Archive for the 'Nationals' Category

Top Dominican Prospects in the National League

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020

The top two prospects from last year’s list, Fernando Tatis and Victor Robles made significant contributions to their major league teams. Another Padre Francisco Mejia, the fourth rated Dominican prospect lost his rookie status. Number nine prospect Sandy Alcantara started 32 games for the Marlins. That leaves four new spots with injuries knocking Alex Reyes off the list, though with all his time on the major league disabled list he may have lost his rookie status. Below are myworld’s top ten Dominican prospects in the National League.

1. Cristian Pache OF (Atl) - Last year he was the 7th rated Dominican prospect in the National League. What a difference a year of accomplishment can make. His defense is at the gold glove level and his bat has been showing some increasing pop the last two years. Pache did not hit any homeruns his first two years but nine in 2018 and 12 last year show the kind of pop that is there. He also peppered the gaps for a career high 36 doubles. He has the speed to steal bases, but after his 32 in 2017 he has failed to reach double digits his last two years. The arm is a rocket but with his defense there would be no need to move him away from centerfield. The batting average may hover around .250 but his defense should make him an asset to the Braves for a long time. That should start with the 2020 season.

2. O’Neil Cruz SS/OF (PGH) - Cruz was number 10 on this list last year. While he currently plays shortstop, myworld believes his 6′6″ height will eventually move him to the outfield. If he can stay at shortstop there would be no shortstop that could equal his power. A little too much swing and miss could limit his batting average and lesson his power numbers. A fractured foot last year also limited him to just 73 games. He was able to reach AA but hit only one homerun in over 120 at bats. The Pirates have always been patient with their prospects, trying to squeeze out every last year of prospect eligibility to their club. The injury and the Pirates conservative approach will keep Cruz in the minor leagues until 2021 at the earliest.

3. Ronny Mauricio SS (NYM) - Amed Rosario struggled on defense at shortstop last year for the Mets and Andres Gimenez is another defensive option. The most complete shortstop could be Mauricio. At 6′3″ he may eventually have to move to third if his body fills out. His lack of speed limits his range and if he continues to fill out that range could be further impacted. He has the hands and arm to play short. His bat is what gets the Mets excited. The bat should eventually hit for 20 plus homeruns, though he has yet to hit in double figures for power. He does show a lack of patience at the plate with a 4/1 strikeout to walk ratio, which could limit his average. Still a teenager Mauricio should be ready for High A in 2020 with a possible promotion to AA. Don’t expect him to see the Mets infield until 2021.

4. Brailyn Marquez LHP (CHC) - Lefthanders who can dial their fastball into the mid-90s are valuable commodities on any club. At 6′4″ Brailyn has the height to be a durable starting pitcher. Last year was his first year eclipsing 100 innings of work. A solid curveball and improving change give him three pitches to fit in the rotation. Last year the opposition hit him at .224, which is twenty points below his career minor league average. He also continued to strike out more than one batter per inning. One area he needs to work on is improving his control. Last year he walked about a hitter per two innings. The Cubs have not had a lot of success developing pitching. Next year he should see AA and if the Cubs can exercise patience he will not appear on the Cubs pitching rotation until 2021.

5. Sixto Sanchez RHP (Mia) - The Phillies signed Sixto in 2014, then traded him to the Marlins in 2019 for J.T. Realmuto. The fastball is explosive, cracking triple digits on the radar gun. His 6′0″ height makes his durability a question. He missed much of 2018 due to injury but averted the disabled list in 2019 to throw over 100 innings for the first time in his minor league career. He and Sandy Alcantara should make for an intimidating mound duo. Plus command of his fastball, curve and change trifecta should result in more swings and misses but he generally averages less than a whiff per inning. His 18 starts in AA should make him ready for the major league rotation some time in 2020.

6. Jesus Sanchez OF (Mia) - No relation to Sixto. Jesus got his start with Tampa Bay and then was traded to the Marlins a couple years ago for pitching help. Jesus has the potential to be a five tool player. His speed is not burner’s speed but it is enough to play centerfield. His arm is strong enough for right field, but with J.J. Bleday on the roster left field could be his eventual position. His bat lacks patience (39/100 walk to whiff ratio) which could limit his average to the .250s. His power is not massive but it should be enough to hit 20 plus homeruns. Despite his above average speed Jesus does not steal bases, failing to reach double digits in any of his minor league seasons. He should be in the Marlins roster sometime mid season of 2020.

7. Marco Luciano SS (SF) - Don’t know if the Giants can wait for Marco to be ready to replace the aging Brandon Crawford. They shelled out $2.6 million to sign him in 2018. Last year was his first season state side where he hit .322 in rookie ball. His 10 homeruns gave him a .616 slugging. That kind of power will not continue, but his bat is one of his strengths. The arm is there to stay at short but if his 6′2″ frame fills out too much he may have to move to third. Marco has the bat to make multiple All Star appearances. He will debut in the full season league in 2020 but is probably still three of four years from making the Giants. That will probably mean four years on this list.

8. Luis Garcia SS/2B (Was) - Not to be confused with the Luis Garcia on the Phillies. Teams have inquired about Luis, but despite their playoff run the Nationals kept Garcia off the market. With Anthony Rendon gone and temporary veteran replacements to cover second and third, Garcia’s time to wear a Nationals uniform should be soon. He lacks the power to play third and he will not usurp Turner from short. So second base could be his ultimate position. His minor league numbers have not been impressive (.257 average and .617 OPS) until you realize he is only a 19 year old trying to solve AA pitching. His speed is not great so if Luis hopes to make an impact his bat has to be in the neighborhood of .300 with double digit homerun power less than 20. National fans should see his major league debut in 2020.

9. Edward Cabrera RHP (Mia) - Make that a threesome. With Alcantara, Sixto and Cabrera in the rotation the Marlins should be scary. Cabrera is another arm that can hit triple digits, but for the most part will sit in the mid-90s. If he can refine his change to make it a more swing and miss offering he will fit in the rotation. If not he could be the Marlins closer. Last year he limited the opposition to a .190 average and struck out more than a hitter an inning. His eight starts in AA make debuting in the Marlins rotation in 2020 a slight possibility. Because 100 innings pitched in 2018 has been his maximum innings level, the Marlins need to leave him in the minor leagues to control his innings.

10. Geraldo Perdomo SS (Ari) - The Diamondbacks only paid $70,000 for him back in 2016. Advance three years and Geraldo has turned himself into a top level prospect. His tools should be sufficient to stay at shortstop, but as with any 6′3″ Dominican this could change as he fills out. The bat makes good contact with more walks than whiffs last year (70/67). There is not a lot of power in his bat so if he can keep his average in the .300 neighborhood he could become a useful starter. His lack of speed does not project for high stolen base totals. Last year he got 26 games in High A so he is at least a couple years away from the Diamondbacks.

NL East Lower Draft Pick Success

Tuesday, January 7th, 2020

Myworld takes a look at the NL East to see how they have done selecting with the 25th round pick or later. This is our last division to look at. As usual, we start with 1998 when drafts were established at 50 picks, further reduced to 40 a few years later. Also, we did not include any player signed in the 25th round or later who did not sign but made the major leagues after a later draft. Myworld did not look at draft years 2015 or later since any late round picks making the major league roster in four years or less would be slim to none.

Atlanta Braves

Tim Spooneybarger OF (1998/29th round) - 2-3, 3.24 in 88 games of relief
Brad Voyles RHP (1998/45th round) - 0-4, 6.45 in 40 games, three of them starts
John Foster LHP (1999/25th round) - 7-2, 4.90 in 90 games of relief
Johnny Venters LHP (2003/30th round) - 20-13, 2.71 in 292 games, with one start
Ryne Harper RHP (2011/37th round) - 4-2, 3.81 in 61 games of relief

Nick Green 2B (1998/32nd round) - .236, 17, 103 in 417 games
Adam LaRoche 1B (2000/29th round) - .260, 255, 882 in 1605 games
Tyler Flowers 1B (2005/33rd round) - .238, 85, 296 in 780 games

Miami Marlins

Kevin Olsen RHP (1998/26th round) - 0-5, 5.12 in 28 games, ten starts
Tim Wood RHP (2002/44th round) - 1-4, 4.50 in 57 games of relief
Alex Sanabia RHP (2006/32nd round) - 8-10, 4.15 in 28 games, 24 starts
Brandon Cunniff RHP (2010/27th round) - 4-2, 4.50 in 54 games of relief

Jim Aducci OF (2003/42nd round) - .232, 5, 39 in 151 games

New York Mets

Josh Stinson RHP (2006/37th round) - 0-2, 4.47 in 39 games, two of them starts
Josh Edgin LHP (2010/30th round) - 4-4, 3.49 in 177 games of relief
Seth Lugo RHP (2011/34th round) - 22-15, 3.27 in 151 games, 31 of them starts
Chasen Bradford RHP (2011/35th round) - 7-0, 3.89, 86 games of relief

Earl Snyder 1B (1998/30th round) - .203, 1, 4 in 18 games
Mike Jacobs C (1999/38th round) - .253, 100, 312 in 569 games
Juan Centeno C (2007/32nd round) - .223, 6, 37 in 118 games

Philadelphia Phillies

Jacob Diekman LHP (2007/30th round) - 15-22, 3.90 in 441 games of relief
Jarred Cosart RHP (2008/38th round) - 16-23, 3.98 in 74 games, 72 starts

Brock Stassi OF (2011/33rd round) - .167, 2, 7 in 51 games

Washington Nationals

Jim Henderson RHP (2003/26th round) - 10-11, 3.61 in 155 games of relief
Brad Peacock RHP (2006/41st round) - 34-30, 3.99 in 178 games, 83 starts

Billy Burns OF (2011/32nd round) - .270, 5, 55, 46 stolen bases in 242 games

NL East Minor League All Stars

Sunday, December 22nd, 2019

Below are the All Stars for each classification by Baseball America for the teams in the NL East. These would not be the best prospects on each team. They would be the players in the minor leagues who had the best seasons. Other than the Atlanta Braves most teams were lacking All Stars.

Atlanta Braves

Bryce Wilson SP/AAA - The fourth round 2016 pick is a rare non-first rounder for the Braves who found himself in the Braves starting rotation in 2018. Because of his success there was an expectation that he could make the starting rotation in 2019. His numbers last year were not great (10-7, 3,42) but considering the offensive explosion in AAA they were All Star worthy. He struggled when promoted to the majors (1-1, 7.20). He does not seem to have overwhelming stuff to be anything more than a mid rotation or back end rotation pitcher with a low 90s fastball that can hit mid-90s and average secondary pitches.

Ian Anderson SP/AA - The 2016 first round pick has a similar fastball to Wilson, sitting in the low 90s with more quality secondary pitches. He had better numbers in AA (7-5, 2.68) with 147 whiffs in just 111 innings. The opposition hit only .202 against him. He was the victim of the AAA offensive explosion when promoted to AAA (1-2, 6.57).

Tucker Davidson SP/AA - The lefty drafted in the 16th round of the 2016 draft was tough to hit in AA (7-6, 2.03). He even had success when promoted to AAA (1-1, 2.84). He has good velocity on his fastball for a lefthander hitting the mid-90s but still lacks a quality third pitch to stay in the rotation. As a lefthander he could still survive in the pen.

Bryce Ball 1B/Rookie - At 6′6″ the 24th round pick has some intimidating size when facing pitchers. That size blasted 17 homeruns with a .628 slugging and a 1.023 OPS in rookie ball and Low A. He made good contact for a power hitter. Time will tell whether Ball can continue this production at higher levels.

Drew Waters OF/AA - Speed will win Drew the centerfield job for the Braves. The second round 2017 pick will compete with Christian Pache for the future job. Last year he stole 13 bases in AA hitting .319. He lacks the power that teams look for in a corner and a 28/121 walk to whiff ratio is a cause of concern.

Miami Marlins

Zac Gallen SP AAA - The Marlins traded the Cardinals 2016 third round pick for Jazz Chisholm. The Marlins had acquired Zac from the Cardinals in the Marcell Ozuna trade. After dominating at AAA (9-1, 1.77), the Marlins promoted him to their major league club where he achieved continued success (1-3, 2.72). Despite this success they traded him to the Diamondbacks where he continued to retire hitters (2-3, 2.89). He is noted more for his command than velocity so it is possible teams will catch up with him next year. He pitched like an ace but may be more suitable as a mid-rotation starter.

Sixto Sanchez SP/AA - Sixto has fiery stuff. The Marlins were able to nab him from the Phillies in the J.T. Realmuto trade. Fans would like to see more of his 6′0″ frame throwing triple digit fastballs but injuries have limited his innings. With his premier stuff you would expect more strikeouts but he falls below 9 whiffs per nine innings. If he can not stay healthy he could be used best out of the bullpen.

Luis Palacios SP/Rookie - The Venezuelan spent his first season state side in 2019 and was tough to hit, limiting the opposition to a .180 average and a 1.12 ERA. He showed superb command with a 2/42 walk to whiff ratio in 40 innings.

New York Mets

Corey Oswalt SP/AAA - The 2012 seventh round pick threw too many innings in 2018 to be considered a prospect prior to 2019. He returned to AAA and produced All Star numbers (10-4, 2.91). He lacks velocity, relying on command to retire hitters. At best he will fill the Mets back end of the rotation.

Francisco Alvarez C/Rookie - The Mets have had a number of high profile catching prospects disappoint. They hope Alvarez is not another. They signed the Venezuelan for $2.7 million in 2018. Despite his young age they skipped the Dominican League and promoted him to the short season league where he hit .312 with seven homeruns. He could end up being a two way player providing offensive numbers and defensive prowess.

Philadelphia Phillies

Alec Bohm 3B/AA - The 6′5′ 2018 first round pick may eventually have to move to first. After just one season the Phillies promoted him up to AA where he mashed 14 homeruns, hitting a total of 21 for his minor league season. He has the bop to be a big time homerun hitter, but lacks the speed to be effective in the outfield. He makes good contact for a power hitter.

Washington Nationals

None.

Nationals are World Series Champions

Thursday, October 31st, 2019

That is pretty cool to say. After beginning the season 19-31 and promoting the Nationals dismantle the team and start from scratch, myworld is glad they did not take that advice. Not that anyone from the Nationals really read this blog. Or anyone for that matter. Some of the cool things myworld remembers from this long Nationals journey.

1) Playing in RFK. That was a pretty cool stadium to watch a game in. Unless you were in left field where the seats seemed like an eternity away from the ball park. Most of the other seats were close enough to the field that it was pretty easy to get a foul ball. The down side is if you were too far under the lower section the upper section blocked your view of any fly ball. You had to wait for it to come down before you could see where the ball was hit. And the seats inside the stadium seemed to bounce as you jumped up and down. At the current park the same seats are a little farther and snagging a foul ball is very rare. And the stadium does not bounce when you jump up and down.

2) The drafting of Ryan Zimmerman and trying him at shortstop because Vinny Castilla was your thirdbaseman. That did not quite work out. But Zimmerman stayed loyal to the team and despite the myriad of injuries is now a World Series champion. The years in which he was hitting walk off homeruns every month were pretty cool. Those don’t come as frequently now.

3) The drafting of Bryce Harper. He was the Nationals first real superstar. He was a little brash. As you do in a relationship, the passage of time allows you to find the flaws. Harper liked to hustle on his terms. But when things were not going well, or he was frustrated the hustle was not always there. The arguments and the ejections were pretty constant too. He was supposed to be Mike Trout but he fell short of those expectations. Myworld can’t blame him for leaving because the Nationals offered him a “see you later” kind of contract. He is now with the Phillies and one has to wonder if the Nationals would be World Series champions if he was still on the team. I can’t see him doing the baby shark or the dances in the dugout after each homerun. If karma has its justice the Phillies will be World Series champions next year.

4) Stephen Strasburg won the MVP of the World Series. He is the most dominant post season pitcher in baseball. Myworld still remembers the criticism the Nationals got by sitting Strasburg in their first post season run. The Met chants of “Harvey is better” still ring clear inside my head. The Mets did not baby Harvey after he had his arm issues. They brought him out to pitch that extra inning and got eliminated from the post season because of that decision. Now where is Harvey? And where is Strasburg? Long term who made the best decision for their pitcher?

5) The nerds who do the analytics would probably never recommend acquiring a player like Gerado Parra. The things he did for the team this year would not show up in the baseball stats. The baby shark song became a sensation. That will probably be the most popular Halloween costume in D.C. After each clutch hit the Nationals players would mimic a shark bite with their hands. The dance in the dugout after each homerun was a Parra idea. I could just picture Strasburg as he is circling the bases after his one homerun, dreading the dance he would have to do in the dugout. And the group hugs with the reluctant Strasburg that Parra would start and Scherzer would finish were fun to see. It would have been interesting to see how Harper would have reacted to all that chicanery.

6) Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer were teammates for the Detroit Tigers from 2012 to 2014. They did not win a World Series then. Sanchez signed with the Nationals this year reuniting with Scherzer. Now they are both World Series champions. Watching them embrace after the seventh game win was pretty cool.

7) How much more clutch can Howie Kendrick be. After tearing his Achilles heal last year and being relegated to a bench role this year he had some big hits. His grand slam homerun against the Dodgers in the tenth inning of game five was a game winner and a Dodger eliminator. And against Will Harris, a pitcher who had yet to give up a run in 11 post season appearances and celebrated a little too much after striking him out in game four, Howie made him pay launching a two run shot against the right field foul pole that gave the Nationals a 3-2 lead in the seventh game of the World Series. He became the first player to have go ahead homeruns after the seventh inning in post season play. It does not get any more clutch than that. It would have only been better if Ryan Zimmerman had accomplished those feats, but we’ll take Howie.

So now the Nationals are World Series champions. They “finished the fight.” Cool.

Astros One Win Away from World Series Title

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019

When myworld arrived at the park on Sunday night we thought the Nationals were doing a special Halloween celebration. It appeared that Max Scherzer was on the mound disguised as Joe Ross. It was not until we settled in that reality struck and it was actually Joe Ross on the mound. Max Scherzer was having a resurgence of his back problems and would not be available to pitch on Sunday.

The Astros took advantage of the lack of Scherzer in the second when Yordan Alvarez slugged a two run homerun into the centerfield bleachers. Yuli Gurriel had started the rally with an infield single that glanced off Joe Ross and bounced toward Anthony Rendon, who could not make the throw to first. Alvarez got an opportunity to play left field by his manager after sitting out the first two games to get some swings in. Alvarez rewarded Hinch in his first at bat.

The Nationals had an excellent opportunity to rally in the bottom half of the second. Back to back singles by Juan Soto and Howie Kendrick put runners on first and third with no one out. Normally clutch hitter Ryan Zimmerman struck out. Victor Robles ended the threat by grounding into a double play. That would be the last time the Nationals would get a runner past first, with the exception of the solo homerun by Soto in the seventh.

The Astros struck again in the fourth on a two run homer by Carlos Correa. This was the start of the Nationals complaint with the home plate umpire Lance Barksdale. Joe Ross thought he had strike three on him but Barksdale disagreed, even though the pitch appeared to catch the outside corner. The next pitch Correa deposited into the left field bleachers.

The Nationals tried to make a comeback in the 7th with a solo homer by Soto. Ryan Zimmerman drew a two out walk and Victor Robles ran the count to 3-2 against Cole. The next pitch was clearly high and outside but Barksdale emphatically rang Robles up for strike three. The umpire probably knew he had blown the call with the boos raining from the stadium and getting even louder when they saw the replay on their phones, and as Robles threw his bat, batting gloves and everything else in the direction of Barksdale near home plate he was not ejected. Except for Astro fans Barksdale was the most hated person in the world for that particular moment.

The Astros put the game away in the last two innings, scoring a run on a Yuli Gurriel single in the 8th and two more on a two run homer by George Springer in the 9th.

Game Notes - Trump arrived at the ball park after the first pitch was thrown. Don’t know if that was purposeful intent. Juan Andres, a Trump critic was throwing out the first pitch. When Trump was introduced in the third inning the “boos” overwhelmed any cheers that may have been in the stadium. There were also chants of “lock him up”. D.C., Virginia and Maryland are strongly Democratic areas, so those “boos” may not have been as prevalent in Ohio…The Nationals were outscored 19-3 in the three home games. The Nationals were not really in any of the games, a disappointment to the 130,000 in attendance. Under the 2-3-2 format the Astros became just the second team to win the middle three games on the road without trailing. The Yankees were the other team against the Dodgers in 1949…Barksdale did not show any accountability for the blown call, blaming it on the catcher Yan Gomes for standing up too quickly after the pitch.

Astros Take Advantage of Nats R and R

Sunday, October 27th, 2019

The Nationals bullpen has been decent in these playoffs, but it imploded on Saturday night. The Astros took advantage of five walks in the seventh inning from Tanner Rainey and Fernando Rodney and a grand slam from Alex Bregman to erupt for four runs to bury the Nationals 8-1. Astros starter Jose Urquidy also did the unexpected, giving the Astros five shutout innings in what was supposed to be a bullpen start.

It was essentially over after the first inning. Patrick Corbin struck out the leadoff hitter George Springer. After that the Astros stringed together four consecutive hits from Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley, Alex Bregman and Yuli Gurriel to score two runs. For Bregman he would end the day with five RBIs. A walk to Carlos Correa loaded the bases, but the Nationals averted disaster when Robinson Chirinos grounded into a 5-3 double play, Rendon stepping on third to get the first out and throwing to first to retire Chirinos.

Chirinos would not be so kind in the fourth inning when he took Corbin deep into the left field bleachers for a two run homer. Carlos Correa had started the inning with his second walk of the game. He would end up walking three times in the game.

The Nationals could not figure out Urquidy. He gave up just two hits in his five innings of work. The only time he got into trouble was in the third when Yan Gomes led off the inning with a double. Corbin tried to advance him to third with a bunt but hit it too hard to the pitcher and Gomes was forced to stay while Corbin was thrown out. Trea Turner grounded out to first, advancing Gomes to third. Too little too late with Adam Eaton popping to short to end the inning.

The Nationals were finally able to score after Urquidy was pulled. Josh James started the sixth and walked two of the first three hitters he faced. The Astros then turned to Will Harris, who was making his 10th post season appearance. In his first nine he had not given up an earned run, two shy of the record for post season appearances without allowing an earned run. Harris gave up an infield single to Anthony Rendon that glanced off the leg of Harris. With the bases loaded and one out Juan Soto hit an easy grounder to Gurriel, who made the play at first, allowing the run to score. Howie Kendrick swung and missed at a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.

In the top of the seventh the Nationals bullpen let the game get away. Tanner Rainey walked the first two hitters he faced. He got Jose Altuve to fly to right, but Dave Martinez went to Fernando Rodney to get the last two outs. Rodney failed. Michael Brantley singled into center to load the bases. Bregman then deposited Rodney’s second pitch deep into the left field bleachers for a grand slam. Rodney seemed to lose it after that, walking three batters, but he was able to get the last two outs without allowing the Astros to score another run.

Secure with an 8-1 lead the Astros finished the game with Hector Rondon, Brad Peacock and Chris Devenski to get the last six outs.

Game Notes: Josh Hader and Aroldis Chapman were awarded the relievers of the year prior to the game. Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera were present to issue them the award. Only Aroldis made an appearance. After losing the wild card game Josh Hader was a no show at Nationals park…Frank Howard was introduced at the game. The crowd gave him a standing ovation. Howard is now relegated to a wheel chair. Attendance was announced at 43,889, 22 more than last night. Two standing room only fans took advantage of the two seats next to me. They paid more for their standing room only seat than myworld paid for section 300 seats. Those $164 seats were going for $1,200 or more on stub hub…Jose Urquidy became the second pitcher to make his starting debut in the post season without allowing a run. Jon Lester (2007) was the first. Urquidy also became the second Mexican pitcher to get a victory in a World Series game. Fernando Valenzuela was the first (1981). And in a final Urquidy buzz, he had more 1-2-3 inning in his five innings than Scherzer, Strasburg, Verlander and Cole had in their starts…The Astros are the best team hitting lefty starters. They are 38-11 when facing lefty starters during the regular season and now 3-1 in the playoffs. The fact they are also the best hitting team against pitchers with sliders and Corbin’s signature pitch is his slider made it a tough match for Corbin.

Pen Gives Astros First Win

Saturday, October 26th, 2019

Zack Greinke could only go 4.2 innings so the Astros relied on their pen to get the remaining outs to beat the Nationals 4-1. They will need to rely on their pen in game four if they hope to even the series. For myworld it was another bucket list completed. My first World Series.

Anibal Sanchez was not sharp for the Nationals. He lasted one out into the sixth. In the second he gave up his first run. Carlos Correa clothes lined a double down the left field line. Josh Reddick followed by blooping a single into left field. Juan Soto tried to gun down Correa but threw it way over the head of the catcher and into the back stop. Reddick advanced to second. A single by Robinson Chirinos into right field put runners on first and third with one out but Sanchez was ableto wiggle out of the inning giving up just the run.

In the third Jose Altuve led off the inning bouncing a double past the diving Rendon and into the corner. Soto bobbled the ball and Altuve advanced to third. Michael Brantley lined a single off Sanchez for a hit to score Altuve. Sanchez again got out of the inning giving up just the one run.

The Nationals had their opportunities in the first and second innings. In the first Anthony Rendon doubled down the left field line. Juan Soto could not drive him in grounding to first. The Nationals had first and second with one out in the second inning when Victor Robles grounded into a double play. They also loaded the bases in the third but a Asdrubal Cabrera whiff ended that threat.

In the fourth the Nationals were finally able to put their lone run across. Ryan Zimmerman led the inning off with a walk. After a Kurt Suzuki strikeout Victor Robles hit a ground ball down the third base line and into the corner. Zimmerman scored and Robles stopped at third. They could not get the run across when Sanchez bunted a third strike foul and Turner grounded out to the pitcher.

Altuve got the run back for the Astros in the top of the fifth. He hit a one out double down the left field line and scored when Michael Brantley grounded a single into right field past a diving Cabrera. In the sixth Robinson Chirinos hit the left field foul pole for a homerun to make it 4-1. After a walk to pinch hitter Kyle Tucker the day was done for Sanchez.

The Nationals bullpen did well, shutting down the Astros the rest of the way. Rodney walked two in the sixth, one intentionally to load the bases but got Alex Bregman out on a hard grounder to short. Joe Ross pitched two innings giving up just a two out single in the eighth. Wander Suero retired the Astros in order in the ninth.

Greinke did not last five. Asdrubal Cabrera lined a two out double into the right field bullpen wall. Reddick played the ball perfectly off the wall and held Adam Eaton to third. With runners on second and third and two out Josh James came in from the pen and struck out Ryan Zimmerman on a 3-2 count.

Brad Peacock walked two in the sixth, forcing the Astros to turn to Will Harris a little early. He struck out Turner and got Eaton to ground to first to end the threat, then retired the side in order in the seventh. The Nationals had a hard time making contact off his curveball.

Joe Smith and Robert Osuna finished the game off, each giving up a one out single, but the Nationals could do nothing after that.

Game Notes: Myworld’s first World Series. A lot of pomp and circumstance for opening ceremony. The crowd also seemed a little different. It appears many sold their $164 dollar tickets for the stub hub price of $1,200…Carlos Carrasco was announced as the Roberto Clemente award winner…Buzz Aldrin threw out the first pitch. Based on his throw he did not have much of a baseball career. It did not reach home plate. Chad Cordero also threw out a first pitch to catcher Brian Schneider…There were 43,867 in attendance…Game again tonight as well as a volleyball match this afternoon, so myworld will have to cut this short.

Strasburg Pitches Nats One Win Away from World Series

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019

As he walked alone from the bullpen before the start of game three of the National League playoffs, the fans cheered. Stephen Strasburg gave no reaction. It appeared he was focused as he took each step to the dugout. Failed to hear the cheering fans or just so focused he did not want to react to them. When he got on the mound he was almost unhittable, striking out 12. He did give up seven hits, but three of them were in the seventh inning, his last. That is when he gave up his only run. Juan Soto slipping in the outfield and then making a wild throw to the infield. The ball flew past Trea Turner and Rendon and skipped past an inattentive Strasburg.

In the past, an incident like that would have unnerved Strasburg. A 7-0 lead was now 7-1. Two runners were on base with only one out. Strasburg had just given up three hits, all line drives or clunkers into left field. A defensive player had just made an error that cost the team a run. Time to man up. Matt Wieters came in to pinch hit and Strasburg struck him out. Derek Fowler came up, 0 for 3 with two strikeouts on the day. Strasburg threw three pitches past him for the whiff. You could see Max Scherzer in the dugout giving out a big fist cheer. There was a big group hug for Strasburg as he reached the dugout, led by Gerrado Parra.

The Nationals broke this game open in the third inning off Cardinals pitching phenom Jack Flaherty. Victor Robles got the inning started with an off the end of the bat seeing eye ground ball single into centerfield. Strasburg bunted him to second. After Trea Turner struck out for the second out the Nationals needed a clutch hit from Adam Eaton. They got one with a ground single to the right of second base that scored Robles.

Anthony Rendon blooped one into left field. Marcel Ozuna charged the ball and tried to make a sliding catch. The ball hit off his glove and rolled far enough in front of him for Adam Eaton to score the second run. It was a catchable ball that was ruled a double. Juan Soto walked and Howie Kendrick lined the first of his three doubles, this one into right center that scored both Rendon and Soto. The Nationals were up 4-0. They probably should not have scored any.

Flaherty lasted only four innings. Tyler Webb was the first to come on in relief to start the fifth. He gave up a single to Anthony Rendon. With a bucketful of right handed hitters coming up the Cardinals went with John Brebbia. Howie Kendrick swung at his first pitch and lined it into the left center field gap. Rendon was being waved home and made it easily after Ozuna dropped the ball the first time he tried to pick it up. Ryan Zimmerman got behind in the count 0-2 and lined a pitch into the left centerfield gap for another double to put the Nationals up 6-0.

In the sixth Victor Robles led the inning off with a homerun. He was one of the least likely players to be voted dinger of the day, but he was the only National to have the ball leave the park. It barely left the park. His mom watching him play for the first time in the United States had to be proud.

The Cardinals finally got to Strasburg in the seventh. Jose Martinez ran the count to 3-2, fouled a number of two strike pitches off and then lined a single to left, his second hit of the day. Yadier Molina followed with a single on the next pitch from Strasburg to put two runners on. The pitch count for Stras had reached 100 but he struck out Tommy Edman. Paul Dejong blooped a single to left. The Cardinals were happy to keep the bases loaded, even after Soto slipped on the grass and fell. He got up and wildly threw the ball to the infield, past Turner and Rendon. Strasburg was not looking and the ball got past him. Suzuki chased after the ball that had now rolled past the first base foul line, but Martinez scored. That is when Strasburg showed his mettle, striking out the next two hitters to end the inning and his day at 117 pitches.

The Nationals got the run back in the bottom of the seventh. Howie Kendrick tied a record for most doubles in a National Championship Series by again finding the gap into left center. Ryan Zimmerman lined a single past the third baseman to score Kendrick.

Fernando Rodney and Tanner Rainey each pitched an inning and retired all three hitters they faced, each striking out two. Rainey hit 102 on the radar gun with his fastball.

Game Notes: In addition to his two fielding gaffes in left field, Ozuna made a base running mistake in the second inning that changed the complexion of the game. He led the inning off with a double to left field. Jose Martinez grounded a pitch to Strasburg. Ozuna strayed too far off second and was tagged by Strasburg for the first out, not even trying to get in a run down…Paul Goldschmidt struck out all four times he came to the plate…The announced attendance was 43,675, but there seemed to be many of those fans looking like blue seats. Columbus day weekend may have resulted in some no shows…The 50-50 payout was a bit over $33,000…Security was plentiful. Lots of dogs and lots of guns. Made me wonder who pays for all this security…Six of the seven runs the Nationals scored were on two out hits. Only the Victor Robles leadoff homerun in the sixth came with less than two out…Kurt Suzuki got his first hit of the playoffs with a single to left in the fourth inning…Strasburg has a playoff ERA of 1.10. The only two pitchers with a lower playoff ERAs are Sandy Koufax (0.96) and Christy Mathewson (1.06)…The Robles homerun was witnessed by his mom, who was watching her first game in the United States…The “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble” announcer was at the game and made his patented call, just before “play ball”…The first pitch was thrown by the Make a Wish kid. He wish was to become a National for a day, and signed a one day contract. The Nationals were 19 and something when he signed. They had the best record in baseball after he signed a contract.

Dodgers Maul Nationals Pen

Monday, October 7th, 2019

It has been a problem for the Nationals all season and it became a problem for them yesterday. After five superb innings from starter Anibal Sanchez, the bullpen coughed up nine runs in four innings in a 10-4 loss to the Dodgers. Starter Patrick Corbin started the bullpen meltdown, failing to get past the sixth. David Freese got the critical two out pinch hit single to extend the inningleading the charge for the six hitters after him to get on base for a seven run sixth.

It was a great start for the Nationals. Hyun-Jin Ryu, who rarely walks anyone, issued a one out walk to Adam Eaton. With two outs Juan Soto buried a ball into the right field bleachers and the Nationals had a 2-0 lead. Ryu settled down after that, shutting the Nationals down for the next four innings.

Anibal Sanchez was magnificent. He got into trouble in the first inning, fighting with his control to find the strike zone. A single sandwiched between two walks loaded the bases with two out. He got A.J. Pollock to swing and miss at a change to end the threat. From that point he went on to strike out five straight hitters using his slow stuff to keep the Dodgers hitters off balance. In the fifth Cody Bellinger blasted an 0-2 fastball deep into the right field bleachers. Dave Martinez pinch hit for him in the bottom of the fifth.

Patrick Corbin came on to pitch the sixth. The plan was probably for him to pitch two to three innings to turn it to Doolittle for the 8th and Hudson for the ninth. While Corbin pitched well and was the victim of bad luck, that is what sometimes wins and loses playoff games.

Cody Bellinger led off the inning with a single to right. Corbin struck out the next two hitters. David Freese pinch hit for Gavin Lux, the same David Freese that was a playoff hero for the Cardinals back in 2011. The Nationals played David to pull with the second baseman playing him up the middle. Freese hit what should have been a routine grounder to second, but no one was in that spot and it trickled into right field for a single. It got nasty after that.

Corbin got ahead of Russell Martin 0-2. Martin did not chase two pitches off the plate. The 2-2 slider he blasted into the left centerfield gap for a double, scoring two runs. Chris Taylor walked. The Dodgers had Kike Hernandez pinch hit for Joc Pederson and with another left handed hitter on deck Martinez chose to stay with Corbin. Kiki drove a 1-2 hanging slider into the left centerfield gap to score two more runs. The Nationals chose to walk Max Muncy intentionally and bring in a right hander to face Justin Turner.

In strides the confident but still inexperienced Wander Suero to face the veteran Justin Turner. The count goes full. Turner sees a pitch he likes and mashes it over the left field bullpen to complete the seven run sixth.

The Nationals still had a chance. Joe Kelly, who has trouble finding the plate came in to pitch for the Dodgers. He walked two and gave up a single to Howie Kendrick to load the bases. A wild pitch scored one run. Another walk loaded the bases. That was it for Kelly. He was replaced by Julio Urias without retiring a hitter. Julio got pinch hitter Asdrubal Cabrera to fly out to right deep enough to score Juan Soto. Howie made a baserunning blunder hesitating on his tag to third and getting caught in a run down when Freese cut the ball off and threw to third. That killed the rally and any attempt at a comeback from the Nationals.

The final scoring came off Hunter Struckland, who gave up a two run pop to Russell Martin in the ninth. Strickland has now pitched 13 playoff innings in his career and given up 9 homeruns. Up until that point 7 of his 8 homeruns had been solo jobs so his 7.62 ERA is not too bad considering all the gopher balls he has given up.

Game Notes: Medal of honor winner David Bellavia threw out the first pitch. He is the only living Iraqi war veteran to earn the medal of honor…Juan Soto has two stances when he bats. One with less than two strikes when his left foot points inward. The second stance when he has two strikes and his left foot is planted on the ground facing the pitcher…Fernando Rodney gave up a double and walked two in the seventh inning. He was lucky that Max Muncy swung at ball four and flew out to center, otherwise the score could have been worse…The Nationals have their two aces, Scherzer and Strasburg going for them in the final two games. If the Nationals had won the game on Sunday myworld would not have been surprised to see Strasburg come into the game on Monday as the closer. Now I would be surprised if he pitches on Monday. Leave it to Max for seven innings…Odds are not good for the Nationals. Teams with 2-1 advantages in five game series with the 2-2-1 format have gone on to advance 71 percent of the time…All seven runs the Dodgers scored in the sixth inning came after two were out and all the hits that drove in the runs came with two strikes. So the Nationals were just one strike away many times from either getting out of the inning, or making the inning less explosive…David Freese finished the game 3 for 3, continuing his clutch performances in playoff games. In 67 playoff games he has an OPS of .918.

Dodgers Maul Nationals Pen

Monday, October 7th, 2019

It has been a problem for the Nationals all season and it became a problem for them yesterday. After five superb innings from starter Anibal Sanchez, the bullpen coughed up nine runs in four innings in a 10-4 loss to the Dodgers. Starter Patrick Corbin started the bullpen meltdown, failing to get past the sixth. David Freese got the critical two out pinch hit single to extend the inningleading the charge for the six hitters after him to get on base for a seven run sixth.

It was a great start for the Nationals. Hyun-Jin Ryu, who rarely walks anyone, issued a one out walk to Adam Eaton. With two outs Juan Soto buried a ball into the right field bleachers and the Nationals had a 2-0 lead. Ryu settled down after that, shutting the Nationals down for the next four innings.

Anibal Sanchez was magnificent. He got into trouble in the first inning, fighting with his control to find the strike zone. A single sandwiched between two walks loaded the bases with two out. He got A.J. Pollock to swing and miss at a change to end the threat. From that point he went on to strike out five straight hitters using his slow stuff to keep the Dodgers hitters off balance. In the fifth Cody Bellinger blasted an 0-2 fastball deep into the right field bleachers. Dave Martinez pinch hit for him in the bottom of the fifth.

Patrick Corbin came on to pitch the sixth. The plan was probably for him to pitch two to three innings to turn it to Doolittle for the 8th and Hudson for the ninth. While Corbin pitched well and was the victim of bad luck, that is what sometimes wins and loses playoff games.

Cody Bellinger led off the inning with a single to right. Corbin struck out the next two hitters. David Freese pinch hit for Gavin Lux, the same David Freese that was a playoff hero for the Cardinals back in 2011. The Nationals played David to pull with the second baseman playing him up the middle. Freese hit what should have been a routine grounder to second, but no one was in that spot and it trickled into right field for a single. It got nasty after that.

Corbin got ahead of Russell Martin 0-2. Martin did not chase two pitches off the plate. The 2-2 slider he blasted into the left centerfield gap for a double, scoring two runs. Chris Taylor walked. The Dodgers had Kike Hernandez pinch hit for Joc Pederson and with another left handed hitter on deck Martinez chose to stay with Corbin. Kiki drove a 1-2 hanging slider into the left centerfield gap to score two more runs. The Nationals chose to walk Max Muncy intentionally and bring in a right hander to face Justin Turner.

In strides the confident but still inexperienced Wander Suero to face the veteran Justin Turner. The count goes full. Turner sees a pitch he likes and mashes it over the left field bullpen to complete the seven run sixth.

The Nationals still had a chance. Joe Kelly, who has trouble finding the plate came in to pitch for the Dodgers. He walked two and gave up a single to Howie Kendrick to load the bases. A wild pitch scored one run. Another walk loaded the bases. That was it for Kelly. He was replaced by Julio Urias without retiring a hitter. Julio got pinch hitter Asdrubal Cabrera to fly out to right deep enough to score Juan Soto. Howie made a baserunning blunder hesitating on his tag to third and getting caught in a run down when Freese cut the ball off and threw to third. That killed the rally and any attempt at a comeback from the Nationals.

The final scoring came off Hunter Struckland, who gave up a two run pop to Russell Martin in the ninth. Strickland has now pitched 13 playoff innings in his career and given up 9 homeruns. Up until that point 7 of his 8 homeruns had been solo jobs so his 7.62 ERA is not too bad considering all the gopher balls he has given up.

Game Notes: Medal of honor winner David Bellavia threw out the first pitch. He is the only living Iraqi war veteran to earn the medal of honor…Juan Soto has two stances when he bats. One with less than two strikes when his left foot points inward. The second stance when he has two strikes and his left foot is planted on the ground facing the pitcher…Fernando Rodney gave up a double and walked two in the seventh inning. He was lucky that Max Muncy swung at ball four and flew out to center, otherwise the score could have been worse…The Nationals have their two aces, Scherzer and Strasburg going for them in the final two games. If the Nationals had won the game on Sunday myworld would not have been surprised to see Strasburg come into the game on Monday as the closer. Now I would be surprised if he pitches on Monday. Leave it to Max for seven innings…Odds are not good for the Nationals. Teams with 2-1 advantages in five game series with the 2-2-1 format have gone on to advance 71 percent of the time…All seven runs the Dodgers scored in the sixth inning came after two were out and all the hits that drove in the runs came with two strikes. So the Nationals were just one strike away many times from either getting out of the inning, or making the inning less explosive…David Freese finished the game 3 for 3, continuing his clutch performances in playoff games. In 67 playoff games he has an OPS of .918.