Some say the essence of insanity is to keep doing something, and failing endlessly, while keeping doing it the same way rather than looking for a better way.  Well That is what the Nats keep doing every time they let Gio Gonzales pitch on his still-scheduled day!  The team has lost the last six of Gio’s starts, going back to mid-May.  I don’t think they should bring up Lucas Giolito  yet.  He’s not ready, and he is on an innings limit too.  They could bring up a starter from Syracuse, or switch places with Yusmeiro Petit.  That could not be any worse than letting Gio start again.  Just saying……….

Here Come the Nationals

The Nats are very lucky to still be in first place in the NL East.  They are not a first place team, as I have said consistently since early Spring Training.  Either the Mets or the Marlins will win the division, but the Mets will have to pull off 1-2 big trades by July 31 to win it.  At this point the Marlins look like the team to beat.  They would help their cause though by acquiring one more good starting pitcher.

Tommy Boswell published a telling article in the June 10 POST.  He had used a fairly new statistic called “batting average on balls in play” (BABIP) to measure how luck affects both batting and pitching.  Basically it factors into the mix how many balls a team’s hitters hit well but right at the other team’s fielders.  By that metric the Nats hitters have been unlucky this year, while their pitchers have been blessed with unusual luck.

The Nats started June on a hot streak, but lately they are coming back down to earth.  Situational clutch hitting has been bad to terrible all season long; they rank near the bottom in all of baseball in batting average with runners in scoring position.  Winning teams HAVE TO BE GOOD at this!  Year after year this has been the main reason the Nats have not succeeded in either winning the division or of going nowhere in the playoffs.  Folks, it is time Mike Rizzo found a new hitting coach! (something I’ve said several times over the past 10 months).

Also, surprise, the bullpen has been mediocre ever since they acquired “the DC Strangler.”  If they don’t get a new closer by July 31, they will not win the NL East.  For a long time It looked like Felipe Rivero would be a great late-inning setup man, but that appears not to be at this point.  He needs to spend time at Syracuse to find himself again.

And then there is Gio Gonzales.  For him this has been the year of two Gios!  He began the year as one of the top pitchers in the NL.  Now he is in the middle of a bad losing streak.  I think he is out of options to be sent to Syracuse to try and get back to his early 2016 form.  Sad.  Maybe Rizzo can put him on the DL and get a replacement.

Dusty is doing a great job with a flawed roster!

The State of the Nats

As the Nats face the Mets for the first time this season, here are my comments.

A lot is on Max Scherzer’s shoulders tonight.  And the hitting as well as the bull-pen have to show up if the team is to prevail in the hot NL East.  The production from the lead-off spot has been awful.  The team hitting with runners in scoring position is terrible.  Harper has cooled off, partly since teams are walking him A LOT!  And the bull-pen has been “average” at best.

For the season my predictions are slightly worse than they were previously, mostly due to the fact that BOTH the Phillies and Marlins (without Dee Gordon!) are playing very good baseball.  Bottom line is I still think the Nats will finish in third place in the NL EAST, pretty much what I said before the season began.



Now They Play the “Big Boys”

Last night’s win was wonderful!  Especially after being swept by the lowly Phillies.

But we now see that the offensive woes of 2014 onward are still in the lineup.  Indeed two of the pitchers are hitting better than 4 of the starting position players!  Can anyone name the pitchers?  The team batting average with runners in scoring position is .225; that is BAD!

So far the defense and starting pitching is doing very well.  The bullpen is getting the job done this far, but I don’t think that will continue over the course of the full season.

I predict the Mets will pass the Nats in the coming week and never look back.  I was about to predict again that the Marlins will have a better season than the Nats.  But now with Dee Gordon gone for 80 games, the Nats might just hold onto second place.

How Many Games Will the Nats Win?

A couple of months ago I predicted 75 wins.  After a good Spring Training I now think they could win 85, but only if they keep the injuries down from 2015.  Their weak bull-pen will let them down again.  And Gio and Joe Ross will have mediocre seasons.  They won’t make the playoffs and will finish behind the Mets and Marlins in the NL East.

Bull-pen Issues Remain

The Nats bullpen was mediocre last year.  To me, that assessment is still accurate as we move close to the start of the 2016 season.  Today’s Washington Post has a good article by “The Boz” where he uses the kiss of death phrase “it is what it is” to describe this new/old collection of relievers.  This Spring only Sean Burnett, Blake Treinen, and Oliver Perez have better than average ERAs.  For my money, only Felipe Rivero has better than average potential.  I can only wish Mike Maddux (pitching coach) good luck with this pen.

Adam Laroche

Courtesy of Washington Post

Courtesy of Washington Post

Yes, I have been following this story closely.  And it is not going away any time soon.  The White Sox screwed up, badly, and it could hurt their prospects this season.  Adam is one of the most popular players in all of baseball, and his Sox teammates are supporting his clear moral-high-ground position that being a good father is more important than his baseball career or the $13 million he has left on the table!

Star White Sox pitcher Chris Sale has come out so strongly in support of LaRoche that rumors are now circulating that he may be traded.  The Sox fans are in an uproar, so revenue may be affected.  The team’s clubhouse chemistry, very important in baseball, has been permanently altered.

Laroche’s contract stipulated that Drake would be allowed into the clubhouse with his father.  During LaRoche’s 3 years with the Nationals, Drake was a popular fixture in the clubhouse and on the field.  So, the Sox have reneged on the agreement.

I hope the two sides will cool down and try once more to fix this!


Great Baseball Film: The Perfect Game

The little league baseball team from Monterrey, Mexico became the first team from outside the United States to win the Little League World Series. (Getty Images)

The little league baseball team from Monterrey, Mexico became the first team from outside the United States to win the Little League World Series. (Getty Images)

I stumbled onto a great film recently on the MLBTV channel.  ‘The Perfect Game’ is a true story that has it’s beginning in Monterrey, Mexico in 1957.  As soon as I began watching I realized I remembered the real facts although I had never seen the movie!  The main character is a 12-year-old ambidextrous pitcher.  This is a wonderful rags-to-riches saga of a bunch of “street urchins,” a priest who loves baseball and a down on his luck guy who once was with the St. Louis Cardinals.  I will refrain from saying more, but the film is quite accurate in portraying the actual events that took place when I was 13-14 yrs old!  Click here to watch a preview and click here to read a great article on the team.

Nats Come in Second With Cespedes

We can now add Cespedes to the list of excellent players (Hayward, Phillips, Chapman, etc) who have spurned lucrative offers from the Nats.  The Lerners and Mikey-Boy Rizzo know that unless they can tweak the bull-pen (Dump Paps and pry Andrew Miller from the Yankees) and also the starting rotation (replace Gio with someone better), they will be lucky to finish the 2016 season ahead of the Marlins, but behind the Metropolitans of Gotham.

You read it here!