Nationals pitchers Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Jordan Zimmermann have all spoken before about their intent to pitch to contact. Although they may strike a lot of guys out, particularly Strasburg and Gonzalez, the goal is always to get out of an inning on as few pitches as possible.
The pitchers themselves may have already made it clear, but team pitching coach Steve McCatty has a new word to describe getting an opponent to swing and miss:
"Strikeouts are bull," he told Les Carpenter of Yahoo! Sports. He said it's the easiest way to burn up pitches and that pitch counts will multiply fast.
Carpenter notes the glaring fact about McCatty's comment, that Nationals' pitchers still strike out more than most despite their pitching coach's wish. Strasburg is tied for first in the MLB with 128 strikeouts and Gonzalez ranks seventh with 118. They have the two highest strikeout per nine innings rates in the National League with Strasburg at 11.64 and Gonzalez at 10.45.
By McCatty's comments it would seem Jordan Zimmermann is his most prized pupil. The National's number three starter is tenth in the majors with a 2.61 ERA despite striking out only 74 batters in 110.1 innings. That is the second fewest strikeouts among pitchers in the top ten of ERA. Zimmermann gets players out without having to get three strikes and as a result has lasted at least six innings in each of his 17 starts this year.
Whatever the Nationals are doing as a team, however, is working as they hold the league's best overall ERA of 3.20 at the All-Star break. Maybe McCatty is trying to be creative to find something his players can improve on.
For more on McCatty's comments and a nice breakdown of the strikeout's worth, read Carpenter's piece here.
The Washington Nationals hosted the New York Yankees to finish a once-suspended game, tied at 3-3 in the sixth inning. Though it seemed like just a makeup, it was anything but for rookie Juan Soto.
It’s true that Soto struck out as a pinch hitter in his first-ever game on May 20. Since then, the 19-year-old has caught fire, batting .312 with five home runs and 12 RBI in 23 games this season.
But the makeup of the suspended game took place on May 15, five days before Soto was called up from Double-A to give the Nats an extra bat. Soto would make his major league debut once again.
Though it’s uncommon for a player to compete in a game prior to his major-league debut, it’s been done before. Barry Bonds hit a go-ahead single in a suspended game that dated a month before his debut. Closer Jeff Reardon threw a scoreless inning and picked up a win in a suspended game nearly two months before his debut, as well.
After Anthony Rendon hit an opposite-field single in the bottom of the sixth, Soto pinch hit for Matt Adams who has missed the previous two games with a hand injury.
And Soto, with a chance to change his first career at-bat from a pinch-hit strikeout to anything but, did just that. He turned on a fastball and sent a rocket to right field. Aaron Judge took a few steps before looking up toward the bleachers. The ball landed in the second deck.
Talk about a first career at-bat. A no-doubt, two-run shot to give the Nationals the lead in a game that took place before his first major-league debut.
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The MLB All-Star Game is at Nationals Park and is now less than a month away, so let's check in on how D.C.'s top players and fan favorites are doing in the voting.
After the first National League All-Star Game ballot update last week, Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Matt Adams were the three Nationals among the top players receiving votes. And while that's still the case, they've all dropped one position since last week. Perhaps because of the Nats' recent slump?
Opening as the No. 1 outfielder, Harper is now No. 2 in the voting with 1,002,696 tallies, behind Atlanta Braves right fielder Nick Markakis with 1,173,653 votes. They are, however, the only two outfielders with more than a million votes and 2-of-5 overall in the voting.
Adams — who was 14th among outfielders last week — slid one spot to No. 15 with 237,165 votes.
Last week, Turner was the No. 4 shortstop on the ballot, but he has since dropped to No. 4 with 279,071 votes. He's behind San Francisco Giants' Brandon Crawford, Braves' Dansby Swanson, Chicago Cubs' Addison Russell and Colorado Rockies' Trevor Story — who was the one to jump Turner this time around.
If you're a Nats fan who doesn't like these results, don't worry. You can keep voting until July 5 at 11:59 p.m. ET and you can vote up to five times every 24 hours. Read more about how to vote for your favorite players in the MLB All-Star Game HERE.
The 2018 NL-AL matchup is in Washington, D.C. on July 17.
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