Quick Links

Nats do not plan to avoid using Papelbon against Phillies

Nats do not plan to avoid using Papelbon against Phillies

Since Jonathan Papelbon joined the Nationals in a trade last July, he has a 7.27 ERA through nine games against the Philadelphia Phillies and a 2.33 mark in 38 outings against other teams. 

Add in the fact he was traded from the Phillies to the Nats and you've got a strange statistic. Why does Papelbon have so much trouble against his former team, a club that ranks dead last in baseball this season in runs per game?

“I really can’t [explain it]. I don’t know, that’s just baseball," Papelbon said after allowing a ninth inning homer to Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco on Sunday.

Papelbon has now allowed 12 hits and four walks in just 8 2/3 innings against the Phillies since he joined the Nats. Three of those hits have been homers.

The numbers are so different for Papelbon against the Phillies that it's a fair question whether the Nats should avoid using him against them altogether. Manager Dusty Baker, however, doesn't think that's feasible.

"Yeah, but how do do that and not cause psychological damage? That's what people don't understand is that there are certain psychological things that you have to have. You start chipping away at the guy's confidence and then you don't have the same guy. It's easy to say 'put somebody else in,' but what happens when they don't do it? Do I go back and say 'hey man, I was just kidding.'"

Baker isn't entirely sure why Papelbon has so much trouble against the Phillies, but he did offer one theory on Monday.

"Most of his woes have been out of Philly. You don't know if that's psychological out of his part or their part. If you take away the Philly games, he's almost been unflappable. Yesterday he hung a slider and that's what you're supposed to do with it. A lot of times when you're not locating well and you're hanging a pitch is when you're trying too hard. Hank Aaron has always told me that the most dangerous pitcher is a relaxed pitcher… Maybe he's not as relaxed against his former team."

The Nationals won't shy away from pitching Papelbon against the Phillies and they still have confidence in him as their closer in general. The right-hander does have 16 saves in 18 opportunities this season, though some have been more stressful than others.

"There aren't many lockdown closers around. That's a hard job. I think that's one of the hardest jobs there is, to take the final breath out of anybody and get those last three outs. I've seen a lot of guys who can't. They can be good in that setup role, but they aren't very good in that closer role," Baker said.

"Instead of us getting on him, let's pull for him and send him some positive vibes. There aren't many. How many lockdown closers are there? This guy's a potential All-Star. He's got 16 saves... You take away his saves and where are we? He's one of ours."

The Nats won't have to worry about Papelbon facing Philly again for a good while. The two teams do not play each other until Aug. 29-31.

Quick Links

Did Max Scherzer's dance moves cause the Junkies' broadcast to lose power?

USA Today Sports

Did Max Scherzer's dance moves cause the Junkies' broadcast to lose power?

Watching Max Scherzrer rack up Ks during a game is a usual sight for fans.

Dancing is not.

On Wednesday while the Sports Junkies were broadcasting at Nats Spring Training in West Palm Beach, we got a taste of what the back-to-back Cy Young Award winner has to offer on the dance floor. 

With just about a week left until their season kicks off, manager Dave Martinez hired a DJ for the day's workout, saying he wanted to "turn it up a notch." 

Well he turned it up a few too many notches, causing the back end of the complex where the Junkies were broadcasting to lose power.

While the Junkies were put in a pickle because of said DJ, we were able to get a glance of Scherzer dancing to Drakes' "God's Plan."


It's nice to see the usually lazer-focused pitcher let loose.

While Scherzer's dance moves didn't actually cause the Junkies to lose power, it's nice to think they were too much for the ballpark to handle. 

106.7 The Fans Sports Junkies simulcasts on NBC Sports Washington every weekday morning from 6:00 to 10:00 am ET. You can stream the Sports Junkies right here

Quick Links

The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful


The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful

It's that wonderful time of year again — when baseball teams flock to warmer climates for spring training and the regular season is practically around the corner — and Bryce Harper is already killing it.

It took the Washington Nationals a few games to brush away their offseason cobwebs and get back into gear, but since the beginning of March, they're riding a five-game win streak as of Sunday the 4th.

They are 6-4-1 in spring training going into Monday's matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Since Thursday, the Nats have taken down — in order — the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, defending World Series champion Houston Astros, the Detroit Tigers and the Mets again. Sunday's 6-2 win against the Tigers was in large part thanks to Harper's bat, as the star of the team drilled his first home run of spring training. 


Turn up the volume for this one because the sound of Harper's contact with the ball is just beautiful — and perhaps enough to get you pumped for the March 29 opener.

Harper blew this ball away in the bottom of the third for a two-run homer with Howie Kendrick on base. He also had a single in the fourth and finished the game with three RBI.

Gio Gonzalez was the winning pitcher for the Nats.