Nationals

Quick Links

Mike Rizzo speaking with fellow general managers about starting pitchers

Mike Rizzo speaking with fellow general managers about starting pitchers

The 2018 MLB All-Star game is approaching and with that means so is the trade deadline.

Nationals GM Mike Rizzo has stated that the team is always in the business of buying and selling and this season they're interested in a starting pitcher.

"Talking starting pitching, talking to GM's, doing our due diligence," Rizzo said Wednesday on 106.7 The Fan's Sports Junkies, simulcasted on NBC Sports Washington.

"We're always active at this time and [we] have a lot of conversations with a lot of people. We've got a lot of assets that people want. We've got assets of other teams that we want. It's going to be an interesting period. We're starting the stretch drive now where we gotta play good baseball."

Good baseball for the Nats in 2018 has been spotty. They've shown us what they're capable of – like putting up 18 runs Saturday against the Marlins – to not even closely resembling a team that has been NL East champions four of the last six seasons. And in odd fashion, their starting pitching hasn't performed like we're used to.

Stephen Strasburg is expected to make his return very soon after being placed on the disabled list with an inflamed shoulder, Max Scherzer is 11-5 with 177 strikeouts, but Tanner Roark and Gio Gonzalez have fallen flat.  During Sunday's game against the Marlins, Roark allowed 15 runners in four innings in their 10-2 loss, and in June, Gonzalez was 0-5 with a 8.44 ERA. It's obvious they need help and the trade deadline could bring some much needed relief, but Rizzo is still looking for more out of his veterans. 

"It's time for the starting pitchers to step up and pitch like they're supposed to pitch," Rizzo said.

"And that's the thing, these guys are accomplished pitchers. Gio had a low 2 ERA his first seven or eight start this season and kind of fell into some bad habits mechanically and didn't give us the length and performance we wanted, same thing with Tanner, and then we're relying on two young kids. Anytime you lose two of your five starters to injury you're really relying on your depth and your veteran players to perform up to their capabilities."

"We're optimistic. The team has been playing so hard. Even when we were playing poorly, we were playing very, very hard. You can even see it...two nights ago against the Pirates, we were down six runs before you could take your seat and you've got Adam Eaton running into walls and diving for balls and guys were playing all out, trying to come back from that thing. That's really been the attitude and the energy level throughout the season. Through the highs of May and through the lows of June, we've been on course and the effort level has been there and the preparation time has been there and the performance is starting to catch up with the effort level."

And help at starting pitcher could be what brings the Nats back into baseball harmony. 

"Once we get our starting pitching in line, I think we're going to really take off." 

MORE NATS NEWS:

Quick Links

Stephen Strasburg dominates Marlins, Nationals salvage a win

strasburg-pitch-marlins-usat.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Stephen Strasburg dominates Marlins, Nationals salvage a win

The Washington Nationals beat the Miami Marlins, 5-0, Sunday afternoon to move back .500 at 10-10.

Here are five observations from the game...

1. Sunday became of a day of salvage for the Nationals.

Washington lost the first two games of its initial series against the Miami Marlins. One of those losses included a subpar Max Scherzer start. Game three provided Miami a surprising chance to sweep. Stephen Strasburg snuffed out that idea with eight scoreless innings. Ryan Zimmerman homered twice, Brian Dozier once.

Kyle Barraclough was on the verge of peacefully pitching the ninth inning to close the game before he walked back-to-back hitters with two outs. Davey Martinez replaced him with closer Sean Doolittle who ended the game in his 10th appearance of the season.

And, guess what? The Nationals are back to even. Again. The upshot for them is how flawed and jam-packed the rest of the National League East remains. The downside is dropping any series against Miami can leave a mark.

Assume the division winner takes 13-15 victories when playing the Marlins 19 times during the season. That idea would force Washington to go between 12-4 and 14-2 the rest of the way against Miami. A run like that -- even against bad teams -- is extremely difficult. Being swept by the worst team in the major leagues would have made it even worse. So, a necessary win was delivered Sunday.

2. Strasburg spent Sunday down in the strike zone, throwing curveballs at his leisure, dominating all afternoon.

Eight innings. Ten strikeouts. Two hits. No runs.

Strasburg threw an astonishing amount of curveballs Sunday: 45 of his 104 pitches were bending toward the plate. He threw 41 fastballs (mostly two-seam fastballs) and 18 changeups. Strasburg came into the game throwing his curveball 21.4 percent of the time this season, just a tick above his career average of 19.7 percent.

The curveballs led to 12 swinging strikes, six called strikes and four foul balls. So, half of them were not put in fair play. That’s a dominating pitch.

Most opposition hitters will mark Strasburg’s changeup as his best pitch -- especially now that his fastball velocity is down to 92-93 mph, generally. Sunday, his curveball commanded the game, an interesting turn with Kurt Suzuki behind the plate a start after Strasburg mentioned he thought predictability was part of the issue when he was knocked around in his last start against the meager San Francisco Giants offense.

3. Anthony Rendon was out of the lineup Sunday because of a bruised left elbow.

X-rays on Rendon’s elbow were negative. Though, he told reporters in Miami on Sunday the elbow remained stiff. Washington played with a three-man bench in the series finale because Rendon has not been placed on the injured list. It also underwent a lineup shuffle.

Victor Robles moved up to the No. 2 spot. Howie Kendrick played third and hit cleanup. Dozier hit seventh and Wilmer Difo was in the eighth spot.

Rendon’s absence is another dig at an offense already without Trea Turner for an unclear amount of time because of a broken right index finger. Both were off to outstanding starts for a team that is not. Rendon’s 1.223 OPS was fourth in the National League coming into play Sunday.

The Nationals are in the midst of a brutal schedule stretch, which means they can’t play with a short bench for long. They have a three-game series starting in Colorado on Monday. If they think Rendon could play Tuesday, they could survive another day with a three-man bench. If they think he won’t play in that series, it makes sense to put him on the 10-day injured list retroactive to Sunday. Thursday is an off day. So, ultimately, Rendon would miss seven games he otherwise would not.

The rub there is potent San Diego and St. Louis are coming to Nationals Park next week. Washington is already laboring. Does it want to deal with those teams without Rendon?

4. Interesting in the sixth inning:

Juan Soto struck out on a changeup. That’s not the interesting -- or surprising -- part. Kendrick was next. He drove a second-pitch changeup from Trevor Richards to deep center field for a sacrifice fly. Only Lewis Brinson’s jump and speed kept Kendrick’s fly ball from being a two-run double.

Kendrick appeared to be sitting on the changeup from Richards, his out pitch and one he used almost as often as his fastball throughout the day. Zimmerman hit a changeup for a home run. Dozier hit a changeup for a home run. Those vetered hitters appeared to adjust in a way Soto did not: instead of trying to push Richards into a fastball count, they sat on the changeup. Big results followed.

5. How about a couple strange things?

Robles bunted against the shift in the sixth inning. It was simultaneously the worst and best bunt in history. Robles bunted the ball so hard, it went almost to the outfield grass...in the air. Marlins first baseman Neil Walker did not get it because he was holding a runner. Second baseman Starlin Castro did not get it because he was shifted toward the middle. Robles was easily safe as a result.

Then a scare from an oddity: an eighth-inning foul ball roared into the Nationals dugout. When Max Scherzer moved to avoid it, he tweaked an intercostal muscle in his left rib cage, according to reporters in Miam. He was in enough pain director of athletic training Paul Lessard came to check on him. Scherzer was all right. That would have been the capper for the Nationals recent run of bad injury luck where balls coming from the opposition are causing fluke injuries.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS:

Quick Links

Washington Nationals Roundup: Nationals lose second straight to Marlins

gomes_marlins.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Washington Nationals Roundup: Nationals lose second straight to Marlins

The Washington Nationals fell to the Miami Marlins 9-3 Saturday night. Here's the latest Nationals and Marlins news:

Player Notes: 

NATIONALS:

Max Scherzer took the loss against the Marlins Saturday, allowing 11 hits and seven runs (six earned) over 5 1/3 innings. He struck out nine and walked none, but gave up too many hard hits in the loss. 

First baseman Matt Adams drove in two early runs and had a multi-hit day, filling in well for Ryan Zimmerman. He has been a bright spot off the bench for the offense. 

Third baseman Anthony Rendon saw his hitting streak snap after going 0-for-1. He was hit by a pitch on his left elbow in his second plate appearance and left the game shortly thereafter. His status is considered day-to-day.

MARLINS: 

Infielder Brian Anderson stayed hot, going 2-for-3 with two doubles and an RBI. He also walked twice and scored two runs. His RBI hit started the scoring for the Marlins in the first inning.

Infielder Starlin Castro went 2-for-5 with 2 RBI in the win, with both RBI singles coming off Nationals ace Max Scherzer. He also stole his first base of the season.

Outfielder Curtis Granderson had two hits, including a home run, in Saturday's 9-3 win. His homer gave the Marlins a 4-3 lead they would not relinquish, and he helped add insurance runs with his sacrifice fly later in the game.

Injuries:

3B Anthony Rendon: Elbow, day-to-day

RP Austen Williams: Shoulder, 10-Day IL

SS Trea Turner: Finger, 10-Day IL 

RP Koda Glover: Elbow, 10-Day IL

RP Justin Miller: Back, 10-Day IL

Coming Up: 

Sunday, 4/21: Nationals @ Marlins, 1:10 p.m., Marlins Park

Monday, 4/22: Nationals @ Rockies, 8:40 p.m., Coors Field

Tuesday, 4/23: Nationals @ Rockies, 8:40 p.m., Coors Field

Source: Rotoworld

MORE NATIONALS NEWS: