after the Braves had won the first two out of three. A win by the Braves could have sent a dagger into the hearts of the Nationals hope to make the playoffs. Gonzalez big outing gave them another day to stay alive.

Gonzalez was bailed out of some tough situations in the first three innings. On a hit and run Freddy Freeman ripped a rocket to Michael Taylor in centerfield. Ozzie Albies had already rounded second and was easily doubled off first to end the inning. He gave up a leadoff homerun to Nick Markakis in the second, put two runners on base but struck out the pitcher to end the threat. In the third a double by Freeman and a single by Markakis could have scored a run but Adam Eaton threw a strike home and Freeman slid right into the tag for the third out. Gonzalez gave up just one hit in the next four innings, though he was bailed out on a nice diving catch by Michael Taylor.

Nationals killer Anibel Sanchez cruised through the first two innings, but just like the first game of a double header on Tuesday a comebacker knocked Sanchez out after the second inning. He was able to recover and get the out at first to end the inning but did not come out to start the third inning.

Instead, the Braves went with Wes Parsons to make his major league debut and the Nationals feasted. Gonzalez got things started with a single with one out in the third. Adam Eaton singled off the pitcher Parsons foot and the ball caromed into leftfield. Parsons did some warm up tosses and seemed to be okay. Or maybe not. He walked Trea Turner on four pitches and threw three straight balls to Juan Soto before walking him on a 3-2 count to force in a run. Anthony Rendon came within feet of hitting a grand slam, but the ball was caught at the wall, Eaton scoring the second run on the fly ball to give the Nationals a 2-1 lead.

In the fourth inning Michael Taylor blasted a ball into centerfield for a homerun. Another run was added in the sixth after a leadoff single by Rendon and a Daniel Murphy double into the right centerfield gap. Rendon slid into home just ahead of the throw.

Ronald Acuna Jr. went deep off Justin Miller in the eighth to close the gap to 4-2. The Nationals put the game away in the bottom frame with RBI singles from Ryan Zimmerman and Mark Reynolds.

Ryan Madson worked the top of the ninth and gave up a run on a sacrifice fly hit by Dansby Swanson. His struggles continue as he gave up singles to the first two hitters he faced, creating some anxiety for the Nats fans.

Game Notes: The game may have changed in the second inning after a diving stop by Daniel Murphy stole a hit away from Ender Inciarte. That would have put runners on first and second with one out and a walk to Dansby Swanson would have loaded the bases…This was the first win by Gonzalez after 11 starts. His last win came on May 28. During that time he was 0-6 with a 6.37 ERA…Anibal Sanchez left the game with a left calf contusion. He hopes to be able to make his next start…Bryce Harper was a late scratch from the game yesterday, replaced by Michael Taylor. He was bothered with a swollen shin after being hit for a second time in that area. Michael Taylor made a couple excellent defensive plays and slugged a homerun after being inserted into the lineup.

Braves Earn Split with Nationals

Wednesday, August 8th, 2018

After being thrashed in the opener 8-3 the Braves battled back in the second game to win 3-1, earning a split with the Nationals in the Tuesday doubleheader. To stay ahead of the Nationals for one of the wild card spots all the Braves have to do is play .500 against the Nationals. They have two more games against them the next two days.

In the opener Max Fried pitched two shutout innings but was taken out of the game after being hit in the back for the last out on a line drive hit by Spencer Kieboom. He still had the presence of mind to chase after the ball and throw Kieboom out, but in the top of the third the Braves pinch hit for him with Kevin Guasman. It was later learned he strained a groin trying to avoid the ball and was placed on the disabled list.

Kolby Allard came on in relief. He shut out the Nationals in the third but in the fourth the Nationals erupted. Two players who fans would like to take on more of a leadership role with this rudderless Nationals team are Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman. Both started the fourth inning with booming homeruns, Harper’s a liner deep to the bleachers in right and Zimmerman’s a tomahawk no doubter to the deepest part of the park in center. Jefry Rodriguez helped his cause by lining a single to left that advanced Spencer Kieboom to third. Jefry advanced to second on the throw to third. Trea Turner and Juan Soto made it 4-1 with RBI singles.

It was a short outing for Jefry Rodriguez but he did his job. He gave up his first three hits of the game in the fourth for the Braves first run. Johan Camargo drove in Freddy Freeman with the first run with a seeing eye single through the shortstop hole. Rodriguez pitched one more inning in the fifth and was done for the day.

The Braves tacked on one more run in the sixth off reliever Matt Grace. Ozzie Albies started the inning with a double. Nick Markakis drove him in with a line single to centerfield. Justin Miller was called on to retire the last two hitters to keep the lead at 4-2.

The Nationals responded just as they did in the fourth inning when the Braves scored a run. They responded with a four spot. Rookie reliever Shane Carle was the victim. He walked three of the first four hitters he faced, and though it will say Juan Soto was walked intentionally that was after the count went to 3-1. A fly ball by Anthony Rendon to Nick Markakis scored Spencer Kieboom. A single to left by Bryce Harper tacked on another. Ryan Zimmerman blasted a double over the head of the left fielder to plate the final two runs of the inning.

The Braves scored a final run on a Charlie Culberson pinch hit solo homerun in the ninth.

An odd play happened in the third. With Trea Turner on first Soto hit a deep fly to center. Ender Inciarte leaped near the fence and the ball appeared to hit his glove where Adam Duvall backing up caught the ball in the air. An umpire did call “no catch”, but Trea Turner thinking it was a catch hustled back to first. After review it was confirmed the ball hit the wall and not Inciarte’s glove. Soto was credited with a single but called out for passing Turner on the basepath, which was the original call. The only thing the Nationals could appeal was that Soto never passed Turner on the basepaths.

The second game turned into an old fashioned pitcher’s duel between the veteran Max Scherzer and the youngster Sean Newcomb. Sean buckled in the first inning by giving up a solo shot to Juan Soto, who bopped one into the left bleachers for his 14th homerun. That surpassed Mickey Mantle for the most homeruns by a teenager, putting Soto now fifth in the major leagues for the most homeruns by a teenager in a season.

Scherzer buckled in the sixth when he gave up a lead off homerun to Charlie Culberson. He did put runners on first and third with no out in the fourth, but he got out of that inning with a strike out, pop up and ground out.

It was 1-1 going into the ninth. The Nationals called on Kelvin Herrera to pitch that inning after Ryan Madson pitched a scoreless eighth. Freddy Freeman started the inning rifling a single to left. Nick Markakis followed with his own line shot single to left. Kurt Suzuki lined one to third but Anthony Rendon made a diving catch. The crowd was getting restless because Herrera appeared to be throwing meatballs. Ender Inciarte hit one down the line past first base for a double. The ball kicked off the fence and then scooted by Harper. Harper appeared to be in no hurry to retrieve the ball once it got past him and then heaved a wild throw to home allowing Inciarte to advance to third (the scorer gave him a triple).

At that point Kelvin Herrera shrugged his shoulder, the trainer came out and Herrera was taken out of the game with a tight shoulder. Justin Miller came on to pitch. They intentionally walked Johan Camargo to set up a double play, but did not need it when Miller struck out both pinch hitter Adam Duvall and Ozzie Albies to end the inning.

The Nationals rallied in the bottom half off new closer rookie A.J. Minter. Ryan Zimmerman started the inning with a double. With one out Michael Taylor was hit by a pitch. With runners on first and second Matt Wieters tagged a line drive that was snagged by Camargo at third. He found Zimmerman too far off the bag at second and was able to double Zimmerman for the third out. Myworld can not fault Zimmerman for being off the bag as hard as that ball was hit (105 miles per hour on the exit gun). It would have been part of his normal lead and instinctively you do not return back to second on a ball hit that hard.

Game Notes: Greg Holland made his Nationals debut and looked a bit rusty. He walked the leadoff man and had 3-2 counts to the next two hitters, but what saved the day for him was he struck out the last three hitters. Myworld would not call it a good outing despite the box score results (one walk and three whiffs). He did get some swings and misses…Juan Soto went 2 for 2 with three walks in the first game. He may be reading too much of his press clippings. In the second game he struck out three times on called third strikes. There has been lots of talk about his patience at the plate but he still needs to stay aggressive. He stranded three runners with those called third strikes…With rain on the horizon and lightening flashing in the background the umpires just wanted to get the first game over before any downpour came. With two outs in the ninth Dansby Swanson hit what appeared a game ending grounder to Anthony Rendon. Rendon casually threw to third but the ball sailed over the head of Zimmerman. One more batter and a strikeout and the game was over. The rains never came…Later reports state that Max Fried had to leave the game with a left groin strain. He was placed on the disabled list…Shane Carle was also placed on the disabled list after his outing with right shoulder inflammation…Herrera exited his game with shoulder tightness. He will undergo an MRI on Wednesday before a decision is made on his status…Soto is tied with Phil Cavaretta for fifth place with 14 homeruns for a teenager. Ken Griffey Jr. is next on the list with 16. Teammate Bryce Harper is second with 22 and Tony Conigiliaro stands atop the list with 25.

Soto Leads Nats to Split with Reds

Sunday, August 5th, 2018

After losing the opener 7-1, Juan Soto continued to be the savior of the Nationals 2018 season. He doubled, singled and walked to score three times in the Nationals 6-2 win over the Reds. Anthony Rendon also contributed with two doubles and a single, driving in Soto twice with his two doubles.

Jeremy Hellickson may lack the blazing fastball but he had enough to tame the Reds bats. He gave up a lead off homerun to Jose Peraza on the second pitch he threw in the game. He also served one up to Eugenio Suarez in the fourth. Both balls were deposited into the Reds bullpen in left field.

Matt Harvey had the blazing fastball, hitting 95 on the radar. The Nationals spent the evening off him building a picket fence, scoring single runs in the first to fourth innings. Matt Adams crushed a leadoff homerun off Harvey in the fifth to send him to the showers. The Nationals added another run in the inning on a Wilmer Difo double to stop the picket fence with a two spot.

Prior to that it was all Soto. In the first inning he hit a screaming liner into right center that hit the bottom of the scoreboard. He was able to slide awkwardly into second base. Anthony Rendon followed by lining a double into the left centerfield gap to score Soto to tie the game at 1-1.

In the second inning Michael Taylor got things started with a bunt single. Hellickson laid down a nice bunt to move Taylor to second. Wilmer Difo delivered on the first of his two clutch two out hits, ripping a single to right center to score Taylor, who barely slid into home, beating a strong throw from Billy Hamilton.

It was Soto again in the third. He led off the inning with a single past the diving second baseman into right field. Rendon followed with a bloop single over the head of the shortstop. Matt Adams ripped a double down the first base line to score Soto but Rendon was held at third. The Reds walked Michael Taylor intentionally and it paid off. Spencer Kieboom popped to third and Hellickson hit a weak grounder to short limiting the damage to one run and a 3-1 lead.

Soto sparked the rally again for the Nationals in the fourth. With two out he coaxed a walk from Harvey. Anthony Rendon lined a pitch to left field. Preston Tucker appeared to get a poor break on the ball and it rolled to the wall scoring Soto.

The bullpen did the rest for the Nats, although Kelvin Herrera was not sharp. He gave up a single to Mason Williams and walked Curt Casilla. He was one ball away from walking Preston Tucker to load the bases but finally got him to fly out to right field. He struck out Preston Tucker to end the game. Because the score was 6-2 when he came into the game it was not a save situation.

Game Notes: Bryce Harper was hit on the knee from a pitch by Austin Brice. The pitch was a curve ball. Bryce was able to get to first and run the bases but was taken out of the game in the top of the seventh after Dave Martinez did not like how well he ran after the ball after a Mason Williams double. The Nationals are calling it a stinger and he is day to day…Perhaps it was just coincidence or a purposeful pitch but Joey Votto was nailed in the leg by Ryan Madson with two out in the eighth. Joey was not happy with being hit, yelling something to Madson as he trotted to first and after the third out was made…Juan Soto fouled a pitch into his nether regions in the fourth inning. He was down for awhile, but once recovered drew a walk. He had to race home from first after a Rendon double so he appears fine…After Matt Adams led off the fifth with a homerun Tucker Barnhart said something to the umpire while in his crouch. The home plate umpire did not like what was said and tossed Barnhart while Adams circled the bases. It appears Barnhart had made a comment about the strike zone and Fletcher got a little sensitive and tossed Barnhart. That is when Barnhart got more animated and started arguing with the umpire as Adams rounded the bases…Preston Tucker did not play well in left field. He reacted poorly to a line drive from Rendon that rolled to the fence. He also threw a ball that went nowhere near the cutoff man, hitting the second base bag…Jesus Reyes made his major league debut. The first batter he faced he hit Spencer Kieboom. That later resulted in the Joey Votto hit by pitch that ultimately resulted in warnings being issued to both benches…Trea Turner grounded out in all five of his at bats. The only infielder he ignored was the first baseman.

The top Lefthanded Pitchers in the Minors

Friday, August 3rd, 2018

Most of these pitchers are starters but that does not preclude them from working out of the pen once they reach the major leagues. Lefthanders generally lack the velocity of righthanders by a couple miles an hour on average. For some reason their pitches seem to move more. Or at least that is the perception. Perhaps there is a study out there that explains why or why not. Below are myworld’s top lefthanded pitchers still in the minor leagues.

1. MacKenzie Gore (Padres) - The Padres 2017 first round pick has been battling blisters. Those blisters have put him on the disabled list twice. Gore has at least three quality pitches in a 92-95 mile per hour fastball, curveball and change that he can throw to get hitters out. He also has the command to locate those pitches. The lower pitch counts starve Gore for wins (1-5) but opposing hitters are only batting .228 against him. This year he has pitched all season in Low A. The Padres will be patient with him promoting him a level at a time until he reaches AA.

2. Jesus Luzardo (Athletics) - The Nationals drafted him in the third round of the 2016 draft out of Parkland High School, where the shootings occurred in Florida. Last year the Nationals included him and Blake Treinen in a trade for Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle. Tommy John surgery prevented him from pitching the 2016 season. He appears to be healthy now, dominating at High A (1.23 ERA) to earn a promotion to AA. There has been no let down at the higher level (2.29 ERA). Hitters are only pinging the ball at a .191 clip against him. He can light up the radar in the high 90s and has a quality curveball and change. Good command limits the solid contact. Expect him to compete for a spot in the Athletics rotation next year if they want to eat up a early 40-man rotation spot on him.

3. Justus Sheffield (Yankees) - Height is not as important with lefthanders as righthanders. Justus stands 5′10″ but can still light the radar in the high 90s. His fastball sits in the mid-90s with a quality slider and change. The 2014 first round pick started the season in AA but after only five starts (2.25 ERA) was promoted to AAA where he continues to thrive (2.31 ERA). The opposition is hitting just .191 against him. His command can be a little spotty but it has improved as he has gained experience. He may get a September callup to work in the bullpen or the Yankees could wait until next year to promote him for their starting rotation.

4. A.J. Puk (Athletics) - After being drafted in the first round of the 2016 draft Puk was on his way to earning a spot in the Athletics rotation this year until the dreaded sprained elbow turned into Tommy John surgery. At 6′7″ he falls just short of being Randy Johnson intimidating. His fastball holds in the mid-90s but can register at the higher readings. He spins a quality slider and has a good change. What is his Achilles heel is his lack of command. He won’t pitch this year and hopes to get some innings in early next year. The surgery will delay his major league debut until 2020.

5. Luiz Gohara (Braves) - He has the potential to transform into the physique of Bartolo Colon, which is not good when you are 22. His fastball hits the high 90s with great regularity and he has a plus slider to complement the fastball. A lack of a third pitch and inconsistent command could send the Brazilian to the bullpen. Luiz was expected to compete for a rotation spot but struggles in AAA (5.56 ERA and .275 opposition average) have kept him in the minors. Nine of the 47 hits he has given up this year have left the yard. A little less of Luiz (265 pounds) could help his pitching mechanics and the velocity on his fastball.

6. Adrian Morejon (Padres) - Myworld remembers when the Cuban dominated at the 15 and under World Cup. A year later, at 16 he had left Cuba for the major leagues. The Padres signed him for a $11 million bonus. That would be enough cash for a 16 year old to survive without parental support. His fastball sits in the low 90s but can hit the mid-90s. The change is probably his best pitch. Still in his teenage years Adrian has already reached High A where his 3.36 ERA is pretty impressive for the California League.

7. Kolby Allard (Braves) - The radar readings for the number one pick of the 2015 draft are not impressive, sitting in the high 80s to low 90s. He relies on doing what lefties do best, putting lots of movement on the ball and showing quality breaking pitches and changing speeds effectively. His command also limits quality barrel of bat on ball contact. His ultimate destination may be to the bullpen where he retires lefties and righties equally well. Kolby made one major league start this year and did not far well, giving up 9 hits and five runs in five innings. He generally limits the opposition to a .250 average in the minor leagues.

8. Stephen Gonsalves (Twins) - The 2013 fourth round pick does not light up the radar either but entering the 2018 season Stephen has limited the opposition to a .202 average. His change is above average making the velocity of his fastball appear to have more smoke. This year he continues to dominate (3.04 ERA and .188 opposition average). At some point the Twins will find room in their rotation for him. Perhaps September of this year will be his debut. Expect him to compete for a rotation spot next year.

9. Seth Romero (Nationals) - The Nationals first round 2017 pick has the stuff. Whether his character flaws will allow him to show that stuff in the major leagues is open to question. He was kicked off his college team Houston after being suspended twice. The Nationals suspended him at the beginning of the year for his tardiness. That is all in the past as he shows off his mid-90s fastball at Hagerstown (Low A) where the whiffs are prevalent (31 in 23 innings) and the opposition is hitting him at .211 but the ERA is bloated (4.24 ERA). If he behaves himself the promotions should come quickly. If he continues to have character flaws he will be buried in the minors.

10. Logan Allen (Padres) - The fastball is pedestrian but the eighth round 2015 pick has a swing and miss pitch that dives as it crosses the plate. At AA the opposition is hitting him at a .199 clip and he has struck out more than a hitter per inning. Logan is the third lefthander on the Padres on this list but he is ahead of Gore and Morejon and should get the first opportunity to make the rotation. His best fit may be in the bullpen because of a lack of quality pitches other than his change.

The All Star Contact/Power Lineup

Friday, August 3rd, 2018

Strikeouts and homeruns are up. Most like the latter but abhor the former. Myworld takes a look at the players who hit for power at their positions but like to make contact, or at least take as many walks as they strikeout. Excitement usually pervades their at bats.

Buster Posey (C) Giants - He has been a little short in the power department this year compared to past years, but there is a shortage of catchers who make contact. Buster almost wins this by default with a 38/45 walk to whiff ratio and five taters. He has peppered the gaps for 22 doubles.

Joey Votto (1B) Reds - In most years it would be Miguel Cabrera. He has been injured for most of the year. Joey Votto has been healthy but has not found his power swing this year, limited to just nine dingers. He does have an impressive 85/72 walk to whiff ratio. That is a lot of non-contact.

Alex Bregman (2B) Astros - We had to move him to second base, the position he would probably play if Altuve was not there and Correa did not occupy short. Alex has already surpassed his homerun numbers from last year with 22 bombs. He also has a 62/61 walk to whiff ratio.

Manny Machado (SS) Orioles/Dodgers - This has been the best year for Manny in his walk to whiff ratio (56/68). He has also stroked 26 balls over the fence. When Manny comes up to the plate the concessions get empty.

Jose Ramirez (3B) Indians - Where did this guy come from? He hit 13 homeruns in his five minor league seasons. He has 32 this year after hitting 29 last year. His 70/51 walk to whiff ratio is impressive as well.

Juan Soto (LF) Nationals - Juan is on his way to breaking the record for most walks in a season by a teenager and he missed the first couple months of the season. When he learns to pull the ball on certain pitches the balls should start flying out of Nationals stadium with greater regularity. He already has 13 this year with a 43/48 walk to whiff ratio.

Mike Trout (CF) Angels - The best player in the game today. He is prone to striking out, but he also walks a ton (99/97 walk to whiff ratio). He also sends balls out of the park with great consistency (21 homeruns).

Mookie Betts (RF) Red Sox - At 5′9″ he is not a big guy, but he carries plenty of wallop with 25 homeruns and a 50/54 walk to whiff ratio.

Nationals Future

Wednesday, August 1st, 2018

This has been one of the more disappointing seasons for the Nationals. They were expected to run away with the National League East. Now we are in August and the Nationals find themselves one game over .500, behind the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves. Both those teams made moves to improve themselves for the playoffs. The Nationals did not, trading a Brandon Kintzler, a key bullpen piece for a minor leaguer and releasing Shawn Kelly. They hope the additions of injured Daniel Murphy and Ryan Zimmerman to the roster to be just like trading for a big name.

After the year is over the most touted player Bryce Harper will be eligible for free agency. Daniel Murphy will be gone too. Ryan Zimmerman felt spring training lasts too long, focusing on playing in the minor league games. He is having one of his worst seasons, again spending significant time on the disabled list. He may be right about spring training but the perception he created is bad, having one of his worst seasons this year.

Daniel Murphy had microfracture surgery on his knee. He did not anticipate to miss as much time as he did, but that type of surgery is not routine. His bat is getting hot but his defense at first and second base have looked stiff.

Overall, many feel the current roster is flawed, with many players who have not performed when the games count. They have yet to win a playoff series and this is their second disappointing season. So what does the future for the Nationals look like. Below are the players myworld feels will be part of the future:

Outfielders

This will continue to be their strength. Myworld does not see Bryce Harper coming back, unless he does on a one year contract. Some team will shell out the money to sign him. Myworld does not see the Nationals doing so. If he does return this outfield has the potential to be the best in baseball.

Juan Soto (LF) - He has turned into a surprise. Robles was the top ranked outfielder for the Nationals but an injury prevented him from being called up. At 19 years of age Soto is showing a veteran’s approach to his bats. His defense is a bit flawed but he will handle left field just fine. He will be a multi-year All Star.

Victor Robles (CF) - Robles is a superior defensive player. He also has a potent bat. An injury prevented him from being the player called up to play left field this year for the Nationals. Last year the Nationals used his speed and baserunning ability to help them secure a playoff spot. Victor should also be a yearly All Star once he gets settled with the Nationals.

Daniel Johnson (RF) - An under rated player drafted in the fifth round of the 2016 draft. He lacks the tools of Robles and Soto but he has a strong arm and good speed to play centerfield. His bat is not as consistent as Soto and Robles. He won’t be ready until 2020.

Catcher

This has been a hole for the Nationals. Pedro Severino was supposed to be their future. His defense is solid but his bat has not produced. There have been some complaints as he tries to handle a veteran pitching staff. He would be better off with a group of pitchers less experienced than they have now.

Raudy Read (C) - Raudy is next on the list if Pedro does not pan out. Raudy has no special tools. He hits for power and has decent tools to handle a major league assignment, but he will fall far down the pack of premium catchers in the major leagues. A possible solid regular but no All Star appearances. Read could get a September callup this year to enhance the Nationals roster.

Infielders

Myworld does not see any player in their minor leagues to fill the first base role. That could be filled by a future free agent.

Trea Turner (SS/3B) - Myworld did not think Turner had the arm to stick at short. It has improved. Turner should be a veteran of this team by this time. His stolen bases should drop but his power should increase. He could move to third to accommodate Luis Garcia.

Carter Kieboom (2B) - The Nationals first round pick in 2016. His arm and range are not premium tools that you expect from your shortstop. His bat will get his name in the lineup. His best position should be second base. Kieboom could be ready to take second base in 2019 but has to beat out Difo. Expect the 2020 season for him to become a regular.

Luis Garcia (SS/2B/3B) - The latest player from the Dominican Republic that is creating some buzz in the minor leagues. He played for the World Team in the Prospect All Star game. His arm and range could move Turner to third once he is ready. The power in his bat makes him an ill fit for third. His bat may be a little short so he won’t usurp Kieboom from second. Still playing in A ball it may be 2020 before he makes his Nationals debut but his defense could move Turner to third.

Pitchers

The Nationals traded a lot of depth in their starting rotation to make a playoff run last year. Including Lucas Giolito, Dane Dunning and Reynaldo Lopez in the same deal for Adam Eaton was a bit much. They traded the up and coming Jesus Luzardo for Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle. Jesus is being mentioned as a minor league player of the year candidate. The depth would look a lot better if not for those trades.

Mason Denaburg (RHP) - The Nationals first round pick of the 2018 draft. At 6′4″ he has a good pitcher’s height but he is still a few years away from impacting the Nationals. His fastball should increase in velocity as he matures, riding up to the high 90s once he is major league ready. Mason has yet to pitch this year for the Nationals.

Erick Fedde (RHP) - The Nationals first round pick in 2014. Tommy John surgery delayed the start of his major league career. He has had some starts in the major leagues but has not impressed. At this point he may be best used as a back end of the rotation type of pitcher.

Seth Romero (LHP) - The Nationals first round 2017 pick has some character flaws. His college (Houston) suspended him for those flaws. The Nationals also had to suspend him for the start of his season for his consistent tardiness. At this point he needs to look in the mirror if he wants to have a career in baseball. He has the stuff and the requisite number of pitches to fill a starting rotation but maturity is a question. He may not be ready until 2020.

Will Crowe (RHP) - The Nationals second round 2017 pick. He is 10-0 with a 2.89 ERA at High A Potomac. He has the stuff to fit in the back end of the rotation. His tools and pitches are not awe inspiring but they are solid.

Nats Score Four Touchdowns in Rout of the Mets

Wednesday, August 1st, 2018

The Redskins should hire Dave Martinez as their offensive coordinator. Their 25 runs yesterday were more than the Redskins scored points in seven of their 16 games. Jose Reyes got to pitch in the eighth giving up six runs. Yet that was a better outing than Steven Matz who only got two outs while giving up seven runs in the first inning. The Nationals first five innings looked more like a zipcode than a scoreboard as they went on to win 25-4.

It did not start well for the Nationals. Daniel Murphy did not look good trying to field a grounder hit by leadoff hitter Ahmed Rosario. He was charged with an error. Fortunately Rosario was caught stealing for the second out of the inning. Wilmer Flores bashed a double against the left field wall, Juan Soto not playing the ball well off the wall and having it fly past him. Conforto popped up and the Nationals were out of the inning.

That is when the fireworks began. Wilmer Flores did not look good playing first base. He had two balls fly by his glove that if he would have caught could have kept the score 0-0 after one. He mysteriously left the game after the Mets made a pitching change and it was not a double switch. The biggest decision in the inning was deciding to walk Matt Wieters intentionally with runners on first and third and a 2-1 count. Tanner Roark lined a double into left center to plate three runs. Ironic Matz struck out the two hitters he retired in the inning. Turner also stole two bases off him after he led off the inning with a single past the glove of Flores.

Daniel Murphy led the charge in the second inning with a two run shot into the right field bleachers. Michael Taylor followed with a triple that hit the top of the centerfield fence. Matt Wieters made it 10-0 by lining a single into right field past the drawn in infield.

Daniel Murphy made it 13-0 after three with his three run blast deep into the Nationals pen in the third. In the fourth Ryan Zimmerman made it 16-0 with his three run bomb into the right field bleachers. In the fifth Anthony Rendon drove in three more with a bases clearing double making the line score after the first five innings 7-3-3-3-3.

A sprinkle came down after the fifth inning and would not stop. If this was an international game it would have ended because of the mercy rule. Myworld treated it as an international game and departed. There was nothing left to see. The Mets were toast.

Game notes: Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon and Bryce Harper took their fifth at bat in the fifth inning…The 25 runs were the most runs the Nationals have scored since their arrival from Montreal…Ironic that Shawn Kelly was designated for assignment after his glare into the dugout when he was called on to mopup in the eighth. Brandon Kintzler was also traded. The Nationals wanted to trade Ryan Madson and may during the waiver period. There was grumbling in the bullpen when it was felt Dave Martinez was overusing them earlier in the season. Could the shakeup in the bullpen be a response to the complaints…All nine players inked in the starting lineup for the Nationals scored at least two or more runs. Daniel Murphy drove in six runs but he was replaced in the top of the sixth by Wilmer Difo. Matt Adams replaced Bryce Harper and was put in the lineup spot for Murphy. Adams hit a two run homer giving that lineup spot eight RBIs…Jose Reyes led all Met pitchers with 48 pitches. He threw all his pitches in the eighth inning, walking two and hitting Ryan Zimmerman… The last time a team scored more than 25 runs was in 2007 when the Texas Rangers destroyed the Baltimore Orioles 30-3. Myworld had a ticket for that game. The last time myworld watched the Nationals play they blasted the Miami Marlins 18-4. That is 43 runs in two games….Ryan Zimmerman surpassed Tim Wallach with his 1,695th hit in the game…Reports are out that Wilmer exited the game because of dizziness and dehydration…The 21 run loss was a franchise worst for the Mets. They lost to the Phillies 26-7 June 11, 1985…The Nationals will probably be shutout in their afternoon game, if their manner of being inconsistent throughout the season continues.

Myworlds Top Centerfield Prospects

Monday, July 30th, 2018

These are the shortstops of the outfield. They usually have burner’s speed. Ideally it would be nice to have a productive bat but defensively they need to stop the runs. Ideally, these players would be five toolers with the arm to throw and the legs to steal bases. Power is probably the last thing you need from the centerfielder.

Mike Trout started his major league career as a left fielder, deferring to the defensively superior Peter Bourjos. Bourjos struggled with the bat and Trout was moved to centerfield while Bourjos became a bench player. Sometimes teams will stick with the veteran (Andrew McCutchen) even though the rookie (Starling Marte) is the better defensive centerfielder.

Myworld did not include any of the players we named as left fielders or right fielders, or at least we hope we did not include them. Some of those corner outfielders could still pan out as centerfielders depending on how the roster shakes out.

1. Victor Robles (Nationals) - At one time he was considered a better prospect than Juan Soto. The success Soto has had in the major leagues has moved him to the second best Nationals outfield prospect, but still one of the top ten in the minors. An elbow injury early in the 2018 season sidelined him for much of the year but he has recently returned to AAA. He has all five tools. If not for his injury he would have been called up before Soto. Last year he made his major league debut but hit only .250. This year he has been showing some impressive discipline at the plate, walking 11 times to just 8 strikeouts. Victor should see some time with the Nationals in September. If Bryce Harper leaves as a free agent Robles could fight for the centerfield job with Michael Taylor.

2. Jo Adell (Angels) - Jo was a first round pick of the Angels in 2017. While he only played half a season he still displayed all five tools. His defense is top notch in center, his bat can hit for power and average and his legs can steal bases and cover a lot of real estate in center. He won’t be a prolific basestealer since he will eventually fit in the middle of the order. This year he is hitting .296 with a .557 slugging average. The Angels would like to see some improvement on his 14/60 walk to whiff ratio. Expect him to reach AA before the season is done and find himself in the Angels lineup sometime before the 2019 season is complete. It will be interesting if he moves Trout from centerfield or if Adell is the player who is forced to move to one of the corners.

3. Jesus Sanchez (Rays) - Jesus is another five tool player. His power began to show last year when he hit 15 homeruns in Low A. This year he has already deposited 10 balls into the bleachers. Jesus has the speed to cover ground in center, but he does not steal a lot of bases (six this year to put his career total at 23). His career minor league slugging percentage is .492, but this year he sits at .472. He is probably still a couple years away from competing for the Rays center field job.

4. Leody Taveras (Rangers) - The Dominican has already reached High A at 19 years of age. This is already his third year in the minor leagues. Leody possesses all five tools but his batting average and power have yet to appear in High A. His slugging percentage is only .317. Perhaps the Rangers have been too aggressive with him. Last year in a full season at Low A he hit .249. He needs to improve his ability to make solid contact, though his strikeout rate is not high (71 in 98 games). Don’t be surprised if the Rangers keep him in High A to begin the 2019 season. A lot will depend on his ability to finish out the 2018 season.

5. Esteven Florial (Yankees) - Last year Estevan had a break out season hitting .298 with 13 homeruns and 23 stolen bases. He finished the season with an impressive .850 OPS. A promotion to High A has seen him revert to the struggles he had prior to the 2017 season with a .247 average and 56 whiffs in 46 games. He is only slugging .343 which is more than 100 points below his career average. The Florida State League has some large parks so perhaps he is having some struggles coping. In rehab assignments at the Gulf Coast League he is hitting over .500 in 31 at bats against pitchers that match his 20 years of age.

6. Christian Pache (Braves) - Pache covers a lot of territory in center field. In his first two seasons covering close to 700 at bats he had yet to see a ball carry over the fence. His batting averages have been solid (.290) but his slugging has been weak (.358). This year he has found his homerun swing with 8 without sacrificing his average (.287). He makes decent contact but the Braves would like to see him walk more to raise his .311 OBP. The Dominican is probably still a couple years away from patrolling center field but Ronald Acuna could force him to find another position. Christian has more speed but Acuna has a stronger arm.

7. Jeren Kendall (Dodgers) - Myworld is not enamored with his strikeout totals. Last year he struck out 45 times in 40 games, but in college he also had the propensity to whiff. If he can improve his contact rate he has the speed and defensive tools to win gold gloves. The Dodgers currently lack a true centerfielder but Jeren may still be a couple years away. This year he is showing some power with 10 homeruns, but his propensity to swing and miss (117 whiffs in 85 games) keeps his batting average low (.223). A first round pick out of Vanderbilt in 2017 the Dodgers were hoping Kendall would acclimate to the minor league pitching quicker than he has so far. His speed could make him a 20/20 player once he reaches the major leagues.

8. Monte Harrison (Marlins) - Monte was a second round pick of the Brewers in 2014. He was one of the players sent to the Marlins in the Christian Yelich trade. The Brewers outfield situation was crowded and Monte struggled with his bat early in his minor league career. Last year he broke out with his power hitting 21 homeruns split between Low and High A. The Marlins promoted him to AA and his power is still there (13 homeruns) but his average has struggled (.233). He has regressed in his ability to make contact with a worrisome 166 whiffs in just 104 games. His speed combined with his power will make him a 20/20 major leaguer but he needs to improve his ability to make contact if he wants to see a major league outfield. Lewis Brinson has been playing centerfield for the Marlins but he has had difficulty generating offense.

9. Khalil Lee (Royals) - A local boy (Flint High School) who was drafted by the Royals in the third round in 2016. He is a five tool player that can handle all three outfield positions but the Royals would prefer he play center. As a high school draftee the Royals have been aggressive with his promotion. This year he went from High A to AA where he has combined for a .253 average with six homeruns. His patience at the plate is good with 48 walks in just 71 games at High A. Khalil still has a couple years to play in the minors before the Royals need to put him on the 40 man roster so expect him not to arrive until 2020.

10. Jorge Mateo (Athletics) - Last year the Athletics gave Jorge a lot of centerfield time. This year all his time has been at shortstop or second base. We see those two positions blocked for the immediate future and Jorge is ready to get his major league opportunity now. He is not the prolific base stealer he was in 2015 when he stole 81 bases. Last year he found his happy feet with 52 stolen bases, but this year he has slowed again with only 18 in 28 attempts. Jorge shows some sneaky power with 12 homeruns last year, but this year the bat has been quiet. His .236 average and .285 OBA will not get him promoted in 2018 but we still like the potential for Mateo to make an impact in the major leagues. His speed is indicative of the 31 triples he has hit in the last two seasons.

Reynolds Drives in Ten in Nationals Rout

Sunday, July 8th, 2018

The night before Mark Reynolds had hit a walk off homerun. He started last night driving the first pitch he saw into almost the same spot in the left field bullpen. Dejavu. He finished the day 5 for 5 with two homeruns, a double and two singles with 10 RBIs. For the month of July he is hitting .625. The Nationals went on to win the game in easy fashion 18-4.

Wei-Yen Chen got the start for the Marlins. For the first three innings he did not look bad. In the second inning Harper touched him for a single and Reynolds followed by slamming his first pitch into the left field bullpen. It was still a game.

Max Scherzer did not look sharp. He ran two three ball counts to the first three hitters he faced in the first inning, but then settled down the next two innings. In the fourth he gave up back to back jacks to Starlin Castro and J.T. Realmuto, both on breaking pitches. Those two shots seemed to wake up the beast in him as he struck out both Justin Bour and Garrett Cooper with mid-90s plus fastballs to end the fourth.

In the bottom of the fourth the Nationals got the lead back. Bryce Harper lined a single into right centerfield, the second of what would be three singles for the day. Mark Reynolds hit a hard grounder past third that pinged off the fence just behind where the ball girl sits. Harper flung off his helmet as he rounded third, scoring the Nationals third run for a 3-2 lead.

Scherzer gave the run right back in the top of the fifth. J.T. Riddle laced one into the right centerfield gap. Harper dropped the ball when he first tried to pick it up from the warning track and Riddle streaked around second to get credited with a triple. Miguel Rojas poked a pitch over the drawn in infield to tie the game at 3-3. A double play cleared the bases but the pitcher Chen singled. At that point the fans were beginning to understand that this was not going to be one of the best nights for Scherzer and the Nationals were going to need to score a bunch of runs to win this game.

They obliged. Scherzer started the fifth with a single. Turner followed by hitting a hard ground ball to Starlin Castro that had double play written all over it. Castro dropped the ball and could only get a force on Scherzer. An error that wasn’t. Soto lined a single into left center to put two runners on. Anthony Rendon lined a pitch into left field corner. Soto was waved home even though the throw from Dietrich had hit the cutoff man Castro as he was rounding third. Castro turned around and heaved a throw over the head of catcher Realmuto. An error that was. Two misplays by Castro opened the flood gates.

Harper was intentionally walked. Elieser Hernandez came on to replace Chen to face the righthanded Reynolds. A wild pitch advanced Harper to second but Rendon stayed glued to third. Reynolds then punched a pitch into short left field that scored two. A single by Difo put two runners on for the light hitting Pedro Severino and four runs looked like all the Nats would get. Severino then jacked a pitch over the left field bullpen to change that four spot to a seven and give the Nationals a 10-3 lead.

The Nationals tacked on three more in the sixth. A walk to Turner and single by Harper set the stage for Mark Reynolds. He deposited a pitch deep into the Brewhouse in centerfield to give him eight RBIs and the Nationals a commanding 13-4 lead.

Nats fans were not too concerned when Scherzer gave up a homerun to Yadiel Rivera in the seventh. For Rivera it was his first major league homerun of his career. For Scherzer it would be his last inning of work.

The Nationals punctuated the game with a five spot in the home half. Juan Soto drove in two with a double into right field and Mark Reynolds got to double digits in RBIs with a two run single. Shawn Kelley retired all six hitters he faced in his two innings of work and the Nationals cruised 18-4.

Game Notes: The Nationals made history with Reynolds 10 RBIs. They became the first team in major league history to ever have two players hit for 8 RBIs or more in the same week. Trea Turner had driven in 8 RBIs on Thursday when the Nationals came from behind 9-0 to win 14-12…Max Scherzer was 0-4 with one no decision in his last five games. During that time he had only given up two or less runs in four of them and three runs in one game. The Nationals offense was shutout three times and scored just five runs in the two other games…In a game the Nationals were ahead 15-4, Brian Goodwin pinch hit for Bryce Harper. He singled to left center, which could have scored Soto but the third base coach held him at third, not wanting to run up the score. Goodwin did not stop running and advanced to second, showing a bit too much enthusiasm after he reached second. Hopefully that is something the Marlins do not remember on Sunday…The win increased the Nationals winning streak over the Marlins to 14 games…The 10 RBIs by Reynolds tied Rendon for the franchise record…The seven runs off Chen raised his road ERA to 10.47. He is 1.89 when pitching at Marlins park…To keep Reynolds on the roster when Ryan Zimmerman comes off the disabled list, Mark will have to show an ability to play another position. When he first came up he played third base. Dave Martinez used him there for the last two innings last night. You could see Rendon shift to second and Reynolds play third in games against lefthanded pitching, or if Martinez needs to spark up his offense.

Nats Win with Reynolds Walkoff

Saturday, July 7th, 2018

The Nationals had the bases loaded and no out in the bottom of the eighth. The next three National hitters could not drive a runner home. Daniel Murphy pinch hit for Spencer Kieboom and flew out to center. Michael Taylor was standing in the on deck circle to pinch hit for the pitcher if Murph had got on base. In the bottom of the ninth Dave Martinez chose to lead off the inning with Mark Reynolds instead of Taylor. There was just one thing on his mind for that change. A walkoff. Reynolds got ahead in the count 3-1 and then obliged the wishes of Martinez, driving the next pitch into the Marlins bullpen off Kyle Barraclough for the walkoff 3-2 win. Not quite as dramatic as the win the day before when they came back from a 9-0 deficit, but another exciting win just the same.

Gio Gonzalez did not have a good start. Five of the first seven hitters he faced saw a three ball count. In the third inning Cameron Maybin hit a hard ground ball that Turner made a nice back hand stop on, but his throw to the base was just a tad wide, pulling Matt Adams off the bag. A bunt by Dan Strailey advanced Maybin to second. Starlin Castro roped a pitch down the third base line, just fair, but as it rolled toward the ball girl and reached the fence a fan scooped it up with their glove to turn it into a ground rule double. Maybin scored and the Marlins had a 1-0 lead.

The Nationals came back in the fourth when Dan Strailey had difficulty finding the strike zone. Anthony Rendon and Bryce Harper started the inning with back to back walks. Back to back RBI singles by Adam Eaton and Wilmer Difo gave the Nationals a 2-1 lead. With runners on first and third and one out Spencer Kieboom laid down a safety squeeze bunt. Eaton tried to score from third but was thrown out.

Gio had loaded the bases in the top of the fourth but was saved by Anthony Rendon who made a five unassisted to first double play to escape the inning. In the fifth Gonzalez gave up three straight hits to pitcher Dan Strailey, Starlin Castro and Brian Anderson to load the bases with no out. Turner made a back hand stab at short and went home with the ball to get the first out. Gonzalez walked the next batter to force in a run and tie the game at 2-2. He got behind Justin Bour 3-0 but then rallied to strike out Bour and also Garrett Cooper to get out of the inning. He would not start the sixth, with a pitch count that exceeded 110.

The wasted opportunity for the Nationals was in the eighth when back to back walks to Anthony Rendon and Bryce Harper and an infield single by Matt Adams loaded the bases with no outs. Adam Eaton hit a fly to left that was too shallow to score Rendon. Cooper threw a strike to home. Perhaps with one out you take the chance and send the runner home but with no outs you hope for another opportunity. It never came. Wilmer Difo pooped to short and Daniel Murphy flew to center to end the inning.

Doolittle came on to pitch the top of the ninth, but got the win instead of the save when he retired the side in order and was rewarded by the Reynolds walkoff.

Game Notes: Mark Reynolds has been playing well but once Ryan Zimmerman comes off the disabled list myworld does not see the Nationals keeping three first baseman. Reynolds will probably be the one to go…Gio was rescued by three double plays in his five innings of work. He walked four and gave up eight hits…The fan who scooped the ball up in the third had the ball taken away from him. Perhaps he was given a choice. Keep the ball and we will escort you out of the park or surrender the ball and you can stay to watch the game…Trea Turner over slid second base on what would have been a successful steal. Myworld has seen a lot of players over slide second, most of them coming in on head first slides…Cameron Maybin made a nice diving catch on a ball Wilmer Difo hit into the right centerfield gap. Adam Eaton was on second and would have scored easily if Maybin had not made the play…The Nationals have now won 13 consecutive games against Miami. They also won back to back games for the first time since early June (5th and 6th)…Kyle Barraclough was voted National League reliever of the month in June. After giving up the walkoff to Mark Reynolds it will be tough for him to win back to back months.