Nationals

Quick Links

Boras refutes Mazzone on Strasburg

817454.png

Boras refutes Mazzone on Strasburg

On Wednesday morning, ESPN 980's Mike and Mike had on a special guest to weigh in on the Stephen Strasburg innings limit. Former Braves' pitching coach Leo Mazzone was asked about the decision to shut down the Nationals ace as he once mentored one of the best starting rotations in MLB history, a group that some have compared to the current one in Washington as far as youth and talent.

Mazzone ripped the Nationals and called their plan "pathetic," siding with the argument that the team should hold nothing back in trying to win a World Series this season.

And the reason I say that, Ive got the experience. Youngsters like Steve Avery when he was 21 taking us to a World Series with a group of kids, with Smoltz and Glavine and Avery and Pete Smith and one veteran guy, Leibrandt. Prior to Maddux in 93 in 91 and 92 these guys all pitched 200-plus innings. Ok? And everybody had long careers."

To many, the immediate problem jumping out of this particular statement was the citing of Steve Avery. Avery was a tremendous young pitcher who had success early on in his career, but faded after the age of 23 and was out of the league by the age of 29. He never had Tommy John surgery as Strasburg has had, but he isn't exactly a prime example of a lengthy major league pitching career.

One thing Strasburg and Avery do have in common is their agent as Scott Boras once represented Avery some 20 years ago. Boras decided to call in to Mike and Mike the very next morning and spent much of his time on the Avery and Strasburg comparison. Coincidence? Probably not.

"I've heard a lot of things over the years, I've heard about the great Atlanta Braves pitching staff and all of their performances," he said. "Well I represented Steve Avery and I'm sitting there watching his career end at 28 or 29 years of age who was a brilliant pitcher."

Boras cites his own research of the workload for pitchers between the ages of 21 and 23, how the Braves' rotation exemplifies the right way to handle arms and, in the case of Avery, the wrong way. He points out Tom Glavine (431.2) and John Smoltz (503.1) threw far less innings in what he called their "formative years" than Steve Avery (713.1).

The Braves picked Avery 3rd overall in the 1988 draft and he didn't make the majors until 1990. He threw 99.0 innings his first season and then jumped all the way to 210.1 innings the following season. Boras is now glad that a team like the Nationals know better than to increase a pitchers workload that significantly.

"They want players to know that they care and they monitor these things," he said of Mike Rizzo and the Natioanls' brass.

With the specific numbers he cites and the length he took to explain, it sounds like the downfall of Steve Avery is still fresh in Boras' mind. It is safe to say he doesn't want it to happen again to another young pitcher, even as the ace of a team looking primed for contention.

Quick Links

Murphy's big hit helps Nats beat Mets 6-1

daniel_murphy.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Murphy's big hit helps Nats beat Mets 6-1

Daniel Murphy and Trea Turner each hit a two-run single in Washington's five-run seventh inning, helping the Nationals beat the New York Mets 6-1 on Sunday.

Matt Adams added two hits and scored a run as Washington salvaged a split of its four-game set against New York. A preseason favorite to win the NL East and contend for a World Series championship, the disappointing Nationals hit the All-Star break with a 48-48 record, good for third in the division.

Jeremy Hellickson (4-1) pitched six crisp innings in his second straight win. The veteran right-hander allowed one run and two hits, struck out six and walked two.

Jose Reyes drove in Michael Conforto with a fielder's choice in the second, tying it at 1, but Washington grabbed control in the seventh.

Juan Soto and Anthony Rendon opened the inning with walks against Anthony Swarzak (0-2). Tim Peterson then came in and surrendered singles to Adams and Murphy, who came off the bench to hit for Michael A. Taylor.

Jerry Blevins replaced Peterson with two out and runners on second and third. But he hit Wilmer Difo and Adam Eaton before Turner's single gave Washington a 6-1 lead.

New York wasted a solid start by Corey Oswalt, who allowed two hits in five innings. The Mets got off to a fast start this year, but hit the break last in the division with a 39-55 record, a percentage point behind fourth-place Miami.

WAITING

A steady drizzle delayed the start by 47 minutes.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (right shoulder inflammation) pitched 5 2/3 innings in a rehab start for Class A Potomac. He allowed three runs, struck out seven and walked one. Strasburg has been on the disabled list since June 10.

Mets: Yoenis Cespedes is scheduled to play five simulated innings in left field at the team's facility in Florida on Monday. Mets manager Mickey Callaway said the 32-year-old outfielder, who has been sidelined by a right hip flexor and strained quadriceps, could return as the designated hitter next weekend against the Yankees If he is able to play on consecutive days.

MAKING MOVES

The Nationals recalled right-hander Trevor Gott from Triple-A Syracuse. Right-hander Austin Voth, who took the loss in his big league debut Saturday, was sent back to Syracuse.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS:

Quick Links

Taking a look at the numbers behind the Nationals' three All-Stars

Taking a look at the numbers behind the Nationals' three All-Stars

With a win on Sunday afternoon, the Nationals come into the All-Star break at 48-48. 

That's not great! It's certainly an underperformance given all the expectations, but the season hasn't been without some stellar individual performances . 

Take, for starters, Max Scherzer. Scherzer's on pace to have an even better year than his 2017 Cy Young-winning effort, which is mind-boggling. 

An even-more-refined command is what's made him better this season, as his walk rate is down below seven percent again after creeping up to 7.1 last year. It hasn't affected his strikeout rate, either, which has stayed steady at 34 percent. If the season ended today, it'd be the 4th straight year where he set a career-best in that department. 

Of all starting pitchers, he ranks second in WHIP, and K/BB percent. He has the third-lowest average against (.178) and third-best strikeout percentage (34.5). He's got a top-10 ERA and FIP as well. He's been the best pitcher in baseball this season, and will probably be in the conversation for N.L. MVP as well. 

If only the Nats could just go from Scherzer to Doolittle. The closer stopped walking people, too, and already has 22 saves after ending last year with 24. Had he not been put on the D.L. with a toe injury about a week before the All-Star game, he more than likely would have set his career high in saves before the break. 

He's currently on pace to post the second-best year of his career when it comes to strikeouts, too. He's getting Ks 37.1 percent of the time, which would be the highest since he posted a 37.7 in 2014. Same goes for his K/9. He also has a top-10 ERA and FIP. He's been one of the few relief pitchers that have been consistently reliable through the first half, and the Nats will need his toe to get real healthy real quick. 

And lastly there's Bryce Harper, who you've surely heard is not having an All-Star caliber season. His batting average is hovering around .200, he's striking out more than he has in four years, and he's getting eaten alive by the shift. He's also on pace to have one of his best power-hitting seasons ever and finish with close to 40 home runs, so even his bad years still find a way to be impressive. 

Harper also benefits from being one of the faces of baseball playing in front of his home fans. He's one of the most popular players in the league, and All-Star games find a way to get those people in. An All-Star game in D.C. without him would be objectively less enjoyable, so it was in everyone's interest to have him there. Stars just get the calls sometimes. 

MORE NATIONALS NEWS: