Nationals

Quick Links

Harper, Williams strongly disagree with ejections from win vs. Yankees

usatsi_8574182.jpg

Harper, Williams strongly disagree with ejections from win vs. Yankees

Hours after they were tossed from Wednesday night's win over the Yankees by home plate umpire Marvin Hudson, both Nationals manager Matt Williams and right fielder Bryce Harper remained fired up about their third inning ejections.

Harper and Williams were still confused as to why they were ejected in the first place.

"I'm really not sure. I have no idea. I think the whole thing was me not getting into the box," Harper said.

"I can't. I can't explain it. I don't believe there's anything that warrants throwing him out of the game right there," Williams said.

Both also strongly disagreed with Hudson's decision.

"I don't think 40,000 people came to watch him ump tonight. Plain and simple," Harper continued. "I really don't think they did. Especially when we're playing the Yankees. The Yankees are a good team, we're a good team and we're rolling. I don't want to get tossed. There's no reason for me to get tossed in that situation. I don't think I did anything bad to get tossed. Maybe he just had a bad morning or he didn't get his coffee."

"Doggone it, he's our best player and arguably the best player on the planet right now. And we need him in the game," Williams said. "And I don't feel as if there was any need to throw him out. So that's why I went out and argued."

The whole sequence began after Hudson called strike one on a pitch by Yankees starter Drew Warren in the bottom of the third inning. It was a breaking ball that was low as it crossed the plate. Harper thought it was out of the strike zone and let Hudson know about it.

"That was a little down, don't you think?" Harper recalled saying as he looked down and dug back in for the second pitch.

Hudson then told Harper to get back into the box. Williams and others in the dugout took issue with both the pitch and the exchange and started yelling at Hudson. The umpire then took his mask off to yell back at Williams.

Harper said Hudson then told him to get back in the box, but Harper replied he wouldn't because Hudson was still talking to Williams. Harper said he made sure to keep his head down as he talked back to Hudson so the umpire wouldn't think he was showing him up.

"Once you tell me to get in the box then I’m gonna take my time," Harper said. "I mean truly, I don’t need to get in the box when you’re chirping at my manager. And I don’t need to be in the box with your mask off. I mean that’s an equipment violation if you have your mask off. So nothing I can do."

Hudson spoke after the game to a pool reporter and clarified some of the situation, though he wouldn't get into specifics of what Harper and Williams said.

"Had nothing to do with the box," he said. "[Harper] didn't like the pitch, and I let him have his say going and coming. The dugout didn't like it, and one thing led to another and I had to run him. I had to eject him."

On Williams: "He said something he shouldn't have."

It was Harper's fifth career ejection and his second in a week. Both he and Williams were ejected from last Wednesday's game in Arizona. The Nationals also rallied to win that game after both were tossed, but this one put them in sole possession of first place in the NL East.

Quick Links

5 things you should know about new Nationals pitcher Kelvin Herrera

usatsi_10801156.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

5 things you should know about new Nationals pitcher Kelvin Herrera

The Nationals traded for Royals' pitcher Kelvin Herrera this evening. 

Not only did the Nationals trade for Kelvin Herrera, but they did so without losing Juan Soto, Victor Robles, or Andrew Stevenson. The first two were never in any real danger of being traded for a relief pitcher who will be a free agent at year's end, but the Nats escaped only giving up their 10th and 11th ranked prospects:

On the surface, this deal looks exceptional for the Nationals. Herrera is another back-of-the-bullpen type that only further deepens the Nats' options in that department. Here are a handful of things you should know about the Nationals' newest pitcher:

1. Herrera's strikeout "issue" is complicated 

Herrera, like many other closers over the last half-decade, has made his name in strikeouts. He topped out at a 30.4 percent strikeout rate in 2016, and has a 23.4 percent clip for his career. His K% this season sits at 23.2 percent, which is both higher than last season and lower than his career average. 

People will look at his dramatic K/9 drop as a red flag, but "per/9" stats are flawed and not generally a worthwhile stat to build an argument around. A pitcher who gets knocked around for five runs in an inning -- but gets three strikeouts -- can have the same K/9 of a different (much more efficient) pitcher who strikes out the side in order. 

2. Herrera has basically stopped walking batters 

His career BB% sits at 7.1 percent. His highest clip is nine percent (2014, 2015) and his lowest was a shade over four percent (2016). 

This season, he's walking batters at a two percent  rate. In 27 games this season, he's walked two batters. Two! 

3. The jury seems to still be out on how good of a year he's had so far

Analytics are frustrating. On one hand, they can serve wonderfully as tools to help peel back the curtains and tell a deeper story - or dispel lazy narratives. On the other hand, they can be contradictory, confusing, and at times downright misleading. 

Take, for instance, Herrera's baseline pitching stats. His ERA sits at 1.05, while his FIP sits at 2.62. On their own, both numbers are impressive. On their own, both numbers are All-Star level stats. 

When you stack them against each other, however, the picture turns negative. While ERA is the more common stat, it's widely accepted that FIP more accurately represents a pitcher's true value (ERA's calculation makes the same per/9 mistakes that were mentioned above). 

More often than not, when a pitcher's ERA is lower than his FIP, that indicates said pitcher has benefited from luck. 

Throw in a 3.51 xFIP (which is the same as FIP, but park-adjusted) and we suddenly have a real mess on our hands. Is he the pitcher with the great ERA, the pitcher with the Very Good FIP, or the pitcher with the medicore xFIP? 

4. He was a fastball pitcher, and then he wasn't, and now he is again

Take a look at Herrera's pitch usage over his career in Kansas City:

In only three years, he's gone from throwing a sinker 31 percent of the time to completely giving up on the pitch. That's pretty wild. 

Since 2014, he's gone to the slider more and more in every year. 

His current fastball usage would be the highest of his career. He only appeared in two games during the 2011 season, so those numbers aren't reliable. Going away from the sinker probably helps explain why his Ground Ball rate has dropped 10 percentage points, too. 

5. The Nats finally have the bullpen they've been dreaming about for years

Doolittle, Herrera, Kintzler, and Madson is about as deep and talented as any bullpen in baseball.

Justin Miller, Sammy Solis, and Wander Suero all have flashed serious potential at points throughout the year. Austin Voth is waiting for roster expansion in September. 

The Nats have been trying to build this type of bullpen for the better part of the last decade. Health obviously remains an important factor, but Rizzo's got the deepest pen of his time in D.C. 

MORE NATIONALS NEWS:

Quick Links

Nationals trade for Royals' closer Kelvin Herrera

usatsi_10847747.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Nationals trade for Royals' closer Kelvin Herrera

The Nationals made the first major trade of the season this evening. 

Midway through their Monday night game against the Yankees, the team announced that they had completed a trade for Royals' relief pitcher Kelvin Herrera:

Herrera's a major acquisition for the Nationals, as the pitcher is in the middle of a career year. He's currently pitched 25 innings so far, posting a 1.05 FIP, 2.62 ERA and 0.82 WHIP. His 2.1 percent walk rate this season is a career low. 

MORE NATIONALS NEWS: