Archive for the 'Nationals' Category

Another Perfect Game and Other Prospect Notes

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Domenic Mazza LHP (Giants) - Not really considered a prospect. Players drafted in the 22nd round as Domenic was in 2015 fall far from that criteria, unless large bonuses are associated with their name to get them to sign. Mazza did make some press by throwing the second perfect game of the year and the first nine inning perfect game in South Atlantic League history. For Domenic that is a welcome start after lasting under three innings and giving up seven runs in his first start of the season. During that game he gave up Tim Tebow’s first professional career homerun, publicity he would just as soon avoid. The lefty needed only 85 pitches to toss his perfecto.

Dane Dunning RHP (Nationals) - It was pay back time for the ex-National as he threw six innings of two hit ball against Low A Hagerstown, a Nationals farm team. For Dunning that was his third consecutive shutout outing to lower his ERA to 0.35. He has only given up two runs in four starts with only one of them earned. He has a 2/33 walk to whiff ratio in 26 innings and the opposition is hitting him at a .143 clip. He was traded to the Nationals along with Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito for Adam Eaton. Dane is making the Nationals begin to regret that deal.

Nik Turley LHP (Twins) - In his fourth appearance and second start Nik Turley gave up his first run. He also struck out 14 in the seven inning outing, at one point striking out eight hitters in a row. In 20.1 innings he has now struck out 36 hitters with a 0.44 ERA and a .076 opposition average. At age 27 his prospect status is sagging but the Twins starting rotation could use some help.

Michael Kopech RHP (White Sox) - Michael was throwing bb’s in his six inning one hit shutout. The 2014 first round pick of the Red Sox struck out eight in his outing. The opposition is only hitting .145 against him but 14 walks in just 18 innings have plagued him. During his one hitter he walked four. The Red Sox traded him to the White Sox as part of the Chris Sale trade.

Dinelson Lamet RHP (Padres) - Myworld remembers writing about Dinelson a lot last year. After a 13 K performance in his third start he came back with a 9 K performance, throwing seven innings of shutout ball. Like Kopech, Lamet does not give up a lot of hits (.171 opposition average) but his walks could be tapered down (9 in 20 innings). After four starts the Dominican has seen his ERA lowered to 0.45.

Ronald Acuna OF (Braves) - After dominating in Australia Acuna is wreaking his wrath on Florida State League pitchers. The Venezuelan banged out three hits, including his second homerun of the year and five RBIs. Acuna was a double short of the cycle. Strikeouts have been a bit of a problem with 25 in 17 games, but his last two games in which he went 5 for 9 have come without a whiff. He has 10 stolen bases in 11 attempts.

Alex Jackson C (Braves) - Another Fire Frog, Jackson has seen his bat come alive now that he is no longer a Mariner. In the same game Acuna banged out three hits Alex collected three hits including a homerun and two RBIs. Alex was a double short of the cycle. The three hits raised his average to .338. While with the Mariners he struggled to get his average above the .250 neighborhood. The Braves have returned Alex back to his high school position as a catcher.

Willie Calhoun 2B (Dodgers) - The homerun drought has ended for Willie with his first yesterday. Last year the 5′8″ slugger bashed 27 over the fence. Despite the paucity of homeruns Willie has been hitting with his average at .333.

Jorge Alfaro C (Phillies) - The Phillies don’t have room for Jorge behind the plate for their major league team. So they will show patience with him as he assaults AAA pitching. Back to back three hit games in which he hit a homerun in each game raised his average to .377. The Phillies would like to see some improvement on his 1/17 walk to whiff ratio (22/105 in 2016).

Edward Olivares OF (Blue Jays) - With the two perfect games comes the first cycle that myworld has become aware of in the minor leagues. Edward singled, doubled, tripled and homered in a four RBI event a couple days ago. His batting average needed the outburst as it was sitting at .172 before the game. Edward now has a four game hitting streak to raise his average to .231. He has driven in 8 of his 14 runs during that streak.

Jason Vosler 3B (Cubs) - Jason is not considered one of the more touted Cub prospects. Last year he hit three homeruns. In a game last night Vosler equaled his 2015 homerun out put with three dingers to give him four for the year. The third baseman drove in six runs to double his RBI output for the year.

Stevenson Back to Back with the High Fives

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

Andrew Stevenson CF (Nationals) - When you get five hits in a game you tend to get noticed. When you get five hits in back to back games everyone starts talking about you. Andrew went 10 for 12 in back to back games as his team scored 25 runs in their two wins. They won a 16-14 13 inning game against Hartford. Stevenson flashes speed but lacks power. Of his 10 hits three of them were doubles giving him four extra base hits for the season. When you’re hitting .447 that is not much of an issue. Stevenson was the Nationals second round pick in 2015. They did not have a first round pick that year.

Ryan McMahon 3B-1B (Rockies) - In a 16-14 game there is bound to be a little offense and McMahon matched Stevenson with a 5 for 7 day on the losing end of that game. He drove in six runs and was a double short of the cycle. The five hits raised his average to .413 but an 0 for 3 the next day dropped it back down to .388. With third base occupied by Nolan Arenado the best opportunity for Ryan to make the major leagues with the Rockies is to find another position. The Rockies have used Ryan seven games at first and four games at second.

Mike Gerber CF (Tigers) - The Tigers would like to find someone to play centerfield. Gerber may not be that answer with the glove but the Tigers are using him there in AA. He does have a pretty good stick with his four hits on Monday raising his average to .302. An 0 for 4 day the next day dropped it down to .277. Earlier in the season Gerber struggled with 9 whiffs in 13 at bats. His power is borderline for a corner so he could end up a fourth outfielder.

Dominic Smith 1B (Mets) - Myworld was not impressed with what we saw of his glove during spring training, but he is raking it with the bat. A 3 for 5 day in which he hit his second homerun raised his average to .396. If back problems continue to plague Lucas Duda at first base Dominic could find himself with an opportunity to play for the Mets. Many think he lacks the glove and the power to play the position. He does have the potential to hit for average.

Ronald Guzman 1B (Rangers) - The Rangers shelled out $3.45 million to sign the 6′6″ Guzman. A lack of range forced a move from the outfield to first base where his absence of power is a concern. That power started to develop last year with 16 homeruns. This year he is hitting .373 with 16 of his 19 hits singles. He did club his second homerun on Monday night. If he can get his arms extended the ball can travel a long way.

Lewis Brinson CF (Brewers) - Injuries have curtailed the start of the season for Brinson. He has a hit in each of his six games played, with a 4 for 6 day yesterday raising his average to .357. During that game he drove in five runs with a double, two singles and a homerun. Brinson was acquired from the Rangers in the trade for Jonathan Lucroy.

Ryan Boldt CF (Rays) - Boldt was a second round pick of the Rays last year. In rookie season ball he struggled with a .218 average. The Rays were not deterred and this year they promoted Boldt to the High A Florida State League. Last night he went 4 for 5 with his first homerun and a double to drive in six runs. The four hit game almost doubled his hit total for the year raising his average to .306.

Jack Flaherty RHP (Cardinals) - Jack was a first round pick in 2014. A lack of overpowering stuff has kept him under the radar. His fastball sits in the low 90s but at 6′4″ the Cardinals hope to see more as he matures. Jack pitched 7.2 innings of shutout ball on Monday, allowing just two hits and striking out 9. In three starts this year he has allowed only one run and the opposition is hitting just .129 against him. With those kind of results the Cardinals could promote him from AA to the majors before the year is out.

Dakota Chalmers RHP (Athletics) - Dakota had a nice four inning relief outing in which he allowed just one hit and struck out 10 of the 13 hitters he faced. Dakota struck out the first six hitters he faced when he came on to pitch in the fifth inning. Up until then it has been a struggle for Dakota with an ERA of 9.00 coming into the game.

Dane Dunning RHP (White Sox) - Dane could end up being the best pitcher the White Sox acquired in the Adam Eaton trade. The 2016 first round pick had another stellar outing, not allowing a run in his six innings of work. After three starts that lowered his ERA to 0.45 with an opposition average of .153. He has a 1/26 walk to whiff ratio in 20 innings.

Gregory Soto LHP (Tigers) - Gregory is a 6′1″ Dominican who can hit the mid-90s with his fastball, but it sits mostly in the low 90s. That is pretty good for a lefthander, especially one who can throw a pretty good breaking ball. In two starts Gregory has yet to give up a run with his three hits allowed giving him a .086 opposition batting average. If he continues to shine Gregory could rise up the Tigers prospect ladder.

Cesar with the Dagger Shot to Down Nationals

Saturday, April 15th, 2017

Chris Heisey had just lined a shot into the left field bleachers to send the game into a 2-2 tie after seven innings. Joe Blanton came on to relieve Tanner Roark and again the Nationals bullpen failed the team. Blanton hit Freddy Galvis on a 1-2 count and Cesar Hernandez launched a high shot into the right field bleachers to give the Phillies a 4-2 lead and the eventual win over the Nationals.

The Nationals hit Phillies pitcher Jeremy Hellickson hard but the balls died in the outfield grass for 11 flyouts, a couple of those outs finding the warning track dirt. They only managed four hits off Hellickson, two of them by Tanner Roark. In the third inning with Lobaton on first and the infield playing in for a bunt Roark pushed a ball into right field for a hit. Anthony Rendon bounced a single into left field to score Lobaton with the first run of the game.

The Phillies came right back in the top of the fourth. Back to back bunt singles by Cesar Hernandez and Howie Kendrick put the first two runners on base. Odubel Herrera hit a slow roller past the diving Rendon, the ball rolling into the corner for a double to score Hernandez to tie the game. A Maikel Franco ground out to second scored the Phillies second run. With a runner on third and just one out Michael Saunders popped to short and Tommy Joseph grounded to third to keep the score at 2-1.

Roark went seven innings and allowed just four hits, two of them bunt singles and three hits in the fourth inning. Hellickson gave up four hits as well, but lots of solid strokes that resulted in fly outs.

Game Notes: Wilmer Difo made a number of nice plays at short. He is showing he can play the position defensively. Unfortunately his bat has been a little soft, another 0 for day dropping his average to .200…If Maikel Franco had some speed he could have had two infield hits. Difo robbed him of a hit with a back hand stop in the second inning and Daniel Murphy robbed him of a hit up the middle…It was a rag tag lineup for the Nationals filled with backups. The last four hitters in the lineup were hitting .000. Difo was replacing Turner because of injury, Heisey and Michael Turner were in the outfield replacing Werth and Eaton and Lobaton was replacing Wieters behind the plate. The revised lineup was quiet with the bats as far as hits, though many balls were hit hard…Michael Taylor hit two long balls to the warning track in center field but they were both tracked down and caught by Odubel Herrera…The Nationals bullpen has given up 10 homeruns in the last 11 games with Blanton giving up three homeruns…Daniel Murphy ended his 10 game hitting streak with an 0 for 4 day.

Pitchers Shine on Hot Prospect List

Saturday, April 15th, 2017

A number of pitchers appear on this hot prospect list proving that early in the season the pitchers have the upper hand.

Dane Dunning RHP (White Sox) - Lucas Giolito has had trouble finding the plate but Dunning has not. He did not walk a batter in a eight inning outing in which he struck out 13 batters. In his last outing he did not walk a batter in six innings of work. That gives him 14 innings without walking a batter. Dunning and Giolito were two pitchers acquired in the Adam Eaton trade with the Nationals.

Josh Staumont RHP (Royals) - Josh came into his second start with an ERA of 18.90 after giving up seven runs in less than four innings. His second start is more what the Royals would like to see from Josh. He allowed just one hit in six innings of work striking out 12, with just two walks. That lowers his ERA to a more respectable 6.75.

Tyler Eppler RHP (Pirates) - Tyler is a 6′6″ pitcher who sits in the low 90s with his fastball but can hit 95. Last year at Altoona the opposition hit him at a .280 clip in 27 starts. His first two starts at Indianapolis have been pretty impressive. Tyler started the season with a five inning shutout start and followed that up with six innings of shutout ball. He allowed only four hits in those 11 innings for a .108 opposition average. That is a pretty solid start to begin the season.

Max Povse RHP (Mariners) - Max stands a little taller at 6′8″ with an uninspiring fastball that sits in the low 90s. His second start he had some command problems walking three in 5.2 innings of work. On the bright spot he did not give up any runs extending his shutout streak to 12.2 innings after two starts. Max was acquired from the Braves last year for the then struggling Alex Jackson.

Alex Jackson OF (Braves) - Speaking of Alex Jackson he has strung together an impressive eight game hitting streak to put his average at .314 to start the season. A .314 average may not seem impressive, but coming from a player who hit .207 in 2015 and struggled to get over the Mendoza line last year the Braves will take that. He has also hit three homeruns and two doubles among his 11 hits.

Luis Carpio 2B (Mets) - The Mets have an impressive collection of middle infielders coming up their minor league system. Carpio lacks the arm for short and after having labrum surgery will have to settle for second base. The Venezuelan has started his season hitting .364 with four stolen bases. He is halfway to the total number of at bats he got last year after the labrum surgery shortened his season. Six walks has put his OBA at .463.

Wuilmer Beccerra OF (Mets) - The Mets continue to wait for a power break out from Beccerra. In eight games this year he has yet to go deep, but he has tagged at least one hit in these eight games to put his average at .429. Three of his 12 hits have gone for doubles. Beccerra has shown power potential in batting practice, but those long drives have not translated once the game begins.

Kevin Kramer 2B (Pirates) - A second round college pick in 2015, Kevin could move quickly, especially if he continues to hit .464 at Altoona. He has gotten at least one hit in his first eight games and he showed off some power with a two homer game on Thursday. The three homeruns that he has hit in his first eight games of this year are just one less than the four he hit in 118 games last year. He has also walked seven times to put his OBA at .583.

Tyler Marlette C (Mariners) - Tyler has four multi hit games in six games to start the season, as well as two games in which he has not gotten a hit. His average sits at .455 to start the season. Marlette was a fifth round pick in 2011.

Carter Kieboom SS (Nationals) - The Nationals first round pick last year saw his seven game hitting streak end yesterday with an 0 for 4 performance. That dropped his average to .424. The extra base hits have not been prevalent with just two doubles and one homerun amongst his 14 hits, but the Nationals will take his production.

Hess Leads Bay Sox Over Nationals

Saturday, April 15th, 2017

David Hess does not appear on any Orioles prospect lists. He was the Orioles fifth round pick in 2014. He looked pretty good last night as myworld attended our first minor league game of the year. With a fastball hitting 92-94 Hess limited the Senators to just two hits in six innings of work in the Bay Sox 3-2 win over the Harrisburg Senators.

One of the hits allowed by Hess was a blast by Neftali Soto over the left field wall in the fourth inning on a slow breaking slider. It was the first it he gave up in the game, ruining a no hitter and a shutout on the same pitch. He gave up another run in the sixth but this one was gift wrapped by the Bay Sox defense. Drew Dosch dropped a routine pop up that should have been the second out. Alec Keller singled to right but Garabez Rosa allowed the ball to skip past him to roll to the fence for a single and two base error. With one out and Keller standing at third Hess struck out Drew Ward and got Soto to fly out to right to preserve the 3-2 lead.

The Bay Sox got to Senators starter Austen Williams early. Sean Coyle deposited a pitch into the trees over the centerfield fence in the first inning. In the third Cedric Mullins slapped a single the other way through the third base hole. Sean Coyle singled and a double steal put runners on third and second with no out. Drew Dosch struck out but the ball bounded past the catcher to score one run and put Dosch at first. Dosch stole second and a ground out to second upped the score to 3-0. The Bay Sox could not score Dosch from third with Rosa grounding out to third and D.J. Stewart grounding out to second.

The bullpen of the Senators was pretty sharp. Jake Johansen, who stands 6′6″ retired six in a row and Mark Blackmar retired three in a row to shut out the Bay Sox for the last three innings. Seven of the nine outs were ground outs with one strikeout.

Garrett Cleavinger looked sharp for the Bay Sox, shutting out the Senators bats for the last three innings. His fastball hit 94. He struck out Drew Ward on a nice breaking curve ball that he threw on a 3-2 count. It was the third whiff of the game for Ward.

Game Notes: There was some discussion amongst the scouts about the level of talent that exists on the Low A Hagerstown roster. That roster has first round pick Carter Kieboom and Dominican outfielder Juan Soto…Aderlin Rodriguez was once a top prospect. His seven game hitting streak ended last night dropping his average to .361. During that streak he went four consecutive games with a homerun. The Bay Sox have been playing him at first base but when he first came up he was a third baseman…Myworld can’t see 2015 first round pick D.J. Stewart making it in the major leagues. He needs to show a lot more power to make it as a leftfielder, which his speed and arm will limit him to that position. His body type is also a bit bulky.

More Hot Prospects to Report

Friday, April 14th, 2017

The number of prospects who have started the season with sizzling bats or power arms continues to impress. Below are some of the current prospects we have our eyes on.

Dawel Lugo 3B (D-backs) - He is playing third base and showing some power, slugging three homeruns in two days. On Sunday he clobbered two homeruns and drove in four runs in a 4 for 6 day. His next start was Wednesday when he hit another homerun. Lugo normally plays shortstop but he has played five of his six games this year at third base.

Jeimer Candelario 3B (Cubs) - Candelario is turning into an RBI machine. His five RBIs on Tuesday matched the back to back five RBI games he had last week to give him 15 RBIs on the season. To date 10 of his 11 hits have gone for extra bases with six doubles, two triples and two homeruns for a .900 slugging average. There is no room for Candelario in the Cubs lineup but if he keeps hitting AAA pitching like this the Cubs will have to find room.

Ian Happ 2B (Cubs) - His teammate Ian Happ has been just as hot with back to back homerun days to give him five for the season. Happ has also driven in at least one run in five of his last seven games to give him 9 for the year. So far this year Happ has seen seven games at second base and two games in the outfield. The Cubs are still trying to figure out his best position but his bat will play somewhere in the lineup.

Tyler Wade SS (Yankees) - Not the most heralded of Yankee shortstops, with Gleyber Torres expected to fill the position in a couple years. The hottest Yankee shortstop is currently Tyler with a six game hitting streak to start the season. Tyler had a 9 for 12 streak in between that six game streak. So far of his 12 hits none of them have gone for extra bases and he has driven in just one run. He does have three stolen bases in three attempts.

Luis Guillorme SS (Mets) - If the Yankees have a hot shortstop the Mets will have to answer with one of their own. Luis had a 5 for 5 day with a 7 for 9 peppering in his last two games to raise his average to .423. Like Tyler Luis is not considered the Mets shortstop of the future, that position being reserved for the short term to Amed Rosario.

Juan Soto OF (Nationals) - The future superstar is abusing Low A pitchers, hitting his first homerun Wednesday night. Juan is in the midst of a six game hitting streak in which he has gone 12 for 26 with five runs driven in his last two games. In 14 at bats he has only struck out once, scoring eight runs.

Albert Abreu RHP (Yankees) - The righthanded Dominican can hit triple digits with his fastball. That fastball was hard to touch on Wednesday night with 11 whiffs on just two hits in 5.2 innings. It was the second start of the year for Abreu. In his first start he struck out 6 in four innings, giving up his only run of the year for a 0.93 ERA.

Logan Shore RHP (Athletics) - The Athletics second round pick in 2016 pitched four innings of shutout relief to pick up his first professional save, striking out six. A couple days earlier he had gotten a start working through four innings and allowing just one run. After two appearances his ERA sits at a shining 1.13.

Joe Palumbo LHP (Rangers) - The 30th round 2013 pick is making a name for himself. In previous years he has pitched some relief and started some games. This year he has made two starts. His first start he only went three innings but gave up just one run and struck out five. In start number two he was unhittable going six shutout innings, allowing just two hits and striking out 10 hitters. Early in the season the opposition is hitting .097 against him. Last year he struck out 122 in 96 innings with a .202 opposition average in just under 100 innings of starting and relieving.

Murphy Mashes Nats to Win Over Cardinals

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

Daniel Murphy was a triple short of the cycle in the Nationals 8-3 clobbering of the Cardinals. He drove in five of the eight Nationals runs with his four hits. On his last at bat he powered a double into the right centerfield gap, but instead of trying to round second to reach third to complete the cycle he pulled up at second to be satisfied with his second double of the game.

The Cardinals scored first in the opening frame. Dexter Fowler blasted the third pitch from Gio Gonzalez over the head of Jayson Werth for a double. Fowler advanced to third after Ryan Zimmerman made an over the shoulder catch of a popup, but as he turned around to throw, the ball escaped his glove and Fowler advanced to third. Fowler scored on a fly out to center. For Zimmerman it was his second error in two games.

The Nationals caught up with Lance Lynn in the third inning. A walk to pitcher Gio Gonzalez, a boot by shortstop Aledmys Diaz and another walk to Bryce Harper loaded the bases with two outs. Daniel Murphy got the first hit of the game and the first two of his five RBIs pounding a ground ball single into right field. The Piscotty throw from right field did not have enough to catch Adam Eaton at the plate.

The Cardinals were able to tie the game in the fourth when Randall Grichuck drove the first pitch in his at bat into the right centerfield bleachers. Gio then gave up a single to Jose Martinez. After that Gio was able to retire the next 11 Cardinals he faced to complete seven innings of work.

Jayson Werth led off the bottom of the fourth driving a ball into the left field bleachers. After Lynn retired the next batter Matt Wieters launched a ball into the right field bullpen to give the Nationals a 4-2 lead. Daniel Murphy made it 6-2 with a two run shot in the fifth inning, following the third Bryce Harper walk of the game.

The Nationals took advantage of the second error of the game by Aledmys Diaz. Daniel Murphy led the inning off with a double off the right field scoreboard. Ryan Zimmerman grounded a ball up the middle. Diaz made a nice stop on the ball but his throw to first skipped past Jose Martinez into the Nationals bullpen to allow Murphy to walk home. The scorer gave Zimmerman a hit with the error allowing Murphy to score and move Zimmerman to second.

In the top of the eighth Diaz blasted a pitch from Joe Blanton over the left field bullpen three rows into the bleachers. The Nationals countered in the bottom frame with back to back doubles from Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy.

Game Notes: Myworld is not impressed with the Cardinal defense. Peralta is slow at third. Diaz lacks range at short. Piscotty has no arm in right field. He seems to be better suited for left field. Kolton Wong did not look good on defense in the game on Monday but sat out the game today with the lefthander pitching…In the critical third inning Gio was called out at second when his lack of hustle getting to the base may have influenced the call made by the umpire. The Nationals asked for a review and the replay showed Gio had arrived at second long before the ball, a very embarrassing call by second base umpire Lance Barrett. If not for the replay the Nationals may not have scored after the Wilmer Difo strikeout would have ended the third inning…The three walks by Bryce Harper and the perfect day yesterday in six at bats gave him nine consecutive times on base. That ended after he grounded out in the sixth…Stephen Drew had to be removed from the game pulling up lame in the fifth inning after a ground out to the pitcher. The Nationals would have had Emannuel Burriss to come up to replace him if he has to go on the 10 day disabled list but Burriss has been suspended 50 games. Calling someone else up (Grant Green) who could play middle infield would force the Nationals to remove a player from the 40 man roster…Matt Carpenter did not start the game today because of an aching back.

Nationals Rain Runs Eat Errors

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

The Nationals were raining hits with 19 in their 14-6 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. It was a good thing too as their infield committed four errors, one at each position to allow two unearned runs to score. A second error could have been called on Anthony Rendon at third for bobbling a perfect strike from Adam Eaton in centerfield that appeared to have Dexter Fowler out by five feet. Matt Carpenter advanced to second on the throw.

The game lasted three hours and 47 minutes with the two teams combining for 29 hits. The Nationals got things started in the opening frame with a Adam Eaton double over the head of a shallow Randall Grichuck in left field. It was the first of his three hits. Bryce Harper slapped a single through a drawn in infield into left field to score Eaton to give the Nationals an early 1-0 lead.

The Cardinals waltzed right back to take a 2-1 lead. One out singles by Yadier Molina and Jhonny Peralta put runners on first and second. A ground out to Rendon at third advances Molina and Peralta. Kolten Wong, battling for second base starts blasted a 2-2 pitch over the head of Harper in right field to score two runs.

In the ping pong match this game was the Nationals came back to tie it 2-2 in their bottom half. Stephen Drew coaxed a lead off walk and advanced to second on a one out bunt by Tanner Roark. Eaton lined a single past the shortstop into left center to score Drew with the tying run.

The Cardinals added another run in the top of the third. Dexter Fowler smashed a ball past Ryan Zimmerman at first base for a single. Myworld thought Ryan ranged to his right to try to get the ball, so the error was a tight call. Fowler stole second and scored on a bloop single off the end of the bat by Stephen Piscotty to score Fowler.

The Nationals tied the game in the fourth taking advantage of some sloppy fielding by the Cardinals. Matt Wieters started the inning with a single past second into right field. With no one out the Cardinals expected a bunt from Tanner Roark, but he swung away grounding a weak ball to Kolton Wong at second. The throw to second was wide and off the bag putting two runners on with no out. Adam Eaton lined a single into right field to tie the game at 3-3. Anthony Rendon, the only National without a hit in this game popped to second. A walk to Bryce Harper loaded the bases but Daniel Murphy grounded into a double play to end the inning.

The Cardinals broke the tie in the top of the fifth, an error by Murphy on a routine grounder from Dexter Fowler getting the inning started. Matt Carpenter lined a single into centerfield. Fowler broke for third. Eaton threw a perfect one bounce strike to Rendon, who bobbled the ball in his attempt to tag Fowler. Carpenter moved to second on the throw and bobble. Stephen Piiscotty drove in one run with a single and Yadier Molina another run with a single. Jhonny Peralta hit a ball into the hole between third and short, Drew making an incredible dive to catch the ball. He threw for second to get one and the relay appeared to get Peralta but the umpire ruled him safe. After an umpire review the call was reversed and the double play completed.

The Nationals responded in the bottom half with singles by Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth and a double by Stephen Drew to plate one, Piscotty breaking last on a ball hit over his head. The double by Drew also ended the day for Adam Wainwright who ended his day giving up 11 hits. A Matt Wieters bloop single off reliever Brett Cecil just over the shortstop tied the game at 4-4. A deep fly just short of the warning track by Adam Eaton in centerfield scored Drew. The Nationals had the lead for the first time 5-4.

The Nationals added another run in the sixth. Singles by Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Jayson Werth loaded the bases. Stephen Drew scored Harper with a deep drive to left.

The Nationals broke the game wide open with seven runs in the eighth. Stephen Drew hit a two run single to drive his RBI count for the game up to four, Adam Lind drove a ball into the right centerfield gap for a two run double and Bryce Harper bounced a 111 mile per hour grounder off the glove of Kolten Wong to drive in two more. Myworld thought it was a very catchable ball, but if ruled an error Harper would have two less RBIs during the season.

Jedd Gyorko homered in the ninth to end the scoring.

Game Notes: Concessions have gone up at Nationals park. Everything appears to be more expensive…The Nationals have a lineup full of beards. It seems most of the players on the 25 man roster carries a beard across his chin….The Nationals had an excellent opportunity to score in the third, putting runners on second and third with one out. Jayson Werth and Stephen Drew struck out to leave the score at 3-2 Cardinals…It is only one game but myworld was not impressed by the defense of Stephen Piscotty in right field. He got a late break going back on a ball Stephen Drew hit over his head. He also made a weak throw home in the Nationals 7 run eighth…Trevor Rosenthal looked solid striking out the side in the seventh. It is early but Rosenthal is not hitting triple digits with his fastball like he did a couple years ago…Bryce Harper finished the day with four hits and three RBIs. He also walked twice giving himself a perfect day. One of the singles by Bryce was a bunt single down the first base line. Two of his other singles were to the opposite field. Bryce also participated in a double play, catching a ball in right field and rifling it to first to double off Matt Carpenter…Trea Turner was placed on the ten day disabled list with a strained right hamstring.

30 Teams in 30 Days - Washington Nationals

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

This is the last of the 30 teams.

Overview - The Nationals have messed with their defense up the middle, trading Danny Espinosa and moving Trea Turner from centerfield to shortstop. They also traded for Adam Eaton to patrol centerfield, even though his defensive metrics for the position are not impressive. They allowed Wilson Ramos to leave for free agency and signed Matt Wieters to cover the duties behind the plate. Usually, that much activity up the middle is not good if you are a playoff team. They also traded away much of their depth in the starting rotation (Lucas Giolito, Renaldo Lopez and Dale Dunning) to acquire Eaton. Their rotation is not a pillar of health with Stephen Strasburg and Joe Ross missing time in past seasons because of injuries and Max Scherzer battling knuckle issues this year. The division is still fairly weak with only the Mets poised to overtake them if their starting pitching can remain healthy. It will be an odd year this year and the Nationals have not played well in the last two seasons that ended with an odd numbered year (2013 and 2015).

Strengths - At one time Bryce Harper was considered the better ballplayer than Mike Trout. Harper had an MVP year in 2015 but sunk back down to his inconsistency last year after a fast start. Bryce does not have a lot of protection behind him and must show some patience to get his average back to the .300 neighborhood and still stay in the conversation with Trout. Trea Turner is an exciting bat but it would be hard to expect him to replicate his 2016 season. He showed some unexpected power and has the potential to steal 50 plus bases from the leadoff spot. There is some question whether he can play a consistent short. Myworld was impressed with his arm on a play he made from the hole on opening day. Daniel Murphy has the bat that will make up for what he gives up with the glove. He may not replicate the numbers he put up last year that got him a second place finish in the MVP voting but if he comes close the Nationals will be satisfied. Anthony Rendon needs to stay healthy. Last year he played 156 games and slugged 20 homeruns. He has the potential to produce more. The starting rotation is one of the best in the National League if it can stay healthy. Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg have the potential to produce two twenty game winners, slotting in as ace 1 and 1a. The pitcher that tends to be under rated is Tanner Roark, who led the Nationals in ERA last year (2.83). The trio each won 15 or more games. The Achilles heel is if one or two of their starters goes down with a significant injury they do not have the depth in the starting rotation they had last year. The Nationals bullpen should be solid with three lefties to allow Dusty Baker to play match ups. Enny Romero, Stephen Solis and Oliver Perez throw from the left side, Blake Treinen will use his mid-90s sinker in the closer role and Koda Glover will hurl his high 90s fastball in a setup role.

Weakness - Defense could be a concern if Eaton and Turner struggle at new positions they did not play last year. Jayson Werth is not a strong defensive player in left field. Expect Werth to be replaced by mid season. Myworld does not think he will have the bat to support his defensive deficiencies out in left field. Michael Taylor has to show he can hit if he wants to be an adequate replacement. Ryan Zimmerman has to show he can hit. The ball has good velocity when it leaves the bat but another season of .218 is not going to cut it. He also needs to stay healthy to keep his bat fresh. Adam Lind could see a lot of time here if Zimmerman struggles with the bat.

Breakout Prospects - The biggest need for the Nationals may be to find depth in the rotation to fill in for one of their starters. The best bet could be Austin Voth, who is not overpowering but had success in AAA. A.J. Cole is another option but he has not had the success as Voth and struggled in 8 starts with the Nationals last year (5.17). He was susceptible to the homerun ball, giving up 7 homeruns in just 38 innings. Erick Fedde could be asked to fill that role later in the year. He had Tommy John surgery after he was drafted in 2014 and needs some work in AA before the Nationals would consider him. His fastball sits in the low 90s but he has a nice slider and a plus change to give him three solid pitches. Koda Glover brings his 6′5″ frame and high 90s fastball to the setup role. He has all the stuff and makeup to eventually be the closer. Pedro Severino is the Nationals catcher of the future but he will get his bats in the minor leagues as Matt Wieters handles the catching chores for the Nationals. If Wieters is injured Severino will get the call. He is solid both offensively and defensively. If Michael Taylor fails to hit the Nationals could ask Brian Goodwin to play left. Goodwin is solid defensively but has a questionable bat. Last year he hit 14 homeruns with 15 stolen bases in AAA. Wilmer Difo could see some time in a utility role.

Prospects to Watch - The top prospect is Victor Robles. There is a lot of talk that next year he could be the top prospect in baseball. He does it all, with speed to cover center and steal bases, the bat to hit for average and the potential to hit for power and the arm to fit in right. The power has yet to show. Another outfielder who could make himself known soon is Juan Soto. Last year Soto hit .368 with a .973 OPS in rookie ball. Andrew Stevenson was the Nationals second round pick in 2015. His bat may lack power but his speed makes him an ideal leadoff hitter. He lacks the overall tools of Robles and Soto but it could be a very crowded outfield for the Nationals in a couple years. Carter Kieboom was the Nationals first round pick in 2016. His brother Spencer catches for the Nationals. The tools are there to play short but his bat should be strong enough if a move to third is necessary. Joan Baez is a pitcher to watch with a fastball that sits in the mid-90s as a starter. He lacks command and a third pitch but if he moves to the bullpen he has closer potential.

Expected Finish - If the Nationals starting rotation can stay healthy they should win this division.

Adam Lind for the Pinch Hit Win

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

Adam Lind got his first hit as a National today. In the seventh inning he pinch hit for Steven Strasburg and drove a pitch from David Phelps into the right centerfield bleachers for a two run homer. New acquisition Matt Wieters had just singled prior to that. The pinch hit homerun turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead enough to give Steven Strasburg the win in his opening day start.

Edinson Volquez pitched five shutout innings for the Miami Marlins. The game did not start out so well for him in the opening frame. Trea Turner lined a 3-2 pitch into the wall in the left field corner for a double. Adam Eaton walked on four pitches. The Nationals could not take advantage. Bryce Harper struck out on the third pitch with a checked swing. The Nationals pulled a double steal with Daniel Murphy up to put runners on second and third with one out. Murphy swung and missed at a 82 mile per hour slider at his feet. Ryan Zimmerman ended the inning swinging and missing at a 96 mile per hour fastball.

The Marlins scored all their runs in the fourth. J.T. Realmuto started the inning with a blast over the head of Adam Eaton in left centerfield for a double. He advanced to third on a deep fly to center by Christian Yelich. Giancarlo Stanton hit the first pitch from Strasburg to one hop the wall in right centerfield to score the first run of the game. A ground out to short moved Stanton to third. He scored on a Marcell Ozuna single.

The Nationals had another opportunity to score in the bottom half of the inning. Daniel Murphy and Ryan Zimmerman started the inning lining singles into right center and left field. Jayson Werth followed with his second poor at bat, swinging and missing at a pitch that he went fishing for from his knees. Stephen Drew grounded into the first of his two 4-6-3 double plays.

Strasburg was sharp for seven innings. In the top of the fifth he gave up two singles, giving up his second hit to pitcher Edinson Volquez. With runners on first and second and two outs Christian Yelich hit a deep fly to right. Bryce Harper went back for the ball and made an over the shoulder, falling down catch at the warning track to save the Marlins from scoring two more runs. Strasburg then mowed down the Marlins in order the next two innings.

Bryce Harper has a knack for hitting opening day homeruns. He did it again with a solo shot, no doubter in the sixth that landed deep into the right field bleachers. For Harper it was his fifth opening day homerun. David Phelps had come in the game in the sixth to replace Edinson Volquez. Volquez had struck out six in his five innings of work, allowing just four hits.

Phelps also started the seventh inning. He retired the first two hitters. Matt Wieters extended the inning with a single. Adam Lind pinch hit for Strasburg. The Marlins could not counter with a lefthander from the pen. Phelps stayed in the game to pitch to Lind and on a 2-0 count Lind drove a line drive that just escaped into the bleachers in the right centerfield corner to give the Nationals a 3-2 lead. Nat fans stood until Lind came out for a curtain call to honor his first hit as a National, a go ahead two run homer.

Stephen Solis retired the Marlins in order in the eighth. Junichi Tazawa came on to pitch the bottom frame for the Marlins. He threw only one strike to Adam Eaton and Bryce Harper for back to back walks. Daniel Murphy bounced a single into right field to score Adam Eaton with an insurance run. That ended the day for Tazawa. Ryan Zimmerman singled off Brad Ziegler to load the bases for the Nationals with no one out. Jayson Werth took another feeble third strike swing for the first out, his third whiff of the game. Stephen Drew grounded into his second 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.

Blake Treinen came on to fulfill his recently announced role as the closer. He seemed to throw nothing but 94 mile per hour fastballs. It was enough to retire the Marlins in order, two of those for strikeouts. Marcell Ozuna ended the game taking a 94 mile per hour fastball for the third out.

Nats Notes: The concessions get an F for the opening day service. Many of the stands were not ready with any food five minutes before the start of the game. The Virginia Ham stand did not have the chicken ready and there were no chips, but myworld still paid the full $8.50 for the sandwich without the chips. A total failure for many of the concession stands in the upper decks…The game was a sellout with 42,744 at the game…Edinson Volquez came into the game hitting .087. He got two hits in two at bats against Strasburg…Trea Turner showed a solid arm at short, diving into the hole to grab a Adeiny Hechavarria grounder and having enough arm to gun him out at first base. It proved a critical play when the Marlins followed with two more hits in the inning…Jayson Werth made a leaping catch at the bullpen fence on a Giancarlo Stanton drive. The ball would not have gone over the fence, but Jayson robbed Stanton of a double. Jayson could not do anything with the bat, striking out three of his four times at the plate…After the Harper falling down over the shoulder catch the Marlins failed to get a hit the rest of the game. Strasburg retired the next six hitters and Solis and Treinen retired the final six hitters…Anthony Rendon did not play in the game because of a bruised left calf. He is expected to play on Wednesday.