Nationals

Quick Links

Mike Rizzo makes bold move to call up Juan Soto

mike_rizzo.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Mike Rizzo makes bold move to call up Juan Soto

This is not a tweet I expected to read in May of 2018.

On the heels of their latest injury, the team is adding uber-prospect Juan Soto to the roster. It's unclear how much playing time he'll receive early on, but it's hard to imagine the team would be willing to start his service time clock and mess with his development track simply to sit him on the bench. He'll likely play, and make an impact on the team for as long as he's in D.C.

Let's not bury the lede, though. As you probably noticed in the tweet, Juan Soto is 19-years old. He was born in October of 1998, making him the youngest player in the majors, and bringing us one step closer to the first big-leaguer born in the 2000s. 

As incredible as it is for Soto to make the majors as a teenager (Bryce Harper and Time Raines are the only other teenagers to play in the majors in franchise history, which is pretty good company), what might be even more stunning is how quickly this came together for him. 

This will already be Soto's fourth different level of professional baseball this season alone, having spent time with the low-A, high-A, and AA clubs so far. In his entire life, Soto has just 35 plate appearances above class-A, which is almost unheard of for a player getting promoted to the big league roster.

He's hit everywhere he's been, with his career OPS in the minors a whopping 1.043 (his lowest wRC+ at any level is 132), though it remains to be seen if his prodigious bat is ready for Major League pitching. Still, simply being in the majors at such a young age is a great sign for his future, especially considering he's almost a year younger than anyone else playing in the big leagues right now.

Not that anybody should put Hall of Fame expectations on a kid who hasn't even faced a pitch in the majors yet, but Soto's meteoric rise gives him a better chance than most at greatness. Just last month, when discussing the dynamic Braves duo of Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna, Hall of Fame-expert Jay Jaffe did some research on young stars making the big leagues, and the numbers are promising.

According to Baseball Reference (and we're just going to take their word for it), there have been 19,261 players in the history of Major League Baseball, and 226 of them have been elected to the Hall of Fame. That's a minuscule 1.1%.

But, of every player to ever record 100 plate appearances as a 19-year old (a number Soto should easily hit if he stays up all season), the number of players who eventually made the Hall of Fame jumps to 24%. If Soto is only up for a cup of coffee this year, and next year is when he's here to stay, you can move up the list to players who recorded 100 PA in their age-20 seasons, and the number is still 19%.

Plus, that percentage is likely to increase in the coming decades, as there are 18 active players to reach the benchmark, including future locks Adrian Beltre, Miguel Cabrera, and Mike Trout, and guys who are young but on the right track (Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Carlos Correa, and Giancarlo Stanton). Acuna, Albies, and Rafael Devers could find their way on the list one day as well. Considering only three of those names need to be enshrined in Cooperstown one day, it's safe to say that percentage is only growing.

That's a lot of stats that look nice for Soto and the Nationals, but obviously, we're at least a decade away from having a legitimate conversation about his Hall of Fame chances. Still, it highlights what we've known about him for quite some time. Juan Soto is a special, generational talent, and his rise to the big leagues as a teenager is worth writing home about.

What he's done so far is historic, and even if the move seems premature, it's plenty cause for excitement about the future of baseball in D.C.

MORE NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.

Quick Links

Nationals' offense remains quiet in 2-0 loss to Toronto

Nationals' offense remains quiet in 2-0 loss to Toronto

TORONTO  -- Max Scherzer lost his second straight start for the first time since 2015 when Marco Estrada pitched 6 2-3 shutout innings and Devon Travis homered Saturday for the Toronto Blue Jays in a 2-0 win over the Washington Nationals.

Scherzer (10-3) gave up four hits, including the two-run homer by Travis, in six innings. The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner struck out 10, increasing his major league-leading total to 152.

The right-hander, who lost to San Francisco in his previous outing, last lost two straight starts in a three-game skid in August 2015. Travis homered for the second game in a row when he connected in the fifth, right after Scherzer hit Luke Maile with a pitch.

Estrada (4-6) allowed three hits, one a bunt single, to win back-to-back starts for the first time this season. Toronto has won six straight at home after losing 10 of its previous 11 at Rogers Centre.

Trea Turner hit a two-out double in the sixth, but Estrada struck out Bryce Harper looking. An exasperated Harper was caught looking again to end the eighth, stranding a runner at first. Harper went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts, dropping his average to .221.

Estrada left after Michael A. Taylor's two-out single put runners at first and second in the seventh. Danny Barnes came on and needed two pitches to retire Wilmer Difo on a groundout.

Barnes and Aaron Loup each got two outs and former Nationals closer Tyler Clippard finished the three-hitter for his third save in six opportunities.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS: 

Quick Links

What to watch for in Major League Baseball this weekend

scherzer_pitching_usat.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

What to watch for in Major League Baseball this weekend

Nationals brief weekend preview: Get your passports out, because the Nats head north of the border this weekend to take on the Blue Jays in interleague play. The Jays have struggled this season, though they’ve still got plenty of talent on the roster.

Expect lower-scoring games on Friday and Saturday, as Max Scherzer, Gio Gonzalez, Aaron Sanchez, and Marco Estrada are varying levels of good. Sunday afternoon is when the fireworks should come, when Tanner Roark goes up against Sam Gaviglio.

All in all, Toronto is good enough to steal a series from the Nats, especially in their home ballpark where the Jays hit much better. I wouldn’t expect a sweep for either club.

Orioles brief weekend preview: Could this be the weekend the Orioles finally record their first 3-game sweep of the season? If it’s ever going to happen, it’ll probably be against another bottom-5 team in baseball, and given that the Marlins rank dead last in our current MLB power rankings, they are as likely an opponent as any.

The Orioles will put two of their best feet forward in the form of starting pitchers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman, so this is one of the only times all season the O’s will be favored to win a series. Here’s to (hopefully) reaching win number 20 by Father’s Day!

Best series to watch: Red Sox at Mariners

This is a matchup between two teams who expected to be really good and compete for playoff spots, but neither likely saw themselves leading their respective divisions in mid-June. The Yankees and Astros were expected to take the AL East and AL West, so it classifies as an upset  to see Boston and especially Seattle in the driver’s seats.

This makes for a great weekend series, as both teams have been hot lately, and this easily could be an ALDS preview (or an AL Wild Card preview, depending on how the next couple of months go).

You definitely want to watch on Friday night, as “Big Maple” James Paxton, who has been superb this season, gets to face a Red Sox lineup that has struggled against left-handed pitching all year long.

Promotion of the Weekend: This is one weekend I don’t want to pick just one, because just about every franchise has something fun planned for Father’s Day, whether it’s a catch on the field, a BBQ picnic, a tie giveaway, or all of the above.

Separately, I’ll give a shout out to the Orioles, who are giving away a Buck SNOWalter snow globe. Points for originality and for reminding fans what it’s like to be cool on a hot June night.

Best pitching matchup: Madison Bumgarner (Giants) vs Alex Wood (Dodgers), Saturday, June 15th at 8:15 p.m.

Madison Bumgarner is the best postseason pitcher of this generation, and he’s a pretty darn great regular season ace as well. Injury troubles have cropped up in the last couple of seasons, but when healthy, this is still one of the six best pitchers on the planet, and you can bet he’ll be ready to bring his A game against the Dodgers.

Alex Wood isn’t quite matching his sub-3.00 ERA of last season (he’s currently porting a 4.43 ERA to go along with a 1-5 record) but the metrics say he’s been a full run better than that. His Field Independent Pitching sits at 3.29, and he’s struck out 66 batters against just 13 walks.

There’s not a clear ace vs ace matchup this weekend, but these are two pitchers who are extremely talented when healthy, and considering the bitter rivalry between the two clubs, it was a clear choice.

This weekend in baseball history: On June 15th, 2016, Ichiro Suzuki recorded his 4,257th career professional hit (including his 1,278 in Japan) and became the sort-of all-time hit leader, much to the chagrin of Pete Rose. June 16th also marks the tragic four-year anniversary of Tony Gwynn’s passing.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS: