Nats Rotation the Best in Baseball

Unknown

Over the last 8 games (thru Roark’s game last night) the Nats starters have a collective ERA of 1.09.  Over the 7 games including Fister’s last start they had struck out 50 batters with NO WALKS. That has not been equalled since 1914!  And I’ve been noticing how Fister’s intensity has rubbed off on the other pitchers.  This was very obvious in how Roark played last night.

All of the above has me concerned for Gio Gonzalez’s sake.  A look at the pitching stats will show you why.  His ERA is closer to 5 than 4, while the collective ERA of the other starters is under 3.00! And I’m sure Gio (and Steve McCatty) is very aware of this startling fact.  I hate to even mention this because that is bad karma in the world of baseball.  Like Stephen Strassburg, Gio doesn’t handle pressure very well, and that puts them apart from the other starters.  Lets hope this doesn’t lead to problems once Gio gets back into the rotation.

Don’t Gimme no Stinkin Walks!

Nats starters threw a string of 47 strike-outs with no walks!  That must be some kinda record that I have never even dreamed of (I was a lefty pitcher through my college years and we all know about southpaws and control issues:)  Last night Doug Fister walked a batter to break the string and I thought Matt Williams might call time out to send Steve McCatty out to the mound with a tranquillizer:)

All baseball people are superstitious, so I won’t say a word about the Nats hot streak!

Adam Laroche finally has enough at-bats to take his rightful place among the NL batting leaders; he’s 6th or 7th now I think, in batting average, and possibly higher in OBA (on-base-average).

Momentum is Next Day’s Starting Pitcher

One of the commentators (maybe “MASN Dan” Kolko) said that about last night’s Nats thrashing of the SF Giants.  Manager Matt Williams was asked repeatedly last night about the hot streak the Nats are currently in the middle of, but to his credit he avoided taking that bait and merely talked about needing to be ready for today’s game.  Good manager response!  And with Doug Fister taking the mound tonight, the team has plenty of confidence even though they will be facing a very good Giants pitcher, Madison Bumgarner.

Last night I hit the sack around 9pm and set my alarm for 11pm, to at least be able to see some of the game:)  Glad I did that!  Our guys were pounding the best team in baseball this year and one of their excellent pitchers, Ryan Vogelson.  Right now most of the Nats are looking real good with bats in their hands, but Ian and Denard are absolutely RED HOT!  That’s the nature of hitting a baseball, the ability comes and goes, and often the harder one tries the worse it goes.

Stephen Strassburg was on top of his game too last night.  He was hitting his spots well and his changeup was NASTY.

This was the worst beating any team has inflicted on the Giants THIS YEAR!

Ripken Drafted by Nats!

Unknown

 

Cal Ripken’s son Ryan has been drafted by the Nats in the 15th round.  He most recently played with Indian River State College in Florida.  The Orioles picked him a couple of years ago, but he elected to remain in college.  The decision backfired when he failed to make the roster at South Carolina, a powerhouse baseball school that gets to the College World Series often.

Ryan stands 6 feet 6 inches and weighs 230, and plays first base.  It should be fun to follow his progress through the Nats system, and seeing his dad hanging out during Spring Training next year:)

The Z-man Going Back to 3B

Zimmerman catching a fly ball during his debut in left field. (Photo: Tommy Gilligan, USA TODAY Sports)

Zimmerman catching a fly ball during his debut in left field. (Photo: Tommy Gilligan, USA TODAY Sports)

I heard Matt Williams say clearly in a pre-game radio interview last night (June 5) that Ryan Zimmerman would be back at 3B once Bryce Harper returns from the DL.  This is the clearest statement yet from anyone on the “top mgmt. team” of the Nats regarding how they plan to accommodate Harpers return in approximately a month.  I believe (and this is just my opinion!) he was basing that on how well the other pieces of this “equation” (namely Rendon, Spann, LaRoche and Espinosa) are performing AT THIS TIME.  Consequently, I take what Willims said last night with a small grain of salt:)

Baseball is a game of streaks.  (I know this all too well, as I’m dealing with a minor three-week hitting slump myself).  If any of the above players happens to be mired in a slump when Bryce comes back, Manager Matt would likely send Zimmerman alsewhere.

Footnote:  One of the main reasons Ryan is now in left field is not because anyone has firmly decided that is his future, but more likely because he is far less prone to re-injuring his healing thumb out there!

 

The Attack of the Brothers Zimm

The Zimm boys, Jordan and Ryan ganged up on the Phillies last night (June 3).  What a fun game to watch!

Ryan lived up to all the ridiculous hype and actually did play left field.  His first at bat said it all, as he blasted a rocket down the line in left for a double.  For an encore, just in case there were one or two doubters remaining, he did the same thing into the corner in right field:)  Many have said in amazement that Ryan usually shows up for Spring Training and from the first day will usually spray line drives all over the field!  I believe it.

Jordan for his part found his feel and command of all his pitches again and put his problems of May in the rearview mirror!  He easily pitched 8 strong innings and could have continued for a CG.  Knowing how steady he is I’m confident we are in for “smooth sailing ahead” from J-Zimm.

As to what will happen with Ryan when Bryce Harper returns in mid-July, “Manager Matt’ said publicly “we will deal with that when it happens, based on how everyone is playing at that time.” I am not going to speculate therefore on something so complex, with so many variables, including possible future injuries, that will influence the team’s decision-makers.

 

 

 

Watch this Whirling Darvish!

Watching Yu Darvish pitch on Sunday must have been like watching Michaelangelo paint the Sistine Chapel.  I was mezmerized, not able to take my eyes off the TV screen.  He has been called “the shape-shifting ace,” an apt description.  The Nats Greg Dobbs uttered “What can you say?”  Adam Kilgore said (Wash. Post of June 2) “He can be a flame thrower, tactician, or snake charmer, all in the same at-bat.”  After blazing a 95-mph fastball by Adam Laroche, he left Adam frozen (and struck out) by a 59-mph curveball.  Denard Spann (hitting over .400 in his last 29 games) was the only Nat with any success in the game, as Texas won 2-0.

Other Notes:  The Nats bullpen was ranked number one in baseball as of May 29.  And Soriano, Storen and Barrett are three of the top seven relief pitchers in all of MLB, with ERAs below 1.00.

With Trip to Omaha at Stake, UVa Takes on Maryland

Last weekend, both UVA (ranked third in the country) and Maryland powered their way into the Super-regionals.  For Virginia, one of the premier programs in the country, this is the 5th time in 6 years they have got that far.  This weekend they meet in Charlottesville in a best-of-three series, which will surely be televised.  The winner gets a berth to the College World Series in Omaha.

Note:  I first saw Stephen Strasburg pitch in a CWS game where UVA beat him in the first round!  He gave up several runs in the first inning (sound familiar?).  That was in his last year at San Diego State, just before the Nats signed him.