2014 is Different

The Nats have been making a strong statement recently.  Starting sometime in August of this year they have been playing “playoff” baseball, which they clearly DID NOT DO in 2012.  Just about everyone on the “core” 25-man roster has stepped up his game, including Strass and Gio (who up to then were having sub-par years).  The 5 walk-off wins in 6 games was a wake-up call for the rest of the National League.  The 4 out of 6 games they took from the dodgers and Mariners was another.  Ryan Zimmerman’s 2 base hits in his first game back from the DL was yet another.  And the list goes on.

We don’t know what will happen in the playoffs, but Matt Williams has the team READY!  Now the most tantalizing question is who will make the playoff roster.

Now that They Have Won the Division………..

First, a brief mea culpa:  I haven’t posted anything for two weeks because I had a tournament to play in (yes, Baseball!)—— in “baseball heaven”—-Cooperstown, NY.  Nine games in five days; we came in second, same as last year.

And the Nats are still winning and having a great September.  The whole yeam seems to be peaking at just the right time.  Rendon would appear to be the 2014 team MVP and is fourth in the entire National League in WAR (wins above replacement).  Four Nats have more than 80 RBIs. Drew Storen, the new “closer,” has reeled off 8 straight saves.  Span is having a career year and should win a gold glove for his incredible play in center field.  Ryan Zimmerman may be back in the lineup tonight.  And the starting pitchers,………..now ALL FIVE are pitching like they need to do for the team to get to the World Series (WS).

On the air waves and the internet an increasing number of people are including the Nats in the discussions of who has a good chance of getting to the “Fall Classic.”  Here is a link to a good article picking the Nats and Angels to get there.  If the link doesn’t work, just google “Nats and Angels by Phil Rogers” dated Sept. 18.  Also, Tom Boswell did a Sept. 17 article on how good the Nats prospects are.

Now Matt Williams has the team pushing to gain the home field advantage for the playoffs by finishing the season with the best record in the National League. At this moment they are ahead of the LA Dodgers by 1.5 games for that prize!

Nats Enter “new” Territory

According to whom?  Well, how about yours truly and little Tommy Boswell?

The Nats 14-inning winner Wed. night made me a believer, and apparently I’m not the only one.  Boswell is the best BASEBALL analyst I have ever encountered.  And rather than writing a long article explaining why I finally do think the Nats have a chance to get to the World Series, I encourage readers to google his article in today’s Wash. Post.

For starters, Manager Matt used 26 players in that watershed game, and did NOT MAKE even ONE Mistake.  Some might quibble about bringing Soriano in for the 9th inning, or leaving him in a couple of batters too long, but he is the closer we are stuck with for better or worse.

Second, all the Nats are peaking at the right time in a long-tough season.  And all the new players are doing what they have been hired to do.  Even Strass!

Enjoy the rest of a great season!

YES, The Nats can Beat the Good Teams!

They are 15-11 now against the National League’s pennant contenders.  They just won series against the Dodgers and Mariners.  Last night’s game was their absolute best of 2014.  Came from behind THREE times!  Adam LaRoach came off the trainer’s table in the 9th inning and proceeded to carry his team on his aching back!!

I won’t bother recounting all the twists and turns, but I wish the playoffs werre starting TODAY!  Readers very likely know most of the details, but I recommend Tom Boswell’s piece in the Wash. Post today, as well as Mark Zuckerman’s thing in Nats Insider.

As I left the restaurant with my 51/2 yr old grandson and his grandmother, Jason Werth was dropping the fly ball in the 9th inning.  For the next 21/2 hours I was glued to an FM radio in the grips of a game I will not forget!

Where Are the Nats as of Sept. 1?

The Nats look (to me) poised to get into October in pretty good shape.  But I would not bet the farm on them getting to the World Series:)

Manager Matt did a great job of managing last night (Sept. 1).  The best move of all was bringing Thornton in to rescue Storen.  He has been showing a tendency to switch pitchers quicker recently; GOOD!

The guys are looking (as a team) ready for the necessary Sept/Oct. “push.”  Span, Gio, Strass, Werth, Harper, Rendon, Cabrera, Lobaton and Ramos have been stepping up their production recently.  The good teams do that.

The team brought up 6 players for the “Sept. Call-up.”  The best of those moves was getting Barrett and Cedeno for the bullpen.  They had been trying to rest Barrett in Syracuse and they accomplished that.  Hopefully he is ready for what is ahead; he could very well be the additional “stopper” the Nats need.  Cedeno is another lefty weapon in their pen.  No team has enough of those.  I used to be one myself:)

Us fans need to hang onto being positive, no matter how hard that is!

Ranking the Nats Starting Pitchers (again)

Back in June I ranked the starterslike this:  Fister, Roark, Zimmermann, Strass, Gonzales.  Today I came across an article that took a different slant on this and ranked them this way FOR THE PLAYOFFS:  Zimmermann, Fister, Strasburg, Gonzales, Roark.  Very surprising!  Rather than re-create the article, here is where to find it: http://www.sportsonearth.com/article/92089982 and the author is Anthony Castrovince.  Easiest way to find it is to google the author and the date of the article: August 30. I’ll give you a hint as to why he ranks Roark 5th; he has already reached his career maximum innings workload of 159 1/3 innings.  Castrovince makes a strong case that with a month to go before the playoffs, it is a serious stretch to expect Roark to maintain his impressive stuff and stamina into the playoffs.  Check it out.

Nats Undone by Faulty Replay Calls

Last night two replay calls went against the Nats.  Both were correctly called by the onfield CREW CHIEF at 1B, Gary Cedarstrom, and then overturned by questionable analysis of the video replays.  For a call to be overturned the videos must have convincing evidence that the original call was faulty.  In NEITHER case was the evidence convincing!  I saw the replays, as did FP and Carp.  All 3 of us were shocked at both overturned calls!  If the first replay had gone the Nats way, the Phillies would not have been allowed to contest the second one, and the Nats would have won the game!

Huge bummer.

Read My Lips!

I have said this several times in several posts:  Stephen Strassburg should not start a game in the playoffs.  Why?  Because he cannot command his fastball consistently.  If you don’t believe me, then take a gander at Tom Boswell’s article on the subject in today’s Post.  Anyone who watched Strass pitch yesterday should understand what I’m talking about.

Fastball commands determines the effectiveness of all a starting pitcher’s repertoire of pitches.  Strass has had this inconsistency his whole life; I watched him pitch in college.  He gets hammered when he can’t spot his fastball, over, over and over again.

OK, one more time for Nats fans:  Strass should not be used as a starter in the playoffs.  Fister, Roark and Zimmerman should be the starters.

Soriano Comes Through in the Clutch!

MLB: Miami Marlins at Washington Nationals

Raphael Soriano came on in the 9th inning last night (8/20) to a tie game, after a few days well-earned rest.  He pitched a 1,2,3 inning looking rested and his slider was back!  He had good control again and the slider was beaking down as sharply as I’ve ever seen it.  He obviously had worked on it since his recent troubles.

He came in again tonight.  Pitched almost as well as he did last night, though his slider was not as good.  They won again in a walk-off so Sori was the winning pitcher again!

I would not use him in more than two consecutive games.

Today I’d like to be Michael Taylor’s Father!

What an inspiring game last night! In his first big-league game Taylor really made an impression: two hits, including a home run, and he looked very good in Right Field too, making a good throw from the deep corner to 2B, preventing the batter from stretching a single into a double. And after the game he was refreshingly humble in dealing with the media. I first mentioned how good Mike looked in Spring Training in an early blogpost on March 1. After ST he made the jump from A to AA. He did so well there he jumped to AAA 2-3 weeks ago, and then up to the parent team the day before yesterday. That’s quite an elevator ride!

Doug Fister, the nats true ACE, also inspired last night! And Asdrubal Cabrera is steadily raising his batting average; it’s at .286 now.

The Nats can likely get to the playoffs without RZimm, and Werth may see limited playing time while his shoulder heals (or NOT), but they need both of their clutch hitters/players in the playoffs!

Read the Boswell article in today’s Post if you haven’t already!